20 Years of Devolution

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:13 pm on 11th July 2019.

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Photo of Susan Elan Jones Susan Elan Jones Labour, Clwyd South 1:13 pm, 11th July 2019

It is an intelligent contribution to the debate that we consider good policies, wherever they come from, on both sides of the border, in Scotland and, indeed, elsewhere in the world. We must not become insular.

Thirdly, and this is especially true for those of us who fall in the social democratic or democratic socialist traditions, structural and constitutional devices are never an end in themselves. It is about empowerment, wellbeing, connectedness, education and culture. I pay great tribute to all those who are fighting the campaign to reach 1 million Welsh speakers—it is not a maximum, and we can go above it—in Wales, which is very important. It is also about the ability to reach out globally, across continental Europe, the UK, NATO, the Commonwealth and so much more. What was important about the initial devolution settlement was the sense that we had to work consensually. Sometimes the electoral system was devised for that and sometimes, to be honest, that consensual working could be a pain in the neck, but I do believe that without it we would not have had that breadth of support for devolution.

If I am quick, I will be able to end—stereotypically, being Welsh—with a quote from a poem: a not-very-good translation of a Welsh poem. It reads:

Old Welsh customs need must change

As years progress from age to age.

The generations each arrange

Their own brief patterns on the page.”

That is not how Ceiriog said it, but that is the English translation. Most of us will not be here in this place in 20 years’ time, but what is important is that we work together, we get the best for our country and we do it through that devolved settlement.