Mark Williams, Member of Parliament for Ceredigion and Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has welcomed the passing of the Wales Bill through the House of Commons, but has emphasised the missed opportunity to create a lasting and comprehensive settlement for Wales.
Mark said “My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I have long called for further devolution on the principle of Wales being able to govern its own affairs, and I welcome the move in the right direction that this Bill signifies.
“This Bill is a far sight better than the draft Bill that we saw last year, which was complex with a large list of reservations to Westminster, and had the potential to cause a number of major constitutional problems. Yet that does not mean this updated Wales Bill is perfect. For something which was meant to provide a lasting settlement for Wales, it has failed to tackle issues such as youth justice, rail franchising, and the need for a distinct legal Welsh jurisdiction as more laws are made here in Wales.
“This Bill simply does not go far enough, and has left many questions unanswered which we will need to revisit as time goes on. I was disappointed that amendments put down during the report stage which would have seen Air Passenger Duty and rail franchising devolved, and would have gone some way to improve this Bill, were not accepted by the Government.
“However, despite the missed opportunity that this Bill has been, it is without a doubt a significant step in the right direction, giving greater accountability, greater clarity and a greater say over Welsh affairs to the people of Wales, something which the Welsh Liberal Democrats and I have long been calling for.”