EU Withdrawal Bill: Archbishop of York discusses impact on devolved assemblies

york-170117-cOn 21st March 2018, Peers debated the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill on its ninth day at Committee Stage. The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd John Sentamu, spoke during debate on an amendment relating to the powers of devolved assemblies.  It can be read in the wider context of the debate here 

The Archbishop of York: The point I was going to make is exactly the same. As I have listened to the debate, it seems to me that the issue is probably what the noble Lord, Lord Hennessy, tried to address. When we leave the EU, the state of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland will still be the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

Therefore, there are areas that are for all four nations and others that are just for one nation. Devolution was a good thing, but it does not mean that powers that affect other nations can simply be devolved. I have listened again and again, and I think the point is that, of all the powers that are coming back, 23 have been identified which, if they were simply handed over without clear legislation, would leave us in a real mess. There would be no coherence, no sense that this would be the United Kingdom; it would be something else. So may I plead with those who come from nations with devolved Governments to realise that, for the benefit of the whole of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, there are some areas that affect all of us together, not separately, and that those need to be retained? Of course there could be negotiations and conversations—but I get a little concerned that the message is not getting through. This is not grabbing power: some areas are returning to the United Kingdom and we must sort out which bits really need to go straight to the devolved Administrations. The 23 areas that we have heard about require very careful consideration; otherwise some might think that leaving the EU equals independence for them.