What assessment he has made of the potential effect of provisions of the great repeal Bill on Wales’s devolved competences.
To provide the greatest level of legal and administrative certainty upon leaving the European Union, the Government will replicate the current frameworks. In parallel, we will begin intensive discussions with the devolved Administrations to identify where common frameworks should be retained. We expect the outcome of that process to be a significant increase in the decision-making power of the devolved Administrations.
Accepting the Minister’s request to be positive, may I ask him whether he agrees that the best way forward for Welsh and Scottish farmers is for the responsibility for financial subsidy arrangements to be transferred to the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies post-Brexit?
Naturally, the UK Government will continue to engage positively with the Scottish Government, as well as with the Welsh Government. However, I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that protecting the integrity of the UK market must be fundamental to that discussion, because clearly the Scottish farmers will sell more to the UK than they will elsewhere.
Wales has consistently voted to make the National Assembly responsible for the governance of its own country and to transfer responsibilities away from Westminster and closer to the people in Wales. Will the Secretary of State give a concrete guarantee that there will be no attempt to undermine devolution in relation to any of the devolved Governments?
I am grateful for the opportunity to highlight one achievement of this Parliament: passing the latest governance legislation, the Wales Act 2017, which enhanced powers even further in a range of areas. It demonstrates our stance on devolution, which is to trust the people.
Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National party will defend against the power-hungry Tory Government’s plans in the White Paper to use the great repeal Bill to undermine devolved government by not passing on powers from Brussels. What guarantees can the Minister make to ensure that all powers are repatriated to Wales and Scotland in the devolved competences and not absorbed by the Westminster machine?
As powers are repatriated from the EU, it is vital that we provide industry and communities with as much certainty and security as possible. We need to protect the integrity of the UK market, and we need to work with the devolved Administrations to construct common standards and common frameworks to support that single market.
After a decade of Tory rule in Westminster, it is clear that the Government have given up on Wales. They have refused to devolve the responsibility for rail infrastructure, as both Plaid Cymru and the Silk commission suggested, and in paragraph 4.2 of the great repeal Bill White Paper they have pledged to snatch the transport powers currently held by Brussels away from the people of Wales. Will the Secretary of State tell us what exactly he is doing to ensure that the people of Wales, and their interests, are not forgotten?
The Government will continue to engage with the Welsh Government, but we will also continue to engage with stakeholders. The stakeholders across agriculture, business and commerce have supported the standpoint we want to take with the great repeal Bill, which is to replicate the powers on a temporary basis until we can come to an agreement with the devolved Administrations on where those powers should ultimately lie in the interests of the UK market.
My right hon. Friend will be aware that the setting of business rates in Wales is now devolved. Does he share my concern that the small business rate relief scheme in Wales is less generous than the one in England?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I can well remember walking recently along the High Street in Prestatyn, where business rates were highlighted as a major concern for some of the small shops. He is right that the setting of business rates is devolved but, of course, in the recent Budget my right hon. Friend the Chancellor enhanced the Welsh settlement significantly as a result of his support for small business rates in England; I hope the Welsh Government will use that money to support small businesses in Wales.
I have been an MP for only two years, but during that short time I have seen two Secretaries of State and five shadow Secretaries of State for Wales fob off my country with crumbs from the Westminster table. Now, the Government are preparing to claw back devolved powers. When will the present incumbent announce a Wales Bill that brings power back to Wales?
The hon. Lady will appreciate that we have said with the great repeal Bill White Paper that no decisions currently taken by the Welsh Government will be removed from them. We expect that the repatriation of powers from the European Union will extend the Welsh Government’s powers significantly, but there is of course a process to work through in order to provide the stability and certainty that industry needs.
May I thank all Labour MPs, and particularly the Welsh Labour MPs, for their support?
The Welsh Labour Government tell me that the Joint Ministerial Committee is not listening or responding to the voices of the devolved Administrations. It is not fit for purpose. Does the Secretary of State agree that the JMC should be given statutory powers so that the great repeal Bill will not in any way rewrite or override devolution as set out in the recent Wales Act?
I underline the importance of the role played by the Joint Ministerial Committee. Having been at the Committee’s meetings, I know that an awful lot of discussion takes place in the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom. There may well be the potential for it to be developed further, but a statutory footing is not the answer.
The hon. Gentleman will recognise that the Welsh Government are represented on the Joint Ministerial Committee. I have made it a determination to engage proactively with the stakeholders in Wales, because they share a view that is not always consistent with that of the Welsh Government. Through my office, they have had a direct input into the great repeal Bill White Paper.