UK Gov justify denying Wales St David’s bank holiday because Scotland and N Ireland have ‘different histories’
The UK Government has justified giving Scotland and Northern Ireland an extra bank holiday while denying one to Wales because they have “different histories, economic, social, cultural and legal systems”.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was responding to a petition calling for St David’s Day to be made a bank holiday in Wales, which has been signed by over 12,000 people.
They said that while they “appreciate the sentiment behind this request ” they had “no current plans to change the well-established and accepted arrangements for bank holidays in Wales”.
“The decisions to create bank holidays for St Andrew’s Day, and St Patrick’s Day have been developed against a backdrop of different histories, economic, social, cultural and legal systems. Different factors require separate considerations,” they said.
“Although an additional bank holiday may benefit some communities and sectors, the cost to the economy of an additional bank holiday remains considerable. The latest analysis estimates the cost for a one-off bank holiday (across the whole of the UK) to be around £2bn.
“The Government regularly receives requests for additional bank and public holidays to celebrate a variety of occasions. However, the current pattern of bank holidays is well established and accepted.
“The Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 provides the basis for UK bank holidays each year and contains provisions for appointing additional or substitute days. Additional bank holidays, including those created after 1971, and some substitute days (for example when bank holidays fall at a weekend) are appointed by Royal proclamation.
“There are eight permanent bank and public holidays in England and Wales. There are nine in Scotland and ten in Northern Ireland.”
The UK Government’s stance puts them at odds with the leader of the Welsh Conservatives.
Wishing everyone in Wales a “happy St. David’s Day” on March 1, Andrew RT Davies added: “I’d love for St David’s Day to be a bank holiday here in Wales. Let’s make it happen!”
The idea of a St David’s Day bank holiday was also backed today by the Welsh Conservatives’ party’s culture and tourism spokesman in the Senedd, Tom Giffard, who said it could have “huge potential economic and cultural benefits”.
“People all across Wales should be able to enjoy a bank holiday on St David’s Day and it would be a wonderful moment for the country to unite and celebrate our heritage and culture,” said the Senedd member.
“People in Scotland and Northern Ireland have a bank holiday to celebrate the patron saints there, so now is the time for Wales to follow suit and have the same for our patron saint.”
The Welsh Government said that they had asked “time after time” for the power to denote 1 March a bank holiday. The idea is due to be discussed again in the Senedd on Wednesday.
But the campaign has gathered steam this year as a series of councils and public bodies in Wales backed the idea.
Gwynedd Council, Aberystwyth town council and Snowdonia National Park have already announced that staff will be given the day off.
Neath Port Talbot Council have also agreed to compile a report into giving council staff a day off on St David’s Day and also to lobby both the Welsh and UK Government to devolve the power to the Senedd. Caerphilly Council has also said that it would lobby both governments.
The move was originally backed by Gwynedd Council after Cllr Dafydd Meurig, the council’s deputy leader, said that he believed that Wales could “benefit economically” if St David’s Day celebration became widespread in the country.
“That would be the ideal and ensure that all workers from all sectors have a national holiday to celebrate St David’s Day on the first of March,” he said.
“If Ireland’s St Patrick’s public holiday is anything to go by, there is the potential there for Wales to benefit economically.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.