Wales ‘has to be ready’ for constitutional change says Dr Rowan Williams as he calls for public’s input to commission
Wales “must be ready” if the UK were to “change radically” the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams has said as he asked for the public’s input to a commission looking at Wales’ constitutional future.
Chaired alongside Professor Laura McAllister, the Independent Commission for the Constitutional Future of Wales said that it would be the first of its kind to involve citizens in a national conversation on how their country is run.
It is now calling for the people of Wales to join a “national conversation” so that Wales is on the “front foot”. Anyone that wishes to do so can contribute on the website.
“If the UK should change radically, Wales must be ready and be on the front foot,” Rowan Williams said. “You don’t have to be an expert or have a background in politics – simply having an opinion is enough.”
The co-chairs have set out seven broad questions that they want the public to consider, including one that quizzes the public about the merits of Welsh independence.
Co-chair Professor Laura McAllister said: “We’re extremely keen to hear from organisations and groups as much as individual members of the Welsh public. We want to learn from the organisations closest to different communities about what is important to them in this conversation.
“The Commission gives us an opportunity to take charge by having a national conversation about where we want Wales to be in the future, and what kind of Wales we want for our children and grandchildren.”
The seven questions the commission would like members of the public to answer are:
1. What matters to you about the way Wales is run?
2. What do you think the priorities for the commission should be?
3. Thinking about how Wales is governed, by the Welsh Government and the UK government, what are the strengths of the current system, what aspects do you most value and wish to protect? Can you provide examples?
4. Are there any problems with the current system, and if so, how could they be addressed? Again, please provide examples.
5. Thinking about the UK government, the Welsh Government and Welsh local government (your local council), what do you think about the balance of power and responsibility between these three types of government – is it about right or should it change and if so, how? – eg. who should have more power, or less?
6. As a distinct country and political unit, how should Wales be governed in the future? Should we:
- broadly keep the current arrangements where Wales is governed as part of the UK, and the Westminster Parliament delegates some responsibilities to the Senedd and Welsh Government, with those responsibilities adjusted as in Q5, OR
- move towards Wales having more autonomy to decide for itself within a more federal UK, with most matters decided by the Senedd and Welsh Government, and the Westminster Parliament decides UK-wide matters on behalf of Wales (and other parts of the UK) OR
- move towards Wales having full control to govern itself and be independent from the UK OR
- pursue any other governance model you would like to suggest
- alongside any of these options, should more responsibilities be given to local councils bringing decision making closer to people across Wales and if so, please provide examples.
7. Overall, what is most important to you in about the way in which Wales should be governed in the future? Is there anything else you want to tell us?
Dr Rowan Williams, co-chair of the Commission, said: “The Commission’s job is to think about how Wales is governed, and consider options for change. This is an open invitation for people in all parts of Welsh society to share what is important to them and how we can improve the lives of people living in Wales.
“We’re living through a time of immense political change and there’s growing recognition across the UK that the Union needs to reform, with movements for more radical change – including independence – gaining traction.”
Co-chaired by Professor Laura McAllister and Dr Rowan Williams, the group of 11 Commission members cover a spectrum of backgrounds, expertise and political views, with the purpose of generating vigorous and ground-breaking debate to inspire what Wales’ future could look like.
The Commission’s dialogue with the public and organisations will be ongoing right up until summer 2023, and views gathered during engagement will inform its recommendations. Early engagement is welcomed as responses received by the end of July will also inform the Commission’s interim report in winter 2022.
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