Plaid Cymru MS criticises Westminster’s refusal to give Senedd role in UK Infrastructure Bank

Llyr Gruffydd MS

A North Wales MS has criticised the refusal to give the Senedd a role in scrutinising the work of the UK Infrastructure Bank in Wales.

Llyr Gruffydd, from Plaid Cymru, says this means that it will be politicians in Westminster instead of Senedd members who will “scrutinise how powers in areas of devolved competence are being used”.

He made the comments while speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee, during a debate in the Welsh Parliament.

The debate was on a Bill that would give ministers in Whitehall powers over the bank, such as to appoint directors to the board and to change its aims and objectives.

The Welsh Government has lobbied Tory ministers to give it a role in the bank, as well as to the Senedd.

Following negotiations, the UK Government has only agreed to “consult” with Welsh ministers before they exercise powers and has declined to give the Senedd any role.

Because of this Llyr Gruffydd has argued that the Senedd should refuse to give its consent to the Bill.

Rebecca Evans, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Finance and Local Government has defended the deal with Tory ministers, claiming that it “does represent a practicable compromise”.

The UK Government-owned bank, which has been established as a replacement for the European Investment Bank will provide £22 billion of infrastructure finance through partnering arrangements with the private and the public sectors.

The bank aims to use these funds to help tackle climate change and to drive regional and local economic growth across the UK.

It will work in five key sectors, which are clean energy, transport, digital, waste and water. This means that its work will cut across areas that have been devolved to the Senedd.

Llyr Gruffydd, who is Chair of the Senedd’s Climate Committee, said: “Now, of course, there has to be consultation, as I understand it, with the Welsh Ministers before UK Ministers can exercise powers in relation to the bank’s objectives and activities, and strategic priorities and plans.

“Well, this, certainly, isn’t an equivalent role, such as we were seeking. And what of the Senedd’s role? Quite simply, the Bill doesn’t provide a role for the Senedd.

“Let’s be clear about what that then means—it means the UK Parliament, rather than Senedd Cymru, will scrutinise how powers in areas of devolved competence are being used, and they will be the ones who will oversee the bank’s effectiveness as far as it relates to Wales.

“So, having considered the Bill, as amended, we still have concerns about the limited role of the Welsh Ministers in terms of the bank’s governance structures, and the lack, of course, of a role provided for the Senedd. So, Dirprwy Lywydd, with this in mind, the committee is not in a position to recommend that the Senedd gives consent to the Bill.”

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