Justice: Devolution of Responsibility

Justice – in the House of Commons at on 20 February 2024.

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Photo of Beth Winter Beth Winter Labour, Cynon Valley

If he will make an assessment of the potential merits of devolving responsibility for justice to the Welsh Government.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Government are clear that it is in the best interests of the people of Wales for justice to remain a reserved matter. The current arrangement works well and allows Wales to benefit from being part of a larger, world-renowned justice system. Devolving justice to Wales would mean losing those benefits and would be extremely expensive and complex, requiring the duplication of functions.

Photo of Beth Winter Beth Winter Labour, Cynon Valley

Following the publication last month of the final report by the independent commission on the constitutional future of Wales, the First Minister of Wales confirmed unambiguously that it is the policy of the Welsh Government, and indeed of the Welsh Labour party, to support the devolution of the justice system. In pursuing the devolution of the Probation Service, he said:

“We will have to explore…governance…financial arrangements” and the interface between Welsh and English services. When will the Minister meet the Counsel General for Wales to discuss the devolution of justice?

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

If the representatives for the Welsh Government wish to meet me, I am more than happy to explain why Wales being part of the English and Welsh legal system remains the preferred option for this Government. Why would Wales want to leave the most successful legal services system in the world?