News

No devolution of justice to Wales says UK Government minister

08 Oct 2021 4 minutes Read
Lord Wolfson of Tredegar. Picture by the UK Government.

The UK Government does not agree with the Welsh Government that justice should be devolved to Wales, a minister has said.

Speaking at the Legal Wales Conference today, Lord Wolfson, who is a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice, said that being part of England’s justice system made Wales a more attractive place to do business.

Last week, Wales’ counsel general Mick Antoniw said that the Welsh Government would once again approach the UK Government to request the devolution of justice to Wales.

Welsh Labour’s manifesto for May’s Senedd elections included a promise to fight for the devolution of tax and justice powers.

But Lord Wolfson said that “UK Government’s position differs from the Welsh Government’s on the Thomas Commission’s overarching recommendation that justice should be devolved”.

The Thomas Commission on Justice in Wales, which was set up by the Welsh Government, undertook a review of the justice system in Wales and recommended the devolution of justice.

However, Lord Wolfson added that “we are aligned in our desire to continue to improve the way justice is delivered in Wales.”.

“Just as the Welsh Government has restarted its work in implementing the Commission’s recommendations, the Ministry of Justice has also been examining the Commission’s Report to see what can be taken forward to improve justice in Wales – and indeed is already undertaking work in relation to some of the Commission’s recommendations,” he said.

He added that the “reputation” of England’s justice system “has undeniably benefitted Wales and – as part of the England and Wales jurisdiction – has made it a popular place to do business internationally”.

“The English and Welsh common law is a critical asset to the UK. English and Welsh common law forms the basis of the legal systems for 27% of the world’s 320 legal jurisdictions,” he said.

“English and Welsh law is now, and will remain, an indispensable basis of global business long into the future.”

‘Discussions’

Writing to Senedd Members last week, Mick Antoniw had promised a fresh bid to devolve justice to Wales.

He said that there were a number of recommendations from the Thomas Commission “that are achievable under the current devolution arrangements or involve some element of devolution without transferring responsibility for justice in its entirety”.

“For example, there is a strong case for devolving the youth justice system, which the Silk Commission also recommended in 2014,” he said.

“We will continue to make the case for devolving justice and policing, and work with stakeholders to explore how best to achieve it. In the meantime, based on correspondence with the previous lord chancellor [Robert Buckland QC], we expect discussions between the two governments will begin shortly.”

Mick Antoniw said he expected talks with the UK Government to encompass the full range of topics addressed in the Thomas report.

Those included ensuring people can access court services as they are digitised, exploring the possibility of problem-solving courts in Wales, support for advice service providers, diversity in justice system agencies, the quality and location of court buildings, Welsh language provision, and the organisation of the senior judiciary including representation on the UK Supreme Court.

Thomas also recommended the establishment of a Law Council of Wales to promote the interests of legal education and the awareness of Welsh law. The council is likely to come into being by the end of the year.

However, Antoniw said the council’s remit is expected to “extend beyond legal education and Welsh law, to cover economic development of the sector and legal technology and innovation”.

‘Energy’

The Welsh Conservatives have already rebuffed the suggestion that any justice powers could come to to Wales, calling it “another attempted power grab by the Welsh Labour Government”.

“Policing is already devolved to each police force area in Wales as a result of the Police and Crime Commissioner system which was introduced by the UK Conservative Government and the devolution of justice would cost taxpayers millions that cannot be justified at present,” Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Constitution, Darren Millar MS, said.

“Instead of spending all its energy on looking for further powers, the Welsh Government should concentrate on using its existing powers to get to grips with the issues for which it is already responsible, such as the crisis in our NHS, the desperate need for young people to catch up with their education, and reinvigorating the Welsh economy post-Covid.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
13 days ago

Another Lord of Wales lording it over the Senedd

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
13 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Lord Wolfson, I’m curious for you to explain why you chose to be known as Lord Tredegar? I am aware of your family history but you were born a Liverpudlian. The events of 1910 are also familiar to me and I wonder if you are taking some form of revenge on Wales, as you have chosen to act as the PM’s senior council in his attempt to subjugate Wales to the rule of Boris…

Jones2004
Jones2004
13 days ago

“The English and Welsh common law is a critical asset to the UK. English and Welsh common law forms the basis of the legal systems for 27% of the world’s 320 legal jurisdictions,” he said.

And? English and Welsh law would obviously be the basis of any Welsh law, so what would be any different about Welsh law in comparison to, say, Scottish law which is hardly an international pariah. And let’s be honest English and Welsh law is in such an awful state at the moment it would take a monumental c**k up to make Welsh law any worse!

Dave
Dave
13 days ago
Reply to  Jones2004

if Wales can make it’s own laws then we could pass a law that stops Westminster from setting the price at which we sell them our excess electricity. we are after all the 5th largest energy exporter in the world and we are also unable to use this for our advantage.. #torycorruption with their foot on our heads

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
13 days ago
Reply to  Dave

It is not true that the tories don’t take the knee, they do, it is on our necks

Hedda Mulgrew MSc (Econ)
Hedda Mulgrew MSc (Econ)
13 days ago
Reply to  Dave

It goes to the whole of Europe on internationally agreed tariffs.

