Written Ministerial Statements
Thursday 21 October 2010
Business, Innovation and Skills
Education (Student Support) Regulations 2009 (Amendment) Regulations 2010
I am today confirming the student finance package for higher education students undertaking a course of study in the academic year beginning September 2011.
For all new and continuing full-time students in 2011-12 the package of maintenance support will be maintained at existing levels.
The maximum tuition fees for full-time courses in 2011-12 will be uprated in line with inflation to £3,375 a year. The amount of tuition fee loan will also be increased to match this amount.
For those students undertaking part-time courses the maximum fee and course grants will also be maintained at 2010-11 levels.
To implement the 2011-12 increase in fee support, and make some minor policy and technical amendments to student support regulations, I have today laid the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2009 (Amendment) Regulations 2010 before both Houses.
Bank Levy (Draft Legislation)
The Government have published draft legislation on the bank levy announced as part of the Budget in June.
The Government believe that banks should make a full and fair contribution in respect of the potential risks they pose to the UK financial system and wider economy. The Chancellor therefore announced as part of the June Budget that the Government will introduce a levy based on banks’ balance sheets to take effect from 1 January 2011. Following on from this announcement, and consistent with the Government’s approach to tax policy making, the Government published a consultation document in July. Following the conclusion of the consultation on 5 October, the Government are now taking forward the policy process by publishing the relevant draft legislation.
The levy has been designed to encourage less risky funding and complements the wider agenda to improve regulatory standards and enhance financial stability. It will apply to the global balance sheets of UK banks, and the UK operations of banks from other countries. Once fully in place, the levy is expected to generate around £2.5 billion of annual revenues.
The consultation sought views on a number of technical aspects of the design and implementation of the levy. The Government have considered carefully the responses from all interested parties. The draft legislation sets out the Government’s policy decisions on aspects of the design, including:
the £20 billion threshold is replaced by an allowance;
a principles based approach for the netting of derivatives and other assets and liabilities;
a deduction for high-quality liquid assets; and
uninsured customer deposits (except for those from financial institutions) will be subject to the half rate.
The draft legislation is accompanied by explanatory notes and a consultation response summarising the Government’s policy decisions. Final draft legislation will be published towards the end of the year, alongside final confirmation of the rate of the levy, as part of consolidated draft clauses planned for the Finance Bill 2011.
Copies of the draft legislation, explanatory notes and consultation response are available in the Vote Office and have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies of these documents are also available via the HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs websites.
Communities and Local Government
I am pleased to inform the House that the spending review has allocated a £650 million fund to help local authorities to implement a council tax freeze in England in 2011-12. Council tax has more than doubled since 1997 and the freeze will offer real help to hard-working families and those on fixed incomes such as pensioners. It will help save local taxpayers in England up to £70 living in an average band D home in England.
Alongside this, the Government continue to provide more flexibility for councils to protect front-line services like rubbish collections and care for the elderly. They intend to stop the council tax revaluation which would have led to greater tax bills over the lifetime of this Parliament for many families. The Government also intend to give local residents a new power to veto excessive council tax rises in the future, both to protect the interests of local communities and strengthen local democracy.
My Department has written to local authorities today with full details of how the scheme will operate. For the benefit of the House, the key elements are as follows:
(a) The scheme will be voluntary; and will apply separately to each billing and major precepting authority in England (including police and fire and rescue authorities) rather than to each council tax bill issued. Local precepting authorities, such as town and parish councils, will not be included in the scheme.
(b) Where an authority does not increase its basic amount of council tax in 2011-12 compared with 2010-11, it will be eligible to receive a grant equivalent to a 2.5% increase in its 2010-11 band D figure multiplied by the latest available tax base figure. Slightly different arrangements—still based upon a 2.5% grant—will apply for the Greater London authority and for those authorities which restructured in 2009, to reflect their unique circumstances.
(c) The police authorities of Greater Manchester and Nottinghamshire that are subject to capping in advance for 2011-12, will be able to take part in the scheme.
