Welsh Government appoint members of constitutional commission
The people who will serve on an independent commission which will make recommendations about Wales’ constitutional future have been announced.
The commission will develop options for the fundamental reform of the constitutional structures of the UK in which Wales remains an integral part and it will also consider all progressive options to strengthen Welsh democracy.
Last month, Professor Laura McAllister and Dr Rowan Williams were confirmed as the co-chairs of the commission.
The commissioners, who will be working with the co-chairs, are:
- Dr Anwen Elias, a Reader in Politics at Aberystwyth University. Her research interests include comparative territorial and constitutional politics, political parties and deliberative democracy. She is co-director of the Centre for Welsh Politics and Society and the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Data and Research.
- Miguela Gonzalez, a diversity and inclusion practitioner and a former journalist. She worked for the BBC for 15 years, most recently as the diversity and inclusion lead for the nations. She currently works for life science firm Abcam, where she is working to build an open and inclusive culture. Miguela has worked with the Welsh Government on the implementation of the Culture Connect Cymru project and has also been a visiting lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture.
- Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London and Director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity. Professor Marmot has led research groups on health inequalities for over 40 years. He chaired the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, several WHO Regional Commissions, and reviews on tacking health inequality for governments in the UK.
- Lauren McEvatt, a former Conservative UK Government special adviser to the Wales Office, during the coalition administration, when she worked on the Silk Commission and the Wales Act 2014. She has subsequently worked for several governments across East Africa and the Caribbean, on constitutional reform, trade and investment.
- Albert Owen, the former Labour MP for Ynys Mon from 2001 to 2019. During his time in Parliament he was a member of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, Welsh Affairs Select Committee and the International Development Committee.
- Philip Rycroft, who was a civil servant for 30 years. He worked at a senior level for the devolved government in Scotland before moving to the Cabinet Office in London where he led civil service work for the UK Government on the constitution and devolution. His last posting was as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU.
- Shavanah Taj, Wales TUC’s first BME General Secretary. Shavanah is a passionate campaigner and can often be found contributing speeches at round table debates and protest marches on issues such as anti-racism, just transition, climate change, human rights, women’s rights, fair pay and fair work.
- Kirsty Williams, a former Member of the Senedd and Minister for Education in the Welsh Government during the Fifth Senedd. She became the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats in December 2008 and, at the time, she was the first female leader of a Welsh political party in the Senedd.
- Leanne Wood, a former Member of the Senedd for the Rhondda and former Leader of Plaid Cymru. As the first female leader of her party, she brings a wealth of political experience and has a longstanding commitment to issues of social justice.
The commission will be supported by an expert panel, which will bring expertise in areas including governance, law, constitution, the environment, economics, and finance. Its first meeting will be on 25 November.
Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, said: “Each commissioner brings with them different strengths, knowledge, experience and perspectives. They are drawn from across Wales, across the UK, and further afield and from across the political spectrum.
“Collectively, the commissioners combine the academic rigor and the alternative perspectives the commission will need to think creatively and radically about Wales’ future.
“I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to engage with the commission and join the national conversation about our constitutional future.”
The creation of the commission has not been universally welcomed however, with the Welsh Conservatives criticising the body as a waste of time.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Constitution, Darren Millar MS said: “People in Wales overwhelmingly rejected independence at the recent Senedd elections; and why the Welsh Labour Government would want to waste it’s time and resources discussing the topic is beyond me.
“Instead of prioritising discussions on independence and constitutional change the Welsh Labour Government should be using the powers it already has to get to grips with the challenges facing Wales.
“Talking up independence and talking down the Union won’t do anything to address the waiting list backlog in our NHS, the months of lost education experienced by our young people, or the adverse impact of severe restrictions on our economy and society.”
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