Wales politics

Welsh Secretary says parties will work together on devolution proposals

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Media captionStephen Crabb said there would be regular meetings between the parties

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb says he and senior MPs from other parties have agreed to work together on "proposals" to devolve more powers to Wales.

At a 90-minute meeting at the Wales Office in London today, Mr Crabb heard the views of Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats.

An agreement was made to put aside political differences to "strengthen" the devolution settlement for Wales.

Mr Crabb said: "We're going to be meeting now on a monthly basis."

He added: "We've agreed to work together to put aside our political differences to work up some specific proposals using the work of the Silk commission previously, but not just limited to that, to try to develop some proposals that we can show the people of Wales ahead of the next election that we're serious about strengthening devolution and making it work for all the people."

Mr Crabb met his Labour shadow Owen Smith, Plaid Cymru parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd and Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams to hear their views following the Scottish independence referendum.

He said the aim was to test whether there was any potential to see if they could come up with an agreement "on what the next stage of devolution looks like for the people of Wales".

The Welsh Secretary said his work would be considered in government alongside that of the Smith commission on devolution for Scotland and the UK cabinet committee on devolution chaired by Commons leader William Hague.

'Constructive meeting'

Mr Smith, commenting after today's meeting, said: "This was a constructive meeting.

"It was encouraging to hear the Secretary of State is prepared to engage with Labour and other political parties on how we take devolution forward in Wales, while maintaining the strength and integrity of the union.

"I impressed on the Secretary of State the need for his government to deliver fair funding for Wales and am pleased that he seemed prepared to address this issue."

The discussions came as the bill offering Wales increased powers, including over taxation, was being debated in the House of Lords.

During the debate, there was a renewed call for the number of assembly members in Cardiff Bay to be increased.

Independent crossbencher Lord Rowe-Beddoe said there should be at least 80 AMs to handle the responsibilities of more power.

That was supported by the former Liberal Democrat AM, Baroness Humphreys, and Labour's Baroness Gale.

However, Wales Office minister Lady Randerson cautioned peers about the impact such an increase could have on public opinion at a time when the view of politics and politicians was at a "pretty low ebb".

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