Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Future of the UK Union – will it survive?

What are the Options?

Increasingly over the last five years or so the issue of the future of the UK Union and indeed will it survive – especially following Brexit - has been a topic of academic, political studies and discourses.

I have endeavoured to collate a list of studies, reports and articles as a reference point to inform people of the issues and options.

It is not an exhaustive list … but it is a start

UK’s Changing Union: Towards a new Union (Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University: February 2015)

Devolution and the Future of the Union (The Constitution Unit, University College London: April 2015)

A Constitutional Crossroads: Ways Forward for the United Kingdom (The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law: May 2015)

Federal Britain—The Case for Decentralisation (Institute of Economic Affairs: 2015)

David Owen—A Federal UK Council (November 2016)

View the full pamphlet here: a-federal-uk-council-2   3/11/2016

A Federal Future for the UK—The Options (Federal Trust for Education and Research: July 2010

Gordon Brown—A Revolt of the Regions  (New Statesman: November 2016)

Wales Act 2017: Following the publication of the Silk Commission report on legislative powers for Wales, the UK Government began a process of reviewing Welsh devolution. This has resulted in the Wales Act 2017.

Elystan Morgan

Three speeches in the House of Lords by Elystan Morgan in relation to Reserved Powers and the Wales Bill and also the consequences of Brexit over such powers.

Professor Jim Gallagher—Britain after Brexit: Toxic referendums and territorial constitutions (October 2016)

Constitution Convention report (Institute of Welsh Affairs: April 2015)

David Marquand

David Melding AM (Institute of Welsh Affairs: 10/7/2009)
This is a collection of essays by David Melding AM—an examination of the Welsh nation, an analysis of the response of the Conservative Party and that of all parties to devolution, and concludes with a signature essay, Will Britain survive beyond 2020?

Glyndwr Cennydd Jones

A Constitutional continuum (Institute of Welsh Affairs: 17/2/2017)

A call for a Constitutional convention  (Institute of Welsh Affairs: 3/1/17)

An Isle of enduring nations  (Institute of Welsh Affairs: 23/11/16)

Wales must engage with present constitutional debates in the UK (Institute of Welsh Affairs: 9/9/16)

Towards federalism and beyond (Institute of Welsh Affairs: 31/8/16)

The above articles were stimulated by his longer pieces below which appeared on this website:

A Constitutional continuum (12/12/16)

Towards federalism and beyond (29/7/16)

Adam Price AM—Why independence for Wales is not an idle fantasy (Wales Online: March 2017)

What Might an English Parliament look like—Consultation Document (Constitution Unit, University College London: November 2016)

Centre for English Identity: As yet, there is no settled English identity; it is still being shaped. The Centre for English Identity and Politics, led by former MP John Denham, is developing a cross-disciplinary programme of lectures, seminars, conferences. To increase understanding of the forces driving English identity and dto evelop ideas for how it can be inclusive and forward-looking.

Open Democracy: Article with numerous links included among them the policies of the three main political parties on English devolution (May 2015)

The Silk Commission: Commission on Devolution in Wales - also known as The Silk Commission - was established by the UK Government in 2011 to look at the future of the devolution settlement in Wales. As part of their terms of reference, the Commission looked at Wales's financial powers (Part 1 of their work) and legislative powers (Part 2 of their work) and made a number of recommendations in two final reports.

Crowther/Kilbrandon Royal Commission

The Commission was appointed by Royal Warrant in April 1969. The first chairman was Lord Crowther and on his death in February 1972 he was succeeded by Lord Kilbrandon. The Commission's terms of reference were: to examine the present function of the central legislature and government in relation to the several countries, nations and regions of the United Kingdom, to consider whether any changes are desirable in those functions or otherwise in the present constitutional and economic relationships between the various parts of the United Kingdom and in those between the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

The report of the Commission (Cmnd. 5460) was published in November 1973 (HO 221/294). Two members of the Commission produced a minority report, the Memorandum of Dissent: HO 221/295

Minutes of evidence before the Commission, published and unpublished written evidence, circulated abstracts of evidence, research papers, warrants of appointment, majority and minority reports, minutes of meetings of the Commission and constitute specialized groups of members and staff, together with policy papers. Can be viewed on the following link

In chapter 9 the report discussed the dissatisfaction with government which is common to the people of Great Britain as a whole. The link below to chapter 10 considers how, in some parts of the country, the nature and extent of that dissatisfaction are influenced by national feeling and by the existence of national institutions. We start with a brief enquiry into the nature of national feeling and the different forms that it may take. We then trace the development of the Scottish and Welsh nationalist movements in favour of political separation from the rest of the United Kingdom and assess their significance. Finally, we consider the ways in which less extreme forms of national feeling affect people's attitudes to the present system of government.

