Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales

Wales – in the House of Commons at on 13 March 2024.

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Photo of Marco Longhi Marco Longhi Conservative, Dudley North

What discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the Independent Commission’s final report on the constitutional future of Wales.

Photo of David Davies David Davies The Secretary of State for Wales

The not very independent commission was set up by Welsh Labour Ministers and reports to them, but it was paid for by Welsh taxpayers. Its report was entirely in line with all the predictions I made: it contained more constitutional navel gazing and more calls for more powers, and nothing at all to address the problems that have been inflicted on Wales by the Welsh Labour Government.

Photo of Marco Longhi Marco Longhi Conservative, Dudley North

It is deeply concerning that a so-called “independent” commission described Welsh independence as “viable”, despite the fact that the vast majority of people in Wales support remaining part of the Union. Of course, there is a difference between something that might be viable and something that is best. Does my right hon. Friend agree that independence for Wales would be hugely damaging to the Welsh economy and public services, and that any further exploration of this idea must be immediately ruled out by the Labour Welsh Government?

Photo of David Davies David Davies The Secretary of State for Wales

I completely agree with my hon. Friend; it is hugely concerning that the Welsh Labour Government were even willing to consider independence for Wales with this commission. They should be sorting out the longest NHS waiting lists in the UK and doing something about the fact that we have the lowest educational standards and some of the highest business rates in the UK. As a result of the last bit of legislation, we also have some of the slowest speed limits in the UK. It is time the Welsh Labour Government addressed the real priorities of the people in Wales with the powers they already have.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady Scottish National Party, Glasgow North

Is the reality not that the Conservative party never wanted devolution in Wales or Scotland in the first place, which is why it does not want to see powers extended to either the Senedd or the Scottish Parliament?

Photo of David Davies David Davies The Secretary of State for Wales

I campaigned against the Senedd in the first place, but I was perfectly happy to accept the results of the referendum. I suggest that Scottish National party Members ought similarly to respect the results of independence referendums, be they about independence from the UK or independence from the European Union.