27/11/2013 The Wales Report


27/11/2013

With the results of international league tables for educational performance about to be announced, will Wales achieve its hoped-for results? Presented by Bethan Rhys Roberts.


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Tonight on the Wales Report: Testing times for Welsh education - with the

:00:00.:00:07.

results of international league tables soon to be announced will

:00:08.:00:13.

Wales make the grade? What can be done to tackle poverty

:00:14.:00:17.

in rural communities across Wales? We have a special report.

:00:18.:00:21.

And what will the vote on independence in Scotland mean for

:00:22.:00:26.

devolution here in Wales? Stay with us for the Wales Report.

:00:27.:00:36.

Good evening and welcome to the Wales Report - the programme that

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examines the issues that affect lives in Wales and questions the

:00:42.:00:44.

decision makers. Education in Wales is currently at a critical juncture.

:00:45.:00:48.

Five of Wales 22 local education authorities are in special measures,

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and yesterday AM's clashed over the future of education provision in

:00:52.:00:59.

Wales. Next week, Wales faces the next test, as the international

:01:00.:01:01.

league tables for 15-year-olds known as PISA will be published. In the

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last round, three years ago, Wales was ranked lowest of the UK

:01:06.:01:08.

countries in the tests that compare literacy, maths and science. The

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poor performance led to wide-ranging changes to education here but last

:01:12.:01:14.

week Education Minister Huw Lewis warned that parents should not

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expect to see a great improvement. Here's our Education Correspondent

:01:18.:01:22.

Arwyn Jones. We live in and disconnected --

:01:23.:01:29.

interconnect world. Education is a commodity for governments, a badge

:01:30.:01:32.

of honour as well as a tool to attract businesses and the Welsh

:01:33.:01:35.

government is no different. At the heart of it all, P. In Wales we have

:01:36.:01:42.

always been rather proud of our education system. This idea of a

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self educated working class who saw books out of poverty has always been

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a large part of our national consciousness but we have come a

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long way from those days of chalk and back boards and next week we

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find out how Wales has fared in the so-called PISA rankings. When the

:02:04.:02:09.

last results came out, it was a wake-up call.

:02:10.:02:13.

These results are disappointing. They show an unacceptable fall in

:02:14.:02:19.

our overall performance. Everyone involved in the education sector in

:02:20.:02:23.

Wales should be alarmed. There can be no alibis and no excuses.

:02:24.:02:29.

As a consequence, we have seen a raft of changes to the education

:02:30.:02:34.

system. There have been changes to the way the information we get from

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our schools is measured. Children as young as seven now sit and examine

:02:40.:02:47.

every year. Schools are placed into bands and teachers follow a few

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framework in the classroom, or following on from those results

:02:51.:02:56.

three years ago. There might be another answer...

:02:57.:03:01.

Taking the government 's lead, some schools like this one in Carmarthen

:03:02.:03:05.

now include PISA style questions in their lessons. Not just to improve

:03:06.:03:09.

our standing in the league tables but they say to improve education

:03:10.:03:15.

overall. Having results compared with

:03:16.:03:19.

students all over the world, it is not the easiest thing to hear when

:03:20.:03:22.

you are being tested but at the same time, I think that is quite good

:03:23.:03:25.

because it is not just trying to beat the other countries. It is

:03:26.:03:30.

trying to work out who's educational system is working better than

:03:31.:03:38.

others. In the PISA questions, you have so many sources of information,

:03:39.:03:41.

they have to bring their everyday experiences into answering these

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questions. What we feel these people have been doing over the last two

:03:48.:03:50.

years is progressing as far as using their own strategies.

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On one hand it is never again because I feel like I am being

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judged but then it is like a beast because I'm really competitive. --

:03:59.:04:05.

like a boost. Despite these changes and the

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expectations of these pupils, education Minister Huw Lewis has

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already started preparing us for disappointment when the latest

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results emerge next week. The next results will relate to

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2012, when hardly any of those programmes for improvements have had

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a chance to bite into the system, if you like. I would anticipate that

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any realistic person would look to the next set of PISA results with

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caution. The Welsh and have put a lock of

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emphasis on climbing up the international league table. They

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want to be in the top 20 countries by 2015, the next round of tests.

