Tories would ‘force’ assembly changes

The Conservative election campaign has been plunged into controversy after their Welsh campaign leader said a Tory government would force changes through the Welsh Assembly without the consent of Assembly Members.

A Plaid Cymru spokesman described Nigel Evans’s comments as “outrageous” while Labour accused the Tories of trying to face two ways at once.

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats have said it shows that the Conservatives would be quite prepared to force policies on Wales.

Speaking on BBC Wales’ Dragon’s Eye, Mr Evans said the Conservatives would override the wishes of Welsh Assembly members if necessary.

He said they would force through fundamental changes to the Assembly, even if most AMs opposed reform.

Mr Evans said a Tory administration would use primary legislation to ensure the assembly works better.

Leading the criticisms of the Conservatives plans, First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: “The Tories are fundamentally divided over the future of the National Assembly.

“Their attempts to face two opposite directions at the same time have been exposed by this election campaign.

He added: “Nigel Evans and Nick Bourne are pursuing two entirely different policies, hoping the voters won’t notice.

“Nigel Evans wants to see a Tory UK Government ride roughshod over the Assembly’s own wishes, while Nick Bourne valiantly pretends that AMs’ views would be taken into account.”

Independent commission

During a visit to north Wales on Monday William Hague denied that the comments made by Nigel Evans constituted a change in party policy on devolution.

He told BBC Wales that Conservative party policy was absolutely clear – that in government they would create an independent commission to look into the workings of the National Assembly.

But Plaid’s Meirionydd Nant Conwy candidate Elfyn Llwyd has accused the Tories of “ignoring the settled view of the people of Wales”.

Tory rule

Mr Llwyd called the Conservatives “enemies of devolution” and said: “They’re trying a backdoor method of winding devolution back.”

Meanwhile the Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Richard Livsey said: “For 18 years, the Tories ruled Wales as though it was a colony they had conquered even though at no time have they had a majority here.

“Their Welsh manifesto either shows a complete lack of understanding for devolution or deliberately misleads people.”