Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Another Commission

Cheryl Gillan, the Secretary of State for Wales, today announced the establishment of a Commission to review the present financial and constitutional arrangements in Wales.  Its Term of Reference is

“Part I: financial accountability
To review the case for the devolution of fiscal powers to the National Assembly for Wales and to recommend a package of powers that would improve the financial accountability of the Assembly, which are consistent with the United Kingdom’s fiscal objectives and are likely to have a wide degree of support.

Part II: powers of the National Assembly for Wales
To review the powers of the National Assembly for Wales in the light of experience and to recommend modifications to the present constitutional arrangements that would enable the United Kingdom Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales to better serve the people of Wales.”

Excluded from the Commission’s consideration will be the reform of the Barnett formula and borrowing powers. These are to be dealt with in separate negotiations, between the Westminster and the Welsh Governments.

It is anticipated that the Commission working under the chairmanship of Paul Silk will take about a year to produce its report.

But the Silk Commission is the latest of a long series of Commissions established to avoid decision making.

We’ve had the Richard Commission, Sir Emyr Jones Parry’s All Wales Convention, and two reports by Gerry Holtham. Surely evidence enough to provide even the most clueless politician with enough to take the devolution project forward.

If politicians with all the recommendations in the various reports can’t make their minds up on the way ahead, it’s difficult to know what they’re there for. After all we pay civil servants to not take decisions.

The danger is that if Wales doesn’t start setting it’s own agenda it will be overtaken by things that happen elsewhere in the kingdom. (See my last blog.)

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