26/02/2014 The Wales Report


26/02/2014

Are political parties in Wales in agreement on the next steps towards devolution? Plus an exploration of national identity in Wales today, ahead of St David's Day.


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Tonight on The Wales Report: Where are we heading on the devolution

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journey? How should Wales be governed in the

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years to come? We'll be looking ahead to the latest milestone which

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affects all of us. Local authority budgets under pressure - we'll be

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looking at the implications for Welsh libraries.

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And as St David's Day approaches, we'll be talking about modern

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notions of national identity. Stay with us for The Wales Report.

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Good evening. Welcome to The Wales Report - our chances to look at the

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issues affecting lives in Wales and question those making the decisions.

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On tonight's programme: The future shape of the United Kingdom is in

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the spotlight again. David Cameron took his cabinet to

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Aberdeen this week as the debate on Scottish independent intensifies.

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And in Wales we're expecting the next stage in our own debate when

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the Silk Commission publishes the second part of its recommendations

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on how Wales should be governed. But we can't even agree on Silk Part one

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and key financial powers, so is there any prospect of consensus on

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the next step? Our parliamentary correspondent David Cornock has been

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investigating. The shape of the UK is shifting

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beneath our feet, and I am not just talking about the floods. In

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Aberdeen on Monday you could not move for politicians wanting to talk

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independence. Whispers that the union cannot remain as it is when

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the Scots stay or go are growing louder and louder. Wales can only

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shout from the sidelines in that particular battle, but we do have

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our own constitutional issues to grapple with. Next week the SIlk

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Commission on devolution is due to publish its second report. It is

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looking at areas like justice and whether they will stay here or be

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transferred to Cardiff Bay. The UK Government says there is no need for

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radical change, so stand by for another row. The first part of the

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SIlk Commission is still under scrutiny. It was not meant to be

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like this. David Cameron and Nick Clegg came to be Senate with smiling

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faces. There was a bipartisan self pitch and it worked for a while. The

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four party leaders in the Assembly welcomed the announcement. However,

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the Welsh record in areas like health and education started to be

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noticed here. If anyone wants to know what will happen to the NHS

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under Labour they can look at Wales where they are smashing the NHS

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budget and they are seeing more people waiting for longer. That is

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what happens when you get a Labour Party running the NHS. Devolution

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will always mean tension between Wales and Westminster. The powers

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debate has exposed differences between the leaders of the Welsh

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Conservatives in Wales and in Westminster. There is a perception

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that the Welsh Secretary does not want to acquiesce to be

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suggestions. It is not good for the party. The problem for the Welsh

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Conservatives is that neither Andrew RT Davies or Andrew Jones believes

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the other's job should exist. There is suggestion that the Welsh

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Conservatives could come more autonomous, like in Scotland. I have

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been covering the Welsh grand committee for 25 years, man and boy.

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Earlier this month the Shadow Welsh Secretary break the committee's

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underwritten roles and said something newsworthy. Labour

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ministers in Cardiff may have described the tax and borrowing

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packages as a good deal for Wales. Owen Smith put it slightly

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differently. We will not ease seeking income tax varying powers in

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the future. We feel there is a trap being laid for Welsh people by the

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Conservatives. Where does this leave us? Welsh government ministers could

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find themselves in an exclusive club of politicians, turning down the

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offer of more powers and then refusing to use them even if they

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are given them. Power dashed these days, you can't even give it away.

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David Cornock reporting. Joining me now is the chair of the Welsh

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Affairs Select Committee at Westminster, the Conservative MP

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David Davies. Thank you for joining us. Our more powers needed in

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Cardiff or not? Everyone has a slightly different opinion. My view

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is no secret. I would not divulge further powers to the Welsh

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Assembly. After the last referendum, politicians who wanted those powers

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and got them said they had all be tools in the tool box and they just

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wanted to get on with things and I wish them every success with that.

