Tory MS tells Senedd it ‘must respect’ that UK Parliament ‘remains sovereign’
A Tory MS has told his fellow Senedd members that they “must respect the fact that the UK Parliament remains sovereign”.
Darren Millar, the Conservative Senedd member for Clwyd West, made the comments during a debate about the way Westminster legislates in devolved areas.
When the UK Government wants to pass a law in an area that has been devolved to Wales, it sends the Senedd what it called a legislative consent motion.
The Senedd has refused to grant consent on more than one occasion However, under the UK constitution Westminster has the power to overrule the Senedd, and it has done so when consent has been denied by the devolved chamber.
During a debate on the subject, Plaid Cymru MS Rhys ab Owen pointed to a “huge increase” in legislative consent motions being sent by Westminster.
He argued that this “reflects the contempt of the Tory Government, which is seeking to undermine the devolution settlement.”
He added that “they are a Trojan horse that slowly, stealthily and steadily erodes the very foundation of the political system here in Wales”.
Darren Millar said: “Sometimes, the majority of people in north Wales and representing seats in north Wales vote against the decisions that are taken by politicians predominantly from the south in the Senedd. I don’t baulk too much about that.
“I don’t suggest that we need a process that allows for some respect of the fact that people in north Wales might disagree and their representatives might disagree. I accept that that is democracy.
“And we must respect the fact that the UK Parliament remains sovereign in the UK, across the whole of the UK. And of course devolution must be respected, but we must not forget the fact that the UK Parliament remains sovereign.”
Rhys ab Owen said: “The past two years have seen a huge increase in the number of legislative consent motions brought forward to this Chamber. Last year the number was highest, with 18, and this year the second highest, with 16.
“This reflects the contempt of the Tory Government, which is seeking to undermine the devolution settlement. Essentially, these LCMs are only for show. The Sewel convention is something that’s a thing of the past.
“The Westminster Government will continue to ignore this Parliament and continue with its own agenda, whatever the result of the votes on LCMs in this Senedd. This shows how voiceless and inconsequential our nation’s Senedd is in Westminster.
“The increase in LCMs should be of real concern for supporters of democracy here in Wales. They are a real threat to this institution, yet they pass through this Chamber like a mere footnote.
“Even the most ardent of political commentators don’t pick up on them, but they are a Trojan horse that slowly, stealthily and steadily erodes the very foundation of the political system here in Wales. We need to wake up to the threat or we will see a far weakened Senedd by the next election. No matter what the committee on Senedd reform does, we could see a far weakened Senedd here by the next election.”
He added: “The people of Wales voted twice in favour of this Senedd, and there was a significant pro-devolution majority elected to this place in May.
“We must not undermine this clear democratic mandate by passing over our powers to Tory Ministers without any real scrutiny here at all. Welsh laws should be scrutinised properly by us as Members.
“That’s our job. I want to see a Senedd that is strong and democratic, an empowered Senedd that uses its powers fully to effect positive change to the lives of the people of Wales.”