Wales in a changing UK: 4 - Andrew RT Davies

Red Dragon flag flying alongside the Union flag outside the Senedd
Red Dragon flag flying alongside the Union flag outside the Senedd Photo: ITV Cymru Wales

This is the fourth in a series of articles looking at the question of how much power Wales should have over its own affairs, what effect events in Scotland have on change here and what impact change in both countries will have on the make-up of the United Kingdom in future.

Below you can read the views of Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the opposition in the Assembly.

Unlike the previous three contributors, the Conservative AM argues against holding a constitutional convention that he fears wouldn't take into account the views of England.

In the shorter term he backs the transfer of taxation powers to Wales saying it would 'force responsibility.'

The first article saw Conservative blogger Henry Hill set out the Unionist case for a Constitutional Convention to discuss fully what changes, if any, there should be to the way the nations of the UK are governed. You can read it here.

If you click here you can read the view of Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards who agrees with the idea of a convention but for very different reasons.

And here, Labour Assembly Member Mick Antoniw explains why he thinks change in the current 'dysfunctional' system is long overdue.

These articles are meant to encourage the debate about the way Wales is run. You can send your comments on twitter to me - @adrianmasters84 - and I'll aim to include your thoughts in future updates.

Adrian Masters

Making our voice heard - Andrew RT Davies AM

Andrew RT Davies
Andrew RT Davies, Assembly Opposition Leader Credit: Welsh Conservatives

There can be very little doubt that the looming Scottish referendum is having an impact, not just on Wales, but also on our Union and its structures.

Part One of the Silk Commission has recommended the devolution of some aspects of income tax as well as other taxation measures. If these are implemented, devolved politics in Wales will change.

At present, there is little accountability for the money that any Welsh administration spends because it plays no part in its collection.

Taxation would force difference, and would enforce responsibility. That is a good thing and something the Welsh Conservatives are keen to see happen.

I have already set out (in my speech to the Wales Governance Centre) my intentions around taxation. My view is that devolved taxes offer Wales the chance to use them to its advantage and help build an economy that we so badly need.

However, in recent months – particularly with the Scottish question in many minds – the chorus of calls for a constitutional convention and a separate legal jurisdiction has become a cause for debate.

I do not believe in a constitutional convention, and I am yet to be convinced of the need for a separate legal jurisdiction. Why?

Firstly, devolution in Wales is still in its infancy. It has matured rapidly – yet this process has been missing out a huge chunk of the most important component – namely the voters.

I think the reasons why voters aren’t being carried along by the process are complex and do tie in with accountability, but also lack of vibrant Welsh media.

How can we call for more devolution when many voters are not engaged with what we’re currently doing? That is why I firmly believe in fiscal responsibility and accountability as part of the answer.

Secondly, what does the “elephant in the room” think? England.

It isn’t for anybody in Wales to tell England what to think or how to govern itself, but yet huge constitutional changes have been taking place since 1997 with little consideration for the implications on England.

We know that there is little appetite for English devolution at a national, or a regional level, but it cannot be a forgone conclusion that with the Celtic nations diverging in many areas of governance that England won’t one day react.

Our Union is changing. But that isn’t a new phenomenon. Since its inception, it always has and will continue to adapt not just to how it governs itself, but also how it relates to a changing world.

One point that cannot be stressed enough however, the Union is one of our biggest strengths and although Wales does not have a vote in next year’s poll in Scotland, we do have a voice and I know what mine will be saying.