Friday, 6 September 2019

Towards a Wales Constitutional Convention

Meeting convened at the Castle Hotel, Merthyr -  Sept 7 10.00a.m.

Following yesterday’s (September 5 ) brief and uninspiring  presentation (one could hardly call it a debate) and the negative decision arrived at in the Senedd on whether or not to establish a Wales Constitutional  Convention I am more than ever convinced that a ‘ Peoples Convention’  is vital

The founding of such a Convention is necessary to review the various applications of a partially sovereign, and sovereign, Wales within a range of available potential isle-wide frameworks. These include devo-max, federalism, confederalism, confederal federalism, and what is understood as Welsh independence within Europe.

Powers and functions of governance are pooled, or shared centrally, to varying extents within these options, having different implications for the way in which individuals relate to their respective national parliaments and to that of the centre. It is now necessary to explore the nature of the UK going forward, so that it, and Wales’s place within it, can be made modern for the 21st Century.

Over the last two to three years a number of people from various political parties, and no party affiliation at all, have been speaking and writing on the need for a Convention. Along with a few others I have been advocating the establishment of such a standing body to advance the need for significant and major constitutional reform in the UK. And of Wales’s place within it.

Despite all this, whilst there has been encouraging noises, even from a past Prime Minister and a former First Minister for Wales, nothing has happened. Fundamental reform will not advance by accident, it has to be planned for. I am clear that without the development of a Convention, Wales could be caught out and possibly left behind as constitutional change is advanced in other parts of the UK.

I see it as a catalyst for the way ahead and am happy to be the facilitator in the Convention’s early development. Of course, as the months progress it is hoped that it will become a much more significant body with Westminster and Senedd politicians, local government, academics, voluntary organisations and a wider representation of Welsh civic society participating. It is imperative that our approach is diverse and all-Wales in design.

The aim is to, methodically and sensibly enable participants to discuss and share opinions as to the best constitutional future for Wales. The first meeting will be agreeing aims and objectives, possibly considering a small number of papers, and setting the programme of work to come. For instance, the most effective modern constitutions articulate the essential framework of governance and are open to modifications in time, such as the pooling of sovereignty in supra-national bodies.

Exploration is required of areas such as:

  • Internal workings of Wales as a nation state within a range of possible constitutional options available, including various applications of sovereignty
  • Institutional relationships within these constitutional frameworks
  • Allocation of powers, rights and laws
  • Fiscal decentralisation and economic performance

  • 1
    Social impacts.’
 I envisage that the Agenda items could include

1)    Aims & objectives of the Standing Conference on a Welsh Constitutional Convention

2)     Constitutional Relationships and Sovereignty in these Isles – scene setting paper
3)    Bibliography of reports and documents to read & review

4)    Agree programme of work
- How often to meet?
- How large should the Standing Conference be?
- How long should the Convention be?

In addition the Aims and Objectives could be along the following lines

Arrive at the best Constitutional Structure for Wales

To thoroughly examine the needs of, specifically Welsh, democratic life

Investigate existing models and presentation from leading authorities to plan the structure of future democratic institutions for Wales

Build consensus across Wales

Contribute towards any Constitutional investigations that the Welsh Government will initiate and conduct.