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Wales’ counsel general to ask again for devolution of justice powers to Wales

01 Oct 2021 3 minutes Read
The Royal Courts of Justice in London. Counsel General Mick Antoniw. Picture: Senedd Cymru.

The Welsh Government will once again approach the UK Government to request the devolution of justice to Wales.

In a written statement to Senedd Cymru members, Wales counsel general and minister for the constitution Mick Antoniw said that the time had come to “kick-start” fresh discussions about the future of justice in Wales.

Welsh Labour’s manifesto for May’s Senedd elections included a promise to fight for the devolution of tax and justice powers.

Wales previously had its own system of law called Cyfraith Hywel, but was annexed into England’s justice system following the Laws in Wales Acts of the 16tth century.

The UK government has however so far rejected calls to devolve justice following the Thomas Commission on Justice in Wales, which in 2019 called for full legislative devolution of justice.

However, Mick Antoniw said that there are a number of recommendations from the Thomas Commission “that are achievable under the current devolution arrangements or involve some element of devolution without transferring responsibility for justice in its entirety”.

“For example, there is a strong case for devolving the youth justice system, which the Silk Commission also recommended in 2014,” he said.

“We will continue to make the case for devolving justice and policing, and work with stakeholders to explore how best to achieve it. In the meantime, based on correspondence with the previous lord chancellor [Robert Buckland QC], we expect discussions between the two governments will begin shortly.”

‘Energy’

The Welsh Conservatives have already rebuffed the suggestion that any justice powers could come to ro Wales, calling it “another attempted power grab by the Welsh Labour Government”.

“Policing is already devolved to each police force area in Wales as a result of the Police and Crime Commissioner system which was introduced by the UK Conservative Government and the devolution of justice would cost taxpayers millions that cannot be justified at present,” Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Constitution, Darren Millar MS, said.

“Instead of spending all its energy on looking for further powers, the Welsh Government should concentrate on using its existing powers to get to grips with the issues for which it is already responsible, such as the crisis in our NHS, the desperate need for young people to catch up with their education, and reinvigorating the Welsh economy post Covid.”

Despite this Mick Antoniw said he expected talks with the UK Government to encompass the full range of topics addressed in the Thomas report.

Those included ensuring people can access court services as they are digitised, exploring the possibility of problem-solving courts in Wales, support for advice service providers, diversity in justice system agencies, the quality and location of court buildings, Welsh language provision, and the organisation of the senior judiciary including representation on the UK Supreme Court.

Thomas also recommended the establishment of a Law Council of Wales to promote the interests of legal education and the awareness of Welsh law. The council is likely to come into being by the end of the year.

However, Antoniw said the council’s remit is expected to “extend beyond legal education and Welsh law, to cover economic development of the sector and legal technology and innovation”

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Erisian
Erisian
21 days ago

I marvel that the ‘Welsh’ Conservsatives (and Unionists) can justify calling themselves Welsh. Perhaps the Conservative and Unionists IN WALES would be a better name.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
21 days ago

The Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, the six counties of NI, Scotland, Bermuda, the Rock of Gibraltar … all have their own court systems and control of justice.

Why does Westminster deny Wales the same rights?

Quornby
Quornby
21 days ago

Because they know that the Welsh “leadership” can be bought off with a pat on the head and a meaningless title not forgetting the £300+ per day for attending the house of Lords.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
20 days ago

You are correct. Sadly the Tories see us as a subservient nation which must be controlled. They will never change and I really wish the people of Wales (especially the north coast, where I live, who seem to be hooked on voting for them) would see them for what they are. It’s also a great shame that UK Labour, when in government, refused to consider this either. I hope they have now changed their policy. It is so frustrating that in a modern democracy we have to ask to control our own police and justice system and be told no… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Mr Williams
Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
21 days ago

England is not very far away if you really feel like that

Gareth
Gareth
21 days ago

So Darren Millar is worried that it would cost million to give us control over the justice system, but he’s not bothered that it is costing us Billions to pay for HS2, which according to a UK Gov report will be of no benefit to us. Strange way of thinking for a supposed representative of the Welsh electorate.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
20 days ago

Our politicians have to fight tooth and nail for any more power – the Tories hate giving it up. Eventually though, we will take full power into our own hands and send the ‘Welsh’ Conservatives packing over the border to England, where they belong.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
20 days ago

“Policing is already devolved to each police force area in Wales as a result of the Police and Crime Commissioner system which was introduced by the UK Conservative Government…..”

So how come the Westminster government is able to change the PCC voting system – without the consent of the Welsh PCCs – if policing is devolved to each police force?

Last edited 20 days ago by Mr Williams
Mr Williams
Mr Williams
20 days ago

Will Keir Starmer commit to this if he becomes PM at the next election?

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