(d) The spending review has concluded that funding can only be provided to support a council tax freeze for 2011-12. However, the Government intend to provide supplementary funding to local authorities in subsequent years of the spending review to compensate them for the council tax income forgone during the period of the freeze.
The Government are delivering on their promise to deliver a freeze, which is good news for council tax payers in England. The Government expect all local, fire and police authorities to sign up to the freeze and can see no reason why they might choose to do otherwise. Nevertheless, we will not allow these authorities to set an excessive council tax increase and are prepared to use capping powers where necessary. I also urge town and parish councils to exercise restraint and make sure no council tax payer faces an increased bill.
Culture, Media and Sport
Spending Review Statement
By 2014-15, the end of this spending review period, DCMS’s combined capital and resource budget will be 25% lower than in 2010-11.
The purpose of this statement is to explain in more detail what this means for those working in our sectors.
The Government recognise that these are difficult cuts. However, it has had no choice, given the pressing need to reduce the deficit.
In looking to make savings my strategy has been based on four principles:
Cutting waste and inefficiency and stopping lower priority projects. As part of this settlement I am reducing administration costs in my own Department by 50% and I am demanding similar reductions from all of the major bodies we fund. This is in addition to our previously announced decision to abolish a number of public bodies including the UK Film Council and the Museums Libraries and Archives Council.
Protecting the front line as much as possible. By taking tough action elsewhere, we are managing to protect the National Museums and the British Library, the renaissance in the regions programme, regularly funded arts organisations. Whole sport plans for national governing bodies, the public lending right and the British Film Industry (BFI). Funding for these will fall by no more than 15% in real terms over the spending review period, requiring tough but manageable efficiencies.
Delivering a safe and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. As part of this settlement we are maintaining the planned £9.3 billion Olympic funding package. This ensures that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is fully funded through to the completion of the programme and that we retain adequate contingency to deal with key risks. However, we will continue to bear down on these costs, and have announced a number of savings, including the stadium “wrap”.
Contributing to Economic Growth. As part of this settlement we are boosting tourism by protecting Visit Britain’s £50 million marketing budget and challenging industry to match it. We are retaining support for film and the tax credit, and are also investing £230 million in broadband infrastructure, including a number of superfast broadband pilot projects.
In addition the BBC will contribute an additional £150 million per year for broadband in the four years between 2013-14 and 2016-17. This is part of a wider agreement with the BBC that will freeze the licence fee at £145.50 until April 2017. As part of this deal the BBC has agreed to take on a suite of additional spending requirements, including the BBC World Service, a significant contribution to S4C and support for local television.
Finally with great regret I have also taken the decision to withdraw funding from the Commission for Architecture and Built Environment (CABE).
The action I have taken will ensure that our sectors will get through the coming years without long-term damage. They will also benefit from our decision to restore the lottery to its original good causes, which will mean that the arts, sports and heritage sectors will each get £50 million a year extra funding from 2012.
More detail on our resource settlement is provided below and in the accompanying tables which set out DCMS’s budgets by sector and by funded bodies and programmes.
I am also providing an outline of my capital investment plan for the spending review period. This includes support for projects of major significance such as redevelopments of the British Museum and the Tate Modern, as well as continued support for sports facilities through Sport England.
In line with the Government’s commitment to transparency, I will publish all of the allocation letters I am sending to our funded bodies so that the public can see how their money is being spent and what we expect in return.
While we have had to make a number of very difficult decisions, we have acted in a decisive way that maximises the resources going to the front line. Our priority now is to get on with delivering the services the public want over the period of this Parliament and beyond.
Delivering a Safe and Successful Olympic and Paralympic Games
The top priority for my Department remains the delivery of a safe and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games. London 2012 will be a defining moment for our nation, when the eyes of the world will be upon us.
The public sector funding package available for the games will remain at £9.3 billion. Government funding for the programme, excluding security, will be held by my Department. The Greater London Authority (GLA) and Olympic Lottery Distributor will continue to contribute as per the 2007 spending review agreement. Security funding will be provided primarily by the Home Office, based on the principle that costs will lie where they fall.