:04:44.:04:49.

That was always going to be a huge challenge and some are now saying it

:04:50.:04:54.

is a test to file but when I recently caught up with the head of

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PISA in London, he agreed it was not in possible.

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It is a significant challenge but at the same time, if you look at the

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most rapidly improving education systems, that pace of progress is

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rarely possible if you think about Poland or at the bottom of the

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league, Brazil. It is one of the lowest performing countries. The

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pace of change there is the one that could bring a place like Wales well

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into the top 20. There is hope that the standing of

:05:25.:05:30.

Wales in the international rankings could improve but to throw a further

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convocation into this mix, there are now some who say this PISA game is

:05:34.:05:40.

one we may not want to pay. This is just one set of data and

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international comparisons. This is all they are and they were never

:05:44.:05:48.

meant to define an education system. PISA say that is not what they are

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for but the minister chose to use them to say we have a crisis in our

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education system. The question that needs to be asked is do we want an

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education system that is fit for purpose or fit for PISA?

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Arwyn Jones reporting. Joining me now is education expert and advisor

:06:06.:06:07.

to the Welsh Government, Professor David Reynolds.

:06:08.:06:12.

Good evening. What do you expect next week? I haven't seen the

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figures and identical them to be particularly good.

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I wouldn't be surprised if we got the wooden spoon and were bottom of

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the four UK home nations, as it were. I think it is possible we may

:06:25.:06:29.

even do slightly worse. Further decline?

:06:30.:06:34.

It is possible because a lot of the policies are only beginning to

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impact now. So we are talking about a three year

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gap but that was in it -- was not enough time?

:06:43.:06:47.

Three years in a short period of time but you are trying to do in

:06:48.:06:51.

three years what wasn't done in the preceding ten. If you look about the

:06:52.:06:57.

world, governments did an awful lot wherever you look and we tended not

:06:58.:07:04.

to. What we did was with the Twickenham, not teaching.

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After devolution, you say that we took our eyes off the ball in

:07:10.:07:12.

education? We looked at the wrong ball. We

:07:13.:07:15.

changed the curriculum and things like the Welsh baccalaureate.

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Absolutely fine. We did not realise and I think we were stupid, that we

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did not actually get the teaching methods improving.

:07:26.:07:28.

So the Welsh government was stupid in terms of dictation?

:07:29.:07:32.

I said we, which includes everyone involved in education.

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They run it! You can't do the curriculum without

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doing the teaching and in most societies did was curriculum reform

:07:43.:07:45.

but they empowered teachers. They gave teachers capacity to be better

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professionals. We are doing that now but we didn't then.

:07:50.:07:52.

We are talking about a period where Jane Davidson was education

:07:53.:07:56.

Minister. She scrapped testing and so forth. She brought in the

:07:57.:08:01.

foundation phase but was she wrong to stop testing?

:08:02.:08:05.

My own view is yes, that harmed us. There is evidence done by

:08:06.:08:10.

researchers from Bristol and my own view is that you need demand to

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operate in a country, which is parents demanding that schools get

:08:18.:08:21.

better, as well as supply, and what we didn't do was put performance

:08:22.:08:24.

data into the public domain so the parents would know what is going on.

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The best way of improving the school system is for parents to push to

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improve it and for them to choose. We didn't put the data out to help

:08:32.:08:37.

them do that. For parents in Wales Today who are

:08:38.:08:40.

clearly worried about Little Johnny heading to school every day, read

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there is something seriously wrong with the Welsh education system. We

:08:45.:08:48.

read the bad news on an almost daily basis. What is the message? I'll be

:08:49.:08:54.

getting back on track and by 2015 all will be well? Is that little

:08:55.:09:02.

comfort to today's parents? In my business we expect things to

:09:03.:09:05.

get better in education when things like attendance start to pick up and

:09:06.:09:09.

children start going back to school and that is happening in Wales. I

:09:10.:09:14.

sense there is change but after ten years of May be doing not the right

:09:15.:09:21.

thing, it is getting an awful lot of things done in the three years which

:09:22.:09:25.

is the problem. Will be PISA results in 2015 be

:09:26.:09:28.

better? Will all have these things kicked in?

