We believe there needs to be a constitutional settlement for Wales which would place us, at the very least, on an equal footing with the powers bestowed to the people of Scotland following their referendum and the Smith Commission report. Our Assembly should receive that stronger settlement straight away, without the need for another referendum. Once we are treated equally with Scotland, any further steps on our constitutional journey will be a matter for the people of Wales to vote for in a referendum.
The fundamental distinction between devolution and home rule is the recognition by the UK Government and Parliament that they have no power to decide on the powers, or fate, of our Assembly.
From home rule onwards, the people of Wales, and the people of Wales alone, will shape our constitution, and decide on the powers of our national democratic body. Only the powers the people of Wales have chosen to share with another country or countries, through a democratic referendum, would then be in the hands of bodies other than our National Assembly.
We therefore believe that home rule for Wales should be founded on the following principles:
- The sovereignty of the people of Wales, not the Westminster Parliament or any other authority
- The presumption that powers are held at the Welsh level, unless stated by the people of Wales, via a referendum, that they wish for powers to go to another level of government, whether that be a world, European or British Isles level
- The people of Wales, through our National Assembly for Wales, have the power to shape our constitution, as well as the power to define our citizenship in an inclusive way
See this link for United Nations’ documentation concerning independence and self-determination.
The people of Wales want to devolve far more power to our National Assembly. The YouGov opinion poll conducted on behalf of YesCymru showed that 63% of the population want our Assembly to receive the same powers as Scotland. The Silk Commission’s ICM opinion poll showed strong support for devolving matters such as benefits, energy and policing. Moreover, according to the same research, the people of Wales support devolving responsibilities like broadcasting to Wales, which have not been devolved to Scotland.
We believe that these surveys, along with the 2011 referendum result, show there is no need for another referendum in order to move to what we define as ‘home rule’ for Wales.
In light of the above principles and context, we believe responsibility for, at the least, the following areas should be given to our National Assembly as part of any ‘home rule’ settlement:
- The justice and legal system, including responsibility for policing
- A separate legal jurisdiction for Wales
- Full powers over natural resources, including water, land rights, fracking, the Crown Estates, and land under military ownership
- Direct representation for the Welsh Government at the EU level
- Shaping our own constitution
- Welfare and benefits
- Powers over taxation including income tax, air passenger duty and corporation tax
- The general right to opt out of, or veto, international or British policies which would be harmful to Wales or Wales’ place in the world, for example, membership of the European Union, starting wars, privatisation, civil rights and privacy matters.
What is Yes Cymru?
Our aim, as a voluntary group, is to gain independence for Wales, in order to improve the way our country is governed. We believe in an inclusive citizenship, which embraces and celebrates the fact that everyone – regardless of their background – who chooses to make Wales their home are full citizens of the new Wales.
However, we accept that there are a number of people who support ‘home rule’ who do not want Wales to be an independent country at the present time. This paper has been drafted to contribute to the debate in civil society following recent constitutional developments in the nations of Britain – it is not confined to those people who support independence for our country.