Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Silk Commission is Important for Wales.

Have been very surprised by the 'unenthusiastic' welcome for the 'Silk Commission' by some. That's the commission set up by the Secretary of State for Wales, with cross party support, to consider 1) How financial accountability can be vested in the Welsh Assembly, and 2) to consider the range of devolved powers. Matt Withers takes a very dismissive approach in today's Wales on Sunday. Wonder whether this reflects the editorial view of the Western Mail. Matt seems to treat it as just another commission to follow the Richard Commission, the Holtham Commission (and you can throw in the Jones-Parry Commission) - none of which achieved very much. Personally I never thought these commissions would deliver much, mainly because they were rooted into places where the power to deliver did not lie. Richard was set up by Rhodri Morgan, while Holtham and Jones-Parry by a Plaid/Labour Assembly Government. The commissioners of these reports did not have the power to implement their recommendations.

The Silk Commission is completely different. It has been set up by the Westminster Coalition Government, with the support of the main political parties in Wales. It is due to report to the Secretary of State for Wales on 'financial accountability' in 2012, and on the constitutional settlement by 2013 - all in time for action before the next General Election in 2015. Again personally, I think this is a far more significant commission than any of the others, because of its direct link to the ability to implement. This time it's not an exercise in constitutional theory - not if I can have anything to do with it anyway

Of course, there is always a chance that one of the parties could walk out - perhaps more so because it's for real. It would be a great shame if this were to be the case. Again personally, I would support driving on whatever. We established a National Assembly for Wales in 1999, against the wishes of almost half of those who voted in a referendum. I oppose it as not worthwhile because it was 'neither fish nor fowl'. It should be transformed into a grown-up law making body which is financially accountable to the people. There will be some who do not want this change - but its what the Silk Commission has been established to deliver. Its very comfortable just spending public money without any responsibility for raising it, and just complaining incessantly that there is not enough. Problem is that when the media do not take it seriously, the people do not become engaged. Selling job needed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your last paragraph. In order for the institution to be taken seriously it needs tax levying powers and the establishment of a Welsh legal jurisdiction. I don't think the Welsh people would want to take it any further than that at this moment in time.

Tax levying powers would certainly help kill off Labour hegemony in Wales...