:09:29.:09:31.

I think they will be better but I think the 2015 testing which is

:09:32.:09:38.

under two years from now, that 2015 testing will be in science, where we

:09:39.:09:42.

start with a big advantage because we actually are on the world average

:09:43.:09:48.

performance for science. Our best chance ever is to get it right with

:09:49.:09:52.

science for the testing in 2015 but, with respect, I think for 2015

:09:53.:09:56.

to be good, there are things we have to do.

:09:57.:09:59.

If you ask teachers, they say there is an awful lot of change going on

:10:00.:10:03.

and it is never settled. It is never allowed to bed in. They say they

:10:04.:10:08.

need politicians to back off. Would that work?

:10:09.:10:12.

I think it is reasonable for politicians to say, look, we have

:10:13.:10:15.

announced everything we can do and let back off and see if parents can

:10:16.:10:21.

improve things. Let's actually see if the system starts moving. I think

:10:22.:10:28.

in the next year, someone has to make the judgement about whether

:10:29.:10:31.

things are improving fast enough. At the moment it is the right decision

:10:32.:10:35.

that we let things bed in but if it hasn't worked a year from now, we

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have to do more to get a good result in 2015.

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Education in Wales used to be a batch of honour. You can't say that,

:10:44.:10:48.

really, today, can you? Will those days return?

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I think yes. If we are clever and we learn. I think in Wales we speak as

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though we are always a failure in education but we saved a minority

:10:59.:11:02.

language. We save Welsh through the education system so we did something

:11:03.:11:07.

right. In the 1970s we ran a fine education system here. It is not

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that we don't know how to educate children but somewhere something

:11:12.:11:15.

went wrong. We can be discover that and I would be interested in seeing

:11:16.:11:19.

the Welsh government find out why we have in successful with the Welsh

:11:20.:11:22.

language and we are a success in science and maths and reading and we

:11:23.:11:27.

should tell everybody more about what we need to do.

:11:28.:11:29.

Thank you. The divide between urban and rural

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Wales is wider than ever before with poverty a blight on rural

:11:34.:11:36.

communities across the country. The Wales Report has seen figures that

:11:37.:11:40.

show one organisation geared to help rural areas has paid out three times

:11:41.:11:43.

more money in the first nine months of this year than in the same period

:11:44.:11:55.

last year. David Williams has been back to his roots in North Wales to

:11:56.:11:58.

discover what has been done to reverse the fortunes of a

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countryside in decline. The melodious tones emanating from

:12:00.:12:28.

this primary school in North Wales helped to dampen rather more

:12:29.:12:31.

disturbing notes which now resonate in the beautiful countryside in

:12:32.:12:35.

which these countries are growing up in. It doesn't take a scientist to

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tell you that this school is going to close pretty school. -- pretty

:12:48.:12:51.

soon. When you get into that downward spiral of that school

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closing, there is no teachers and there is less implement so there is

:12:56.:12:58.

less need for people. Poverty and hardship now threaten to

:12:59.:13:03.

bite a whole new generation of young people. Back in the day, I used to

:13:04.:13:09.

sit at this desk and I was expect to be a model pupil because the man

:13:10.:13:13.

standing at the front, the, was my father. In return for personal

:13:14.:13:16.

effort, he infused us with hope. Many of my fellow pupils were the

:13:17.:13:26.

sons and daughters of those who farmed the land around the school.

:13:27.:13:29.

Generations before them had done the same. They had struggled, certainly,

:13:30.:13:35.

but there was no doubt that those who wished to continue on the farm

:13:36.:13:40.

would be allowed to do so. That is no longer a certainty. The school

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now has just 20 pupils, only half of them have parents with any

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connection with farming and only one lives on a farm. The way of life is

:13:52.:14:00.

in danger of disappearing. This man, aged 83, has farmed here all

:14:01.:14:08.

his life. I remember him. He was an enduring site in the field and on

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the hills around here. A constant in the landscape. His family have been

:14:12.:14:19.

tenants here for over a century in what was a Welsh speaking heartland.

:14:20.:14:24.

