Picture credit: Jonny Gios / Unsplash.
Following a 2021 manifesto pledge by Welsh Labour later re-affirmed in the 2021 Co-operation Agreement between Welsh Goverment and Plaid Cymru, the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales was established and held its first meeting on 25 November 2021.
The Commission has two broad objectives:
- To consider and develop options for fundamental reform of the constitutional structures of the United Kingdom, in which Wales remains an integral part
- To consider and develop all progressive principal options to strengthen Welsh democracy and deliver improvements for the people of Wales.
To achieve these objectives, the Commission will be holding a range of conversations across the country with the people of Wales, combined with expert research and analysis. The IWA has long been an active participant in conversations about Wales’ constitutional future and we have been supportive of the Commission’s work since it was established.
In June 2022, we were pleased to announce that our Director, Auriol Miller, had been appointed to the Commission’s Expert Panel.
In July 2022, the IWA responded to the Commission’s call for evidence. You can read our full response, with the main points laid out below:
- A broad principle of subsidiarity should be applied to future constitutional arrangements. Decisions should be made as close as practicable to the people affected by those decisions.
- Decisions are better and are better made by bodies where elected representatives are as diverse as possible, reflecting the people they represent, whether in terms of their individual characteristics, backgrounds or their political colours or beliefs. In practice, this means that we believe in affirmative processes within the electoral system to support the proportional representation of gender, race and other characteristics.
- Systems used to elect representatives should be as proportional as possible. In practice, this means that we support the use of Single Transferable Vote.
- Opportunities to engage in democratic decision making should be expanded beyond elections for representatives. We support the use of deliberative democracy, such as citizens’ assemblies and direct democracy, where appropriate.
- We urge the Commission to consider the role of citizenship, and how the people of Wales relate to their communities and country, as the bedrock of increasing democratic engagement.
The IWA will continue to work closely with the Commission as it progresses towards its interim report in 2022, and its final report by the end of 2023 as part of our commitment to strengthening democracy in Wales. In particular, we intend to submit further papers focusing on Wales’ fiscal framework and the current and potential future devolution settlements with regards to broadcasting.