Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams has said that the case for the devolution of powers over justice is “stronger than ever” after the Conservatives defeated his New Clause to the Policing Bill.
New Clause 19 would have required the UK government to issue an assessment of the impact of the Bill on devolved policy and services in Cymru within six months of it passing, and to issue such an assessment of any further changes to regulations under the Bill within one month of making them.
Williams said that The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will have “profound policy and cost implications for devolved services in Wales”.
The Arfon MP cited the example of the Bill’s aim to increase the number of people in prison by introducing longer sentences.
Although justice is reserved to Westminster, policies such as prisoners’ education, mental health services, and measures to tackle substance abuse, are the responsibility of the Welsh Government.
Mr Williams said that the UK Government’s “reluctance to address the impact of their own policies” has made the case for devolving powers over justice “stronger than ever”.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Williams said: “The Justice system in Wales is just that – it is a system. Changes to currently reserved England and Wales matters could have profound policy and cost implications for devolved services in Wales. For example, the Senedd’s powers in respect of substance misuse, mental health, education, social services and more.
“The Government of Wales Act 2006 requires that all new Welsh legislation includes an assessment of any impact on the reserved justice system. There is no reciprocal requirement. There is however a growing divergence between Ministry of Justice and Welsh Government policies. The current arrangements are neither adequate nor sustainable.