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Referendum a non-starter, claims Hain.

Byline: By Phillip Nifield South Wales Echo

A referendum on turning the National Assembly into a Scottish-style Parliament would be lost, Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has warned. The Neath MP maintained that a political consensus behind giving the Assembly full law-making powers was unlikely to emerge in the next four years.

His comments will certainly annoy Labour's Assembly Government coalition partners, Plaid Cymru, and could be seen as a rebuke to First Minister Rhodri Morgan.

Mr Hain was speaking following the appointment by the Assembly Government of senior retired diplomat Sir Emyr Jones Parry to lead a convention on a referendum before 2011.

He told BBC Wales's Politics Show yesterday any campaign to beef up the Assembly's law-making clout would need wide support across the political spectrum.

"We do not have that and I do not see that, this Assembly term."

Mr Hain said he was in favour of the Assembly getting primary law-making powers, but rushing into a referendum would not be wise.

"An early referendum would be lost. I didn't take the Government of Wales Bill through, nor did MPs vote for it, to be bounced into an early referendum."

Referring to the knife-edge vote that created the Assembly 10 years ago, Mr Hain added: "We only just won in 1997."

He played down suggestions the Welsh Assembly Government could pass a ban on smacking children.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 29, 2007
Words:228
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