Church calls for further devolution

By agency reporter
April 23, 2009

Representatives of the Presbyterian Church of Wales will publicly voice their support for further devolution today as they present evidence to the All Wales Convention in Wrexham.

The Convention, chaired by Sir Emyr Jones Parry, has the task of informing people about how the National Assembly works and finding out what they think about more law-making powers for Wales. Today (Thursday 23 April), the Executive Committee will be gathering oral evidence in Wrexham’s Council Chamber.

The Church has already submitted a written statement in favour of holding a referendum asking whether the Welsh Assembly should be given full law-making powers.

Today, Mervyn Phillips and the Rev Glyn Tudwal Jones, Chair and Clerk of the Church and Society Department, will tell the Convention why the Department wants to see the legislative process speeded up and why they think matters related to the ‘good governance of Wales’ should be dealt with in Wales.

Asked why the Church is taking part in this process, Mervyn Phillips said: “The Presbyterian Church of Wales is a Welsh institution with churches all over Wales and a significant role in Welsh history. We’ve spoken out in favour of devolved powers for a long time because it’s important that there is political recognition of Welsh identity, community and history.

"We believe this is a matter for the Christian church because we’re concerned about the poor, the vulnerable, the unemployed and with how people live together. Politics is all about authority over individual lives, and our view is that a significant devolved government gives added checks and balances to support individual liberties and human rights. But in the last resort, of course, this is subject to divine mercy and judgment.”

Glyn Tudwal Jones, Clerk of the Church and Society Department, added: “We’re presenting oral evidence because we want to be fully involved in this process. We’ll have half an hour to present our submission and then we’ll be questioned on our views. One of the main points we want to emphasise is that the present system, based on Legislative Competency Orders, is clumsy and time-consuming. We’d like to see more direct means of governing and for whole policy areas to be devolved. The referendum question is also important – timing is essential because devolution is low on the public agenda at the moment, which is wholly understandable, given the recession.”

The Presbyterian Church of Wales has over 30,000 members in more than 700 churches.

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