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Devolution: Welfare

Volume 660: debated on Wednesday 15 May 2019

6. What assessment the Government have made of the potential merits of devolving the administration of welfare to the Welsh Government. (910822)

The Silk commission’s analysis in 2014 concluded that social security, including welfare, should remain non-devolved. This recommendation had cross-party support when it was considered under the St David’s Day process.

Does not the experience in Scotland, where even a limited devolution of social security powers has allowed the Scottish Government to mitigate the worst excesses of Tory austerity and reduce rates of absolute child poverty, show that devolution works, and is it not time to allow the Welsh Government to design a social security system that fits the character and the aspirations of the people of Wales?

I must say that those who look at the social security system and at devolution in Scotland may draw a different picture from that being presented by our separatist colleagues. The reality is that there were a number of powers devolved in the Scotland Act 2016 that their party in Holyrood has decided not to use. I am afraid that those looking at Scotland will come to a very different conclusion from the one that the hon. Gentleman suggests.

May I start by welcoming my hon. Friend to his place? As and when welfare powers are devolved, does he agree that it is important that we have devolved Administrations continuing to work with the Department for Work and Pensions to benefit those who most need support, rather than political posturing by those interested in breaking up the United Kingdom?

As always, my hon. Friend is right to say that it is time that the SNP-run Government in Holyrood focused more on the job of actually governing than on trying to build constitutional grievances. Yes, it is right that the DWP continues to work with all stakeholders across our United Kingdom to ensure that we provide the support that is needed as part of our welfare system.