Independence calls ‘will grow if ministers override Senedd powers,’ peers warn
More people in Wales may turn towards independence if Westminster continues to override the Senedd’s powers, ministers have been warned.
The warning from crossbench peer Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd came as peers debated legislation aimed at giving Members of the Senedd (MSs) a veto over any attempts by Westminster to claw back devolved powers.
MSs would need to vote by at least a two-thirds majority in favour of returning powers to central Government under plans in the Government of Wales (Devolved Powers) Bill, sponsored by Plaid Cymru peer Lord Wigley.
Former lord chief justice of England and Wales Lord Thomas said he would support the private member’s bill, as he believed the “whittling away of powers” in recent years was unacceptable.
He added: “I do so because it is clear that the younger generation in increasing numbers, indeed some of the older generation, are looking to the independence of Wales as a way out of this.
“I deeply regret that is happening, but cast your mind back to what has happened in Scotland, and we must not allow the same to happen in Wales.”
‘Rebalance the relationship’
Plaid peer Lord Wigley had earlier told the Lords: “The Bill’s purpose is to rebalance the relationship between Westminster and Wales’ Senedd by formalising a process which should be respected if for any reason there is a need to modify the devolved powers within which the Senedd operates.
“This goes to the heart of the devolution settlement. A failure to understand this is more likely than any other single factor to undermine the Union in its present form,” he later said.
Lord Wigley said that devolution was well-established and popular in Wales, but cited recent examples of the UK Government seeking to override Cardiff.
This included the UK Internal Market Act, which centralises controls over commerce, and was challenged by the Welsh Government in a judicial review.
He also cited reports that the Government intends to repeal Trade Union (Wales) Act, in order to revise UK law on striking workers in light of recent industrial action.
Lord Wigley added: “During the Tory leadership campaign recently we heard Liz Truss announce that she would take steps to construct the M4 relief road at Newport despite not having the legislative power to do so.”
Labour former Wales secretary Lord Murphy of Torfaen added that the current convention underpinning which powers were devolved to Wales was “failing,” and said refusals of the Senedd to agree laws passed by the UK Parliament which tread into devolved powers were being “ignored”.
Government whip Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist said ministers would not support the Bill, adding the Government had “no plans to withdraw or amend the Senedd’s powers”.
She added: “The Government is firmly committed to devolution. Over the past decade we have delivered two Wales acts, and these were important moments for devolution, and confirms our position that devolution is here to stay.”
Lady Bloomfield said that the new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had sought to “reset” the relationship with both the Welsh and Scottish governments by calling their first ministers when he came to office.
Former prime minister Liz Truss called neither Mark Drakeford nor Nicola Sturgeon during her short term of office.
Lady Bloomfield went on: “We will continue to work constructively with the Welsh Government to ensure that Wales enjoys the maximum possible benefit from our legislative programme and will of course seek the consent of the Senedd when necessary.”
The Bill will now undergo further scrutiny by peers.
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It took two referendums for Wales to gain the little devolution it now has. It was not given to us on a plate by Whitehall. We fought bloody hard since the disappointment of 1979 to win the 1997 & 2011 votes only for one of the most extreme fascist governments that has ever ruled to threaten our political sovereignty using imposition. And yes if the Tories continue of their path will drive more to the idea of independence. But I think its too late. That horse has bolted the stable, especially in Scotland who will gain the right from the… Read more »
I think it’s inevitable that independence calls will grow anyway. There is growing awareness even amongst our most “loyal” feudalist kneelers that we really are a dog to be kicked as far as Mordor is concerned. The daily neglect, the hourly attacks, the increasing expense and decreasing choice and opportunity. QEII no longer being around. The chaos in Mordor, by a party we have NEVER voted for, kept in power by one other nation who is not us. I think when most of the aged cohort are gone, things will be much closer to the tipping point. When my cohort… Read more »
My sentiments exactly.
I wonder why England doesn’t need or want independence, while denying sovereignty nto everyone else?
um because they’re the ones in control, or so they believe.
Only in ‘Tory Towers’ is that believed. When I lived ‘up North’ lots of folk were looking for separation from Westminster.
Ive discovered first hand that, a significant number of the younger generation, that I know, believe independence is needed and that it will succeed … and like the poster below… I too hope to be around to see iit!
We just need to keep recruiting people to Yes Cymru. I am sure that GCHQ have cracked the membership database and know how many folk are members. The larger that database becomes the more the message will get throught to Westminster. It doesn’t actually matter what Yes Cymru does, but I would like to see them pushing a series of “How independence will help You” articles in the local press. Most local press are looking for content so here is an opportunity to drip feed pro-indy material. After all that is what the Unionists are doing all the time in… Read more »