Wales warned: vote `Yes' and create more jobs for politicians

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Indy Politics
William Hague, a former Secretary of State for Wales, returned to the principality as leader of the Opposition yesterday with a strong attack on proposals for an elected assembly.

As the devolution campaign resumed with renewed intensity following an eight-day break, he warned people that they were being asked to buy a second-hand car without looking under the bonnet.

"Vote `No' while you've got the chance," he urged. There was a great danger that an assembly would turn Wales into a semi-detached part of the United Kingdom: "It would be a disaster to set up an additional tier of government. It doesn't need an extra roomful of politicians to make Wales a success," Mr Hague said.

He conceded that if Wales votes for an assembly next Thursday his party would try to get in on the act: "If it [a `Yes' vote] happened, Tories would stand for election to any democratic body in the UK," he told BBC Radio Wales.

Ron Davies, the Secretary of State for Wales, unveiled a list of 10 pledges said to offer Wales a brighter future. Some, such as the promises to cut class sizes and get young people off benefit and into work echo Labour's general election pledges. Others, including a commitment to represent both English speakers and Welsh speakers and to choose the brightest and best to stand for election to the 60-strong assembly firm up the Government's promises to make the body inclusive and representative of the whole Welsh nation.

"The pledges show how Labour, working in a Welsh assembly, would create a brighter future for Wales, with more jobs, better schools and a better health service," Mr Davies said.

Sir Ray Powell, the veteran MP for Ogmore, declared that he would be voting "No". "I think it's a bit much to ask us to vote `Yes' for proposals we don't know much about," he said.

Denzil Davies, MP for Llanelli, threatened to join the awkward squad, to which Llew Smith, the member for Blaenau Gwent already subscribes, because he alleged that Labour had broken an undertaking to make a bonfire of Wales' myriad quangos.

The Secretary of State countered by pointing out the White Paper proposed the amalgamation of the economic troika of the Welsh Development Agency, the Development Board for Rural Wales and the Land Authority for Wales to form an economic powerhouse. The assembly would also have the power to abolish other quangos.