Assembly for Wales in 1999

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The Independent Online
With September's referendum in Wales carried by the narrowest of majorities, the Secretary of State for Wales, Ron Davies, appears to have lost little time in getting the devolution show on the road. The Bill establishing a National Assembly for Wales - a title enshrined in the legislation rather than plain "Welsh Assembly" - heralded a new era for the Principality, he claimed yesterday.

The 60-strong body will take over the functions of the Welsh Office and its pounds 7bn annual budget in May 1999. Forty members - one for each of the Westminster constituencies - will be elected by the first-past-the- post system, with proportional representation delivering 20 from party-lists.

The assembly will work through a committee system controlling a range of functions from education to Welsh language policy. It will not have primary legislative powers and one of its priorities will be to reform Wales' multitude of quangos.

Mr Davies said the assembly would be modern, forward-looking and an institution with which people would feel comfortable.

"The National Assembly for Wales will be based on modern working and political practices. I hope to see political parties working together in a positive way which will allow individuals to have their voices heard," he said.