There is a massive cable landing in Blythe from Norway going on line this week

Good luck trying to hold the international community over a barrel.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
12 days ago

Hedda, what is your point exactly? The point that Dave was making is that independence would give us control of our natural resources rather than allowing a foreign colonial power to exploit them for their own benefit. As for the ‘massive cable landing in Blythe from Norway going on line this week’, as you so eloquently put it, the energy generated for it will be under the control of Norway as an independent nation which is in stark contrast to the energy being created in Wales which, as I’ve already mentioned, is being exploited by a foreign colonial power. And… Read more »

Arwyn
Arwyn
13 days ago

Tories proving once again that they couldn’t give a monkeys about the democratic mandate that actually exists in Wales. Labour proving once again that they are powerless to secure what we have mandated. There is no point in dealing with the Tories or in trying to reform their state. Worse still, Labour care only to occupy positions of power within the Tory state. The only logical answer is to dismantle the Tory state in Wales. I truly cannot wait to see the back of it.

Dave
Dave
13 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Sorry Arwyn I am struggling to follow your assertion that Welsh Labour are capitulating with the #torycriminals at first instance they are persuant of a federal system as are Scotland and NI when this is refused the Welsh Labour reaction is one that can be fairly judged. cross the T’s and dot the I’s and cover all bases only then can you make a good argument.

Arwyn
Arwyn
13 days ago
Reply to  Dave

All Labour’s ever done is to occupy positions of power within the Tory UK. And this is precisely what Welsh Labour are trying to do with federalism. They’re trying to reach an accomodation much as the trade unions do with capital. Everything they do is about their own position. Leanne Wood was spot on in her recent analysis. I’m with her on this. Voting Labour is a waste of time for the indy supporter. Why split our vote and give half of it to an unionist party? They keep telling us they’re unionists. Perhaps we should believe them?

j humphrys
j humphrys
13 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

I’ll go for federalism, maybe, if it’s in the European Union. Prefer our own law.

Hedda Mulgrew MSc (Econ)
Hedda Mulgrew MSc (Econ)
13 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

The Labour that she resoundingly lost her seat to?

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
13 days ago
Reply to  Dave

Labour in Scotland are in coalition in 11 councils with the tories including Aberdeen to keep the SNP out. What’s the story Sir Red Tory?

Arwyn
Arwyn
13 days ago
Reply to  Dave
Y Cymro
Y Cymro
13 days ago

This is what we face. The English establishment continually denying. Wales the right to have its criminal justice system devolved to our Senedd Cymru. And If England, Scotland and NI can control their justice system, so can we! And whether you support Welsh Labour or not, agree with is their calls that our justice system should be devolved to Cardiff bay.. It’s long overdue. And if our Senedd can legislate, create Welsh Laws, but that law is overseen by an English criminal system, no right-minded democracy in the world would put up with such a rediculous arrangement? So we find… Read more »

Grayham Jones
13 days ago

We in wales have got to stop being little Englanders and and be proud to be welsh it’s time for a new
wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 kick all English party’s out of wales that’s the Tories Labour and all Brexit party’s start fighting for your children and grandchildren future in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Hedda Mulgrew MSc (Econ)
Hedda Mulgrew MSc (Econ)
13 days ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

We in Wales need to kick out bigot nationalst politicians and journalists who make money off telling people they are oppressed and keeping them down.

Bring Jews, Arabs, Africans and Asians to Wales to show how to run businesses and stop blaming everyone else.

Hebrew and Arabic road signs on Gwynedd!🇮🇱🇸🇦

hdavies15
hdavies15
13 days ago

Take time out and focus on your meds. You really are spouting serious drivel and need to get back to regular health checks. There again you may be just another very nasty person of the supremacist kind.

Hedda Mulgrew MSc (Econ)
Hedda Mulgrew MSc (Econ)
13 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

A bit of diversity and cultural work ethic would revitalise this nationalist dependency and blame culture.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
12 days ago

Hedda, I think you’ll find that Wales is far more culturally diverse than you give us credit for, clearly you know very little about Wales. If you did you would know that there are already Jews, Arabs, Africans and Asians living in Wales and there have been for some time (try looking up Tiger Bay if you don’t believe me).

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
12 days ago

Hedda, you need to be careful with what you post. The idea that Jews are better at business (and by implication greedy) is a stereotype as old as anti-Semitism itself.

Erisian
Erisian
13 days ago

At least we’d be able to do something about the appaling delays and lack of legal aid.
The UK justice sysyem is broken because it is neglected and under-funded.
It has been hollowed out by years of uneccessary austerity imposed by the series digraceful Conservative and Unionist governments.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
13 days ago

What a condescending little sh!t, his entire argument seems to be based on the idea that Wales couldn’t possibly manage its own justice system.

Quornby
Quornby
13 days ago

We’ll be free of all these lickspittals sooner than they think.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
13 days ago
Reply to  Quornby

If Boris gets a second term and we really push for independence don’t be surprised when Wales is put under martial law…is that why Mr Drakeford wants the Welsh regiments back on home soil I wonder? This is not entirely tongue in cheek, remember Northern Ireland…

j humphrys
j humphrys
13 days ago

No justice for Wales. There, fixed it.

John Barnes
John Barnes
11 days ago

The Tories didn’t seem to have a problem devolving justice and policing to Northern Ireland back in 2010. The arguements about the benefits of staying part of the English system didn’t seem to hold water then but do for Wales. Also, the Tories in Wales are a bit rich talking about power grab and Labour’s obsession with the constitution. This is a party which have spent the last 40 years talking about Europe and spending the last few years trying to sort out a deal with the EU. A deal they’re now trying to get rid off.

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