Calls for Assembly debate on Wales Bill and Boundary Commission review of constituencies


The new Wales Bill passed by the House of Commons is a missed opportunity according to Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Simon Thomas.


The AM called for an Assembly debate to discuss the impact of the Wales Bill and knock-on effect of proposals to change Westminster constituency boundaries.

Mid and West Assembly Member Simon Thomas, Shadow Cabinet member for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs for Plaid Cymru said:


“The Wales Bill was an opportunity to put an end to the constant tinkering with the devolution settlement. It was meant to deliver a lasting settlement for the people of Wales, but Westminster has once again insisted on giving Wales an inferior settlement, entrenching Wales’ status as a second class nation, and the result is a Bill that is already out of date.


“We had an opportunity to give the people of Wales their own Parliament with the necessary tools to adequately tackle the major challenges facing our economy, our NHS and our education system.


“It is remarkable that a Secretary of State for Wales – someone whose job is to represent Wales’ interests in Government – can so blatantly vote against Wales’ interests.


“On natural resources, policing, airports and financial responsibility, Westminster has fought against Wales’ interests. But astonishingly so did the Parliamentary Labour Party, I think it still exists, on several occasions.


“Principles which the First Minister fought for, such as a legal jurisdiction, devolution of policing and a legal basis for fair funding for Wales, were opposed by his own front bench or supported only at the last minute


“A united Labour Party could have got a better deal for Wales, it’s a good job it’s on its way out of business, because Wales deserves better.”


On the report by the Boundary Commission cutting Welsh MPs by a quarter to 29 Mr Thomas said:


“I’m calling for a debate in the Assembly on the approach the Welsh Government will now take on trying to amend this flawed Bill in the Lords or implementing it afterwards.


“This should include the related implications of the Boundary Commission review of constituencies.


“Surely, a cut in Welsh representation must be balanced by a transfer of these major policy areas to Wales. Scotland’s representation at Westminster was cut in 2005 only in response to a major shift of power to Scotland.


“Wales is being denied the same responsibilities that have been transferred to Scotland and Northern Ireland and yet its representation in Westminster is being cut by a quarter.


“But as Assembly elections are transferred to this place’s jurisdiction, how does the Welsh Government intend to respond to a situation in which Westminster and Assembly boundaries do not correspond.


“A statement from the Government on its principles and approach to this matter, which will need 2/3rd support in this Assembly, would be welcome.”

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