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Discussions with the Welsh Government: Ministerial Responsibility

Volume 698: debated on Thursday 8 July 2021

What recent discussions his Department has had with the Welsh Government on matters within his ministerial responsibility. (902394)

Cabinet Office Ministers regularly engage with the Welsh Government and all the devolved Administrations as part of the Government’s continued collaborative working arrangements. I have had recent discussions with Welsh Government Ministers on subjects such as covid-19, the G7 summit and, of course, elections. Since 2021, all ministerial engagements between the Governments of the United Kingdom are published in quarterly reports.

The Welsh Government recently proposed the most radical constitutional change for the whole of the United Kingdom, seeking to change our Union of four nations to a federal structure. Can my right hon. Friend tell me whether he was part of those discussions in any way, in view of the impact they would have for every part of the United Kingdom? Does he share my dismay that the Welsh Government are focusing on constitutional change during a covid pandemic when our focus must be on recovering healthcare, improving education standards and creating jobs? Does he agree that our Union of four nations and constitutional stability offer the best prospect of delivering those outcomes?

Yes, my right hon. Friend is absolutely right. I have the highest regard for the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, and I enjoy working with him. I do not doubt his commitment to public service, but we do disagree on this question. I think my right hon. Friend is absolutely right that the Welsh Government’s focus, as the UK Government’s focus is, should be wholly on the covid crisis and on economic recovery at this time.