Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Welsh Government told ‘forget about more devolution and tackle the NHS and rising unemployment’

28 Jul 2023 6 minute read
David TC Davies speaking in Westminster Hall

Martin Shipton

Welsh Secretary David Davies has delivered a stinging rebuke to Counsel General Mick Antoniw, rejecting his call for the devolution of policing and the justice system to Wales and suggesting he should devote his energies to tackling the problems of the NHS and the rise in unemployment.

Mr Antoniw wrote to Mr Davies saying: “I have recently had brought to my attention an answer to a Parliamentary Question given on behalf of your department on May 18 by Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist, who I understand has since resigned from the UK Government. I believe this answer is misleading and would ask that the record is corrected.

“The question was asked by Lord Wigley, and the question and answer were as follows:

Lord Wigley. To ask His Majesty’s Government what approaches they have had from the Welsh Government concerning the transfer of responsibility to Senedd Cymru of (1) the police service in Wales, (2) the prison service in Wales, and (3) the court service and administration of justice in Wales.

Persuasive case

Baroness Bloomfield responded: “While the Welsh Government has called for the devolution of justice and policing to Wales, it has not made a formal request for the powers to be transferred. There has been no persuasive case made for how devolution would improve the operation of these services. There are therefore no plans to devolve them.”

Mr Antoniw continued his letter: “The Welsh Government has certainly requested that powers for justice be transferred. The UK Government has been provided with multiple publications which make clear our desired position, from the draft Government and Laws in Wales Bill in 2016, through the original and refreshed editions of Reforming our Union, and Delivering Justice for Wales in 2022. There were detailed discussions through the creation of what became the Wales Act 2017.

“It is of course abundantly clear to you and your colleagues that the Welsh Government is seeking this transfer of responsibilities, and indeed that this position has the support of a settled majority in the Senedd.

“To take one specific example, the First Minister wrote to the then Prime Minister [Boris Johnson] on  December 18 2019, immediately following the general election, stating: ‘I would ask you to commit to […] within the next five years, updating the current settlement to ensure the Welsh Government and the Senedd have a coherent set of powers in order to secure the best possible outcomes for the people of Wales and  fulfil our shared role in the governance of the UK. This should include devolution of, and fair funding for, justice (as recommended by the Commission on Justice in Wales)’.

“It is not clear to me whether the answer from Baroness Bloomfield was attempting to suggest that correspondence between respective heads of government is not a formal mechanism for making a request, but I would find that a strange position to take. I also believe a great many people would also take issue with the suggestion in the answer that ‘there has been no persuasive case made for how devolution would improve the operation of these services’.

“This does a disservice to the work of the Commission on Justice in Wales, and the more than 200 individuals, institutions and organisations who provided written evidence to it, as well as the 150 participants in oral evidence sessions in what was the largest ever examination of the state of the justice system in Wales. I would therefore welcome a correction being made.”

Surprised

Mr Davies’ letter of response did not address Mr Antoniw’s call for a correction. Instead he told told the Counsel General : “I am quite surprised you have submitted this application [for the devolution of justice], especially when the NHS in Wales is facing severe pressures, Welsh unemployment has risen and students’ reading and numeracy skills continue to be the lowest, according to PISA [which compares countries’ educational attainment rates in basic skills] in the UK.

“The UK Government has also made its position abundantly clear – that justice in Wales is best delivered via the single England and Wales justice system. In particular, Wales benefits from the economies of scale and shared resources of being part of a larger justice system, including access to the prison estate. The devolution of justice would involve very considerable upheaval of the existing system and create enormous difficulties.

“Despite the abundance of reports that have been produced on this matter, the Welsh Government has not addressed fundamental issues over how such a separate justice system for Wales would operate. It remains unclear, for example, how it would address the prohibitive costs involved, a matter that was not addressed in Lord Thomas’ report [a commission chaired by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, a former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, recommended the devolution of justice to Wales].

“Furthermore, the reports point to the so-called ‘jagged edge’ interface between devolved and reserved services. We do not agree that the interface between reserved and devolved matters poses practical difficulties for the justice system in Wales.

