Tory minister wrong to claim there’s ‘no public appetite’ for devolving Crown Estate, says Plaid MP
A Plaid Cymru MP has said the Welsh Secretary was wrong to claim that there’s “no public appetite” for devolving power over the Crown Estate to Wales.
The Arfon MP pointed out that almost 10,000 people have signed a petition in support of Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts MP’s Crown Estate (Devolution to Wales) Bill.
The Arfon MP argued that it is “simply a matter of fairness” for the powers to be devolved to Wales because Westminster has already devolved the power to Scotland. But so far UK Government has refused to hand over control of royal profits that have been generated in Wales to the Senedd.
In response to a question by SNP MP Joanna Cherry, Mr Hart said that there is “no public appetite at all” to devolve the Crown Estate to Wales. He added in response to Allan Dorans MP that devolving the powers to Wales would be “off-putting” to the renewable energy sector.
However, SNP MP Richard Thomson pointed out that “it hasn’t put off investment in Scotland”, in reference to the recent £700m ScotWind leasing auction, which attracted more than 70 bids from energy companies, utility firms and investment funds from around the world
Mr Williams said that devolving the Crown Estate to Wales would provide much needed revenue for the Welsh Government to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Currently, profits in Wales go to the UK Government due to powers being held in Westminster.
The Crown Estate is a collection of lands and holdings in the United Kingdom belonging to the British monarch. It holds the rights to seabeds around the British Isles.
The Crown Estate in Wales generated £8.7 million in revenue last year, which went into the coffers of the UK Treasury because it is still controlled by Westminster. It’s marine portfolio in Wales is valued £549.1 million.
‘Reap the benefits’
Speaking in the House of Commons, Hywel Williams MP said: “The Secretary of State has just said that there is no public interest or appetite at all for devolving the Crown Estate. By this morning 10,000 have signed a petition asserting Wales’s right to reap the benefits of our own natural resources.
“The Scotwind auction raised almost £700m for Scotland’s public finances, and to reassure the Secretary of State, this is not a new tax. In the heat of the cost-of-living crisis, Scottish renewable natural resources generate revenue for the benefit of the Scottish people, providing a better welfare service than that in Wales.
“Is it not clear that devolving the Crown Estate to Scotland has improved government’s ability to respond to the cost-of-living crisis, and so it would in Wales?”
The Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart MP responded, “Shock horror that that petition was going to be raised. It represents a tiny, tiny proportion of the people of Wales.”
Hywel Williams added: “‘Parity with Scotland’ is possibly not be the catchiest of slogans, but here, it is simply a matter of fairness. So will the Secretary of State now commit, in this Parliament, to the devolution of the Crown Estate to Wales?”
Simon Hart responded, “No, Mr Speaker.”
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