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Politics

Welsh powers referendum set to get the Royal thumbs-up

This year’s final historic moment for Welsh politics (famous last words) is due to take place later this week.

The Queen is due to hold a meeting of the Privy Council on Wednesday in which she’s expected to approve the order needed to hold next year’s referendum on strengthening the powers of the Assembly.

The council is the oldest bit of government although in its full form rarely meets. Most monthly sessions are attended by not many more than three ministers and the Queen. And they don’t last very long either which is supposedly the main reason that those attending remain standing throughout.

The Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan, who as a cabinet minister is also a member of the Privy council and therefore entitled to be amongst those present, is not attending this meeting at Buckingham Palace.

What happens is not very dramatic. A list of orders (amongst them the referendum order) is read out and the Queen says ‘approved.’

But that simple word will kick start a period of intense activity here in Wales.

From Thursday those interested in forming the official Yes and No campaigns have five weeks to put their cases to the Electoral Commission. That takes us to 20th January,  from when the Commission has two weeks to consult and consider.

That ends on 3rd February which leaves exactly four weeks until the vote is held on 3rd March.

And you thought Christmas was coming quickly.

UPDATE: 13 December 15:55GMT:

Regarding the Secretary of State’s expected absence at this week’s Privy Council meeting, a spokesman for the former Secretary of State, Peter Hain has emailed to say this:

“If Peter was Secretary of State for Wales, he would be attending Wednesday’s Privy Council meeting.”

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About Adrian Masters

By day, Political Editor at ITV Wales. By night, obsessed with music and books.

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