A leading Welsh Christian denomination is asking the House of Lords to vote down the controversial UK Internal Market Bill, calling it the greatest ever attack on devolution.
The Welsh Union of Independent Churches fears that implementing the Bill could have a detrimental effect on food standards, animal welfare, the economy, and the environment. The Union, which represents Christians meeting in 400 chapels in Wales, says that transferring major spending powers from the Senedd to UK government ministers would be an undemocratic step.
The letter was sent to a number of Welsh members of the House of Lords in the name of the Revd Jill-Hailey Harries, the Union’s President.
Dear Lord / Lady
I write to you as President of the Union of Welsh Independents, representing Christians who meet in 400 chapels in Wales, to express great concern about the UK Internal Market Bill.
We believe that the Bill’s content, and the way in which it was introduced, shows contemptuous disregard for the democratic rights of our nation – rights gained through long campaigning and a majority vote in two referendums. We agree with the expressed view that this ‘power grab’ by Westminster is the biggest attack on devolution since its inception over twenty years ago.
We consider the transfer of spending powers on infrastructure, economic development, culture, sport, and support for educational and training opportunities, to the care of UK government ministers to be an undemocratic step. The power over such expenditure, choices and decisions should be retained here in Wales.
We fear that the Bill could have a detrimental effect on the well-being and prosperity of our people, food standards and animal welfare, and the future of the environment. For example, the UK government could agree to reduce production standards in England in order to produce food more cheaply. That could lead to cheaper food flooding the market in Wales, where standards might remain higher, with devastating consequences for Welsh farmers. Allowing cheaper food to be imported from other countries which have lower production standards, with Wales having no say in the matter, would also have the same devastating effect.
As you are aware, the Second Reading of the Bill in the House of Lords is scheduled for October 19. You’ll also be aware of the great disquiet about the way in which this Bill was rushed through the House of Commons without consultation with the devolved governments.
We urge you, with the utmost respect, at this late hour, to give a voice in the House of Lords to the great injustice that is being done to our nation.
Revd Jill-Hailey Harries (President)