- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
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MIKE HEDGES MS WELCOMES THE SETTING UP OF A CONSTITUIONAL COMISSION
Speaking from the Senedd, local Swansea East MS, Mike Hedges said…. ‘ I welcome the establishment of a constitutional convention -we should be having a national debate about where people expect Devolution to go in the future; I have made the point many times that Devolution should not stop at Cardiff Bay, it should see power going from the Senedd to the local councils we have in Wales. I would also like to see a discussion on policy areas that should not be devolved – e.g. Defence. I would urge everyone to join in the debate on the future of Wales – it will effect all of us for years into the future.’
13/07/2021 15:37:57 / Mike Hedges MS
I welcome the setting up of a constitutional commission. Up until now, only Plaid Cymru, with independence, and abolish supporters have been consistent and have had an end point. Despite that, the majority of the Welsh people, in every opinion poll we’ve seen, want devolution either as we’ve got it now, or extended. I welcome the co-chair suggestion. Can I just remind the Minister that somebody who’s been educated at Oxford, who’s public school educated and a barrister—whether they are male or female, or if there’s one of each, it does not give you diversity; it gives you exactly the same background.
We need to discuss where devolution ends. I have three questions. What discussion has taken place with the English regional mayors? Because I cannot see devolution working with England being between five and six times the size of the other three put together. Following on from Darren Millar’s point, devolution has always been about taking things into Cardiff, either from local authorities or from Westminster; can we have some discussion on what ought to be devolved to the Welsh regions and to the Welsh local authorities, so we can have some movement in the other direction? And I ask again a question that I’ve previously asked to the First Minister: can you produce a list of items, such as currency, defence, national security, that should not be devolved—the end point? Otherwise, we have only two possible end points: independence or abolish.
13/07/2021 15:39:33 / Mick Antoniw MS
I thank Mike for those comments. They are very pertinent comments. He’s absolutely right; people clearly do, when you ask them about devolution, want decision-making processes as close to them as possible and to know that they can have the opportunity to influence those.
Can I say that I do agree also that how we reach out and we build engagement with others in various forms of devolved government, whether it be the regional mayors, whether it be the other nations of the UK, is equally important? It’s building up alliances—building up and recognising common interests. I think one of the weaknesses to constitutional reform within the UK is that there hasn’t been any civic hegemony around the fact that there is a need for change, and that everyone has a common interest in it. This isn’t just about Wales. Obviously, we are here to look at the future of Wales, to have a commission to look at that, but this is equally as important, in terms of the democracy and civic engagement, within England as well. Our harmony, our engagement with England and with the other nations of the UK is as important to us as many other matters.
In terms of governance, and the issue that he raises of further decentralisation of power, that is something that I’ve always supported, but when I said that it would be looking at governance within Wales, that has to include how governance can be better, and how governance might need to be closer to people. We often use this quote, don’t we, that Nye Bevan said:
‘The purpose of getting power is to be able to give it away.’
Others talked about the withering away of the state over many years, but all these come back to one thing: how do you give greater empowerment to people as close to people as possible?
That brings us on to the other point that Mike raised, which is directly relevant, and that is also recognising our interdependencies. I think, no matter what position you take, whether it be unionism, whether it be federalism, confederalism, independence or whatever version, they still all bring you back ultimately to how you engage with your neighbours, and what level of interdependency you have on issues, whether it be finance, whether it be currency or whatever, but what the mechanism should be to enable that to happen fairly within all the participants. And that seems to me the crux of that issue, so I agree with you on that very much.