Welsh Gov’s Constitutional Commission ‘futile’ attempt to ‘pander to nationalists’ says Tory Lord
A Conservative member of the House of Lords has attacked the Welsh Government’s Constitutional Convention as an attempt to “pander to the nationalist party for support”.
Baron Davies of Gower, who was previously a Senedd member, and MP and Chairman of the Welsh Conservatives, criticised the choice of Professor Laura McAllister as co-chair noting that she had “stood twice for parliamentary election for Plaid Cymru”.
He said that the constitution was “a reserved matter” for Westminster and therefore the commission was “futile” and its findings of “little value”.
His comments came in a debate in the House of Lords about the Constitutional Convention.
“My Lords, as was already mentioned, the constitution is a reserved matter and, as such, the findings of this commission will be of little value in a UK context,” he said.
“Does my noble friend the Minister agree that, in addition to the multi-millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money wasted on an airport purchase, to the axed M4 Newport relief road motorway project, which has cost Welsh taxpayers £140 million to date, and to the worst A&E record in the UK—I could go on—this commission is yet another futile spend, whose only purpose is to pander to the nationalist party for support?
“That is obvious from the choice of co-chair of the committee, who, as already has been mentioned, stood twice for parliamentary election for Plaid Cymru.”
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist, who is the UK Government Whip in the House of Lords, said that Baron Davies had made “good points”.
“We do not know how much money has been spent on this commission, but it is a large commission and one can only assume that it has been a priority for the Welsh Government—I am not sure that the people of Wales have the same priority,” she said.
Last month, Professor Laura McAllister and Dr Rowan Williams were confirmed as the co-chairs of the commission, which was one of the key promises of Labour’s Senedd manifesto.
Professor McAllister has said that all options would be in the table – including independence. She said they would be thinking “boldly and radically about all potential options for the future of Wales, in the context of the increasing pressure on the Union.”
During the debate in the House of Lords, Lord Wigley asked whether, if the Welsh Government were to propose a referendum on independence, would the UK Government accept the result.
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist answered to point out that Laura McAllister had been a member of Plaid Cymru and it was therefore not a surprise to see her suggest independence as an option.
“Of course, I could make the point that Professor Laura McAllister has stood twice as a Plaid Cymru candidate, so I am not surprised that her comments in the Senedd were very different from those of the First Minister, who said that this would not be a consideration of the commission,” she said.
“While we are, of course, interested in its work, it would not be right for us to pre-empt any possible recommendations. I remind the noble Lord that, in a St David’s Day poll this year, 80% of respondents expressed their support for the union.”
It was announced this week that former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood would be part of the commission. It also includes former Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams and Lauren McEvatt, a former Conservative UK Government special adviser to the Wales Office.