Plaid Cymru laments Wales Bill in final Parliamentary debate
Plaid Cymru has criticised the UK Government for failing to deliver on its stated aim of providing a “clear and lasting devolution settlement”, in the final debate on the widely criticised Wales Bill in Parliament.
The party accused the UK Government of ignoring expert opinion as well as the views of the Welsh Government and opposition parties, and branded the Wales Bill as “unsustainable” and “outdated”.
The Wales Bill transfers some responsibilities from Westminster to Cardiff Bay on matters such as electoral arrangements, energy and income tax, but removes some significant areas of responsibility in other areas on health, education and the Welsh language, amongst other areas.
Commenting, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson on the constitution, Liz Saville Roberts, said:
“Plaid Cymru approached the development of a new Wales Bill in good faith, working constructively with all parties and none, to ensure Wales has the solid foundation it needs upon which to build the country into a prosperous, healthy and well-educated country it should be.
“We engaged with the Silk Commission which formed the basis of the Wales Bill and we compromised, along with other parties, in order to reach an agreed position between four very different parties in the interest of the people of Wales. At the time the Silk Commission reported, there was an unprecedented consensus between the six main parties in Wales.
“It is disappointing and frustrating that the UK Government decided to unpick that consensus and produce a deeply inadequate Bill that falls far short of what was agreed by the Silk Commission. Gone is the consensus that Welsh natural resources should be in the hands of the people of Wales; gone is the consensus that the Welsh Government is best placed to determine Welsh policing priorities; and gone is the consensus that the Welsh Government should be allowed to invest in our country’s infrastructure.
“The Bill in fact takes responsibility away from the people of Wales, despite the mandate given by the people of Wales in the referendum of 2011 for further responsibilities to be transferred to Cardiff.
“Despite the overwhelming evidence of legal experts in front of both the House of Commons’ Welsh Affairs Committee and the National Assembly’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, the UK Government continued to ignore calls for a distinct legal jurisdiction to be created in Wales to allow the Bill to be simplified and legally tightened.
“The result is a poorly drafted, legally weak Bill that delivers on minor areas whilst stripping Wales of crucial responsibilities in areas such as health, education and the Welsh language.
“Far from delivering a clear and lasting devolution settlement, this Bill is already outdated and is clearly unsustainable.
“Plaid Cymru did not want to be forced to vote against the Wales Bill but the UK Government gave the Assembly no choice but to do so. We will not be dutifully grateful for an under ambitious deal, much as we will not be grateful for an under ambitious Bill.”