He had hoped that one of his two children would take over from him

:14:25.:14:29.

but the farm's for income now make that unlikely. In Welsh, his anguish

:14:30.:14:37.

of choice, he explained to me that his children's decision is a cause

:14:38.:14:41.

of pain and anguish for him and his wife.

:14:42.:15:21.

He is himself on the point of giving up farming. Many more like him are

:15:22.:15:28.

on the edge of the financial abyss, forced to look for help. Their

:15:29.:15:32.

plight is reflected in part of the dramatic rise of the numbers seeking

:15:33.:15:38.

assistance from the Royal agricultural benevolent institution,

:15:39.:15:43.

a charity. The scale of the problem becomes clear when you read this,

:15:44.:15:47.

and internal briefing drawn up by the institution, and the figures

:15:48.:15:52.

here have not been released publicly until now. What they show is a

:15:53.:16:00.

worrying trend. In Wales, in the first nine months of this year, the

:16:01.:16:05.

amount of grants paid out to farmers in need by the institution was three

:16:06.:16:10.

times as many as in the same period last year. The figures translate

:16:11.:16:16.

into cash hand-outs being given to almost 100 working farmers. Compared

:16:17.:16:24.

with 29 last year. Those statistics are impersonal. What are the

:16:25.:16:31.

consequences in human terms? How do they reflect themselves in the

:16:32.:16:33.

stories and the problems which lie behind them? People do not like to

:16:34.:16:45.

ask for money from charities. This man is the benevolent institution's

:16:46.:16:50.

welfare officer for North Wales. He has seen first hand what one bad

:16:51.:16:54.

winter and soaring feed and fuel prices can do to reverse a former's

:16:55.:17:02.

fortunes. If somebody has lost maybe 200 lambs, they would be losing

:17:03.:17:09.

money in sales. In terms of an ordinary person working in a factory

:17:10.:17:13.

or an office, ?15,000 off your salary equates to ?300 a week, would

:17:14.:17:20.

you are I be able to manage? That's how difficult it has been for

:17:21.:17:25.

farmers. Some people have come to the end of the road and there have

:17:26.:17:28.

been cases where people have taken their own lives because they have

:17:29.:17:34.

given up, haven't there? I have come across people who have been suicidal

:17:35.:17:40.

this year. Poverty in the countryside is not only to be found

:17:41.:17:43.

on the farms. In this part of the world, it further scarred the

:17:44.:17:51.

industrial landscape. This town has the unenviable title of being

:17:52.:17:57.

Wales's low wage title -- low-wage capital. It was once one of the most

:17:58.:18:04.

important slate producing towns in the world. It is not all doom and

:18:05.:18:11.

gloom. A considerable amount of public money has helped the people

:18:12.:18:19.

of this town help themselves. Roughly ?5 million has been spent

:18:20.:18:22.

here over the last five years, but is it enough to persuade young

:18:23.:18:27.

people that there is a future for them here in this strikingly

:18:28.:18:33.

beautiful but sometimes economic league -- economic league RF part of

:18:34.:18:35.

the countryside? They are coming in their hundreds,

:18:36.:18:47.

mountain bikers from all over Britain careering down pads once

:18:48.:18:54.

trodden by miners, a dangerous pastime, and one which is producing

:18:55.:19:08.

once again vital revenue. The regeneration project has capitalised

:19:09.:19:11.

on a national resource, in the hope of turning slate into a new source

:19:12.:19:14.

of revenue for a town that has paid a heavy price for roofing the world.

:19:15.:19:21.

We are developing schemes here, the community are developing schemes

:19:22.:19:26.

here, not someone from outside, ought plonking some sort of holiday

:19:27.:19:31.

park here. The profit is invested back into the community.

:19:32.:19:36.

Regeneration project have to have a life aeons the first grant if they

:19:37.:19:41.

are to be truly meaningful. Creating a dependency culture is of little

:19:42.:19:45.

use in securing the long-term future of our town which believes it is on

:19:46.:19:52.

the up after decades of decline. The local MP believes that part of the

:19:53.:19:58.

answer is to re-establish a quango style rural body with direct links

:19:59.:20:05.

and input into regen arising -- really energising the --

:20:06.:20:13.

reenergising the economy. A quango, but a very good one, if I am honest.