Continuing Gwynoro's life story 1967 - 69

Video 17 - 1966 By election aftermath

The Labour Party in Carmarthen was devastated and lost heart for quite a while;
First task after being selected as candidate in Aug 1967 was to change all that - as will be explained in Video 18;
But the Labour Party in Wales was despondent and shaken;
Realised that they had made a mistake on two counts - not replacing Megan Lloyd George of the March 1966 General Election and also chose the wrong candidate in Gwilym Prys Davies to contest the by-election;
Also had been complacent for too long - ageing membership and elderly MPs;
S O Davies, Arthur Pearson, Ness Edwards, Elfed Davies, Cliff Williams and others;
Bad results were to follow in the party's heartland soon after Carmarthen

Video 18 - How did Labour react? and how his career moves on

Of course other disastrous by elections results followed in the Rhondda and Caerphilly and they were in many ways far more devastating on the morale of the party. Its heartland and stronghold was being seriously challenged. 
Explains how Labour - responded tactically;
Made moves towards indicating devolved administration was a possibility - hence the Crowther/Kilbrandon Commission, noises etc;
Describes working in his frirst job with Ina Needle Bearings in Llanelli and the Wales Gas;
Refers to Mervyn Jones 'Jones the Gas' who later became chair of the Tourist Board;
Then the period in the summer of 1967 how he was approached about suggesting he should be a Labour candidate - 'but you wont win of course';
In between time in the process of getting married;
Explains how the campaign to win was planned and pays tribute to his agent Ivor Morris;
Describes the level of campaigning that was involved including Noson Lawen's with the young Max Boyce, Triban and 'Ifan' performing. 
By 1969 became Research and Public Relations Officer for what was then the Welsh Council of Labour.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Gwynoro’s life story moving on - early days in Cardiff University 1962/3 and recollections of Carmarthen By-election 1966

Cardiff University 1962/3

Big change: describes how going to Cardiff in early 60’s was like going to London now! Took almost 3 hours to go by bus! In fact in the first instance his father had to take him by car to catch an N & C bus to Cardiff from Briton Ferry

Friends from the village in digs and University - Eric Hamer, Arwel Davies and Mel George; Very enjoyable times.

Describes the digs and being near Ninian Park. The days when John Charles and Ivor Allchurch were there as they were coming to the end of their playing careers;

Playing rugby for Tumble RFC and missing a cup final game through his own fault

Carmarthen By-election 1966

Talks about his involvement in the Labour Party in Cefneithin and at constituency level in Carmarthen.

Present at the selection meeting in 1966 when Gwilym Prys Davies was chosen instead of Denzil Davies.

Denzil was incomparable better but Gwilym Prys had the votes of the unions - miners and transport workers.

The problems during the campaign itself where people did not understand Gwilym Prys with such a North Wales accent.

The story of Lady Megan's illness ( altho' Gwynoro got his dates mixed up between 1965 and 1966!!)

If only the Labour Party had not only chosen the right candidate for the by election or what was more important the March '66 General Election - Gwynfor Evans would not have been heard of in Carmarthen politics other than on the County Council - he would have been just another 'also ran' as in Meirioneth and Aberdare.

The twists of fate.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Why are elected Welsh politicians - in Parliament and Assembly - very silent on what happens to so many powers that currently reside in Brussels when we leave the EU

Thankfully in the House of Lords - led by the legal mind that is Elystan Morgan’s -  Dafydd Wigley and Jenny Randerson have also been raising the point forcibly
Years ago, a very famous Welsh statesman said, “Why look into a crystal ball when you can read the book?”. We know exactly what happens when Wales and England deal with each other in that way. It is not the basis of partnership and equality at all.
The cobwebs of colonialism still exist in the relationship between Wales and England, I am afraid.

Jenny Randerson:-
Many of the powers that will be repatriated from the EU, relate directly to the powers already devolved to these Governments, Parliaments and Assemblies, including agriculture, health, environment, consumer rights—a long list. So there should be no assumption that the UK Government will inherit these European Union powers. Many of them will more suitably sit at devolved level, and that discussion will have to be taken.
The Government have a perilous path to tread in a very sensitive situation. If they do not tread that path carefully, they will find they are on the slippery slope to Scottish independence and could be on a slippery slope to further turmoil in Northern Ireland

A very sensible Government would use the repatriation of powers from the European Union to establish a new federal state of equals, and a new UK could emerge out of this division and turmoil

This is Elystan Morgan at his legal and political best

Image result for Images of Elystan Morgan‘In order to preserve the unity of the United Kingdom, the reality of devolution and the  harmony between the various constituent parts of the United Kingdom, respect should be   shown by the mother parliament to the parliaments of Wales, Scotland and Northern  Ireland.

Those are political and social considerations; the matter that I wish to propose is in no way contrary to that but runs parallel. It is a constitutional point. It is a marvellously simple constitutional point, and I think I can deal with it in very short compass. It concerns the reserved powers constitution that Wales achieved under the Wales Act which became law a few weeks ago. The purpose of that Act was to change the whole pattern of devolution for Wales from a conferred pattern of devolution—bit by bit over the years, a confetti type of development—to a reserved powers constitution.
It is axiomatic as far as a reserved powers constitution is concerned that two matters should be dominant. The essence of a reserved powers constitution, as we appreciate, is that there is a transfer in the first instance of the totality of power from the mother parliament to the subsidiary parliament, but that at the same time there should be a reservation of a strict number of exceptions and reservations. It is axiomatic, therefore, that two conditions must prevail. First, the mother parliament must be seized of all the legislative power and authority that is relevant to the situation. That is obvious.
Secondly, the mother parliament must be cognisant of the powers that it has and must be in a position to know exactly where to draw the line between that which is transferred and that which is reserved. Neither of those conditions exists in this case.
Why is that so? I remember a piece of dog Latin that I learned many years ago when I was a law student in relation to the sale of goods: “nemo dat quod non habet”—no man can give that which he does not have. Nobody can transfer that which they do not have. When it came to the question of deciding what powers Wales should have, the mother parliament did not have a mass of those powers that are relevant to the situation. There is a huge area that is missing. It may be 25%; it may be 30% or 40%. It is massive in relation to the totality of legal authority. That authority was missing from 1 January 1973, ever since the European Communities Act 1972 came into force.
It never was with the mother parliament to dispose of. It could not possibly give it to Wales, or to Scotland for that matter—in Northern Ireland, the situation was entirely different, because its constitution goes back to 1922.
What, therefore, is to be done?
The following matters have some relevance, broadly. Of course, there is the question of the Sewel convention, which has been written into both the Scotland Act and the Wales Act. That will have its effect gradually over the years. There is also the question of the joint ministerial committee, which meets in confidence and is able to discuss in a situation of total secrecy matters which are of the utmost importance to the mother parliament and the devolved parliaments.
There is also the question of protocols, which was greatly promised in the late 1990s when legislation in relation to Scottish and Welsh devolution went through but has been as dead as the dodo, I am afraid, and should be revived.
That is why I have proposed that the Prime Minister and the First Minister for Wales should be responsible within a period of two months for forming a body that will look carefully at the situation to determine:
first, what is the scope of legislative authority that is missing here;
secondly, what is the nature of that authority;
thirdly, what entrenched rights—what established rights—have come into being in relation to that since 1 January 1973; 
 lastly, what situations are there where there has been legislation under the 1972 Act which has been deemed to be incompatible with the European instruments. That is a very substantial job, and I suggest that the period that I have nominated of 12 months is not unreasonable in the circumstances.
Many people will say that this is not necessary and that Wales from Cardiff and the Westminster Parliament from here can negotiate at arm’s length. I do not believe for a moment that that is possible.
We have seen exactly over the last few months when we were dealing with the Wales Bill how almost impossible it was to persuade Parliament that much of what had been reserved was utterly trivial and was an insult to the Welsh nation. Things such as sharp knives, axes, dogs, licensing, prostitution, hovercrafts—all those matters which scream for domestic consideration—had been reserved.
Years ago, a very famous Welsh statesman said, “Why look into a crystal ball when you can read the book?”. We know exactly what happens when Wales and England deal with each other in that way. It is not the basis of partnership and equality at all.
The cobwebs of colonialism still exist in the relationship between Wales and England, I am afraid.’ 
In her address to the Scottish Tories the Prime Minister indicated that she has every intention of retaining the key powers to Westminster and not the devolved Parliaments.

So over to you Welsh MPs and AMs - have you got it in you ? For the sake of Wales

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Lord Elystan Morgan explains the effect that leaving the European Union will have on Welsh devolution

 and on the Welsh devolution settlement contained in the Wales Act 2017.
During the House of Lords Brexit Bill debate Tuesday Feb 21 he raised what could become an important matter that will undoubtedly impinge on the Act.
This is because a good proportion of the reserved powers have resided in Brussels and so Westminster does not have currently the totality of powers.
When these powers are repatriated, they will be repatriated, of course, not to Wales nor to Scotland but indeed, to Westminster.
A joint body should be set up between Westminster and Wales to see exactly how one can bring about a settlement that is fair, just and lasting.

