Welsh Government formally starts legal action against UK Government for ‘power grab’

The Senedd left and Westminster right. Picture by on the left by the Senedd (CC BY 2.0).

The Welsh Government has formally started legal action against the UK Government because of an “attack” on the Senedd’s powers.

Counsel General and Minister for European Transition Jeremy Miles MS told Members of the Senedd today he’ll go to court to challenge UK Internal Market Act because it negatively impacts the legislature’s ability to pass laws.

The Internal Market Act, which takes away swathes of powers that had previously been devolved, was passed in December, despite the Senedd refusing to give consent to the bill.

The UK Government has now said that it will use the power in the act to take away a large chunk of the Senedd’s spending power.

European structural funds are being replaced with a Westminster controlled resource. The Shared Prosperity Fund will replace European Commission development and social fund grants, which were spent by the devolved governments.

The UK Government will bypass devolved administrations, including the Senedd, which will no longer get to choose where the money, which has been invested in transport infrastructure, economic development and workplace training, will be spent.

 

‘Less money’ 

Conservative MS David Melding has said that this will lead to Wales receiving much less money.

Mr Miles said: “So far, there has been an exchange of pre-action correspondence with the UK Government about the Act.

“Members will recall that a pre-action letter was sent to the UK Government on 16 December, just before the Act was passed and received Royal Assent.

“We received a response to that letter on 8 January.  That response did not address any of our concerns about the effect of the Act on devolution.

“Therefore, I have today issued formal proceedings in the Administrative Court seeking permission for a judicial review.

“We recognise the difficulties faced by the Senedd because of the uncertainty that this Act leaves in terms of the Senedd’s ability to legislate.

“I have therefore applied for the proceedings to be expedited although this is entirely a matter for the Court. I have proposed a timetable to the Court which would result in this case being heard in the final week of March 2021.

“I attach the detailed Grounds of Claim. These grounds confirm the two planks of the challenge we seek to make; that the Act impermissibly, impliedly repeals parts of the Government of Wales Act 2006 in a way that diminishes the Senedd’s legislative competence and that the Act confers power on the UK Government, by way of wide Henry VIII powers, which could be used by UK Ministers to substantively amend the Government of Wales Act in a way that cuts down the devolution settlement.

“I will continue to keep Members closely updated on the progress of this action.”

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