UK government a problem for Wales, says Rowan Williams

By Gwyn Loader
Chief correspondent, Newyddion S4C

  • Published
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan WilliamsImage source, PA
Image caption,
Dr Rowan Williams was Archbishop of Canterbury for almost ten years, stepping down in December 2012

Devolution "is not being given serious attention" in Westminster, the former Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Dr Rowan Williams believes the UK government "is a problem for us here in Wales".

As co-chairman of a commission looking into the constitutional future of Wales, he was participating in a panel discussion on Wednesday.

The UK government said devolution remained "a priority" and was putting funds in "the hands of local leaders".

Dr Williams also said he believed Wales was now in a position where more, rather than less, devolution was likely.

"The commission's task isn't to decide on the future but to discuss options - such as independence or devolution - the questions are open," he said.

"From where I stand, more devolution is most probable."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Independence marches have attracted large crowds recently

He was also asked about comments from Tory leadership candidate Liz Truss that Nicola Sturgeon "should be ignored".

"Of course, the Westminster government is a problem for us here in Wales," he said.

"What will transpire in Westminster, I don't know, but of course I hope the devolution will get serious treatment in Westminster.

"I'm not sure devolution has been taken seriously by them until now. I hope we as a commission can bring the question to the forefront."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Liz Truss is vying with Rishi Sunak to replace Boris Johnson as the leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister

Originally from Swansea, Dr Williams was Archbishop of Canterbury between February 2003 and December 2012.

He has criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson on several occasions, including recently over the Partygate scandal and the Westminster government's policy of sending refugees to Rwanda.

With a new prime minister to be elected by Conservative Party members in the coming weeks, Dr Williams was asked whether he thought there would be better moral leadership under either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss.

He responded: "It is difficult for me to believe there could be less moral leadership than under Boris Johnson. I hope things will improve there."

The UK government said: "Devolution remains a priority which is why we are working closely with devolved administrations and ensuring the Welsh government is resourced to play its part.

"This includes giving greater powers to local leaders in Wales by investing £585m through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and over £120m through the Levelling Up Fund.

"These funds put decision making firmly in the hands of local leaders who understand best the needs of their places."