Lord Salisbury and Sir Paul Silk give evidence to the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee at the Welsh Assembly

30 September 2019

Lord Salisbury and Sir Paul Silk gave evidence today on behalf of the Constitution Reform Group to the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee at the Welsh Assembly as part of the Committee’s inquiry into Wales’ Changing Constitution. The Wales’ Changing Constitution inquiry is intended to allow the Committee to take account of emerging constitutional issues as the UK leaves the EU. Its objective is to consider the implications of new levels of UK governance as a result of Brexit on the Welsh devolution settlement, as well as the current scope and application of the Sewel convention in the context of the process of leaving the EU.

Since the EU referendum in 2016 there has been an increasing interest in Welsh independence, with a YouGov poll published last month revealing that a third of people in Wales would support Welsh independence if it meant the country would stay in the EU. There is however an alternative to the status quo and independence – a third option is offered by the Constitution Reform Group’s Act of Union Bill which provides that Wales could choose to be a part of a federal UK.

Lord Salisbury said “Where we are now is not a unitary state which is what we were before 1997, nor a fully federal one. Inevitably, the speed at which devolution was created has led to a lot of constitutional loose ends. As a result, the desirably of a long-term constitutional settlement has not been met and is very much unfinished business. The time has come to create a more coherent settlement. A federal solution is the only practical basis on which we can proceed.

What we offer must be negotiated by all four parts of the United Kingdom on equal terms and as equal partners.

The Bill as it currently stands is a work in progress. What we offer is a radical proposal but we believe that we have a practical approach.”  

Questions such as how the Act of Union Bill might be reconciled with the principles of Parliamentary Sovereignty and the supremacy of the UK Parliament to the potential impact of the establishment of an English Parliament or regional devolution on Wales were asked.

You can watch the full evidence session here.

For further information, or if you would like to contribute to the Constitution Reform Group’s proposals, please email info@constitutionreformgroup.co.uk

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