National Assembly Powers

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 8th September 2010.

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Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Conservative, Harlow 11:30 am, 8th September 2010

What discussions she has had with the First Minister and ministerial colleagues on the proposed referendum on the law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales.

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Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan The Secretary of State for Wales

I have had regular discussions with the First Minister and ministerial colleagues on the proposed referendum on the law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales. Indeed, I discussed it with the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister on Monday.

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Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Conservative, Harlow

I thank my right hon. Friend for her reply. Does she agree that, as devolution develops, we will need a fair constitutional settlement across the United Kingdom, and is it not the Government's intention, therefore, to address English votes for English laws, and indeed English and Welsh votes for English and Welsh laws?

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Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan The Secretary of State for Wales

My hon. Friend knows that our approach to constitutional matters is informed and underpinned by our commitment to the Union and devolution and our conviction that power should rest in the hands of those we serve. Indeed, we have committed, in our programme of government, to establishing a commission to consider what has become known as the West Lothian question, and we are working to take that forward.

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Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Shadow Minister (Business and Regulatory Reform)

When the Secretary of State eventually comes up with a coherent and intelligible question for the referendum on further powers for the Assembly, will she be asking the Electoral Commission to carry out a further consultation on the question she will place before the House?

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Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan The Secretary of State for Wales

I feel that I should say to the hon. Gentleman, "Listen very carefully, I will say this only once," because I heard an interview that he gave on the radio in which it appeared that he had not listened to the answers that I gave at the last Welsh questions. Can I just tell him that I have- [ Interruption. ]

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Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan The Secretary of State for Wales

I am very grateful to the Electoral Commission for its report and the 10 weeks of examination that it gave to the question that was designed by the project board. On Monday I worked with the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister, and I have considered its findings. We have all agreed that we should accept its findings and take forward the preamble and the question that has been put forward, on an objective and independent basis, by the Electoral Commission, and I shall be making a further statement to Parliament.

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