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Volume 559: debated on Wednesday 27 February 2013

6. What discussions he has had with Ministers in the Welsh Government who have partial responsibility for justice and law and order. (144376)

I have meetings with Ministers in the Welsh Government on a wide range of issues, including justice and law and order, although they are of course not devolved.

I will wish the Secretary of State a happy St David’s day on St David’s day and not today.

There is an all-Wales legal circuit, four excellent police forces and an all-Wales probation trust. It is high time that we devolved justice and policing to Wales. The Secretary of State will know that there is a huge clamour of enthusiasm for this move. I hope he will join it.

I understand that Plaid Cymru has made its submission to the Silk commission, which will no doubt consider those proposals. It will report in spring next year. The Government have shown our commitment to devolution of policing by creating the office of police and crime commissioner, which brings policing as close as possible to the policed public.

I heartily disagree with the Secretary of State on that—police and crime commissioners are nothing of the sort—but the obvious point is that laws in Wales are diverging naturally from those in England, including in administrative law, family law and criminal law. It is high time that the legislature in Wales had its own system. Otherwise, it will probably be the only legislature in the world without such a system.

I hear the right hon. Gentleman’s point. No doubt the Silk commission will hear it too, and will take it into account when deciding whether the matter should be taken forward.

The Welsh Assembly may be able to prevent parents from having their children educated in England and prevent patients from being treated by the excellent English national health service, but they will not be able to stop criminals crossing the border and breaking the law in England, or vice versa. Does the Secretary of State agree that it would be a disaster to devolve policing and justice to the Welsh Assembly?

My hon. Friend has made his point in his customary restrained manner. No doubt the Silk commission is listening very carefully to what he has to say. He has 48 hours in which to make his submissions. I encourage him to do so.

In his discussions with Welsh Ministers, has my right hon. Friend had an opportunity to look at the costs and implications of a separate legal jurisdiction in Wales? Can he tell the House whether he favours such a separation?

Tempted though I am, I will not second-guess the work of the commission. I will say, however, that the UK Government will make their own submission to the commission this week, and it will be published next week.