Mark Drakeford delivers speech at Leaders’ Debate
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The Welsh First Minister made the pledge as he launched the Welsh Government’s Constitutional Commission. The new commission, unveiled by Ministers this month, will examine options for how the constitutional structures of the UK can be reformed.
Chaired by former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Professor Laura McAllister, the commission will also look at how the UK constitutional structure can work best for the Welsh people.
Cardiff says membership of the commission will include people from all parts of the UK which would “properly consider changes to the way the UK is governed and the relationship between the four nations.”
Speaking in the Welsh Parliament, Mr Drakeford added: “The commission will look at the whole suite of potential constitutional futures for Wales.
“The terms of reference for the commission certainly allow for independence to be considered as one of these options.
“They allow for any person who has a view as to how Wales’s constitutional future should best be shaped to come to the commission to make their case for that.
“It would be absurd and I think that that was the word that Professor McAllister used – to rule out independence.
“But, nothing else is ruled out either.
“If I have the opportunity, I will certainly give my evidence to the commission that entrenched devolution in a successful United Kingdom is the best constitution for Wales.”
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Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru argues the commission will hold the “most wide-ranging national conversation about Wales’ future”.
Adam Price, leader of the Welsh Nationalist party, welcomed Mr Drakeford’s pledge and said: “I’m sure that the First Minister wouldn’t mind me saying that the implicit confirmation by a Welsh Labour Government that independence, though clearly not your favoured option, can be considered a progressive option, will be seen by many in the independence movement as a significant milestone.
“We do indeed, on our side, look forward to engaging constructively with the commission.
”Whatever the report, in the end, concludes whether it supports your preferred future, First Minister, of radical federalism, or our alternative future of independence – is not the commission’s starting point as important as its endpoint, in this sense?”
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He added: “Because it signifies a new, shared determination that we shouldn’t wait for our constitutional future to be chosen for us by default by decisions in Westminster.”
But Darren Millar MS, Welsh Tories Constitution spokesperson branded the review as a “waste of time.”
He added: People in Wales overwhelmingly rejected independence at the recent Senedd elections, and why the Welsh Labour Government would want to waste its time and resources discussing the topic is beyond me.
“Instead of prioritising discussions on independence and constitutional change the Welsh Labour Government should be using the powers it already has to get to grips with the challenges facing Wales.
“Talking up independence and talking down the Union won’t do anything to address the waiting list backlog in our NHS, the months of lost education experienced by our young people, or the adverse impact of severe restrictions on our economy and society.”
The commission was established after the Welsh Government published a document titled “Reforming our Union: Shared Governance in the UK” which sets out how the relationship between London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast can be “reset”.
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