This settlement ensures that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is fully funded through to the completion of the programme. We have reduced the ODA’s forecast completion cost by £20 million, in part by no longer delivering the external “Wrap” around the Olympic stadium, subject to planning conditions, and unless alternative sources of funding can be found.
In recognition of the changing focus of the programme from construction to the operational delivery of the games, the spending review settlement makes provision totalling around £0.5 billion for specific operational requirements.
As noted in the national security strategy, we must not underestimate the security challenge. The spending review settlement makes provision to ensure that all Olympic and Paralympic sporting and non-sporting venues, totalling over 100, are secure throughout the preparatory phase and six weeks of Olympic and Paralympic competition. This is over and above the funding for Olympic policing and wider security, but both are contained within the £9.3 billion funding package. As set out in the bid, venue security is a shared responsibility of the event organiser—the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG)—and the Government. LOCOG will lead the delivery of securing venues in collaboration with the police and other security agencies.
The settlement will also provide for specific extra responsibilities, for host local authorities where the burden imposed for specific games-time operations is of such a scale that it should not be borne solely by local council tax payers, and for shared responsibilities for the safety of spectators and visitors between transport hubs and sporting venues where existing budgets cannot cover the additional requirement.
The remainder of the funding package—around £0.5 billion—will be held as an Olympic contingency for cross-programme issues including a material change in security circumstances. Contingency will be strictly controlled and will only be released to meet costs that are essential for the delivery of the games, where they cannot reasonably be met from existing budgets. The contingency will be held partly by DCMS and partly within HM Treasury’s general reserve.
The Government remain committed to the public sector funding half of the incremental cost of the Paralympic Games. This is included within the £9.3 billion funding package. Separately, and outside of the £9.3 billion funding package, all Government Departments are clear as to their operational responsibilities and will fund them as required. This is recognised in their settlements.
The capital and resource allocations for the DCMS element of the Olympic and Paralympic programme are set out in the table which accompanies this statement. Further details of the spending review outcome for the Olympic programme will be provided in the next quarterly economic report on the games, due to be published on 9 November.
Supporting Elite, Community and Youth Sport
The Government remain committed to elite, community and youth sport in the run up to hosting the London 2012 games, and is confident it can deliver a real and lasting legacy.
We have made clear to UK Sport that their first priority must continue to be world class funding for Olympic and Paralympic sport in order to deliver medal success on the world stage. As part of this settlement, they will maintain the agreed funding for Olympic and Paralympic sports up to 2012, subject to the usual performance related decisions, as well as seeking to maximise performance in Glasgow 2014 and at the next Winter Olympics and Paralympics. After 2012 there will be reductions to the direct budget for Olympic and Paralympic sports but we are confident that these can be limited to 15% in real terms and we have made clear we want UK Sport to look hard for additional private sector sponsorship to make up for this.
We have also secured a good settlement for sport’s national governing bodies as part of the overall settlement with Sport England. In our discussions with them, we have been clear that resource funding for Whole Sport Plans (WSPs) is to be protected and subject to a cut of no more than 15% in real terms over the period of this spending review. The resource budget for these plans will be in addition to continued lottery funding and capital funding.
Protecting the front line in this way will mean some tough choices and I have been clear with both UK Sport and Sport England that their spending on administration needs to be reduced by 50% by the end of the spending review period. While we are planning for the organisations to merge after the Olympics, we expect them to start finding administrative savings through closer working before then.
Alongside continued funding for these two organisations, we will continue to support UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) and the Football Licensing Authority (FLA). Given their important work both these organisations will receive below average reductions in funding. We expect them to find this from administration and efficiency rather than reduced services.
Protecting Arts, Museums And Libraries
This country has some of the finest cultural institutions in the world and we are determined to protect them so they can be enjoyed by everybody both now and in the future. Our starting point has been to look for large savings to the amount of public money spent on bureaucracy. We have previously announced that we are abolishing the Museums Libraries and Archives Council, and as part of this settlement we are asking Arts Council England to reduce their administration budget by 50% as well as cutting back sharply on discretionary, non essential, spend.
By taking these tough decisions we are able to limit any damage to the front line. We have been clear with the Arts Council that it needs to protect the grants it makes to regularly funded arts organisations,—the backbone of this country’s artistic life. Individual decisions about which organisations to fund are for the Arts Council to make, but we have been clear that the total funding for arts organisations is to be reduced by no more than 15% in real terms over the spending review period.
We are providing similar protection to the British Library and the National and non- National Museums which my Department sponsors. By limiting reductions to their resource funding to 15% in real terms over the period, we are ensuring they are able to continue with the successful policy of free entry.
I am also giving these organisations the freedom to access up to £143 million of their historic reserves over the next four years. This is an important step towards delivering on the coalition commitment to providing greater freedoms for national museums and will encourage them to work towards attracting further philanthropic donations.
Another area I am able to protect is the successful renaissance in the regions programme which has done so much to improve the quality of museums in all parts of the country. While we are abolishing the MLA, this programme will transfer to another body from 2012 with cuts to its budget limited to 15% in real terms.
We have also agreed to transfer the administration of the public lending right (PLR), the fund which compensates authors for the loans of their books in public libraries. While the total funding for the PLR will be reduced over the spending review period, this will also be limited to 15% in real terms and the fund will continue to be ring fenced. Given the need to find savings, we have decided at this stage not to extend the fund to cover audio and e-books.
Safeguarding our Heritage
We also remain wholly committed to safeguarding our heritage for future generations.
As part of this settlement, English Heritage and the other grant giving bodies will remain as separate and effective funders for the sector. We are, however, demanding significant efficiencies and as with other major bodies we are insisting that English Heritage reduces its administration budgets by 50% over the spending review period and cuts back on non-essential services.
We want English Heritage to prioritise core activities such as planning advice, grants for heritage at risk and the conservation and maintenance of sites in its care. We also want them to strengthen their fundraising capacity and increase self-generated income.
The settlement also allows us to continue with funding some of our smaller but vitally important heritage organisations. While they too will be expected to find savings on their running costs, we will continue to support the likes of the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust to carry on their important work with better than average settlements. Grants to the Royal Household for the occupied Royal Palaces will also be protected, with reductions in funding of less than 13% in real terms.
We have also awarded a fixed sum every year to continue the listed places of worship scheme, which has already helped over 9,000 local communities up and down the country. In line with previous announcements, from January 2011 we will be returning this scheme to its original scope of eligibility and these restrictions will also apply for the next spending review period.
Protecting these services has meant taking some tough decisions. One of these is to reduce funding for the royal parks. Another is our decision to withdraw our funding for the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CASE). While I recognise the part that CABE has played in promoting well designed buildings and public spaces, I have judged that the most pressing need is to protect and maintain other parts of our culture and heritage.
One of the reasons why we are protecting our cultural institutions is that they play a key role in promoting tourism, an important industry which we are committed to developing.
As part of this settlement we have agreed that VisitBritain and VisitEngland will continue to play a crucial role in this area but like all our other major bodies they will have to find administrative savings of 50% over the next four years.
We also want their remaining spending to be more focused, targeted and effective. In the case of VisitBritain, this means concentrating on international marketing and PR activity in the top and emerging international markets. Over the course of this spending review period we are asking them to create a powerful £100 million partnership marketing fund, with matching funds from the industry and Government to promote the UK as a tourist destination before, during and after the Olympic games.
At the same time we want VisitEngland to focus more on investment in and support for destination management organisations and the local businesses, local authorities and enterprise partnerships involved in tourism up and down the country.
More information on all of this will be provided as part of our tourism strategy, to be published later this year, which will set out a detailed vision for boosting UK tourism and capitalising on hosting the Olympics in 2012.
Through this spending review settlement we will continue to champion our creative industries and the contribution that they make to economic growth.
One of the ways we will do this is by establishing one of the fastest broadband networks in Europe. Over the next four years we will invest £230 million in broadband. In addition, the BBC will contribute an additional £150 million per year for broadband in the four years between 2013-14 and 2016-17.
We are committed to supporting an independent BBC but are also keen to drive efficiencies and ensure better value for money for the licence fee payer. To that end, we have agreed the licence fee settlement for the remainder of the charter period. The level of the licence fee will be frozen at £145.50 until April 2017 and as part of this deal the BBC has agreed to take on a suite of additional spending requirements, including the BBC World Service, a significant contribution to S4C and support for local television.
We are committed to the future of Welsh language broadcasting and as part of the BBC licence fee deal we have secured S4C’s funding for four years. Subject to the current rules around the RPI link being changed as part of the Public Bodies Bill which will be introduced later this year, S4C’s budget will be reduced from its current levels by 24.4% over the spending review period and a partnership arrangement with the BBC will start by 2013-14. While the Government will provide the majority of funding to S4C over the SR period, the BBC will become the primary funder of S4C from 2013-14. This will happen under a new a partnership between S4C and the BBC which will retain S4Cs unique identity and editorial independence.
We are also committed to supporting our film industry. As with other areas we are determined to eradicate waste and bureaucracy and we have previously announced our decision to abolish the UK Film Council by 1 April 2012.
While we are still discussing how best to support the industry going forward we are committed to seeking to protect funding for a number of important areas over the next four years. This includes support for the film industry in the nations and in the regions, the media desk which helps secure and administer European funding, support for inward investment and work to carry out certification as part of the system of tax relief for British films.
It also includes support for the BFI which we will fund directly to maintain its important work, not least caring for one of the world’s richest and most significant collections of film archives. As with other front line services, such as museums and RFOs, we are committed to limiting reductions in their funding to no more than 15% in real terms over the course of the spending review period.
Capital and resource allocations for the DCMS element of the Olympic and Paralympic programme.
Nominal excluding Depreciation £m
Of which DCMS allocation
Of which CLG transfer
1The negative capital provision in 2013-14 and 2014-15 indicates expected capital receipts from the sale of the Olympic Village.
2The negative resource funding provision in 2014-15 is income from the Greater London Authority (GLA) which is due to be returned to the Exchequer.
% Reduction over the Period
Natural History Museum
Imperial War Museum
National Maritime Museum
National Museums Liverpool
National Portrait Gallery
National Museum of Science & Industry
Victoria & Albert Museum
Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester
Sir John Soane’s Museum
Grants to Smaller Museums
Public Lending Right
Renaissance in the Regions
Arts Council of England1
The Royal Parks Agency
Listed Places of Worship1
Churches Conservation Trust
British Film Institute
1These figures include both resource and capital allocations to reflect the shifts in accounting treatment between resource and capital being made over the spending review period.
Profile Over SR Period
Protected spend: 15% savings or less
Museums, Galleries & British Library
Renaissance in the Regions
Grants to Regularly Funded Arts Organisations1
Whole Sport Plans
Elite Athlete Funding
Football Licensing Authority
British Film Institute
20% to 25% savings
The Royal Parks Agency
Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust
Royal Naval College Greenwich
Humanitarian Assistance Unit
Listed Places of Worship
Churches Conservation Trust
Occupied Royal Palaces
UK Anti-doping & World Anti-doping Agency
English Heritage Other
English Heritage Grants
Other Sport Spending
Arts Council Administration and other Arts Spending
English Heritage Administration
Museums Libraries and Archive Council
UK Film Council
Adjustment to Broadcasting spend
1This represents an indicative budget, final decisions will be taken by the Arts Council in due course.
2S4C—After 2012-13 S4C will be mainly funded by the BBC through the licence fee. These figures show funding from both DCMS and the licence fee.
