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Glyn Davies: Richard maps out future of government in Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales

"The Richard Commission report is an important stepping stone in the development of Welsh politics.

The Conservative Party played an important part in the administrative devolution that occurred throughout the last century - we can argue about that.

As we all know, we opposed the major move to political devolution. Since then, however, we have sought to accept the result and make a positive contribution to the running of the Assembly, albeit in the role of holding the Government to account. We have, hopefully, played that role well.

I welcome this debate on constitutional issues, which is a difficult topic to engage in with the public, which thinks of it as an issue for anoraks.

It is difficult to get the public engaged in what is going on, and we must debate this and work hard so that the public knows what this means for Wales.

I do not want to spend time criticising what the First Minister has suggested in his options, despite the ample opportunity that he provides for that.

I want to give my personal view on the direction that I believe that we should be taking on this issue.

We have discussed the unsustainability of our current constitutional position many times; I think that many Members believe it to be unsustainable.

As a result, we are all agreed that we need a separate Executive and legislature in the Assembly, because the Government must be accountable. That is the fundamental reason why I favour this Assembly having law-making powers.

There are many issues - and many Members have given their reasons why they are in favour - but the overriding issue is accountability.

I take on board the point made by Helen Mary Jones and some Labour Members about what would we do if there was a Conservative Government in Westminster.

I am not happy about the negative way in which that Conservative Government has been described, but an arrangement whereby there are different parties in power in the Assembly and in Westminster would lead to great instability.

There would be an unlimited opportunity for the Assembly Government to lay the blame for its own failings at the door of the Westminster Government. That takes away the Assembly Government's accountability, and any Government should want to be accountable.

In the past, when unpopular decisions have been made, the Government has suggested that they are Assembly decisions, and keeps the term 'Government' to talk about itself.

If we are serious about having a proper, stable constitutional settlement, we must have real accountability. We need law-making powers to achieve that.

Finally, I wish to comment on the reference in the motion to changing the electoral system. I could be extremely rude about that, and I will be on some occasion, because I feel strongly about it.

It is appalling that the Government should want to tell opposition parties who they should seek to choose to stand as Assembly Members. That seems completely unconstitutional.

No-one can possibly support that, and I believe that the House of Lords will kick it out immediately for the stunt that it is.

The Labour Party has created a side issue, because it cannot agree on its response until after the next election.

I appeal to you, in the interests of being taken seriously, to drop that proposition today."

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