Plenary Tuesday 04 April 201715:47:53
Thanks to the Government for bringing today’s debate. I thought the First Minister raised some reasonable points today, and in a balanced manner, and it hasn’t actually been as heated today, which is perhaps a welcome development—but maybe that will change. [Laughter.] After Brexit, the UK will need an independent arbiter to rule over issues such as legal competence and what is being called ‘the UK internal market’. It’s been suggested that, ultimately, the main arbiter could be the Supreme Court. The First Minister has said before that, in constitutional terms, the UK Government can’t be both judge and jury. I’m sure most of us in UKIP are not too frightened of our own UK Supreme Court being the ultimate constitutional arbiter. We are also keen on empowering the Supreme Court, which is why we in UKIP want Brexit to encompass the UK’s departure from the European Court of Justice. Hopefully the First Minister agrees with this outcome.
The First Minister says that what is devolved must stay devolved. This sounds reasonable. The problem is that the issue of legal competence has been rather fluid—rather nebulous—in the post-devolution world. For instance, the Trade Union (Wales) Bill is currently being discussed by the relevant Assembly committee, of which I am a member. We are being urged by the Welsh Government Minister, in this case, to back this Bill even though he accepts that legal competence in this area will revert to the UK Government after the Wales Bill becomes law. So, these things are rather fluid and are not written in stone.
The demand that every penny lost from EU funding to Wales must be replaced by UK Government funds: Julie Morgan raised this today, quite rightly. We agree with this demand, and we always have done. But Jeremy Miles did make a constructive suggestion today, and he saw an opportunity—. Oh, he’s gone, but he did make a constructive contribution, I felt. He saw in Brexit an opportunity, in that it could be a chance to put Welsh funding on a statutory basis, and that may be worthy of exploration in the future. Thank you.