Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Yes for Wales

By now, all voters in Aberavon and Neath constituencies should have received their polling cards for the referendum which takes place on March 3rd and a booklet which explains what the vote is about. Welsh Liberal Democrats support a "Yes" vote and have issued their own guide including the answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

On the 3rd of March the people of Wales will have a referendum on the powers that the National Assembly for Wales holds. Whilst the referendum will not widen the areas in which Wales can make laws, it will make it possible for Wales to make laws in those areas without the permission of Westminster.

At the moment every time Wales wants to make a new law it needs to seek permission from Westminster (A Legislative Competence Order). It then needs to make the actual law (An Assembly Measure). This takes time and money. The process is slow and complicated.

Wales is strong enough to make its own laws, A Yes vote will help take Wales forward by speeding up the system of decision making.

1. If Wales votes yes will the Assembly get more powers?

The National Assembly has responsibility to develop policy and deliver services in specific areas, including health, education, economic development, housing, the environment, transport and culture. A Yes vote will simply take out the need to ask permission from Westminster to make laws. It does not expand the areas over which Wales can make laws.

2. Will a Yes vote cost more?

No. An independent Commission headed by the UK’s former Ambassador to the UN, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, looked at the cost of a Yes vote and concluded it would cost no more than is currently being spent. The current process of asking permission costs money; from lawyers to civil servants. We believe we can do without this level of spending.

3. Will it lead to more taxes?

No. The Assembly has no powers to increase or reduce taxes, and the referendum will not change this.

4. Will it mean more politicians?

No. The number of Assembly members will remain at 60. The number of Welsh MPs will remain at 40.

5. Will it mean less work for MPs?

Wales will still need a strong team of Members of Parliament because there are policy areas that have not been devolved to Wales, such as taxation, benefits, law and order, foreign and defence policy.

6. Will it mean a pay rise for AMs?

Assembly Members’ have volunteered to freeze their pay for the next four years. All future decisions on pay will be decided by an independent panel, not by politicians.



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