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

They think it's all over. It is now.

Welsh Secretary David Jones and his deputy Stephen Crabb have been answering MPs' questions for the last time before the summer recess.

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  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    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

    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

    Comment number 7.

    ... #6. you are adding words into my comment Boxer, in particular I said:

    ".. certain of the cabinet meetings"
    ".. various SoS feeding the mundane between Westminster and various administrations"

    If you consider the relationships between the various Lander of Germany, they talk, and that's what is missing in the UK, Cameron might find it difficult with Salmond, but that's politics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Cheryl Gillian's response to the Lords committee. Today I was appointed to the role of Welsh Secretary. First day entered my office and got to doing nothing. It was tough so I employed more staff to keep up with the nothing in between my own self interests as MP. Decorated office at huge cost then got sacked as I wasn't good at doing nothing. Replace with cardboard Tory standee equally useless.


Comments 5 of 28



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