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'All Wales Convention' set up to prepare 2011 Welsh Parliament Referendum

The Welsh Assembly Government has announced the appointment of Sir Emyr Jones Parry to chair the All Wales Convention which will pave the way for a referendum on primary law-making powers for the Assembly.

The Welsh Assembly Government has announced the appointment of Sir Emyr Jones Parry to chair the All Wales Convention which will pave the way for a referendum on primary law-making powers for the Assembly.

Carmarthenshire-born diplomat Sir Emyr, a former Ambassador of the UK to the United Nations, will lead a task force to engage civic society in Wales and secure a Yes vote in a referendum to be held by 2011.

The All Wales Convention was set up following the coalition deal between Labour and Plaid Cymru in June 2007, which enounces that "in order for Wales to prosper further and to deliver that change, the Assembly needs to develop further legislative powers."

Currently, the National Assembly for Wales has limited powers to make legislation in Wales and is subject to the veto of the UK Secretary of State or the UK Parliament. The referendum planned for 2011 would give Wales a legislative parliament with primary lawmaking powers.

The One Wales Programme for Government agreed by Labour and Plaid Cymru states that "both parties agree in good faith to campaign for a successful outcome to such a referendum."

"Both parties will be commissioned to set the terms of reference and membership of the Convention based on wide representation from civic society. Both parties will then take account of the success of the bedding down of the use of the new legislative powers already available and, by monitoring the state of public opinion, will need to assess the levels of support for full law-making powers necessary to trigger the referendum."

According to an opinion poll undertaken in September 2007 by the Institute of Welsh Politics at Aberystwyth University, support for a legislative parliament similar to the one in Scotland had doubled from 20% in 1997 to 43% in 2007, and anti-devolution vote had declined sharply from 40% in 1997 to just 17% in 2007. Another survey published in 2006 by the Electoral Commission showed that 54% of the public believed devolution had improved the way Wales is governed.

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