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This week, the National Assembly for Wales voted through the Wales Bill. Another hope for a long lasting devolution settlement, another disappointment: the fourth try is still not a charm. Although former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb significantly improved relations and communications between the Assembly and Parliament, an act which Alun Cairns has been close to follow, the Government was not persuaded to include all of the recommendations for devolved powers put forward in the Silk Commission, resulting in a bill that rolls back powers from Wales.

The good news for those that support devolution is that Wales will be switching from a conferred powers to a reserved powers model (similar to that of Scotland), in which Wales will be able to legislate over any matters not reserved by the British government. Yet, if counterintuitive, Wales will actually be losing powers already held. As Labour AM Julie Morgan noted, there are 22 pieces of legislation that have been passed, only eight of which could be passed in the future. Following limited compromise over the last year, a total of 193 matters remain reserved.

Plaid Cymru, stuck in the conundrum of wanting to support greater powers for Wales and seeing the need to reject what they perceived as a poorly drafted bill, voted against the bill. This is the first time the party has opposed any increase in powers for Wales since 1925. In an interview after the Assembly debate, one Plaid AM asserted that “this is Westminster doing us down.”

Despite a somewhat gloomy outlook, however, the significance of this Wales Bill should not be underplayed for two main reasons:

1) It does grant significant powers that the Assembly does not currently have.

These new powers will include fracking, speed limits, harbours, and elections, which covers voter eligibility, mapping electoral districts, and the electoral system. The devolution of the electoral system is fantastic news. As it stands, Welsh Assembly Members are elected through the Additional Members System, where two thirds of AMs are elected by first past the post and one third are chosen from closed party lists representing five broad regions. This mixed system intends to achieve greater proportionality, thereby decreasing the difference between the percentage of votes cast for a party and the percentage of seats each party fills in the National Assembly.

Wales’s history of single party (Labour) dominance, however, creates systemic imbalance. Labour is significantly overrepresented through first past the post. For example, In the 2016 election, Labour won 34.7% of the constituency votes, but got 27 of the 40 seats—a whopping 67.5%, or twice as much as their vote share, though gaining only two more from the regional list (another point of contention).

The Welsh Government will now have the opportunity to amend the AMS voting system. Together with the Wales Governance Centre, Electoral Reform Society Cymru published a report suggesting that either Single Transferable Vote or Open List would be preferred systems on the basis of proportionality, coterminosity, sustainability, consensus, equal mandates, representativeness, and public support. Whether or not the Welsh Government will decide to act soon will be an exciting development to follow.

2) Any chance of a lasting devolution settlement was lost following Brexit.

As one of the nations that voted in favour of Brexit, Wales helped to guarantee that legislative powers currently held by the European Union will come back to Britain. Although we can predict that they will all be absorbed first by Westminster, it is very likely that some of these powers will be passed down to Wales eventually, resulting in the need for a fifth version of a Welsh constitution (although notably Theresa May said this week that she will only be devolving “right” powers to the Assemblies which will exclude agriculture and fisheries).

In a demonstration of mature and constructive debate, the Welsh Assembly’s decision to accept the Wales Bill marks another milestone in the on-going saga of devolution.

Elisabeth Laird studies at the London School of Economics and is a member of Bright Blue. The views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue.