Cheryl Gillan bids to revive the Welsh grand committee

 

Cheryl Gillan has been reliving her time as secretary of state for Wales in front of a House of Lords committee.

Mrs Gillan gave evidence to peers on the constitution committee as part of their inquiry into the implications of coalition government.

She is not a fan, blaming the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister for allowing an initiative to ensure each Whitehall department has a "devolution minister" to wither away.

A network of devolution ministers set up by the coalition was supposed to meet regularly under the chairmanship of Nick Clegg. Mrs Gillan said it met once under Mr Clegg, who then passed it on to the Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander, before it faded away.

She had other ideas for improving communications between Westminster MPs and Cardiff Bay AMs. The problem? "We're operating constitutionally in too many tramlines and not allowing what I would consider to be better communications."

The solution? "I have always thought that the Welsh grand committee and the Scottish grand committee could be used much better and. I think, I hope your committee would have time to explore whether that is an area of our existing constitutional architecture which could be taken and, for example, there could be joint meetings between the MPs in Wales and AMs in Wales under the auspices of the Welsh grand committee and likewise in Scotland.

"Devolution is here to stay, and we have got to make it work a lot better, and I think that we've got to think of innovative ways that will not turn us, heaven forbid, into some sort of federal set of states within the United Kingdom which is not what I want, but something which improves the communications and exchange of information that is above and beyond what I call the dispute settling arrangements that exist."

Is this an idea whose time has come? The Welsh grand committee, which has not met since June, currently consists largely of Welsh MPs. It is hard to see them wanting to let AMs among their number or AMs wanting to join an institution often derided as a talking shop or the "Welsh bland".

 
David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 28.

    So much for the comment made by a blogger saying that no one on this site was anti Welsh Language

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 27.

    ... Boxer, I read the guardian article about languages in Britain, apparently I am bilingual, I hadn't thought that BSL would put me on par with the Welsh language society ...

    ... but it doesn't, because the Assembly doesn't provide BSL to enable the deaf, there is a petition

    https://www.assemblywales.org/epetition-list-of-signatories.htm?pet_id=927

    Other readers might support the deaf

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 26.

    I am sure this will give aid& comfort to my enemies within the realm, but in the interests of openness; on the curent Scotland page,
    " A second language may delay dementia "
    Make of it what you will.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 25.

    Before rumour becomes established fact on here...#22 is a little confused but I take it as referring to #21 and me. FTR, I may be a pedant. I may even be on an ego trip - but surely no more than others on this thread. BUT I am not, and never have been, a practicing Civil Servant'.
    Also, I regard Welsh Language like folk dancing - best left to others, no wish to indulge myself.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 24.

    22 This is the most constructive blog I've seen on this site. I'd fall short of supporting UKIP but you are so right. Civil Servants on ego trips, people who detest anything to do with the Welsh language and then extreme nats and unionists. Negativity is the order of the day on this site.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 23.

    If you set up competing legislatures you must expect them to - eerrr - compete... When the WAG is clearly and constantly chipping away the edges of the MPs' turf they can hardly be expected to co-operate on the best of terms.

    The simple solution is to go back to the way things were before Wales becomes so broken it becomes ungovernable. We don't need committees we need a short chain of command.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 22.

    I've just read a number 21 comments. Many of these comments made, must be by civil servants!! As a successful business owner, I have been looking for some semblance of positivity and direction. Sorry bout this, but so far, just negative thoughts/political one upmanship!! A small suggestion perhaps, TRY UKIP FOR A 'RED BULL'. ENERGISER AND START ENJOYING LIFE TO THE FULL!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 21.

    #20 John, this is the second time that you have referred to the other side of the coin, which is to presume a binary choice e.g. your significant vs insignificant. Significance is a scalar measure, continuous, not binary.

    "Northumberland ... was disestablished during 984." Yes, but it had a much longer role as a unitary state than even the most fervent Y Fro can establish for Wales.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    ... #17, you would be right were we in times past Boxer, but no longer hereabouts, if size and population mattered there would be vast areas of the UK devastated by abject poverty with widespread famine and disease, with the South East closing its borders.

    In the 21st century we have moved on - with difficulty, but with optimism, there is another side to the coin, the separatist agenda.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    Cheryl isn't my favourite politician but...there is a lot to be said for her idea that two assemblies representing the people of Wales should talk to each other occasionally.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 18.

    ... once again Boxer your argument is weak, the concept of a country where the PM shouldn't meet other elected representatives is strange in a democracy. Constitutional arrangements are what, PM's question time, the Welsh Grand, I'm sorry Boxer but we've moved on from doffing our caps.

    Scraping the barrel with Northumbria, Northumberland was part of, it was disestablished during 984.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 17.

    #16 An individual could come from anywhere viz Leonardo probably came from an insignificant city state. But, Vinci was insignificant in a struggle between Sienna and Florence. The rulers of the latter states wouldn't ask the ruler of Vinci 'nothing about nothing'. In politics, size matters, money matters, population matters.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 16.

    ... #14, continued, your suggestion that Andorra was less significant than the FRG because of its size is also be flawed, good ideas are not the prerogative of larger countries, therefor Andorra could present an idea that was adopted by the whole EU, Andorra becomes more significant at that moment in time than the FRG, although I suggest significance doesn't matter.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 15.

    14 " he is our PM representing the whole UK, and as such would show no favour to any region of these isles."

    Exactly, which is why he should not meet with the elected rep of one small region - however bilingual - when there are no constitutional arrangements to meet with other UK regions of equal size and population but with a longer history of independent statehood e.g. Northumberland.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    ... #13, "politically significant" is an interesting expression, as a coin, its obverse would be "politically insignificant", your Q.E.D. must be flawed.

    The flaw is with the PM who is not the PM/FM of England, he is our PM representing the whole UK, and as such would show no favour to any region of these isles.

    The significance of England is yet to be decided.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 13.

    #11 I specifically mentioned President Obama (Of the USA, remember?) Is he subject to the British Class System.
    I wasn't employing a citizen of Andorra was less than a citizen of FRG. I was implying that a nation of ~80M is more politically significant than a nation of 80K.
    England = ~ 53M. Wales = ~3M
    Thus England is more politically significant.
    Q.E.D.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 12.

    So Ms Gillan doesn't want the nations of the United Kingdom to become a federal state? That only leaves one possible outcome in the longer term then! Seriously, the Welsh Grand Committee? The name says it all. All pomp. No thank you. The First Ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland attending British cabinet meetings when matters of UK wide importance are discussed would be better.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 11.

    ... #11, well Boxer I see no reason why two men or women are unable to discuss on equal terms any topic. Your suggestion that it is nonsense the PM (UK) talking to the FM (Wales) on equal terms must be rooted in the British Class system, a hierarchy of politicians. It suggests that a voter east of OD has a greater value than a voter west of OD.

    If that were the case I would vote Plaid.
    .

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 10.

    #9 "what are you talking about Boxer,"
    I am talking about the nonsense of the PM of the UK talking to the FM of Wales on equal terms. Still applies if he were PM of England.
    Does Mr Obama talk to the Governor of Hawaii when setting USA policy in the Pacific ?
    Andorra may see itself as an equal partner in Europe. I am sure that Angela would not agree.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 9.

    ... what are you talking about Boxer, my point is simple, politicians need to talk, it is particularly important when you have quite well organised separatist groups.

    The more politicians talk between themselves, the more likelihood that agreements on a variety of topics can be reached, and every time an agreement is reached, the little people can feel more comfortable, not federal, civilised.

 

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