Major report backs calls for devolution of Crown Estate to Wales
A major new report from the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales (NICW) has backed Plaid Cymru’s calls for the devolution of the Crown Estate.
In a report published earlier this week, the commission recommended that by 2030, “the Crown Estate’s functions in Wales should be completely devolved to a new body that has as its principal aim the reinvestment of all funds in Wales for the long-term benefits of the people of Wales in the form of a Sovereign Wealth Fund”.
The report also notes that, given that Wales is the poorest constituent country in Great Britain, the current system whereby wealth is transferred from Wales to England is “an illogical and bizarre outcome”.
The Crown Estate is an independent company which belongs to the monarch for the duration of their reign, though the revenue from its £16bn property portfolio flows directly to the Treasury which then transfers a portion to the Royal Family.
Plaid Cyrmu has campaigned in recent years for the Crown Estate to be devolved. In 2021 the party’s Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts introduced a Bill to devolve the Crown Estate to Wales, in line with arrangements in Scotland since 2017.
In July this year, Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP called for a “Crown Estate green wealth fund” to be funded by the profits of the Estate’s Welsh assets for the benefit of future generations.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday (18 October) Ms Saville Roberts asked Wales Office Minister, James Davies whether the UK Government was on the side of “Welsh communities” or “a system that extracts our natural wealth”.
She added: “In a major boost to Plaid Cymru’s campaign, the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales has proposed devolving the Crown estate and reinvesting profits in communities through a sovereign wealth fund. The commission criticised the current system of wealth transfer from the poorest country in Britain to Westminster as ‘illogical and bizarre’.
“Whose side is the Minister on: Welsh communities or a system that extracts our natural wealth?”
Mr Davies replied: “We have had this discussion on previous occasions in various settings, but I would argue that the Crown estate allows this country to share risks and opportunities that it deals with. It does a fantastic job and I simply do not agree.”
Dr Jenifer Baxter, deputy chair of National Infrastructure Commission for Wales, was asked by Nation.Cymru how much devolving the Crown Estate to Wales could generate for a Sovereign Wealth Fund?
She replied: “This is a really tricky one. The Crown Estate Scotland are self-funding because they have a very large estate which they are able to make money from and fund the Crown Estate in Scotland.
“Our estate is smaller, so I think we would need to crunch some numbers to understand exactly what could happen here in Wales – how much money could potentially be fed back into the system and whether it would need to be supported by Crown Estate England in some way, or by the Welsh Government.”
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