Wefan Gymraeg

Plans for Constitutional Convention backed by Kirsty Williams

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams has backed moves by a Lib Dem peer to introduce a UK-wide Constitutional Convention.

Liberal Democrat Lord Jeremy Purvis will today set out plans for a Constitutional Convention that he says will abolish the make do and mend approach to constitutional reform that could threaten the future of the UK.

Lord Purvis will present his Constitutional Convention Bill in the House of Lords tomorrow after he was selected in the Private Members’ Bill ballot. The Bill aims to deliver a sustainable, balanced devolution settlement that works for the whole UK.

His proposals would see the formation of a 12 month Constitutional Convention with a remit to consider:

  • devolution of legislative and fiscal competence to and within Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland;
  • devolution of legislative and fiscal competence to local authorities within the United Kingdom;
  • reform of the electoral system;
  • reform of the House of Lords.

The Convention would include representatives from political parties and local authorities, but half of the membership would be drawn from outside of politics.

Lord Purvis is seeking cross—party support for his Bill in the House of Lords and House of Commons. His proposals would not affect the progress of the Scotland Bill.

Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

“The UK constitution is rapidly changing. The introduction of devolution in 1999, the passing of the Human Rights Act, the creation of a Supreme Court – all mean that the UK’s constitution will have changed rapidly since the start of the 21st Century. It’s time we all addressed this.

“In Wales and beyond we a need a radical change to the way our political system works. Frankly, the system is well past its sell by date.

“A constitutional convention would provide an opportunity to establish a link between the ‘political elite’ and the population at large.”

Lord Purvis of Tweed said:

“The new powers that will be delivered to Scotland through the new Scotland Bill are welcome. We also need to secure the full powers for Wales set out in the Silk Commission. But piecemeal devolution cannot deliver the stability we need.

“Pitting one part of the UK against another is no way to secure the future of our country.

“We need to abolish the make do and mend approach to reform that has let the SNP move the devolution goalposts time and again in a way that might work for them, but not for Scotland or the rest of the UK.

“It is also long past time we grasped the nettle and reformed the electoral system and House of Lords. We need a Parliament fit for the 21st century rather than the 19th. That is what my Bill will help deliver.

“I hope all parties will recognise that we need a stable constitutional settlement and I will be seeking the support of Labour and the Conservatives in the House of Lords, and the SNP and others in the House of Commons. Crucially, my Bill will put people from outside of politics front and centre during this process.

“A Constitutional Convention will help us reach a settlement that protects the future of the UK and delivers communities the powers they need to thrive.”

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