:20:14.:20:19.

They did a lot of good work, assisting people to diversify,

:20:20.:20:21.

assisting small businesses to take on new staff and being able to

:20:22.:20:26.

borrow within reason. I want something similar to be brought

:20:27.:20:36.

back. We need to revisit that. While school's out, the jury is as well on

:20:37.:20:41.

a whole new generation in the countryside. Pupils in schools like

:20:42.:20:47.

this one deserves to be treated what -- given what we were given when we

:20:48.:20:52.

were pupils here. Hope, and the tools to realise our dreams.

:20:53.:20:55.

That special report from David Williams. Yesterday the Scottish

:20:56.:20:58.

Government launched detailed plans for independence, outlining the

:20:59.:21:00.

focus of the referendum campaign which will concentrate on Scotland's

:21:01.:21:03.

future - on jobs, economic growth and security. The vote will take

:21:04.:21:10.

place next year, on September the 18th, but what will the outcome mean

:21:11.:21:15.

for devolution here in Wales? I'll be discussing that with my guests in

:21:16.:21:18.

a moment. But first here's Scotland's First Minister Alex

:21:19.:21:28.

Salmond setting out his stall. These things follow as night follows day,

:21:29.:21:33.

Scotland have indicated their willingness in this document that we

:21:34.:21:36.

will accept the financing of some of the massive obligations,

:21:37.:21:41.

liabilities, that have been built up by Alistair Darling and no George

:21:42.:21:44.

Osborne. That is predicated on the share of assets. One of these assets

:21:45.:21:52.

is the Bank of England. If Scotland vote yes and wants to keep the

:21:53.:21:55.

pound, Wales's first Minister would want to be consulted. If one part of

:21:56.:22:01.

the currency union decides to leave, it is a matter for them of

:22:02.:22:04.

course. But if an independent nation wants to join, that is a matter for

:22:05.:22:10.

the people of Wales, Northern Ireland and England. I would want to

:22:11.:22:18.

have a say in that. Good evening to my guests. First of all, we will get

:22:19.:22:24.

onto the pound shortly, but let's paint a picture, next September.

:22:25.:22:29.

Scotland says yes, what happens in Wales? If there is a yes vote, you

:22:30.:22:37.

will have two years of negotiating between the UK government or the

:22:38.:22:39.

government for the rest of the UK and Scotland. Between now and then,

:22:40.:22:44.

there will be a lot of heat and not much liked being generated because

:22:45.:22:46.

both sides will be naturally spinning their side of the argument.

:22:47.:22:50.

If Scotland goes its own way, I think for Wales, we did not need to

:22:51.:22:55.

be too nervous about this. After all, Ireland's left the United

:22:56.:23:02.

Kingdom in 1922, that did not create great issues. One thing for us is a

:23:03.:23:09.

concern, but Scotland will get much more weight and momentum to the

:23:10.:23:13.

devolution process in the case of Scotland and Wales, because Wales

:23:14.:23:17.

attended to trail behind Scotland. There is that concern that of

:23:18.:23:20.

Scotland goes its own way, that may cease. On the other hand, the people

:23:21.:23:26.

of Wales will be able to observe how successful or otherwise an

:23:27.:23:28.

independent Scotland is over the next five to ten years. That may

:23:29.:23:33.

impact the views of Welsh voters regarding further powers to Wales.

:23:34.:23:37.

The crucial relationship will be Wales and England. We do not know

:23:38.:23:43.

what it will be called. Will we be subsumed? It is a difficult position

:23:44.:23:49.

Wales would be in because it is a matter of getting your voice heard,

:23:50.:23:55.

including Scotland, the three Celtic parts of the UK have 10 million

:23:56.:24:00.

people out of a total of 64 million. England has 54 million.

:24:01.:24:05.

Overwhelmingly dominant already. Take Scotland out, you have the

:24:06.:24:13.

Celtic part of the United Kingdom. Suddenly England becomes 92% of the

:24:14.:24:16.

total. It is going to be very difficult. Particularly for Wales,

:24:17.:24:20.

although Wales is bigger than Northern Ireland, but Northern

:24:21.:24:24.

