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 4.

    UK closing down sale.......extended.
    Water, Banks, Power Stations, Refineries, Gas,
    Electricity, Shipbuilding, Universities and Colleges, Housing, NHS' Welfare etc
    Meanwhile "no effect" (official) referendum to break-up UK
    Thankfully Conservative and Labour are in membership meltdown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    3 Mab - are you a comedy writer for S4C?

    I am not a fan of our erstwhile SoS however she has made a positive contribution to the debate even if you do not agree with her point of view.

  • rate this

    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

    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

    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

    Other readers might support the deaf


Comments 5 of 28



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