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Let them get on with things. There is no need to grant further powers

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every couple of years, which is what we seem to be doing. Do you think

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they are in a position to govern effectively without the powers over

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things like income tax? They are. They have been making changes in

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health and education without those powers. Those changes have not been

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promising. Education is lagging and we have longer waiting lists, but

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they have had the powers to do things about it, but they have just

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not done anything about it. What are your thoughts on devolving income

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tax powers, for example? We said that we would abide by the temp

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macro one. -- Silk Commission. I would prefer they did not have

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powers over income tax. Clearly lots of people in all of the political

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parties have different views. There is no secret that there is a

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difference of opinion within the Conservative Party. There are also

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differences within the Labour Party. The divisions are clear. Do you

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regret the fact that four colleagues were dismissed on this issue? I have

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made my views clear. I was surprised that for my colleagues were

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dismissed for effectively backing the Conservative Party policy in

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London. That was a surprising decision. I have voted against my

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own party on occasion in Westminster. I find people are

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relatively accepting of that and I thought it would either same in

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Cardiff. Do you think Mr Davies is the right man to lead the Welsh

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Conservatives in the next election? He remains the leader and that is

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fine. Do you think you should be? I do want to see a big row over it. I

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hope we can sort things out a little bit more at the meetings that we

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will be having shortly. You don't sound very enthusiastic, David. I am

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enthusiastic about seeing a strong Conservative group in the Welsh

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Assembly and I won't do anything to undermine them. You have an away

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because you have not said whether is the right person to lead the party.

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No one else is putting their hat into the ring. He is the right

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person at the moment. He said he would not support further powers for

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the Assembly and he told us all the things we wanted to hear and we were

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all very pleased with what he had to say a couple of years ago. Are you

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saying he has changed his tune? I am not, but some things are off-kilter

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at the moment. When you have a devolved administration and parties

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which are represented in Cardiff and Westminster, there are bound to be

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tensions. As you have said, they apply to other parties as well, but

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in your party they have come to the fore and I wonder why you cannot say

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to me that that you think Andrew RT Davies is doing the right thing. I

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support the Conservative Party in the Welsh Assembly and I want is to

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win more seats. I will do nothing to undermine them and I am aware of the

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failures of the NHS. I have children in state schools and use the NHS. I

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want what everyone else wants. At the moment, we have not got as good

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a system in Wales as we do in England. Finally, what would you say

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to the viewers dash do you think the Assembly -- to the viewers? Should

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the Assembly just stumble on? We are giving more and more powers to the

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Assembly every couple of years without there being any chance of

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taking powers away and we are going on a one-way trip towards

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independence. I am a unionist. Other people have their opinions and if

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they are willing to argue it honestly, let's do it. We are sleep

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walking into independence without doing anything about the West

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Lothian question. It worries me that we are doing this. Thank you for

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talking to us. I will be discussing the latest findings of the Silk

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Commission next week. In the coming weeks councils

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throughout Wales will finalise budgets that will bring far-reaching

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changes to the way public services are delivered. The squeeze is likely

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to affect leisure and library provision across Wales, despite a

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legal requirement that councils have to provide an efficient and

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comprehensive library service. As Helen Callaghan reports, there are

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concerns that more needs to be done to save Welsh libraries from the

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threat of closure. It is the heartbeat of the community. Without

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this place I would not know where to go. It is getting busier. Every week

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there seems to be more and more people. We really want to see the

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library survive and it went before the lack of effort. We are the sixth

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richest country in the world. We should be able to afford a likely

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service. Why law, councils must provide communities with a

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comprehensive and efficient library service. There are serious concerns

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that this is being conferred coxswain -- this is being forgotten.

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It is important councils think these things through and don't think it is

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a cheap and easy way with no consequence. It will have a huge

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impact on people 's lives. There is a link between literacy and

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anti-social behaviour and criminality. All of these decisions

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have costs. The generations like these have been a focal point for

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generations and that -- a focal point for communities and that

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remains the same. You can access the Internet for free, take out books

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and do courses. It is a hub for the entire community. Some authorities

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have invested in libraries rather than cutting them. Libraries still

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have a place in the hearts of Welsh people with visitor numbers rising

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by 21% in the last ten years. Across the rest of the UK their use has

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declined. On a miserable Monday, the library's importance to local people

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is plain to see. The local job club is a lifeline for people who cannot

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travel to the job centre or those who do not have the Internet. They

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make sure I am doing things correctly. I wouldn't be to do this

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if the library wasn't here. We have a lot of people here on a Monday

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morning. This is the heartbeat of the community. Without this place I

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would not know where to go. But in some communities that heartbeat is

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becoming fainter and soon may stop altogether. It is expect to that

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over 30 libraries will close across Wales following council cuts. In

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this area nine are under threat. This library is one aim to the

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closure. It is due to shut its doors at the end of March, but local

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people are doing everything in their power to make sure it stays open.

