Gordon Brown report ‘undermines’ Welsh Labour over justice powers say Plaid Cymru
Gordon Brown’s report into the UK’s constitutional future “undermines” Welsh Labour by not promising them powers they themselves have asked for, according to Plaid Cymru.
The report of the commission on the UK’s future – headed by ex-premier Gordon Brown – was published today and only explicitly promises further powers over youth justice and the probation service to Wales.
First Minister Mark Drakeford has welcomed the report but Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville-Roberts said it fell short of Welsh Labour’s own requests for more powers.
The Welsh Government has previously supported the full devolution of justice and the establishment of a legal jurisdiction for Wales.
The discrepancy showed the “disdain the central Labour party holds towards the only government it currently runs”, according to Ms Saville Roberts.
As part of their Cooperation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, the Labour Welsh Government also supported the devolution of policing and justice, as well as the Crown Estate and broadcasting. Gordon Brown’s report makes no mention of the latter two policy areas.
“This report is a damp squib for Wales. The message from Gordon Brown to the people of Wales: if you want a democracy equipped with the powers to do a proper job – vote Plaid Cymru,” Liz Saville Roberts said.
“By offering more powers to Scotland than to Wales, Labour is once again showing that how much they are in awe of SNP-run Scotland while taking Labour-run Wales for granted. Scotland is rewarded while Labour is content for Wales to make-do and mend with piecemeal powers.
“Not only does this report not go far enough, but it also backtracks from previous Labour promises – the 2017 Labour manifesto having promised the devolution of policing to Wales.
“The Labour Welsh Government’s Thomas Commission recommended that justice should be wholly devolved, and a Welsh legal jurisdiction created. This timid report only offers piecemeal powers over youth justice and probation, showing the level of disdain the central Labour party holds towards the only government it currently runs.
“The undermining of their Labour colleagues in Wales also raises questions as to whether a UK Labour Government would ever properly implement the recommendations of the Welsh Government’s Independent Constitutional Commission.
“The Labour Welsh Government have supported Plaid Cymru’s policy of devolving powers over the Crown Estate. This report fails to even mention those powers, again treating Wales as less deserving than Scotland.
“This report does nothing to change the fundamental inequalities of the UK. Despite vague promises of giving Senedd and Scottish Parliament members the same status as MPs, the report also recommits to the principle of Parliamentary Supremacy. For as long as that fundamental principle remains, the Senedd will always be subservient to Westminster.
“Despite Labour claiming this is the biggest transfer of power away from Westminster, it is clearly not to the people of Wales.”
Mark Drakeford however welcomed the report, saying that it put forward “important ideas”.
“The union of the United Kingdom is under greater threat now than at any other time in its long history as a result of the actions – and neglect – of successive UK Conservative Governments,” he said.
“I want to thank Gordon Brown for all the work he has put into this timely, comprehensive report and set of recommendations for the future of the UK. I am very grateful for the engagement we have had during the development of this report.
“Labour is the party of devolution and this report shows that only Labour is thinking urgently about the future of the United Kingdom. This report puts forward important ideas about how power can be devolved and shared throughout the country to create a stronger union and a stronger United Kingdom.
“I look forward to seeing these recommendations realised as soon as we have a Labour UK Government.”
Jo Stevens, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales meanwhile promised a widespread consultation.
“I’d like to thank First Minister Mark Drakeford, former First Minister Carwyn Jones and Baron Murphy of Torfaen for their work on Gordon Brown’s Commission that has resulted in the report and recommendations published today,” she said.
“As Keir Starmer has said, we will now consult widely on the recommendations as they form part of our wider plan to build an economy in which growth is created by and for everyone everywhere.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “While we welcome that Labour are finally moving on the issue of the House of Lords after decades of campaigning by the Liberal Democrats, Wales feels like nothing but a sidenote in this report, showing a lack of ambition for our nation.
“The also appears to follow a long-running pattern of giving Scotland more powers than Wales.
“In particular, the recommendation on devolving youth justice to Wales actually falls short of the Silk Report from 2011, which recommended devolving policing and looking at criminal justice. In this regard, Labour seemed to have moved backwards.
“Another crucial element not present is the devolution of borrowing powers, vital if Wales is to be able to build the infrastructure our economy needs to thrive.”
“Finally, the elephant in the room is once again missing. If we are to build a truly fair and equal democratic system in the UK, that means ditching first past the post elections in Westminster and bringing in proportional representation, something which Labour has again missed out.
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