Why are Yorkshire MPs speaking for Wales at Westminster?

Stephen Kinnock. Picture by House of Commons (CC BY 3.0)

Ifan Morgan Jones

Labour politicians were quick to react yesterday when it was revealed that the Conservatives had appointed an MP from Yorkshire, Stuart Andrew, as a minister in the Welsh Office.

However, Labour don’t have a leg to stand on, on this particular issue.

They announced the same day that their replacement for outgoing MP Stephen Kinnock on Westminster’s Welsh Affairs Committee was another Yorkshire MP, Thelma Walker.

This isn’t a matter of not being sufficiently Welsh to represent Wales. Stuart Andrew is, as the Conservatives were quick to point out, “a Welsh-speaking Welshman”.

It’s a matter of democratic legitimacy. Both Thelma Walker and Stuart Andrew were elected to represent the best interests of the people of Yorkshire – not Wales.

Although perhaps shorter of Welsh MPs than Labour, the Conservatives have little excuse. A Welsh MP, Guto Bebb of Aberconwy, made way for Stuart Andrew.

But Welsh Labour’s inability to find another Welsh MP to sit on the Welsh Affairs Committee is inexcusable. They are in possession of 28 of Wales’ 40 constituencies.

There are at least six Welsh Labour MPs that only sit on one committee in the House of Commons:

  • Jo Stevens – Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee
  • Stephen Doughty – Home Affairs Committee
  • Chris Evans – Public Accounts Committee
  • Susan Jones  – Petitions Committee
  • Ian Lucas – Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee
  • Albert Owen – Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

It should be noted that Thelma Walker is already on the education committee, so she is taking the second committee on despite the fact that six Welsh Labour MPs are only on one.

There are also five MPs who are only on two committees:

  • Ann Clwyd – Committees on Arms Export Controls, Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Stephen Kinnock – Brexit Committee, European Scrutiny Committee
  • Madeleine Moon – Defence Committee, Defence Sub-Committee
  • Chris Elmore – Whips, Consolidation Bills (Joint Committee), Procedure Committee
  • David Hanson – Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, Justice Committee

Only five Welsh Labour MPs are on three or more committees, and the rest are blameless because the either sit on the Welsh Affairs Committee or have other roles, such as frontbench work or whips.

This raises the question: Why on earth don’t any of these eligible MPs want to be on the Welsh Affairs Committee?

With Wales struggling to have its voice heard at Westminster, is being on the Procedure Committee, for example, really more important for a Welsh MP?

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  1. To be fair the Procedures Committee sounds THRILLING and I’m frankly stunned that Madeleine Moon hasn’t disappeared into a black hole of recursion.

    Good grief.

  2. James W. Soares Jones

    A Yorkshireman represents Welsh interests….do Welsh folks look after any other non-Welsh parts of the UK? Just curious, from the western side of the pond.

  3. Eos Pengwern

    So that’s what became of Stuart Andrew. I remember standing against him (he was the Conservative candidate, I was the Plaid Cymru one) in Maesydre ward in Wrexham in the mid-1990s. I increased the Plaid Cymru vote by a factor of 10 from the previous election (from about 1% to 10%) but he still won easily.


  5. Since when does a Tory Welsh Office ever had any interest in in listening to, or being accountable, to the Welsh electorate? Imposing whatever ideological policy they fancy has always been the goal, while throwing a few sops to keep the Welsh quiet.

  6. Only one word to explain it……. INSULT

  7. More justification for Wales to secure its independence of this rotten regime a.s.a.p. Might as well have an adapted Anglo Brit from Yorkshire kicking us in the teeth as a having a yellow turncoat from a Welsh constituency doing the job. Same old kicking in the end.

  8. I see nothing wrong with is. He seems to care more about Wales than Stephen Kinnock.

    More to the point, why are Angela Burns and Dawn Bowden allowed to be AMs? They are English.

  9. I do see any problem. Welsh MP’s at various times look after the interests of other areas of the UK and are well able to do so. I would prefer to have my interests looked after by the whoever is best able to do the job, wherever they are born, brought up, or sit. Some connection with Wales might be preferable, but not essential. A Cornish MP might make decisions regarding nuclear waste processing in Sellafield, this is surely possible. Carwyn Jones is Welsh by all the above criteria and a Welsh Speaker to book. but I would argue that he has not represented the needs of Wales either as I might have wanted or with any great success. Be careful what you wish for!

  10. Did anyone see the Conservative election broadcast on the BBC ?
    Did you see any Welsh Tory speak on that broadcast? NO, it was Theresa May MP for Maidenhead, Berkshire. Says it ALL, doesn’t it ?
    Even though I see a future for a reformed capitalism, then see no purpose for the Conservative party in Wales, Scotland or even in England. Their austerity program is excluding more and more people from economic activity by this strict monopoly and imperialist version of capitalism which is causing the under performance of the whole wider economy.
    That is why Britain is becoming the economic backwater it was before entering the EEC/EC/EU and that is even before Brexit has actually happened.

    Why I support Welsh and Scottish independence is that it will enable us harness our resources and remove these divisive politics.
    We in Wales must also have our own currency.

  11. Do we need MPs from Yorkshire? No we dont. We dont need any MPs at all. They do nothing that would not be better done by a sovereign government in Cardiff Bay. Its time we had as Ab Lincoln said. “Government of the Welsh people for the Welsh people by the Welsh people.”

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