Senedd votes for ‘compromise’ over UK Government’s levelling up bill
Chris Haines, ICNN Senedd reporter
MSs have backed the UK Government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration bill, despite concerns that it “rides roughshod over and undermines” Welsh democracy.
Members debated a legislative consent motion (LCM) on the bill, which lays the foundations for the UK Government’s levelling-up agenda and covers areas which have been devolved to Wales.
Julie James, Wales’ climate change minister, explained that the debate on the LCM had been rescheduled due to a “continued ping-pong” on amendments to the Bill which started in a “deeply unsatisfactory state”.
She told the Senedd that the UK Government has failed to meet its manifesto promises of replacing EU funds in full and no power being lost to Wales.
However, Ms James recommended that the Senedd consents to the bill after amendments tabled by the UK Government and commitments to engage with Wales.
“I make no bones about it, this is a compromise position,” she said. “It is a better position than we would be in if we don’t do it – it’s not the position I would have liked to have been in, but, in the end, it’s a pragmatic approach.”
Huw Irranca-Davies, who chairs the Senedd legislation committee, raised concerns about the risk of co-decision making between governments bypassing scrutiny in the Welsh Parliament.
Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price told the Siambr the bill undermines Wales’ democracy.
The former party leader said: “This is not a levelling-up bill for us, it’s a levelling-down bill which takes away power and actually inhibits us from doing the kind of economic regenerative work that is necessary to drive up prosperity in every part of Wales.”
Labour’s Alun Davies said the levelling-up agenda is dead as he argued that it does not address inequality nor redistribute wealth.
The Blaenau Gwent MS said: “I don’t believe the UK Government was ever committed to it – but the moment it took the decision on HS2, it died.”
The Senedd agreed consent with 43 voting for, 13 against and no abstentions.
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