Wales politics

Theo Huckle links legal shake-up to powers over police

The case for creating a Welsh legal system is much weaker if powers over the police are not devolved, the Welsh government's top law officer has said.

Counsel General Theo Huckle said respondents to a consultation wanted preparations to create a Welsh jurisdiction to start now.

He also said it was "unacceptable" that there was no Welsh judge at the Supreme Court.

It comes ahead of results on Friday for the police commissioner elections.

Wales and England share a jurisdiction, but do not have all the same laws.

First Minister Carwyn Jones has said he wants a debate about whether Wales, like Scotland, should have its own jurisdiction and what it would entail.

'Distinct court system'

His government says it has an open mind about the desirability and implications of the idea.

Mr Huckle said: "One of the most prominent themes in the responses to the consultation was the belief that a separate legal jurisdiction in Wales without a distinct court system would be like, to quote one respondent: 'A cart without a horse'."

He warned about the cost of such a big transfer of powers to the Welsh government and the assembly at a time when the size of the civil service is being reduced.

He added: "If, for whatever reason, the Welsh government cannot at present move forward with proposals for taking on policing and justice responsibilities, the case for a separate legal jurisdiction may be considerably weakened.

"It would be of limited or even dubious worth pursuing a separate legal jurisdiction 'in principle' if Welsh ministers and the assembly did not also obtain a reasonably full set of powers in relation to justice."

He also said Wales was the only part of the UK with its own legislature that did not have a judge in the Supreme Court.

The Welsh government is waiting for a decision from the court about whether legislation to reform local government by-laws goes beyond the assembly's powers.

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