Bishops: a lot more bovver than a hover for Crabb

A hovercraft service ran between Rhyl and Wallasey in the 1960s Image copyright Anthony Moss
Image caption Where should power over hovercrafts - such as this 1960s service between Rhyl and Wallasey - lie in the devolution age?

It's not the first time Stephen Crabb has had a problem with bishops.

Two months ago, the Welsh secretary went into bat for the government after more than 80 Church of England bishops accused ministers of an inadequate response to the migration crisis.

Mr Crabb told Sky News "in a sense Church of England bishops criticising the Conservative government isn't really news" before arguing that the response had been one of compassion. He added: "If you go back decades now, if we had listened to the bishops and all of their prescriptions for economic and social policy, we'd probably have debt a lot higher and we wouldn't have the kind of economic recovery we've got."

Now the churchgoing Mr Crabb has a problem with Church in Wales bishops. Admittedly, there are fewer of them but they have added their voices to the chorus of discontent that seems to accompany the increasingly friendless draft Wales Bill on its journey.

Declining to give their blessings to the Bill, the bishops conclude: "Wales deserves, and has asked for, a settlement which is fair and just. What is on offer at the moment is a rather rushed Bill which goes against the spirit of both what the prime minister promised after the Scottish referendum and the desire expressed in the Bill's foreword."


Mr Crabb could be forgiven for wondering if no-one will rid him of these turbulent priests. Conservative MP Glyn Davies took to Twitter to conclude: "Another day, another kicking for the Wales Bill. If I were Sec of State I might be tempted to scrap the whole idea!"

Mr Crabb is not apparently tempted to scrap the Bill but seasoned observers of the devolution scene concluded that his tone before AMs in Cardiff on Monday was more conciliatory. He agreed that the list of reserved powers - or 267 powers Westminster doesn't want Wales to have as put it - was too long.

He said he was surprised to see hovercrafts on the list, and even had to explain to his children what a hovercraft is.

They may need updating on 1950s inventions but, growing up in Wales in the 21st century, the little Crabbs should at least be well aware of more modern inventions such as the Barnett formula, legislative competence orders, the lockstep, and the Richard, Silk and Holtham commissions.