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Britain rejects devolving justice to Wales
The Senedd building in Cardiff (Pic: Shutterstock)

22 Feb 2024 / britain Print

Britain rejects devolving justice to Wales

The British Government remains flatly opposed to giving Wales full control of justice, the country’s Ministry of Justice has suggested.

The Law Society Gazette of England and Wales says that the ministry’s stance comes despite an independent commission on the constitutional future of Wales recommending devolution.

In a report published last month, the commission recommended that Westminster agree to the legislative and executive devolution of responsibility for justice and policing to the Senedd (parliament) and Welsh government.

'Low priority’

According to the report, both governments would agree a timescale, and the journey towards full devolution would begin with policing, probation, and youth justice.

The commission said that the justice system in England and Wales faced major funding and leadership challenges and that, “in tackling these, Wales will always be a relatively low priority for the UK government”.

Earlier this week, Labour MP Beth Winter, asked ministers during justice questions in the House of Commons if they would assess the potential merits of devolving justice to Wales.

Winter said that it was the policy of the Welsh government and Welsh Labour party to support the devolution of the justice system.

‘Why would Wales leave?’

According to the Gazette, justice minister Mike Freer replied: “The government are clear that it is in the best interests of the people of Wales for justice to remain a reserved matter.

“The current arrangement works well and allows Wales to benefit from being part of a larger, world-renowned justice system. Devolving justice to Wales would mean losing those benefits and would be extremely expensive and complex, requiring the duplication of functions.

“Why would Wales want to leave the most successful legal-services system in the world?” Freer added.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland