A more prosperous Wales? Part II of Constitutional Convention plans

Do we need more powers over our economy? Lee Waters invites you to help shape the design of the Crowd Sourced Constitutional Convention

The second stage of our Crowd Sourced Constitutional Convention will focus on the economy.

Just as we are ‘crowd sourcing’ the funding to try and help us hold this innovative experiment in deliberative democracy, we are also ‘crowd sourcing’ the design of the debate.  This week on Click on Wales we are posting the working drafts of our plans for each of the stages of the eight-week project for you to shape.

After considering what the purpose of the UK in the first week in our second phase, lasting a fortnight, we’ll be asking: How do we create a more prosperous Wales?

As with all the themes four cross-cutting themes have guided the design of our questions:

  • Performance to date
  • Barriers to progress
  • Capacity and calibre
  • Do we need more powers to identify these problems?

We’ll begin the phase with a series of open questions to encourage debate on how the Welsh economy has performed since devolution, and what lessons can be learned. This stage will be accompanied by pieces in the Western Mail Business section and on walesonline.co.uk. We’ll have a box on the page with ideas for ‘one thing to improve the Welsh economy’. The best of these ideas will then be voted on at end of the stage.

Here is our plan for the phase:

  1. A summary of the state we’re in – high level summary of economic performance

    1. In what areas could we do better?

    2. In what areas are we out-performing?

  1. Why haven’t we performed better?

    1. “It’s not just about powers” – use case studies of North east England Scotland & Northern Ireland

    2. Should we be focusing more on our Cities to drive growth?- why isn’t Newport/Cardiff and Swansea region over-performing?

    3. Case studies/ interviews/ vox pops about current Welsh/UK gov actions?

  1. What would ‘better’ look like?

    1. Set out levels of GDP growth needed to catch up to UK average

    2. Blue sky thinking – could we aim to be Number One for green technology, for example?

  1. What sort of jobs do you want your children to have?

  1. Are they being taught the skills needed to do those jobs?

  1. Summary of discussion so far – Performance versus powers

  1. Should Wales get extra powers? (Pose series of binary questions we’ll be able to measure responses to) :

  • Should Wales be given the same powers as Scotland to adjust rates of income tax?
  • Should Corporation Tax be devolved to Wales? (as it is to Northern Ireland)
  • Scotland is getting powers to receive the first 10 percentage points of VAT revenue, should Wales receive the same powers?
  • Should Wales be offered control of the taxes charged to all air passengers leaving Welsh airports?
  • The Silk Commission proposed devolving responsibility over the water industry, is this move beneficial to Wales?
  • Should Wales have direct control of regulatory powers over rail, ports and taxis as well as rail regulation?
  • Is it in Wales’ interests to have the power to approve energy projects of up to 350 megawatts?
  1. Conclusion – summarise the responses to the direct questions, and vote on the best ideas to improve the economy.

The overall aim of this phase is to debate the constitutional questions raised by the Silk Commission and the Smith Commission within the context of the track record of the Welsh Government and National Assembly since 1999. We’ll examine what factors need to be considered in improving Wales’ economic performance, and what role additional powers play. We’ll look at the specific proposals in the Smith Commission report for Scotland and ask whether they should apply to Wales.

We’d value your input to try and shape this attempt at engaging the public in a debate about our country’s future.  Also if you are able to make a financial contribution to help us reach the potential of this initiative please donate here.

[* The expert group we consulted on the design of the first and fourth stage included Sion Barry, Ian Courtney, Tegid Roberts and Rhodri Evans.]

Lee Waters is IWA Director

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