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Coming to the rescue are two residents who have never run a

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library before. They are due to take over on the 1st of April. We don't

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want the libraries to close. We have lost so many amenities in the past.

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Libraries run by local communities were once a common sight. Wash

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miners would pay some of their wages towards their local library. --

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Welsh miners. It will be difficult to reach the

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standard of the professionals but we will learn and we will come through.

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We want to see the library survive. In England it is estimated that

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nearly 500 libraries and now run by volunteers, charities or social

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enterprises but many argue that has led to a drop in standards. We are

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very much for libraries working with people in the community but the

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issue here is the replacement of paid professional staff with

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volunteers. We have seen what has happened across England. It has led

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to a patchwork service. With further budget cuts predicted that there's

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more libraries will close and the standards of those are staying open

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will fall. Many believe it's up to politicians to police those

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providing them and ensure our libraries don't become easy prey for

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those balancing the books. When Britain was on its knees at the end

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of the war there was still this idea about building a better library

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service. Even during those dark periods, it never went backwards.

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This is the first time this has happened.

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Helen Callaghan reporting. Joining me now is the Culture Minister, John

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Griffiths. There was a phrase there that libraries could be easy prey

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for those people looking for cats. Do you they -- they fear they are

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becoming easy prey? Libraries is a statutory responsibility. We have to

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get that message over loud and clear. Together with that, the very

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valuable role that libraries play and it's a wide ruled today. It's

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about helping people develop information technology skills and

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using IT equipment. They are -- there are new usages for libraries

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as well as the traditional usages. My role is to worth -- work with

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local authorities so that picture is fully understood. I disappointed

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that at least 31 libraries are facing the axe? I am disappointed

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that threat is hanging over those libraries. We need to look at the

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whole picture. Local authorities have different geographical

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circumstances, different patterns of delivery. So some of those are

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justified? Maybe. Some libraries have low usage. It is because of the

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publishing and geography and it can be justified to close library. 30

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sounds quite high to me but I know the consultation processes have

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shown just what I described earlier, that local communities really do

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value they library services and as a result of that consultation

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process, some local authorities are looking at these issues again. Can

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you say to them, I know you are in a difficult position but it is my view

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that in this case you are wrong to close these libraries. Can you do

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that? Not easily. I do have powers of information and I can hold an

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enquiry and I can remove library services from a local authority. But

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that is a last resort. What we want to do is work closely with local

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authorities to point out that are new models of delivery and

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provision. Co-location for example. Co-location with leisure services

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and information stop shops and museum space and community cafes. We

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have some really good examples and where we bring services together,

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they can be provided more economic view. When we can to the end of this

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process, do you hope that most of these 30 when we are talking about

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will be saved? I hope so. We are seeing those conversations taking

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place as to how those libraries could be saved. Could you offer some

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financial support? We have provided ?12 million to 89 libraries. Much of

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the co-location has been at -- as a result of that financial help. We

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have not got a great thought of resource -- a great deal of resource

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available. We face the same difficult financial circumstances

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ourselves. Now, how many of many of you feel

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like this? # Every day when I wake up I thank

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the Lord I'm Welsh. We've been putting that sentiment to

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the test. In a special BBC Poll for St David's Day, we asked you to tell

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us how you feel about your national identity. Nearly a quarter of you

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say you feel more Welsh than British. With just 8% saying they

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feel more British than Welsh. But it seems that those polled are more

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comfortable with a dual identity, with almost 40% saying they feel

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both equally Welsh and British. The author Jon Gower has been to meet

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students at St David's College in Cardiff to get a flavour of the

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debate on identity there. As Saint Davids day approaches it

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seems appropriate to come to a college named after our patron saint

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to consider the cognitive issue of British versus Welsh identity. Do

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you see yourself as Welsh or British? British. Welsh. More Welsh

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than British. Half Welsh and half Somali. I feel more Welsh than

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British. What is it about being Welsh that appeals to you? Having a

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language you can identify as your own. That is very important to me.