“Officials at the Ministry of Justice and the Welsh Government have excellent working relationships, including through groups such as the Justice in Wales Strategy Group and the Criminal Justice Board for Wales that allow for collaboration on any areas of the justice system that cut across devolved and reserved responsibilities. In contrast to the way in which the Welsh Government seeks to portray this interface as ‘hampering’ the delivery of justice, the justice system in Wales is performing well across a range of metrics and does so favourably when compared to regions of England in which all services are the responsibility of the UK Government.

“I do believe your time would also be better spent on tackling the many issues facing Wales, including the rise in unemployment. I would therefore stress that any formal request for the devolution of powers over justice cannot be made in abstract of these wider practical questions which have not been addressed.”

It seems unlikely that a future Labour government at Westminster will devolve powers over policing and justice to Wales in the immediate future.

The party’s general election manifesto is expected to include elements from a report written by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which recommends the devolution of the probation service and youth justice to Wales, but not policing or adult justice.


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.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
12 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stu Harrison
Stu Harrison
8 months ago

Just a thought. Your article would be clearer to the non-politerati if you referred to David Davies as the “UK Secretary of State for Wales.”

Richard
Richard
8 months ago

It’s Wales who will be forgetting David Davies soon 🤞🏽

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
8 months ago

….Whats the point of begging our oppressors for anything?…hopefully, this slap down by both Westminster and Stamrmer’s Labour will make the Senedd wake up a bit and face the reality of what we are dealing with. The Senedd must become more aggressive….and tbf, it does need to show that it can run the NHS, but it cannot do that on the pittance the oppressors allow us. So back to the original point: The Senedd needs to be more aggressive and demand more,louder, and it needs to inform the people of Cymru of all of the insulting slap-downs we are given.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
8 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

Agree Welsh politicians should be doing far more to fight for the rights of the people of Wales, both in Westminster and in the Senedd. Big drawback is that Labour Senedd is a mere branch of Westminster run, in the main, by Starmer and co. The Senedd just follow party lines which, mostly, are indistinguishable from the tories.

Notttabottt
Notttabottt
8 months ago

Maybe fund Wales properly then

George Thomas
George Thomas
8 months ago

Do other countries have people like David Davies?

“How dare the country of my birth want to be more responsible for its actions and less reliant on handouts from next door?”

He’s just a weirdo.

Rob
Rob
8 months ago

Is this the same UK government that is obsessed with giving us a hard Brexit at the expense of the economy and public services? Does David Davies really think Wales interests are better served in Westminster than in the Senedd? As long as Wales has the weakest level of devolution compared to Scotland and Northern Ireland than there will always be calls for further powers. But if all four nations of the UK had the same level of autonomy than their wouldn’t be any demands!! You don’t for example hear Pembrokeshire demanding for more autonomy than Carmarthenshire, or Portugal demanding… Read more »

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
8 months ago

Of all the tories i HATE this man to me is the worst in case he has not noticed the N H S in england is in a mess and unemployment is rising he always puts Wales down where is he in the unfair funding to Wales on H S 2 the man is a traitor to Wales he treats us like a colony like the days of empire come the next election the tory scum wiped out in Wales

Frank
Frank
8 months ago

What use is this guy to Wales? He’s always against anything that might benefit Cymru. He is a liability and needs to go.

Alan Jones
Alan Jones
8 months ago

Just how lazy is this man, oh, he’s plenty of energy to get himself on television news & topical debate programmes plus other media outlets to call out the current government of Cymru & to spout his Tory nonsense, but when it comes to banging an angry fist on the number 10 cabinet table to demand proper funding for Cymru it would appear he is a political mouse. Yes, we know the NHS is in dire straits & unemployment is edging upwards along with a myriad other issues requiring urgent attention ( along with england) but, if only he could… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
8 months ago

We have a quisling as Welsh Secretary in David TC Davies, an Englishman by the way, is actively undermining Wales an affront to democracy. If we want more powers for our Senedd Cymru, shall have more powers. It’s not up to you David TC Davies or anyone else to decide or dictate to the Welsh electorate, who I might add, voted recently into office a Welsh Government whose Senedd manifesto pledged the devolution of Policing and Criminal & Youth Justice system. But David TC Davies should heed this warning. He can try to hold back the tide of democracy in… Read more »

The original mark
The original mark
8 months ago

No such thing as a decent tory, they’re all lowlife scum.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.