‘New era' for devolution to Wales

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns has hailed ‘a new era of devolution to Wales’ as MPs backed moves to transfer new powers and accountability for the Welsh Assembly.

MPs gave the Wales Bill an unopposed third reading on Monday 12 September but other parties wanted more from it.

The assembly could change income tax rates, and have more say over energy, transport and its own elections, but the government stopped short of a separate justice system for Wales.

Speaking in the Commons, Cairns said: "Together, the powers in this Bill will usher a new era of devolution to Wales - one which draws a line under the constant squabbles over where powers lie.

"One in which people are clear of who should be held accountable for the decisions over public services that they use every day. And one in which the Welsh government is truly accountable to the people of Wales."

Shadow Welsh secretary Paul Flynn has warned that the Bill ‘was just a stage’ and not the end of devolution, outlining his aim for the government to ‘pull their anchor up and let the good ship Welsh Assembly sail free into clear waters’.

The Bill will undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords.

The Welsh government has also announced that it hopes that a new budget deal with the UK government could be finalised by the start of 2017.