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Major report backs calls for devolution of Crown Estate to Wales

19 Oct 2023 3 minute read
Left: Right: King Charles III – Image: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

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.

Welsh communities

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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Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
6 months ago

Good luck with trying to squeeze blood out of that stone, it’s almost as tough as the HS2 stone. There’s a reason why Wales is one of the poorest areas in Europe and that reason is the reluctance to invest and fund anything in Wales by Westminster. The Irish had the same problem before 1921 and independence and look at the country now. Far more prosperous. Hence, the future can only be independence and forcing the Crown to pay what it owes Wales for the use if our shores.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve A Duggan

Well said. Wales is kept poor by Westminster and only independence can release us from that shackle.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve A Duggan

Ireland’s current prosperity, (which is largely illusory, not many ordinary Irish people benefit very much) is a a phenomenon dating from EU accession. Between 1921 and 1979 the Irish currency was pegged to the pound sterling and Ireland was pretty much an economic colony of Britain, and p**s poor as a result of the Irish government’s very conservative social and economic policies. Why else do you think that there were so many Irish people in the UK? Britain benefitted hugely from the contributions of Irish people post Irish independence. I’m not saying that independence is a bad idea, far from… Read more »

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

No one is saying that Welsh independence would be easy, it wasn’t easy for Ireland or the original 13 US states. However, the power to improve things would largely be in our own hands. At the moment we are at the whim of whoever is in charge in Westminster. That has not worked for us, the poverty around us is a plain example of that.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
6 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Padi,
Every country has a capitalist system.
The UK and USA have a monopoly-capitalist system. Where the economy is controlled by a small oligarch of 0.1% with vast inequality.

What we need is Egalitarian Capitalism where there is redistribution of wealth so that no one is, say 2000 richer than the poorest person and most people have enough wealth to build share stock portfolios giving people income from more than a single source in the form of dividends and therefore financial security and public ownership of the generators of wealth.

Paul
Paul
5 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Bloody awesome bit of illusion then . They have never looked back.
wales is so divided as a country independence will never happen and the English establishment are fully aware of this

Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago

Just another recommendation, to go along with the ones for devolving justice, policing, railways, social services, even Lord Barnett said we are disadvantaged by the Barnett formula , nothing will be done, as the system benefits Westminster. As said in the above posts, the only answer in independence.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
6 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

The Barnett formula is classic back of fag packet stuff that’s useful when in a fix and a solution is needed in a hurry.

Richard Burton
Richard Burton
6 months ago

Why aren’t Labour raising this as an issue? Surely there must be someone within their ranks with the courage to do so? Vaughan Gethin the night in shining armour of the Senedd, perhaps?

Annibendod
Annibendod
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard Burton

Definitely not Gething. He is viewed as the constitutional status quo candidate by Labour members. He has a great antipathy towards further devolution it is said. Miles is considered to be more favourable towards further powers. Which of the two becomes Welsh Labour leader may have some influence on many pro-indy members continued affiliation with party apparently.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
6 months ago

Now the Senedd has to force the issue.

This concerns Wales and only Wales – there can be no excuses.
The same applies to Justice and policing.

Otherwise, we will have no alternative but to do the same as the Irish have done in 1921.

The Welsh government will be FAILING if they don’t act now.

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