Thursday, 29 December 2016

The Welsh and Scottish Office have had thier day.

Two stories yesterday raises questions of whether we need a seperate Welsh and Scottish Office
The Wales Office spent more than £500,000 on temporary agency staff in the past six years, according to government figures.
The figures were released in response to a parliamentary question by shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens.
They showed money spent on agency staff in the most expensive year (2014-15) could have paid for 11 full-time positions.
A UK government spokesman said they needed to fill posts at short notice.
Over the past six years, the figures showed staffing levels at the Wales Office were reduced from 57 to 44 permanent staff.
Ms Stevens described the spending as "typical terrible Tory mismanagement".
She said
"It's a complete false economy and puts more pressure on everyone and leaves temporary workers with worse pay and conditions and no job security," .
She called on the current Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns to "plan properly" and "build a department that has enough staff for the work it does rather than trying to cut corners".
A UK government spokesman said agency costs increased in 2013-14 and 2014-15 because of the "need to fill at short notice a number of business-critical posts temporarily" while recruitment campaigns were under way.
He added that Wales hosted a Nato conference in late 2014 and a global investment conference in Newport shortly afterwards.
This in itself may not be a major story but it coincides with the news that
An SNP MP has questioned why the UK government's Scotland Office has seen its budget increase by 20% over the past five years.
Margaret Ferrier said the increase came at the same time as a real-terms cut in the Scottish government budget.
Ms Ferrier said the Scotland Office has long been a 
"zombie department with next to no responsibilities".
She added:
 "With more powers transferring to the Scottish government, as (Scottish Secretary) David Mundell so enjoys telling us, it would be interesting to hear his explanation for why his department requires such an enormous increase in its budget.
"We know that the budget for Mundell's army of spin doctors and publicity campaigns to promote the benefits of the union to the people of Scotland has more than doubled.
"Perhaps he needs the extra help in trying to devise a believable reason for why he has U-turned on the single market and why he believes the people of Scotland should suffer Brexit despite not voting for it."
The UK government said it was right that the department was resourced for the challenges of the year ahead.
A spokeswoman said: 
"This year the Scotland Office has ensured the successful passage of the Scotland Act, making the Scottish Parliament one of the most powerful devolved governments in the world.
"It is right we are resourced for the challenges in 2017 as we continue to deliver the remaining powers as well as making sure we get the best deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK as we leave the EU."
As far as Wales is concerned we are largely voiceless,

But who would you trust to  speak for Scotland over Brexit.

Nicola Sturgeon or Theresa May's stooges.

It has long been questioned what we need the Scottish and Welsh Office for?

Can it be that the Tories and Labour in particular look at these two institutions as an  form of government in exile as the Tories especially  have never been in control of either legislature since devolved powers began.

The Tories have one MP in Scotland and although they have had a bit of revival in Scotland as they claim the Unionist role, the existence of the Scottish Office is a reminder of whose in charge.

As far as Northern Ireland is concerned the Northern Ireland Office largely exists to remind the Northern Ireland Assembly that the Westminster Government could suspend it (if not abolish it) if it is sen to be failing. 

Ia m not suggesting that this is a good thing but it has ben done before.

In the age of devolution do we need such Offices which are clearly the voice of the Westminster  government  in Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland rather than representing our interest.

The fact that the Tories often fail to have enough MPs from the devolved Nations to fill the places in the legislatures speaks volumes.

Do we really want these "Zombie departments" whose role seem to ignore the wishes of the electorate and push forward the agenda of of a Westminster Parliament that has been rejected in election after election in these Nations?

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