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You don't have to speak Welsh to be Welsh. Definitely not. You have to

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embrace or culture. If people don't embrace their culture, they just

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live in Wales and they are not Welsh. But when they are able to get

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involved in all our traditions and our historical aspects, if they can

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embrace that and enjoy it, then they are Welsh. Identity can swiftly

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turned into nationalism and there are good cones and bad kinds of

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that. Once identity comes -- becomes political, it can become a charged

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word. I know some Welsh people who very much dislike the idea of being

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British. You have to find the right kind of balance for you. You should

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not go overboard to the extreme. To be British, is it to be proud of

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being British as well? To be British I think involves generally

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understanding every aspect of Britain so that involves Scotland,

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England, Ireland and Wales. Understanding a mixture of cultures

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and embracing that. It is a matter of allegiance, isn't it? It is such

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a vibrant culture and not a lot of people expect what we can offer as a

:24:26.:24:29.

country. The diversity of Wales is key and it is one of the things that

:24:30.:24:39.

makes Wales, Wales. Wales is steadily becoming more multicultural

:24:40.:24:45.

and I do feel comfortable here and I know I won't be discriminated

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against because I am different. It seems in matters of identity at all

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but -- it all boils down to choice and it's a bit like choosing soup in

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a restaurant. You either go for the Welsh soup or find out it is all a

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kind of minestrone. Jon Gower with students from St

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David's College in Cardiff. I'm joined now by the Assembly Member,

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Lord Elis Thomas, formerly Presiding Officer at the National Assembly and

:25:16.:25:19.

a former chair of the Welsh Language Board. That was an interesting set

:25:20.:25:24.

of voices. I thought they were very intelligent and had a very den Amick

:25:25.:25:33.

cultural idea of identity. -- a dynamic cultural idea. It is

:25:34.:25:40.

interesting when you put in -- put it in the context of the latest ABC

:25:41.:25:44.

poll which suggests the biggest chunk of people in Wales still

:25:45.:25:48.

consider themselves to be half British and half Welsh. Is that an

:25:49.:25:54.

odd finding in 2014? I don't think it's odd at all. I don't usually use

:25:55.:26:02.

the word British myself that the UK has given me a good living. In the

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context of the lively debate now in Scotland, on independence, whatever

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the result, how is that likely to translate in Wales in terms of

:26:18.:26:21.

people's notion of Welshness not just in a political context within a

:26:22.:26:27.

cultural context? It is already making a difference. The whole

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debate in Scotland is forcing us to ask, we is England and Wales? The

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Scottish government has redefined what being an independent country

:26:37.:26:40.

means. A lot of the argument now is between the UK government which is

:26:41.:26:48.

saying you can't have joint currency. In my analysis, Scotland

:26:49.:26:56.

is not believe the UK. The UK is changing yet again. The whole thing

:26:57.:27:00.

has been a feature of the Imperial period. Now the Imperial period is

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over, the relations between the countries will change. I work in a

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building in London where the four countries of the UK at up on the

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wall and at the centre and heart of the building. The UK has always been

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a multinational state. We started with this idea of Welsh identity and

:27:23.:27:27.

how it has changed. It is 40 years since you were first elected as an

:27:28.:27:36.

MP. If Scotland votes yes, what will that mean for politics in Wales? And

:27:37.:27:45.

what will it mean to the notion of national identity in Wales? The key

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thing is that England has got to become a proper European -- European

:27:52.:27:54.

country and its own right. That is the future. The principality of

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Wales was our creation. The nationality of Wales has been in

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doubt at different times but for the majority of the people of Wales, it

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has never been in doubt. It has been reinvented by devolution. The

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diversity and culture and social values, all these things are

:28:20.:28:28.

essential to our culture of being. That will still grow. The politics

:28:29.:28:34.

is a bit late catching up with that. That's it for this week's programme.

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We'll be back next Wednesday. In the meantime, you can get in touch with

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us about the issues discussed tonight, or indeed anything else.

:28:42.:28:43.

E-mail us at [email protected] And we are

:28:44.:28:45.

on Twitter - @thewalesreport. Thanks for watching. Good night. Nos

:28:46.:28:47.

da.

:28:48.:28:51.

With the second part of a commission into devolution in Wales due to report, are political parties in Wales in agreement on the next steps? And an exploration of national identity in Wales today, ahead of St David's Day.


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