20 Years of Devolution

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:50 pm on 11th July 2019.

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Photo of David Davies David Davies Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee 12:50 pm, 11th July 2019

I will not, as I have apparently got only one minute left, and I am still on my first page.

There has been a failure on transport in Wales. There has also been a failure on the economy. Even the Economy Minister in the Welsh Government has said that we do not know what we are doing with it. There has also been a significant failure on value for money and an inability sometimes to see through the boasts and exaggerated claims that are made by people who are seeking grants. That is a matter of some disappointment to me, but of course it is actually Welsh Labour that is responsible for this, not the National Assembly for Wales. That is why I am looking forward to seeing Conservatives being elected into government at the next Welsh Assembly elections and, yes, if necessary, to working with members of Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats to ensure that we get a change from the one-party rule that has dominated Wales for far too long.

By a strange irony, here I am 20 years later making an argument for more powers for the Welsh Assembly, because where there is a case to be made for it, I am happy to see the Assembly getting powers over issues such as air passenger duty, which is something that we recommended strongly in our report. It is a pity that I have not got time to get on to Brexit and to point out the obvious contradiction in the fact that, while the Scottish National party and Plaid Cymru rightly make points about Catalonia, it is the European Union that is opposed to regional entities such as Catalonia becoming nation states. The real supporter of devolution is the Conservative and Unionist party. Not only are we handing powers over to the Parliaments of Scotland and Wales, but we want to hand more powers over to them, because the biggest exercise in devolution is going on right now. We are taking powers away from Brussels and bringing them back to London, whereupon we will start to distribute them out to Edinburgh, to Cardiff, to Belfast and, of course, to the regions of England. So all those who support devolution and believe that power should be brought back closer to the people should also be supporting Brexit and democracy.