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Welsh Conservatives leader ‘not anti-devolution’ he says

23 Feb 2021 3 minutes Read
Andrew RT Davies picture by Senedd Cymru (CC BY 2.0).

New Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies has said he is not anti-devolution but believes that the Welsh Parliament should work within the present settlement it has.

He was responding to what The New Normal podcast host Adrain Masters called a concern that the Wesh Conservatives have become more vocally opposed to devolution.

Andrew RT Davies’ comments came after two candidates in his South Wales Central region set out their opposition to the Senedd in their candidate CVs.

The Welsh Conservative leader’s senior political advisor Chris Thorne also stated his attention to vote to abolish the Senedd in his pitch to members.

Asked if he was increasingly anti-devolution, however, Andrew RT Davies said “I’m not” and said he had supported the devolution of tax powers in the past.

“I’d like to think my record shows I’ve never been anti-devolution,” he said. “And my record as leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Welsh Parliament shows clearly the implementation of the referendum result in 2011 for further powers.

“It’s worth reflecting on this – two Acts of Parliament to improve the settlement of Wales, transferring powers on tax-raising and a whole host of other responsibilities that the Silk Commission recommended.

“So I wouldn’t say my record shows I’m anti-devolution. What I’m anti is politicians just navel-gazing and not delivering for people.”

‘Good governance’

Asked about the Abolish the Assembly Party he said that “other parties will put their pledges out there before the electorate in May and it’ll be for the electorate to determine who they want to vote for”.

“I passionately believe we should be working with the settlement we’ve got,” he said. “The comprehensive settlement we have.

“Because all we were getting time and time again from elected governments in the bay, Labour governments or a Plaid-Labour government as it was at the time, was ‘we don’t have enough money, we need more of this, we need more of that’.

“Well OK, if you want to have more resources and you want more decision making you have to have more accountability. And all governments have to be accountable for the money they spend.

“We are part of the union of the United Kingdom – a very proud part of the union of the United Kingdom. Those resources get shared around that union.

“But ultimately it is a responsibility of either the county council, the Welsh Parliament, Westminster Parliament – they must have a form of accountability via the taxes they raise.

“And if they want to raise more money they have to be accountable to the electorate for that. If they want to cut taxes, to make more dynamic decisions and make the more entrepreneurial economy I think Wales needs, they can do that.

“But what I don’t accept is that you have money handed to you with no accountability – that is not the way to have good governance here in Wales.”

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