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UK Govt criticised for ‘destructive’ approach to devolution

01 Jul 2023 3 minute read
Mick Antoniw

Mick Antoniw, the Welsh Government’s Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, has criticised the UK Government’s unilateral and destructive approach to devolution.

It comes ahead of a speech to the Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association’s annual conference, delivered 24 years to the day since the National Assembly for Wales – now the Welsh Parliament – came into existence.

Mick Antoniw said that during this period the devolution settlement has never been under as much strain as it is now, citing the UK Government’s regular breaches of the Sewel Convention – which sets out that the UK’s Parliament will not normally legislate in devolved matters without the consent of the devolved parliaments.

Recent years have seen the UK Internal Market Act, the Professional Qualifications Act and the Subsidy Control Act come into force without consent from the Senedd.

In recent months the Senedd has also voted to refuse consent for the Retained EU Law Bill and the Illegal Migration Bill, which are currently going through the legislative process.

Strain

Mick Antoniw said: “Despite our efforts to work collaboratively, the UK Government has chosen a centralised, unilateral and destructive approach to the devolution settlement.

“It has repeatedly pushed ahead with legislation in devolved areas without the consent of the Senedd. In doing so it disrespects a democratically elected body and denies the people who elected its members of accountability. We have never seen this level of strain in the devolution settlement during the entire 24 years of its existence.

“And these attacks on the devolution settlement are not the only way the constitution is under strain. The UK Government is actively undermining parliaments and the courts, institutions that provide vital scrutiny as well as checks and balances.

“Civil liberties are under attack, including through the Public Order Bill which risks weakening fundamental freedoms around the right to protest. And the introduction of Voter ID saw around 14,000 turned away from polling stations in English local elections, raising real concerns over the integrity of the electoral system.”

Mick Antoniw added: “Carrying on with the status quo is not an option, and the foundations for reform are in place. The Commission on the UK’s Future, chaired by Gordon Brown, set out a series of radical proposals for constitutional reform at the end of last year – including a new legally binding formulation of the Sewel convention.

“And by the end of this year the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales is due to publish its final report, building on its interim report after extending its conversation with the people of Wales.

“It is incumbent on all politicians to build on these foundations, listen to the views of the people we serve, respect the constitution and deliver reformed structures that can improve outcomes and strengthen communities.”


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Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
9 months ago

Yes, but are you listening, Mick? Devolution is just a push-me pull-you game – designed by Westminster to avoid the inevitable.

Welsh Labour Ministers should show some leadership.

The only practical solution is independence.

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
9 months ago

ANNIBYNIAETH

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
9 months ago

“Muscular Unionism” is an attack on Cymru. Westminster has directly attacked the Senedd, Cymru and the democracy in Cymru that we cherish. …..Remember, in Cymru, we have a long tradition of standing up against bullies, tyrants and fascists, whilst the Saesneg government was cheering on the fascists in Spain, good strong men and boys from Cymru went to fight against them. Thirty-five gave their lives to defend a democracy “Britain” helped ensure was doomed. Its time we stood up for our own democracy. The Saesneg have lost the way, they do not see us as equals, they do not see… Read more »

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago

I really admire Mick Antoniw. He has shown that he has the guts to stand up for Wales against the Westminster bullying machine. I hope he will put his name forward when the position for First Minister becomes available.

David
David
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Would Mick Antoniw stand up for Wales against a Labour government in Westminster?

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  David

I hope he would. I think he would be the one most likely to out of them all.

Last edited 9 months ago by Mr Williams
Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
9 months ago

Mick Antoniws’ observations are correct but does he want to keep making those observations forever or will he talk to his party about the need to completely end Westminster control of our country? There is no alternative. Welsh Labour need to become a party of Independence.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
9 months ago

We all know what this idiocratic English imperialist Conservative government are all about. Since 1997 they have done their utmost to destroy diminish and abolish our Senedd Cymru. Note: This is the same Conservative Government who argued how the EU imposed rules and regulations on Britain. Stole its powers & sovereignty. Who stated those wanting to remain in the European Union should respect the Brexit vote are the very same who interfered in matters devolved. And ever since the 1997 devolution referenda those centrist Conservative extremophiles have continually argued for its abolition. And more recently called for their government to… Read more »

Bachgen o Lerpwl
9 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Have Plaid made up yet.

Annibendod
Annibendod
9 months ago

The “Vote Leave” whistleblower, Shahmir Sanni, said of the English imperialists (specifically those capitalist class libertarian hard right nationalists, not English people in general) behind the Brexit campaign that “The way they would speak about the Welsh and the Scottish … You really should seek independence – because they hate you.” It is no wonder then, that a Tóraidhe Government populated and under the influence by those sorts would be openly hostile towards our self-governance. Indeed I suspect they are far worse disposed towards our nation than their silly “muscular unionism” reveals. However, beware wolves in sheep’s clothing. Starmer refuses… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
9 months ago

I think maybe Mick Antoniw is in the wrong party, while I think he believes what he says, our Labour MP’s are silent,contrast them with SNP MP’s in the commons, attacking the assault on devolution by the Tory’s,and his leader in the Senedd has made it abundantly clear it is the union and only the union that matters to Labour in Cymru. Time for a change Mick, to a more pro Cymru party.

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