Gordon Brown report on future of devolution criticised as a ‘rush job’ with ‘mistakes in it’
Gordon Brown’s report on the constitutional future of the UK – including what new powers Wales will have under a Labour UK Government – has been criticised as a “rush job” by an expert in constitutional law.
The report only included two pages directly addressing Wales and includes some basic errors such as calling the Welsh Government the Welsh Assembly Government, even though it changed its title over a decade ago.
Aileen McHarg, a Professor of Public Law at Durham University, described the report as “surprisingly vague” and said that key details had not been “properly fleshed out”.
“These are important things but there is a lack of detail on exactly what they mean and that’s problematic,” she told the Sunday National.
“In general it looks like a rushed job. There are mistakes in it. There’s a part on the reform of intergovernmental relations when it talks about joint ministerial committees but they were actually replaced earlier this year.
“Did they not notice? It was just a bit strange. There were other things like that such as saying the Sewel Convention breakdown begun under Boris Johnson. Well no, it began under Theresa May.
“There were a few points like that where you think this could have done with a better proofread before it was published.”
The report was welcomed by First Minister Mark Drakeford however who said that the promise to devolve some powers over justice opened the door to more in the future.
Speaking in the Senedd on Tuesday, he said: “I powerfully welcome the Gordon Brown report, and I powerfully welcome its very specific commitment that the devolution of criminal justice will begin with the next Labour Government,” he said.
“And let’s be clear, Llywydd: only a Labour Government will ever be able to set off on that journey and complete it. The Tories won’t do it, Plaid Cymru can’t do it, only Labour.
“Only Labour is able to deliver that, and the Brown report commits the party to begin that journey. I think it will be a fantastic thing if, in that next term, youth justice and the probation service are both transferred to this Senedd. That will be the start of that process.
“Of course, we want that process to go further. It’s the policy of the Welsh Government that the whole of the criminal justice system should become the responsibility of this Senedd. But every journey begins with the first step, and those steps are very clearly endorsed in the Gordon Brown report.4
“If you were serious about devolution, Llywydd, if you were serious about the powers of this place, you would welcome that first step.”
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