In 1997, a referendum was held in Wales to decide whether we wanted some form of self-government. It was voted in by the narrowest of margins, so since 1999 Wales has had some level of devolved government, the Welsh Assembly Government.
This gives Wales its own control over certain aspects of everyday life like Education, Health, Food and Highways and Transport. In Wales we have free medical prescriptions for everyone, whereas in England it is only certain groups (e.g. the old, pregnant women, children, the jobless) who get free prescriptions.
A few weeks ago Wales became the first country in the United Kingdom (or, Disunited Kingdom as I prefer to call it) to ban plastic shopping bags. Ireland banned such bags several years ago, but no country in the DUK had banned them until now. Strictly speaking, they are not banned, shops are required to charge 5p for them. Of course, most people won’t pay 5p and so are either not using a bag or, if they have too much to carry in their hands or put in their bag, they will take a reusable bag with them to the shop.
Given the amount of plastic bags one finds littering the streets and countryside, I am all in favour of this move. As I am in the other differences the WAG has introduced to life in Wales compared to England, such as free prescriptions and a higher subsidy to higher education.
In today’s Western Mail, there is an article analysing how successful some of the policies the WAG has introduced (which are different from England) have been. It is a pretty interesting read.
I lived in the United States for 9 years. Most people in the DUK don’t realise that individual States in the US have far more autonomy from the Federal Government in Washington DC than even the Scottish have from Westminster (and Scotland have more devolved powers than Wales). When you consider that states in the US have tax raising powers, something Wales does not (yet) have, it amuses me when some people in the DUK think that the level of devolved power we do have in Wales is too much.
If you live in Wales, do you think the majority of measures passed by the WAG with the “made in Wales” stamp are a good thing? If you don’t live in Wales, what would you like to see changed in your own country or state?