Friday, 4 March 2011
- YES - Another Step to Independence
The Welsh Assembly has been granted more law-making powers following a referendum about its role.Skip related content
Under the current rules, laws can only be passed in Cardiff with permission from Westminster but now the Assembly will be able to pass laws on these subjects without getting permission first.
The Assembly has responsibility for 20 areas including health, education, housing and theenvironment, but it cannot change taxes or make decisions on policing.
The Say Yes For Wales campaign chairman, Roger Lewis, said he was delighted with the result and added "it is clear, the people of Wales have spoken".
First Minister Carwyn Jones also joined in with the celebrations saying "this has been a Yes vote across the whole of Wales."
Mr Jones had described the current system as the slowest in Britain, warning: "In a fast-changing world we can't afford to be stuck in the slow lane while everyone else in the UK can take decisions more quickly than us."
Wales, for instance, was the first assembly to vote for a smoking ban, but the last to introduce one, after having to first apply to the UK Government for what is known as a Legislative Competence Order.
The referendum question put to 2.2m voters was: "Do you want the Assembly now to be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for?"
A "Yes" vote was widely expected, but there were concerns over turnout, with the "No" camp insisting a turnout of lower than 30% would challenge the legitimacy of the poll and throw the whole issue of devolution into question.
However, turnout was announced as being 35.2% - a reduction of more than 20 percentage points compared with the 1997 referendum.
Sky News spoke to voters on the English-Welsh border in Chepstow before the result.
While there was some interest in the referendum, the vast majority seemed confused about what was being asked of them and were unsure what the new powers would mean in practice.
Under devolved administration, prescriptions in Wales are free, children are entitled to a free school breakfast, and Welsh students will have their university top-up tuition fees paid for by their government.
But there are wider problems within the Welsh economy, as the country has struggled with the decline of the mining and steel industries and unemployment remains above the national average.
In education, an area devolved to Cardiff, two in five children reach secondary school more than a year behind in their reading.
The latest report from the Welsh Schools Inspectorate also found almost a third of schools had poor resources.