The National Assembly for Wales passed a resolution on 9 February 2010 calling for a referendum under the terms of the Government of Wales Act 2006. The First Minister notified my predecessor of this resolution on 17 February 2010.
I am today laying copies of the National Assembly for Wales Referendum (Assembly Act Provisions) (Referendum Question, Date of Referendum Etc.) Order 2010, the National Assembly for Wales Referendum (Assembly Act Provisions) (Limit on Referendum Expenses Etc.) Order 2010, and the National Assembly for Wales (Legislative Competence) (Amendment of Schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act 2006) Order 2010.
I have also placed in the Library of both Houses a copy of the Electoral Commission’s report of its views on the proposed question in the referendum on law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales. This report was published on 2 September 2010, and the full report and a summary are available on the commission’s website at www.electoralcommission.org.uk.
The draft referendum order contains the bulk of the provision relating to the running of the referendum. It specifies the date of the referendum (article 3) and the referendum question and preceding statement (article 4).
I can confirm that the referendum will be held on 3 March 2011 subject to approval by Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and approval by Her Majesty the Queen in Council.
With regard to the referendum question which will appear in English and Welsh on the ballot paper, I had a statutory duty to consult the Electoral Commission on the question that is included in the draft referendum order. I referred a question proposed by the Wales Office Referendum Project Board to the Electoral Commission on 23 June 2010. The commission conducted a thorough assessment of the question and its preceding statement, including carrying out public opinion research, gathering views from interested parties and seeking advice from experts on plain language and accessibility in English and Welsh. Its findings and recommendations are contained in the report published on 2 September 2010, referred to above.
I have already welcomed the report which made clear that it is a far from easy matter to draft a question for this referendum. During the testing process, the commission discovered that two factors in particular contribute to making it a difficult task: the complexity of the subject matter of the referendum, and the generally low level of public awareness and understanding of issues and terminology relating to it.
However, with the benefit of the public opinion research and consultation that the Electoral Commission undertook to assess the intelligibility of the proposed question, they were able to suggest a question and preceding statement that would address, as far as possible, the issues they had discovered in terms of complexity and low levels of awareness. I discussed the commission’s report, its findings and recommendations with the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister and we agreed to accept the commission’s recommended revision of the question and its preamble which is as follows:
The National Assembly for Wales: what happens at the moment;
The Assembly has powers to make laws on 20 subject areas, such as:
In each subject area, the Assembly can make laws on some matters, but not others. To make laws on any of these other matters, the Assembly must ask the UK Parliament for its agreement. The UK Parliament then decides each time whether or not the Assembly can make these laws.
The Assembly cannot make laws on subject areas such as defence, tax or welfare benefits, whatever the result of this vote.
Do you want the Assembly now to be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for?
If most voters vote “yes”
The Assembly will be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for, without needing the UK Parliament’s agreement.
If most voters vote “no”
What happens at the moment will continue.
Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru: yr hyn sy’n digwydd ar hyn o bryd;
Mae gan y Cynulliad bwerau i lunio deddfau mewn 20 maes pwnc, megis:
Mae’r Cynulliad yn gallu llunio deddfau ar rai materion ym mhob maes pwnc ond nid ar faterion eraill. Er mwyn llunio deddfau ar unrhywun o’r materion eraill hyn, mae’n rhaid i’r Cynulliad ofyn am gytundeb Senedd y DU. Yna, mae Senedd y DU yn penderfynu bob tro a gaiff y Cynulliad lunio’r deddfau hyn neu beidio.
Ni all y Cynulliad lunio deddfau mewn meysydd pwnc fel amddiffyn, trethi neu fudd-daliadau lles, beth bynnag fo canlyniad y bleidlais hon.
A ydych yn dymuno i’r Cynulliad allu llunio deddfau ar bob mater yn yr 20 maes pwnc y mae ganddo bwerau ynddynt?
Os bydd y rhan fwyaf o bleidleiswyr yn pleidleisio “ydw”
Bydd y Cynulliad yn gallu llunio deddfau ar bob mater yn yr 20 maes pwnc y mae ganddo bwerau ynddynt, heb orfod cael cytundeb Senedd y DU.
Os bydd y rhan fwyaf o bleidleiswyr yn pleidleisio “nac ydw”
Bydd yr hyn sy’n digwydd ar hyn o bryd yn parhau.