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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Taking ownership

Catching up on my reading after a very exciting and interesting conference debate on collective worship in schools, I came upon this fascinating piece by Tomos Livingstone in today's Western Mail. The article speculates on what would have happened if we had not had devolution. It concludes:

In policy terms, would the UK Government have stumped up the cash for the Wales Millennium Centre? Would the Blair agenda have driven down waiting lists more quickly? Would the M4 toll road already be built, the environmental questions that originally delayed it less of concern in Whitehall than in Cardiff? It's unlikely there would have been a bonfire of the quangos, and education standards have risen since the Assembly took over.

Above all, we have a greater degree of accountability. Leaking roof or not, you can stroll down to the Senedd and realistically get hold of your AM or even a Minister.

Last word to the foreign diplomat, asked a couple of years ago to report on what devolution had meant for Wales, who wrote, 'The people think the Assembly's a waste of space, but they feel it's their waste of space.'

The sense of ownership over the Assembly is quite strong all over Wales. That is one reason why I believe that if the referendum were held again then the majority would be even greater in favour of retaining it. It is also a compelling reason why Labour's caution in the measures contained in the Government of Wales Bill is so out of step with the needs and desires of Wales.
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