26/02/2014 The Wales Report


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


journey? How should Wales be governed in the


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


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


looking at the implications for Welsh libraries.


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


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


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


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


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


the spotlight again. David Cameron took his cabinet to


Aberdeen this week as the debate on Scottish independent intensifies.


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


the Silk Commission publishes the second part of its recommendations


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


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


the next step? Our parliamentary correspondent David Cornock has been


investigating. The shape of the UK is shifting


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


will always mean tension between Wales and Westminster. The powers


debate has exposed differences between the leaders of the Welsh


Conservatives in Wales and in Westminster. There is a perception


that the Welsh Secretary does not want to acquiesce to be


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


Conservatives is that neither Andrew RT Davies or Andrew Jones believes


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


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


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


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


underwritten roles and said something newsworthy. Labour


ministers in Cardiff may have described the tax and borrowing


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Affairs Select Committee at Westminster, the Conservative MP


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


difference of opinion within the Conservative Party. There are also


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


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


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


dismissed for effectively backing the Conservative Party policy in


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


own party on occasion in Westminster. I find people are


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


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


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


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


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


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


enthusiastic about seeing a strong Conservative group in the Welsh


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Assembly every couple of years without there being any chance of


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


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


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


walking into independence without doing anything about the West


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


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


Commission next week. In the coming weeks councils


throughout Wales will finalise budgets that will bring far-reaching


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


to affect leisure and library provision across Wales, despite a


legal requirement that councils have to provide an efficient and


comprehensive library service. As Helen Callaghan reports, there are


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


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


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


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


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


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


service. Why law, councils must provide communities with a


comprehensive and efficient library service. There are serious concerns


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


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


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


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


anti-social behaviour and criminality. All of these decisions


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


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


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


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


have invested in libraries rather than cutting them. Libraries still


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Welsh miners. It will be difficult to reach the


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


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


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


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


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


issue here is the replacement of paid professional staff with


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


This is the first time this has happened.


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


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


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


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


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


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


about helping people develop information technology skills and


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


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


local authorities so that picture is fully understood. I disappointed


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


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


whole picture. Local authorities have different geographical


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


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


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


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


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


value they library services and as a result of that consultation


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


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


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


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


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


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


authorities to point out that are new models of delivery and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


available. We face the same difficult financial circumstances


ourselves. Now, how many of many of you feel


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


debate on identity there. As Saint Davids day approaches it


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


understanding every aspect of Britain so that involves Scotland,


England, Ireland and Wales. Understanding a mixture of cultures


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


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


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


makes Wales, Wales. Wales is steadily becoming more multicultural


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


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


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


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


kind of minestrone. Jon Gower with students from St


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


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


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


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


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


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


poll which suggests the biggest chunk of people in Wales still


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Scottish government has redefined what being an independent country


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


diversity and culture and social values, all these things are


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


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


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


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


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


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




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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