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Monday, March 07, 2011

The future of the Wales Office

To be honest I am finding it difficult to motivate myself to even comment on this latest row over the future of the Wales Office.

The Presiding Officer, Lord Elis-Thomas told the Sunday Supplement programme: "Now that the responsibility of ministers for administration of policy and indeed for legislation is now here, it makes more sense for us to be organised in a proper inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary way.

"That is assembly to Westminster, government to government.

"That would mean, I think, winding up the Wales Office and as far as I'm concerned the sooner the better.

"I would like to start operating in the new way after the 5th May election."

In response, the former Secretary of State, Peter Hain and his successor Cheryl Gillan rubbished the idea. The Neath MP said: "Whether [the post] is configured in precisely the same way is another matter but there will always be a need," whilst Ms. Gillan said the good Lord is following "a separatist agenda".

So far, so predictable. My own view for what it is worth is that in the medium term the Presiding Officer may well be right, but for now the priority has to be getting the new system up and running and then tackling the thorny subject of how we finance devolution.

What happens to the Wales Office will be a matter for the ebb and tides of the political currents. In other words it will continue as it is until a consensus emerges that a more appropriate model is a Secretary of State for the Nations and Regions.

In the meantime, perhaps the Secretary of State for Wales should start reviewing her organisation in the light of the referendum vote. Despite the barely credible claim by her Minister, David Jones on Radio Wales about half an hour ago, nobody is going to believe that they are understaffed and stretched to the limit, not anymore.

Every pound she saves means more money will become available to the Welsh Government to draw down for services. It is only a small amount in comparison to that available to the Welsh Government but every penny counts and surely the need to maximise spending on services is incentive enough for Ms. Gillan to cut the costs of her department.
I think it would make a good base for the Homeless as a type of overnight hostel. Their is a shortage of buildings that cater for the homeless. The money that exists could be used to run the place.
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