Wales’ indy movement not ‘anything like Scotland’ says member of Labour constitutional commission
Wales’ independence movement is not “anything like what is happening in Scotland” according to a member of Labour’s constitutional commission.
Paul Murphy, Baron Murphy of Torfaen, is a member of a commission set up by party leader Kir Starmer and led by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to “to settle the future of the union”.
Speaking in the House of Lords, the former secretary of State for Wales said that he was “not tempted by independence for Wales”.
“I agree with him that there is a movement which goes towards that direction, but by no means anything like what is happening in Scotland,” he said.
He did however note that over the years, intergovernmental relations had gone from bad to worse.
“The Whitehall departments still do not quite understand what devolution is all about,” he said. “I sometimes think some government Ministers are ignorant of what devolution is all about, although the landscape has in fact changed dramatically.”
He also noted that he had given evidence to the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales, chaired by Professor Laura McAllister and Dr Rowan Williams.
UK Government Minister Lord Greenhalgh responded that The Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, and Neil O’Brien MP, Minister for Levelling Up, the Union and Constitution, had also given evidence to that commission.
“We are looking forward to heading its findings in due course,” he said.
Responding to the debate, he said: “I take issue with the idea that there is an aggressive form of unionism.
“This Government are really committed to strengthening the union of the United Kingdom, protecting and promoting its combined strengths and the values that we all share, and ensuring that the institutions of the United Kingdom are used to benefit people in every part of the country, building on hundreds of years of partnership and a shared history since the Acts of Union.
“We are also great believers in devolution, and that it allows communities across the four nations to reap the benefits of the broad shoulders of the union, while benefiting from decisions being placed closest to those who they affect.”
The debate on the ned for a Constitutional Commission for the United Kingdom was sponsored by former Plaid Cymru MP Lord Dafydd Wigley.
“With the reunification of Ireland and a pro-independence vote in Scotland at least possibilities, where does that leave Wales?” he asked.
“Although Wales currently has no majority for independence, the departure of Scotland and Northern Ireland might well change attitudes.
“With these scenarios at least a possibility—some say a probability—I ask the Government whether they intend to sit back and let events dictate policy, as happened with Ireland a century ago, or should there be serious study of alternative models for the post-independence relationship of the nations of these islands?
“Some colleagues, particularly on the Liberal Democrat Benches, favour a federal constitution for the United Kingdom, but would this be a federation of four nations each with parity, leaving England outvoted by the other three, or weighted by population, leaving the others always outvoted by England? If it were based on English regions, Wales and Scotland would hardly warm to such a status.
“Another model makes more sense to me: a confederal approach, in which sovereignty of the three nations and the Province is acknowledged, but they pool their sovereignty for certain purposes—for example, the recognition of the Queen as the head of a Britannic confederation. Plaid Cymru and the SNP currently accept the monarchy as the Head of State, recognising a Britannic dimension to our identity as well as our own national identity.
“Secondly, there might be an acceptance of sterling as the currency and a reconstituted Bank of England acting as a central bank for a confederation. Thirdly, there is scope for defence co-operation. The SNP supports an independent Scotland being part of NATO, though this is obviously complicated by the question of nuclear weapons. There is surely a pragmatic solution to enable defence co-operation.”
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.