Peers - and two first ministers - talk money and power

If Monday was a political anorak's idea of heaven, then today all our constitutional Christmases have come at once.

As I speak, their lordships are getting their teeth into the Wales Bill, which followed a short debate on the Middle East. The first speaker in the Welsh debate, Liberal Democrat Lord Roberts of Llandudno, was heard to complain "they're all leaving" as he got up to speak. The self-described manic street preachers is used to a more captive audience.

You can watch the committee stage of the bill here.

A short distance away, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones took his habitual plea for more money from Westminster to the Institute for Government. His speech went further: "Public support for the devolved Parliament and assemblies has created a presumption of popular sovereignty in the different parts of the UK, which has fundamentally challenged assumptions about a centralized British state.

"So much so, that I believe we should stop talking about devolution, what powers can be handed down by a reluctant Whitehall, and start talking about the Union, and the issues we must share with each other. The referendum campaign underlined this."

I'm unsure what he meant by "popular sovereignty" - turnout in the 2011 election was 42% - but you can read his speech here.

Back in Wales, his predecessor was delivering the inaugural Electoral Reform Society Cymru lecture. His message? Wales should be given the same levels of funding as Scotland, with a "fairer funding formula" included in a UK-wide written constitution.

"If the British government is keen on the Welsh assembly getting income tax varying powers," he said, "then the British government should accept that it must also be given Scottish levels of funding."

He also suggested the issue of "English votes for English laws" was a relatively minor one compared to the future of the House of Lords. "One day we have got to have an elected upper house of some description and by the time we get that I think we are going to be talking about the year 2020 and we're going to talk about a written constitution."

As he spoke, their unelected lordships ploughed on with the details of the Wales Bill, with government amendments to the Welsh government's tax-varying powers due to go through this evening.

If that's not enough constitutional chatter for one day, you can read the Hansard report of yesterday's House of Commons debate on "devolution following the Scottish referendum" here. Unusually, it featured speeches from four former secretaries of state for Wales - William Hague, John Redwood, David Jones and Paul Murphy.

And if your eyes still haven't glazed over, you can catch Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies with the latest from the Senedd here.

Related Topics