By Mark Isherwood

MS for North Wales

The Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future Of Wales, a cross-party group of 11 members, was established by the Welsh Government in 2021.

Over two years the Commission examined how Wales is currently governed and explored possibilities for its future governance, and in January it published its final report.

Last month in the Senedd Chamber, speaking in the debate on the report, I stated that although UK Conservative Governments have delivered law making powers, tax raising powers and a reserved powers model, turning the Senedd into a fully-fledged Parliament, Welsh Conservatives recognise that further devolution of powers now or in the foreseeable future is both unnecessary and unsafe.

Whilst the evolving constitutional settlement within our UK should not be determined by the transient personalities and policies of different Governments at any point in time, it should and must be built on the solid foundations provided by representative democracies with functioning checks and balances.

As I stated however, the democratic deficit in Wales is still alive and kicking, with many still not understanding where the decisions are taken, who is responsible and how much power the Welsh Government actually has over their lives.

As a constituent put it ‘the activities of the Welsh Government are ignored by a large section of the population. It concerns me because the Welsh Government could in this way ‘get away with anything’ - The electorate are not acting as checks and balances’.

This perpetuates the one-sided nature of Welsh politics, allowing the Labour Welsh Government to dodge accountability.

In the debate, I stressed that the Commission’s Report confirms that in the event of independence, Wales would face a fiscal deficit, “meaning big cuts for many years and possibly longer, the extent of which would be dependent upon the terms negotiated, which would include decisions surrounding state pensions, proportion of UK debt allocation, what currency Wales would use, defence and overseas representation.”

Perhaps intentionally, the obsessive like pursuit of further powers is a distraction from the issues which matter to the people of Wales.

While there are some interesting aspects of this report which will require further consideration, the work of the Commission will not make ambulances arrive any faster, properly staff our schools or support Welsh businesses.

Welsh Labour Ministers and their Plaid Cymru partners should instead be focusing on getting to grips with unacceptable waiting lists, on improving educational outcomes and on better pay for people in Wales, the lowest paid in the UK.

For my help, email or call 0300 200 7219.