Wales' Changing Constitution



Brexit has and will continue to reshape different elements of the Welsh constitution. For example, Brexit has brought about new procedures around devolved consent in relation to UK legislation; given UK Ministers the power to place restrictions on the legislative competence of the devolved legislatures; and is adding new tiers of UK governance such as common frameworks.


In July 2019, the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee* began an inquiry with the following terms of reference:



>>>To consider the current scope and application of the Sewel convention in the context of the process of leaving the EU, including:

***in relation to primary and secondary legislation,

***whether the current Devolution Guidance Notes relating to consent are fit for purpose,

***the recent Supreme Court rulings,

***how “normally” should be interpreted in section 107(6) of the Government of Wales Act 2006, who should interpret it and how disputes should be resolved,

***whether parliamentary procedures should be established to recognise the Convention in the legislative process, and

***the experience of other devolved legislatures in the UK and the approach to legislative consent in other countries;

>>>To consider the implications of new levels of UK governance as a result of Brexit on the Welsh devolution settlement, including:


*** the development of legislative and non-legislative common frameworks,

***the development and use of intergovernmental agreements between the UK and Welsh Governments that are emerging as a consequence of Brexit-related legislation, and

***the power of UK Ministers under section 109A of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (as introduced by section 12 of the EU Withdrawal Act 2018) to temporarily ‘freeze’ areas of devolved competence;

>>>To review, as required, the recommendations of the Committee’s Brexit-related reports; and

>>>To consider any other matters relating to the UK’s constitutional arrangements post Brexit including constitutional reform.



The breadth of the inquiry was intended to allow the Committee to be flexible in its approach and to take account of emerging constitutional issues as the UK leaves the EU, and- to issue themed reports over the course of its work.


The breadth of the inquiry was also intended to allow for the review some of the Committee’s Brexit-related reports such as: 



>>>UK governance post-Brexit

>>>Scrutiny of regulations made under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018: operational matters

>>>Scrutiny of regulations made under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018: progress report



The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic limited the Committee’s intended approach. However the Committee was able to collect evidence from a range of contributors: 



>>>through a public consultation, 

>>>in evidence sessions with the First Minister and Counsel General,  

>>>in an evidence session with the Secretary of State for Wales 

>>>in a roundtable evidence session with constitutional experts. 



The Committee’s Fifth Senedd Legacy Report provides a narrative on the inquiry and sets out a number of conclusions reached by the Committee.


* Following a resolution in Plenary on 29 January 2020, the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee became the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee.






Business type: Committee Inquiry

Reason considered: Senedd Business;

Status: Complete

First published: 29/07/2019