An independent commission on Wales' future in the British union will be co-chaired by Professor Laura McAllister and Dr Rowan Williams, the Welsh Government has announced.

The announcement comes ahead of a statement by Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution Mick Antoniw at the Senedd this afternoon.

McAllister, Professor of Public Policy and the Governance of Wales at Cardiff University, and an expert in devolution and Welsh politics, said: "Serious contributions to our constitutional debate are greatly needed, and I’m looking forward to our work contributing to filling that space.

"We’ll think boldly and radically about all potential options for the future of Wales, in the context of the increasing pressure on the Union.”

The National Wales: Professor McAllister and Dr Rowan Williams will lead the Commission in making recommendations on how Wales’ constitutional settlement can best improve outcomes for the people of Wales" (Photo: Welsh Government)Professor McAllister and Dr Rowan Williams will lead the Commission in making recommendations on how Wales’ constitutional settlement can best improve outcomes for the people of Wales" (Photo: Welsh Government)

Dr Rowan Williams is a theologian, and headed the Church of England as Archbishop of Canterbury until 2012. He said: “This Commission's job is to ask what structures and constitutional provisions will best release the potential of Welsh communities and Welsh people.

“We want to make sure that the governance of Wales is effective, accountable and imaginative, and look forward to hearing what hopes and visions are animating people around the country.”

READ MORE: Labour, Wales, the Union and the constitution

Professor Laura McAllister CBE is a former Wales international football captain, and currently sits as deputy chair of the UEFA Women's Football Committee. She stood as a Plaid Cymru parliamentary candidate in the early nineties, but left the party not long after, later writing a book on its history.

Dr Rowan Williams served as Archbishop of Wales until the early 2000s, and is currently Chancellor of Cardiff University and Chair of Christian Aid.

READ MORE: 'Westminster is in effect a free-for-all'

Generally considered a progressive political voice, Williams has been a outspoken critic of capitalism during his career, and was labelled a "subversive" by MI5 in his youth, for his involvement with Christian socialist activism. 

Back in 2012, before Scotland's independence referendum, he commented that he was "still to be persuaded" whether independence for the UK nations would work in practice, favouring strengthened devolution instead.

The National Wales: MS Mick Antoniw is expected to announce further details about the committee this afternoonMS Mick Antoniw is expected to announce further details about the committee this afternoon

The constitutional commission was announced back in June, as part of a Welsh Government document outlining its views on the changing state of the Union, and the reforms needed to keep it intact.

However, last month the government told The National that the commission would be free to "reach its own conclusions" about Wales's future in the union.

Professor McAllister confirmed to the BBC last night that they would consider independence, saying that it would be "ludicrous" to leave that option off the table. 

This will be welcome news for Plaid Cymru.

READ MORE: Labour members to illustrate vision for independent Wales

Constitutional spokesperson Rhys ab Owen MS said last night: “We welcome Professor Laura McAllister and Dr Rowan Williams to post, and wish them well in their roles as Chairs.

“Plaid Cymru looks forward to engaging constructively with the Commission and its work, making use of every opportunity it presents to make the case for independence.

"Our nation’s interests will be best served when decisions over Wales’s future are placed in Wales’s hands.”

The Welsh Conservatives, meanwhile, say that the inquiry will waste time and resources. 

Further information on the commission and its terms of reference are expected during the Counsel General's speech at Plenary later today. 

The remaining members of the committee are expected to be appointed in the coming weeks, with its first meeting due to take place in November. The public will be consulted as part of the committee's enquiries.

Senedd Plenary sessions can be viewed live or on demand here

The schedule and agenda for the session can be found here.

If you value The National's political journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.