I've made mistakes with devolution, says Blair

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Indy Politics

Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted today that he had made a mistake in the Government's programme of devolution.

His admission came the day after a leading Liberal Democrat called for more power for the Scottish Parliament.

In an interview with The Observer, Mr Blair maintained that Labour had to keep tight discipline, but conceded his record on handing over power was not perfect.

Referring to Wales - where he supported Alun Michael becoming First Secretary against popular Labour figure Rhodri Morgan - Mr Blair said: "Essentially you've got to let go of it with devolution.

"I would have to say that I got that judgment wrong."

His admission came after Liberal Democrat MP Malcolm Bruce attacked Labour's devolution settlement and claimed it was "unsustainable in the long term".

Mr Bruce, MP for Gordon and the party's Defence and Foreign Affairs spokesman, told the Welsh Lib Dem's annual conference at Llandudno that the Scottish Parliament should be given full control over Scotland's financial affairs.

"Understandably many people in Wales want their Assembly to have powers similar to that of the Scottish Parliament," he told delegates.

"The Scottish Parliament itself will not be able to meet the aspirations of the Scottish people, however, until it has control over their own revenues.

"The devolution settlement for Scotland and Wales is unsustainable in the long run.

"Tony Blair's efforts to control the Assembly have backfired but that obscures the fact that the Welsh Assembly has neither adequate powers nor the financial resources to meet the expectations of the Welsh people."

Mr Blair's comments were interpreted as an admission that he should not have sought to block Mr Morgan in favour of Alun Michael. Mr Michael later resigned as First Secretary of the Welsh Assembly and was replaced by Mr Morgan.

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