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Beaufort Poll shows support for National Assembly for Wales and further powers continues to grow

Published 13 August 2013

According to an opinion survey undertaken by Beaufort Research on behalf of the Commission on Devolution in Wales, a majority of the Welsh public believe the National Assembly for Wales (NafW) has provided a strong voice for Wales and would like to see further powers devolved over a period of time.

Beaufort Research interviewed a representative sample of 2,009 members of the Welsh population aged 16 and above between 21 May and 12 June 2013.  The sample is fully representative of the Welsh general public.

The survey found:

  • 62% of the respondents would like to see increased powers for the NafW (including the 9% in favour of independence), with 24% in favour of the status quo;
  • Eight in ten people trusted the NafW to act in Wales’s best interests;
  • A majority believed that the existence of the NafW had given Wales a stronger voice in the United Kingdom;
  • The Welsh public were as likely to believe that the NafW had the most influence over Wales as they were the UK Parliament;
  • There is a relatively high awareness of whether current powers lie at UK Parliament or National Assembly level; and
  • Among those desiring further powers, a majority (around two-thirds) want this within the next 5 years or beyond rather than in the next year or so.

With reference to specific powers and where these should lie, the survey showed the following:

  • Asked about six areas currently controlled by the NafW, a majority of the Welsh population believed these powers should be retained by the NAfW.  Support for the current arrangements was strongest for tourism, housing, agriculture and roads. For education and health, a majority favoured retention but a significant minority (20% and 27% respectively) wanted these powers returned to the UK Parliament;
  • Asked about six areas currently the responsibility of the UK Parliament, there was considerable variation in the proportions wanting transfer of responsibility from the UK Parliament to the NAfW.  Renewable energy, including large windfarms, (70%), policing (63%) and broadcasting and media regulation (58%) were most favoured for transfer to the NafW;
  • The Welsh public believed the UK Parliament should retain responsibility for defence and foreign affairs (82%) and the courts and criminal justice system (63%).  The welfare and benefit system appeared to be an area where the Welsh public were most undecided about who should have control.

A full copy of the Beaufort Research survey is available here.

Commenting on the survey’s findings, Chair Paul Silk said:  “These results are very interesting and provide a real insight into the public’s views on the current powers of the National Assembly for Wales. The results are generally consistent with trends identified in other surveys, but whilst they show a continued growth in support for the National Assembly as an institution and for it to have further powers, we need to mindful that the people of Wales have differing views.

“As we were in Part I of our work, we have been keen in this Part of remit to gather the views of as many people in Wales as possible.    Our Terms of Reference are clear that our recommendations must command a wide degree of public support.  This poll is an important method to help us assess public opinion on Welsh Devolution and attitudes on where powers should lie.  I hope the poll’s findings will stimulate wide debate on these important issues. 

“We still want to hear as many views as possible, whatever they may be – we are still firmly in listening mode.  We are taking evidence up until 27 September so please get involved, share your views and help us shape Wales’s future.”

 

Notes

The survey was commissioned, following an open procurement process, to gauge public opinion on the current powers of the National Assembly for Wales and whether any modifications are needed on the boundary between what is devolved and non-devolved. 

The Commission is taking evidence up until 27 September 2013.  The Commission’s website hosts a questionnaire and forum for the public to have their say:  http://commissionondevolutioninwales.independent.gov.uk/get-involved