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‘Political trick’: UK Gov slammed by counsel general for refusing to give Wales justice powers

09 Oct 2021 3 minutes Read
Mick Antoniw. Counsel General

The Westminster Government is playing a “political trick” by refusing to give Wales power over justice, the Counsel General has claimed.

Welsh Labour included the devolution of justice in its manifesto for the Senedd elections and it was recommended by the Thomas commission into justice in Wales.

Counsel General Mick Antoniw said that it was therefore “hugely disappointing” that the UK Government was now refusing to recognise what he said was the clear wishes of the people of Wales.

“‘The failure to devolve justice is a political trick which has little to do with the best administration of the justice system and the wellbeing of the Welsh people,” he said.

In comments reported by the Law Society Gazette, he said that under UK Government control it was becoming an increasingly two-tier justice system.

A devolved system could help to address some of the issues that have arisen in recent years, he said.

“[The current system is] one where those with the necessary resources have access to the justice system and those without – usually the poorest and most vulnerable in our society – do not and are effectively excluded from it, often just becoming disempowered, angry and frustrated victims of the justice system and whatever it delivers to them,” he said.

He said that the argument for devolution was “‘unanswerable and already made” in many areas of law where Wales had already diverged from England, such as housing.

He added: “No-one is talking about creating barriers that would prevent cross-border ongoing work that is so important to the commercial viability of so many firms,’ he added. ‘There is every advantage to the law firms to engage and support this process. I don’t think it will impact on the broader commercial interests.”

‘Differs’

Yesterday the UK Government confirmed that it did not agree with the Welsh Government that justice should be devolved to Wales.

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.

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

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.”

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Grayham Jones
13 days ago

It’s time the Labour Party started fighting for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 and stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh start fighting for your children and grandchildren future in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Mark
Mark
13 days ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

apparently Drakeford has had talks with David Evans the general secretary, about centralised party control over Welsh Labour members.

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

I thought you wanted to kick English parties out of Wales?

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
12 days ago

Hedda, what is your point exactly?

And by the way, do tell us what your MSc (and not forgetting the ‘Econ’ of course) is in, I’m sure you’re dying to tell us.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
13 days ago

Very frustrating outcome, although not surprising as the Conservatives have always been against devolution of justice and policing.
I laud the commitment of the Welsh Government to this but can I please ask, has the UK Labour Party committed to the devolution of justice and policing if it wins the next UK election?

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
13 days ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

No it ducking hasn’t

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
13 days ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

They have been against devolution full stop

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
13 days ago

Didn’t they already have a vote for this years ago and English Labour abstained yet again giving the tories a win on this matter? How many times do English Labour have to abstain from giving its own party in Wales extra powers?

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
13 days ago

It would hardly be in keeping with the Johnson government’s war on Welsh devolution to then hand the justice system over to the WG. Since Johnson’s strategy is to humiliate and belittle the Senedd, here was an open goal for him. The fact that it will contribute to the hostility felt in Wales over this strategy is of little consequence to him.

I would appreciate it, however, if Wolfson would be honest enough to use the correct term for English law, namely, “English law”.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
13 days ago

Genuine question – not political mudslinging, but …

After this decision, Tory polling figures in England, and Keir Starmer’s very luke-warm comments about the process of devolution, does Welsh Labour still hold out “radical federalism” as a practicable constitutional blueprint and aspiration for Wales?

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
13 days ago

Would truly like to hear the views of Messrs. Drakeford, Antoniou and Miles on this.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
12 days ago

We all know what the fascist Conservatives are all about. They have a rabid hatred of Wales and will do almost anything to demean and demote us until our nation returns back to being England’s appendage to use and abuse as they see fit. The main blame lies at then New Labour & Tory Blair, who in 1997 designed our Welsh devolution settlement to fail. They did not want devolution for Wales and were as hostile to it as the Tories were. Devolution was only meant for Scotland & NI, truth be told And If in 1997 we had a… Read more »

Last edited 12 days ago by Y Cymro
Dave
Dave
12 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Ron Davis is the mastermind behind our devolution settlement and as far as I can see historically the reasoning behind the limited devolution we had was partly to do with EU funding that would come to Wales. Namely if our powers were devolved as much as Scotland then the GDP argument he made for Wales as a region of England would not have stood and the tens of millions that we have received would not have been forth coming. Today things are very different and that funding has now gone so #IndyWales for me all the way

j humphrys
j humphrys
12 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Correction. Hatred of almost every country, but jealousy of the US.

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