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Welsh Affairs - annual debate on 28 February 2019

Published Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A general debate on Welsh Affairs is held each year in the Commons Chamber on, or around, St David’s Day. Since 2010, the Backbench Business Committee has allocated time for the annual debate from its 35 allotted days.

There is no debate pack for this debate but links to relevant briefings are provided below.

The first debate specifically set aside for discussion of “Welsh affairs” in the House of Commons took place almost 75 years ago on 17 October 1944.

That debate was led by Megan Lloyd George, the Liberal MP for Anglesey, who considered the debate “somewhat overdue”. She said:

  • We welcome this Debate as a recognition of the distinctive problems and needs of Wales, not as an area, not as a part of England, but as a nation with a living language of its own, with hundreds of years of history behind it, and with its own culture.

Not all Welsh Members supported the idea of a dedicated debate. Aneurin Bevan, the Labour MP for Ebbw Vale, said that while Wales had “a special place, a special individuality, a special culture and special claims”, he did not think “this is the place where any of them can properly be considered”:

  • There may be an argument—I think there is an argument—for considerable devolution of government, but there is no need for a special day in Parliament and this Debate has demonstrated it completely. Do not let us indulge in the humbug that this Debate to-day has had the slightest relevance to any important Welsh problem.

Last year’s debate was originally scheduled for 1 March but, following heavy snow, was cancelled at the request of Welsh Members to allow MPs to travel home safely. The Government found time for the debate to be rescheduled on 19 March 2018. The motion was moved by The Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, with Christina Rees responding.

The Wales Act

On 1 April 2018, the “reserved powers” model of devolution – similar to that in Scotland and Northern Ireland – came into effect under the Wales Act 2017. The same day, devolved control over Stamp Duty (subsequently replaced with a Land Transaction Tax), business rates and landfill tax took effect under the Wales Act 2014.

On 1 April 2019, the UK Government will reduce the basic, higher and additional rates of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers by 10% because the Wales Act 2017 transferred partial control of income tax to Wales. The National Assembly has already agreed the proposed Welsh rates of income tax for 2019-20, which means there will be no change to overall income tax rates.

 

Commons Library briefings

Constitution

Brexit: devolved legislature business, A record of Brexit-related business in the devolved legislatures, updated each Monday. The paper includes a links to statements made by Ministers in the Welsh Assembly. On 19 February 2019, First Minister Mark Drakeford made an Oral Statement on the Latest developments in the UK Government's Brexit Negotiations.

Brexit: Devolution and legislative consent, Mar 2018

  • How the legislative consent convention works in the context of Brexit and devolution.

Legislative consent and the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19, May 2018

  • An overview of the attempts of the Joint Ministerial Committee on European Negotiations to agree changes to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill to gain legislative consent from the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales.

It is nearly 20 years since the National Assembly for Wales was first elected in May 1999. The Commons Library briefing paper, “A process, not an event”: Devolution in Wales, 1998-2018, summarises the main developments over the past two decades.

On 12 February 2019, the Assembly Commission introduced the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill, which will lower the voting age in elections to the National Assembly and change its name to “Senedd”.

In September 2017, the then First Minister Carwyn Jones established a Commission on Justice in Wales to review the operation of the justice system in Wales, including the prospect of a separate jurisdiction (which did not form part of the Wales Act 2017). It is scheduled to report in 2019.

Economy

Regional and national economic indicators, Jan 2019

  • Data summarising the economic situation around the UK. See section 11 for Wales.

 

Welsh Affairs Committee

Current Welsh Affairs Committee Inquiries

Responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Wales (The Committee questions the Secretary of State for Wales on a wide range of issues affecting Wales.) 04 Sep 2018 - Responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Wales - oral evidence | PDF version (331 KB)

Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station – Inquiry announced 7 February 2019

Renewable energy in Wales - Inquiry announced 23 July 2018

Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon- Inquiry announced 09 May 2018

Prison provision in Wales - Inquiry announced 15 January 2018

Brexit, trade and customs: implications for Wales – Inquiry announced 2018

S4C review – Inquiry announced 03 July 2018

Devolution of Air Passenger Duty to Wales – Inquiry announced 08 January 2019

 

Recent Westminster Hall debates on Welsh matters

 

Commons Debate packs CDP-2019-0051

Authors: Sarah Priddy; David Torrance

Topic: National Assembly for Wales

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