The National Assembly should have control of big energy projects, broadcasting and the police, according to a major research report published today.
A study commissioned by the Silk Commission – launched to explore changes to devolution in Wales – found 70% believe renewable energy projects of over 50MW capacity should be decided on in Cardiff rather than London .
Almost two in three people (63%) said that policing should also be devolved while 58% also favoured broadcasting and media regulation.
According to the survey by Beaufort Research on behalf of the commission, 62% would like to see increased powers for the Assembly, including the 9% in favour of independence, with 24% in favour of the status quo.
Around two-thirds of those in favour want this within the next five years or beyond rather than in the next year – suggesting there is not strong demand for urgent or immediate action.
A significant minority of people want control returned to Westminster over the NHS (27%) and education (20%), the Welsh Government’s biggest areas of policy.
Some 93% believed that the Assembly should retain control of tourism with 84%-88% in support for retention of powers on housing, agriculture and roads.
Eight in 10 people trust the institution to act in Wales’ best interests while most 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, with 51% wanting responsibility resting with the National Assembly and 46% opting for Westminster.
The commission is still taking evidence until September 27.
A Welsh Labour spokesman said: “This poll is a welcome endorsement of Welsh devolution and highlights public support for taking the Silk recommendations forward. While support for the devolution of further powers to the National Assembly continues to grow, support for independence remains stagnant at a paltry 9%.
“Many people in Plaid and beyond will be questioning their relevance.”
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: “These are interesting findings to inform the commission’s work recommending a devolution settlement, which is clear, efficient and carries the support of the people of Wales. The relatively high proportion of people expressing dissatisfaction with health and education appears to be criticism directed at the policy failings and inaction of the Welsh Labour Government rather than disapproval of devolution itself.”
Jonathan Edwards, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, said: “The research shows that the people of Wales have far more faith in the National Assembly than the UK parliament and that an overwhelming majority want to see further powers devolved to Wales.
“The results mirror the historic referendum victory of 2011. A clear majority support the devolution of energy policy, policing and broadcasting.
“This provides a clear road map of the powers that should be devolved to Wales. All of these were in Plaid Cymru’s submission to the Silk Commission as we continue to lead the debate on the political future of our country….
“The UK government should bring forward a new Government of Wales Act during this parliament to enact the findings of its own Silk Commission.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black said: “[We] have been arguing for greater devolution for over a century and we will continue to make that argument.”
Professor Noel Lloyd, a member of the commission, stressed that the research was just part of the evidence the team would examine.
He said: “Our task is to assess the evidence in its entirety.”
The professor added: “The next few months will require quite intense work on our part… We work very well as a team.
“This is an important task we have been asked to fulfil. Hence, we wish to have as wide a range of responses as we can manage.”