Image result for lord elystan morgan

He explained ….
‘Wales achieved a reserved-powers constitution in that Act. As the House will appreciate, there are two main patterns of devolution. One is a reserved-powers constitution where there is notionally a transfer of the totality of powers and then a reservation of certain specific exceptions. The other is a piecemeal system—what is called conferred devolution—and that is what Wales had from 1964 onwards, when it achieved its Secretary of State, and indeed there have been hundreds if not thousands of what one might call confetti-like situations of conferring individual powers.
Central to the concept of a reserved constitution is the idea that the mother parliament has on the table, as it were, the totality of powers that are available and relevant in the situation, and that the mother parliament looks upon those powers and says, “This is all that we have. This is where we draw the dividing line between the totality that is transferred and that small remnant that is retained and reserved”.
If indeed for some reason the mother parliament did not have the totality of powers at the time, it goes to the very heart, kernel and essence of a reserved constitution. I make the case that that is exactly what happened.
From 1972 onwards—indeed, from 1 January 1973 when we entered the Common Market—it meant that the European Communities Act ruled with regard to a very considerable swathe of legal authority. Exactly what percentage that represents of the laws affecting us I would not like to calculate but it is very substantial. It may be 25%, it may be 30% or 35%, or even higher. What it means for Wales, and it affects Scotland in exactly the same way, is that some 5,000 elements of law affect those devolved countries and yet the authority was not on the table of the mother parliament. That seems to me to go to the very heart, core and kernel of the idea of a reserved settlement.
What can one do? We can look at three situations: one is the Sewel convention, a convention that is now contained in the Scotland Act and the Wales Act of last year. That convention says that it is accepted that the mother parliament, being the supreme authority, can do what it wishes in relation to a devolved Administration. It can change the situation overnight if it wishes, but it will not do so, and would not think of doing so, unless asked by that sub-parliament or unless there were some very exceptional circumstances. That, as I said, has been written into the law by way of the Scotland Act and the Wales Act.
It is a convention. The Supreme Court said it was a convention and nothing more. It does not have the power of law. That obviously must be the situation technically. However, the Supreme Court went on in its judgment, in paragraph 151, to say that, nevertheless, a convention is important. It is binding morally and politically. It goes on to say that such conventions are of immense significance and have to be respected to bring about the harmonious situation and amity between the mother parliament and the devolved parliaments.
Although you might say that Europe was a reserved matter altogether, that is not so. Paragraph 8 of the schedule says that, although European relations are reserved, the question of the administration and oversight of the operation of European relations is not reserved. Clearly, that is covered by the convention.
Secondly, there is the question of the Joint Ministerial Committee, where, in utter confidence, matters are disclosed between one party and another. It has a very considerable future: it is possible to build a mutuality of trust that can be more important for the future of the United Kingdom than anything else.
Thirdly, there is the question of protocols. When the legislation was going through in relation to Scotland and Wales in late 1990s, it was said that on matters that were not devolved, there would have to be protocols. In fact, however, it was a dead letter. I would like to see the breath of life breathed into the cold clay and dry bones of such institutions, which I think have a very considerable future.
As for the situation now, when these powers are repatriated, they will be repatriated, of course, not to Wales nor to Scotland but indeed, to Westminster.

A joint body should be set up between Westminster and Scotland and between Westminster and Wales to see exactly how one can bring about a settlement that is fair, just and lasting.’

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Continuing with Gwynoro's life story - videos 11 and 12

Posted are videos nos 11 and 12 of my recollections and life story. The previous 10 are on my YouTube channel.

Eventually there will be in all some 50 uploaded - there were some 12-14 hours of filming end of 2014.  

The initial intention was to use the recordings as an aide memoire to the writing of three books that are in the pipeline for this year and next, but it was decided to place the video recordings on the channel as well, albeit that they are home video recordings.

They are being uploaded over the coming year – about one a week.

There were no rehearsals or retakes - all therefore are unedited.

Inevitably therefore some events might be not accurately recalled in datelines etc but I will correct any such errors in the books.

Gwynoro Uncut - Video 11 - his name heritage and speech impediment

Describes the background to his name;
How his grandmother disobeyed his father's instruction as to the registration of his name;
Who was he named after and the connection with St David, Patron Saint of Wales;
Speech impediment with saying the 'R' and how it became a problem at Gwendraeth G.Sc
Speech Therapy sessions
The embarrassment in pronouncing his name at times or words with the letter 'r' in them.

Gwynoro Uncut Video 12 - influence of the chapel in his teenage years

Talks about the influence of the chapel in Peniel on his teenage years;
The chapels - Peniel, Tabernacl Cefneithin, Capel Seion Drefach and Bethlehem Porthyrhyd on the whole family;
Describes a mini-revival in Peniel around 1951/52;
The possible effect that had on his father;
Describes the singing in the Dynevor Arms which was a pub just a stone's throw from Manyrafon his home