Grants and core maintenance
1. Maintenance and core capital expenditure
2. Sport England—Football Foundation
3. Sport England—Whole Sport Plans
4. Arts Council England—capital grants
5. DCMS core grants
7. English Heritage—capital grants
8. Listed places of worship—capital grants
9. Other core capital
10. Universal service commitment
11. Agreed drawdown of historic reserves
12. Transforming Tate Modern
13. UK Film Council screen heritage
14. British Library newspaper strategy
15. British Museum—north west development
16. English Heritage—National Monuments Record Archive
17. Cutty Sark
Total Capital DEL
Immigration and Asylum Appeals (Fees)
This Government believe strongly in the values of responsibility, freedom and fairness. It is these values which inform all our judgments as we face up to the exceptionally tough fiscal situation we have inherited, and it is with these values in mind that I am launching a consultation on the mechanisms for introducing fees to the immigration and asylum appeals system.
I believe that it is reasonable to ask non-UK citizens appealing against some categories of immigration and asylum decisions to contribute to the costs of the administration of that appeal, where they are able to. This is particularly the case given that some two thirds of appeal cases are declined each year.
The current situation is that the Tribunals Service Immigration and Asylum system (TSIA) demands no appeal fee. Costs are met by the Ministry of Justice through funds provided by the UK taxpayer and in part from fees levied on visa applicants by UKBA.
For this reason I am today launching a public consultation on the mechanisms for introducing fee charges as I have outlined here. The consultation will be available from today on the Ministry of Justice’s website and will run for 12 weeks, concluding on 21 January 2011.
I welcome feedback from all interested parties.
This Department is currently undertaking an internal review of legal aid and will be seeking views on reform shortly. If the proposals taken forward in the future, as a result of that consultation, affect the availability of legal aid in immigration appeals and consequently our assumptions about the impact of charging appeal fees to appellants of limited means, we will consult again as necessary on an alternative remissions and exemptions policy in respect of the fees to ensure that access to justice in immigration appeals is appropriately maintained.
Copies of the consultation paper will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.
Court Fees (Public Law Family Proceedings)
Following the recommendation by Francis Plowden in his “Review of Court Fees in Child Care Proceedings” on 15 March 2010, Jack Straw, the former Secretary of State for Justice, announced that the court fees charged to local authorities for care and supervision proceedings would be abolished from April 2011. I have carefully considered the decision of the former Secretary of State and believe that there is no justification that these fees should be abolished and as such they will remain.
Protecting vulnerable children is paramount and I do not believe that continuing to charge these court fees will place vulnerable children at risk. Local authorities have a statutory duty to investigate instances when they suspect a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm and it would be unlawful for local authorities to consider financial considerations when deciding whether to do so. There is little, if any, empirical evidence to suggest that fees are a deterrent to local authorities commencing care and supervision proceedings. Indeed, since 2008 current figures show a general rise in applications being issued.
Francis Plowden’s review found that resource issues could play a part in determining whether proceedings were initiated, however, he only believed this occurred “at the margins”. He confirmed that this conclusion was based on anecdotal evidence alone and also stated that it was unlikely that children have been knowingly left at unavoidable risk by local authorities.
The fundamental principles in setting court fees at levels that reflect the cost of the service being provided are now more important than ever in the drive to ensure all Departments are transparent and accountable for the money spent on public services. Specifically, fee charging:
improves decision-making and accountability by providing greater transparency of the true cost and benefits of the services provided by both charging and paying authority.
promotes the efficient allocation of resources enabling authorities to identify particular pressures. Local authorities can then ensure sufficient funding is made available from their overall resources to pay court fees and other necessary expenditure in pursuant of their statutory obligations.
The cost of keeping these fees has been considered and built in as appropriate to the spending review settlements 2010 for those Departments affected—the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Welsh Assembly Government.
Furthermore, in light of the work currently being undertaken by the Family Justice Review Panel it would be premature to remove the fees for care and supervision proceedings. The review panel is looking at options for reform in both public law and private law cases. The review is due to publish its final report in autumn 2011 and I will review the fees for care and supervision proceedings following these findings and any proposals that seek to change the way in which these cases are dealt with by the courts.
National Assembly for Wales (Referendum on Law-making Powers)
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.