Nick’s second speech

nick.jpg (400×400)I now receive personal notification of all speeches by and all questions asked by our new MP – from “They Work for You“.

You can do likewise, by clicking on the link. I recommend that readers of my blog do so – as I don’t propose to provide this service indefinitely !

However, as a taster, here are excerpts from Nick’s second speech in Parliament – during the debate on the new Scotland bill.  He makes interesting points about how the new arrangements for Scotland may affect Wales.

…. James Keir Hardie said, when asked about his socialist beliefs, that he saw them as arising from a rooted local culture. His belief in localism and the de-centralisation of power led him to a firm belief in devolution. In the career and beliefs of Keir Hardie, a Scot who represented a Welsh constituency, there are lessons for us in this debate.

Most of all, if we recognise the qualities and strengths of our family of nations here in these islands, we can strengthen our whole United Kingdom. I welcome a number of aspects of the Bill, which takes devolution to the next stage. … 

I also welcome devolution … in several areas of tax, including income tax, VAT, the aggregates levy and air passenger duty … however, there are ways in which the Government can go further, and I look forward to that in the course of the debates on the Bill.

Prior to entering the House, I lectured in politics. The first thing I taught at the start of every academic year was the UK constitution, and the one thing I always said to my students was never to see any single measure of devolution in isolation; they have to be seen in the context of the overall settlement and argument for the whole of the UK.

Lord Kilbrandon took over the royal commission on the constitution between 1969 and 1973, and it became known by his name. He said that any decisions and debates on public funding that we have here in Westminster affected “the whole of the United Kingdom”.

That quotation comes from a period before our modern devolution journey began, but I suggest that it is as relevant in 2015 as it was back in 1973. As we debate finance and funding, it is critical to bear in mind how those issues affect the different constituent parts of our United Kingdom.

My point as a Welsh Member — it is important that the voice of Wales is heard during the passage of the Scotland Bill — is that there is a long-standing public debate on the underfunding of Wales in the United Kingdom. It goes back to the Holtham commission of 2010, which identified £300 million of underfunding for Wales, and the same issue runs through part 1 of the Silk commission.

Even at this moment, the finance committee of the National Assembly for Wales is debating future funding for Wales. This is a crucial issue for Wales and my Torfaen constituents. I remind the Secretary of State that the Prime Minister promised earlier this year that Wales would not be left behind.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer originally promised a Wales Bill within the first 100 days of this Parliament. Unfortunately, all he has done so far for Wales is to promise a further £3 billion of cuts across the UK, about £84 million of which we expect to fall on Wales. That is hardly a great start when it comes to addressing fair funding for Wales.

The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, has made it clear that this issue of fair funding has to be dealt with, so I say that a great devolution debate must go ahead in this Parliament and the Secretary of State must bear in mind all the constituent parts of the United Kingdom.

History tells us that if particular issues are left untouched in devolution debates, they usually come back and need to be dealt with at a later stage.

I urge the Secretary of State to think again about ruling out, from the Dispatch Box, the idea of a constitutional convention, which would not only give all politicians a chance to contribute to the debate, but would involve the wider public in all parts of the United Kingdom. It is important that we end this Parliament with strong devolution within a strong United Kingdom.


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