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1994 - Mr Major’s Comments on Devolution

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on devolution on Wednesday 26th October 1994.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked why he was against devolution in Wales but more supportive in Northern Ireland].

PRIME MINISTER:

When the issue was presented to the people of Wales before they voted 4-1. The relationship with Northern Ireland does not run. Northern Ireland has no proper system of local government in the sense that it exists in Wales, there is no local democracy in Northern Ireland, there is local democracy on a fairly significant and entrenched scale in Wales so there is a sharp difference between the two.

The reason I am concerned about devolution is really twofold. The first is constitutional. There are two elements to that argument; firstly, more in the case of Scotland, it has to be said, than Wales, there is a risk that devolution will be the beginning of a slope that would lead to a separate country and the break-up of the United Kingdom, that is the first point; the second constitutional point is simply the quantum of government, we already have borough councils, district councils, parish councils, county councils, parliament, the European Council, another tier of government as well does not seem to me to be very attractive, and another tax raising tier of government and extra bureaucracy seems to me to be very unattractive indeed.

If you asked the people of Wales, not do you want devolution, but asked them what it really means - do you want another tier of government, do you want someone else levying taxes - then I think you might get a very different answer from the one that you get when you just generally and casually ask the question. You would in fact get the answer that you got when you had a referendum some time ago, in 1979.