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  • Writer's pictureFranck Banza

The Devolved Powers Wales Requires for Future Success

As Wales continues to evolve within the United Kingdom’s political landscape, the devolution framework set by the Wales Act 2017 offers significant opportunities for growth, development, and self-determination. Yet, despite the broad range of powers already devolved to the Senedd, areas remain reserved to Westminster that, if devolved, could profoundly impact the lives of the Welsh people. In this article, I explore key powers that remain reserved and argue for their devolution as a Welsh Liberal Democrat. My focus is on how these powers could enhance the lives of Welsh residents, with specific attention to the Gower constituency.

Justice Policy: The Cornerstone for a Fairer Wales

One of the most significant reservations under the current model is justice policy, including the jurisdiction over police, courts, and legal services. The absence of a distinct legal jurisdiction for Wales complicates the legislative process and often results in laws that are not fully tailored to the Welsh context. By advocating for the devolution of justice policy, Wales can gain the ability to reform its legal and penal systems to reflect our values more accurately, focusing on rehabilitation, and community resolutions. For Gower, this could mean more accessible legal services and community-based initiatives to address local issues such as rural crime and environmental protection.

Employment and Industrial Relations: Tailoring Work to Welsh Needs

While the Senedd has powers over education and training, employment and industrial relations remain reserved matters. This restriction limits Wales’s ability to fully integrate its educational outcomes with its labour market needs. Devolving powers over employment law and industrial relations would allow Wales to adopt more progressive labour policies, such as enhanced workers’ rights, support for unionisation, and tailored job support schemes. This change could significantly benefit Gower’s workforce, from supporting our agricultural community with specific employment schemes to providing new opportunities in sustainable tourism and green industries.

Energy Policy: Towards a Sustainable Wales

Energy policy, particularly in areas of electricity, oil, gas, and nuclear energy, is another reserved matter with significant implications for Wales. Gaining control over these areas would empower Wales to pursue more aggressive renewable energy targets, invest in local energy projects, and ensure that energy policies are aligned with our environmental goals. For communities in Gower, this could translate into support for tidal and wind energy projects, boosting local economies and contributing to Wales’s overall sustainability targets.

Fiscal Autonomy: Expanding Wales’s Economic Horizons

While the Senedd has gained significant tax-raising powers, broader fiscal and monetary policies remain outside its purview. Further fiscal autonomy could provide Wales with the tools to design a more resilient and adaptive economic strategy, including the ability to issue bonds, have greater borrowing powers, and tailor tax policies to incentivise local investment. For the Gower constituency, such powers could mean targeted economic development initiatives, support for local businesses, and investments in infrastructure that meet our specific needs.

As a Liberal Democrat, I am committed to advocating for a Wales that has the powers it needs to address the unique challenges and opportunities it faces. Devolution of justice, employment, energy, and fiscal policies represents a significant step towards a more autonomous, prosperous, and fair Wales. These changes would not only enable us to tailor policies more closely to the needs of Welsh communities but also empower localities like Gower to harness their potential fully.

In campaigning for these powers, I will engage with communities across Wales to understand their needs, work with fellow politicians to build consensus, and advocate for a new devolution settlement that reflects the ambition and capabilities of our nation. Together, we can build a Wales that is empowered to shape its future, offering a brighter, more sustainable, and more equitable life for all its residents.

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