Ireland has a special status. Wales doesn't. Getting Wales's voice heard

:24:25.:24:29.

is quick to be three times harder than it is now and it is already

:24:30.:24:34.

very hard. The currency is a huge issue. Clearly the pound is the

:24:35.:24:42.

issue up in Edinburgh at the moment. Should Wales have a saying whether

:24:43.:24:47.

or not they can keep the pound? In theory, Wales should have a say. But

:24:48.:24:51.

nobody is going to listen very much to Wales. No disrespect on this

:24:52.:24:57.

issue, it is going to be very much London, Westminster Whitehall, Bank

:24:58.:25:01.

of England discussion. Wales will not count in that at all. I do not

:25:02.:25:07.

agree with that. The critical thing is whether Scotland would be allowed

:25:08.:25:11.

to join the currency union, the sterling zone, and cut corporation

:25:12.:25:17.

tax. That would be unprecedented. They would want to see the taxes

:25:18.:25:27.

that people pay no -- move it to Edinburgh and you will pay lower

:25:28.:25:35.

corporation tax. It would be quite proper for him to say hang on a

:25:36.:25:44.

minute. I do not know what the relationship is, but the issue is

:25:45.:25:51.

this. If our first Minister says we would object to Scotland staying in

:25:52.:25:54.

the sterling zone and cutting corporation tax, if they agree to

:25:55.:25:57.

keep corporation tax at the same level, OK, if we are allowed as well

:25:58.:26:03.

to cut corporation tax in Wales so we have the same advantage, in other

:26:04.:26:07.

words rewarding Scotland for breaking away from the United

:26:08.:26:11.

Kingdom and penalising Wales. Scenario B, what happens here to

:26:12.:26:20.

mark the SNP is finished, isn't it? I don't think so, I have spent a lot

:26:21.:26:28.

of time in Scotland. Certainly I think it depends on the outcome,

:26:29.:26:33.

quite how much the defeat would be for the SNP. Let's assume Scotland

:26:34.:26:39.

loses the referendum, the SNP does, there will be a move for more

:26:40.:26:44.

devolution to Scotland. Precisely how far is debatable. That is the

:26:45.:26:51.

irony, a no vote could lead to more powers for Scotland and Wales. I

:26:52.:26:56.

think it would lead to Alex Salmond's resignation. He will say,

:26:57.:27:07.

look, he will think that Scots will want to keep him, the neutrals will

:27:08.:27:10.

want to keep them as well as the SNP. You know him very well, this is

:27:11.:27:17.

a massive gamble, isn't it? It is and he is a gambler, but he will at

:27:18.:27:23.

the anti-by saying he will resign and I think he will resign if they

:27:24.:27:26.

lose the vote. Nicola Sturgeon will take over which is OK. The key thing

:27:27.:27:32.

is that in that guidebook, the White Paper they published yesterday,

:27:33.:27:36.

which is intended to paint a picture, let's get our hands on the

:27:37.:27:43.

revenue, cut corporation tax and increase public expenditure by

:27:44.:27:46.

getting our hands on the oil revenue, if Scotland votes no, are

:27:47.:27:55.

you going to say, he has painted a very positive picture, will the no

:27:56.:28:00.

campaign paint an equally positive picture of Scotland stays in the

:28:01.:28:03.

union by offering increased devolution? In a word, how will it

:28:04.:28:11.

go? It will be much closer than the polls indicate. I think now will

:28:12.:28:17.

win. But if yes wins, it will put Wales on a difficult position and

:28:18.:28:22.

the constitution of the rump UK into a very unstable situation. I hope it

:28:23.:28:28.

is a yes vote. I look forward to campaigning for a yes vote up there.

:28:29.:28:31.

Thank you very much. That's it for this week's programme.

:28:32.:28:35.

Huw Edwards will be back in two weeks' time with a special programme

:28:36.:28:38.

with Health Minister Mark Drakeford. And of course you can get in touch

:28:39.:28:42.

with any questions for the Health Minister, the issues discussed

:28:43.:28:44.

tonight, or indeed anything else. Email us at: And we are on Twitter.

:28:45.:28:52.

Thanks for watching. Diolch am wylio. Good night. Nos da.

:28:53.:28:58.

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