THE Welsh Government’s 'independence commission' may transpire to be a game-changing initiative or a damp squib.

At best, it could deliver a blueprint for the future of these islands. At worst, it could generate fractious bitterness. The outcome will depend on the vision of its members; the quality of evidence; and the credibility and timeliness of its report.

The track record of commissions at Westminster is discouraging. Worthy reports are consigned to dusty shelves - never properly considered, let alone implemented. Some take years to complete.

The Crowther/Kilbrandon Constitutional Commission - established in 1968, reported in 1973, with a referendum in 1979.

The Silk Commission, established in 2011, produced two valuable reports: one in 2012, with 33 recommendations, including tax-raising powers now partly implemented. The second report in 2014 made 61 recommendations, some delivered by the Government of Wales Act 2017. Others were rejected, including devolving police powers to Wales.

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The track record in Cardiff Bay has been better. The Roger Jones Committee on Assembly standards, reported within months. Members unanimously accepted its recommendations, which were implemented within weeks – largely thanks to presiding officer Dafydd Elis Thomas.

If the McAllister-Williams Commission is to make a relevant impact, it must work quickly. The danger is being overtaken by events, such as Scotland’s second independence vote or Northern Ireland demanding a reunification referendum.

According to the Welsh Government’s website, the terms of reference state that the commission will “develop options for fundamental reform of the constitutional structures of the UK in which Wales remains an integral part”.

Professor McAllister assured us on radio that evidence in favour of independence will be accepted. Fine. But if the commission is only to consider models in which “Wales remains an integral part” of the UK, does that not debar independence as a valid recommendation? We need clarity.

The commission must surely assert the principle that Wales has every right to have a government that is independent of Westminster. That principle was recognised by John Major and Tony Blair for Northern Ireland; and by David Cameron in Scotland’s 2014 referendum. They accepted the right to self-determination.

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The commission should then examine the practicality of independence and examine various models of co-operation possible between an independent Wales and our neighbours.

These may involve voluntarily pooling sovereignty for certain functions with our neighbours in a confederal approach. But that is a four-way door: such relationships must be acceptable to England, Scotland and Ireland (partitioned or re-united).

Those opposed to this commission should realise the issue isn’t going away. Changes in Scotland and/or Northern Ireland will trigger debate. Wales should be in the forefront of deliberations, not a marginal afterthought.

Equally, we who aspire to independence must accept it will involve a degree of mutual interdependence for our four nations: a new partnership of independent nations.

A permanent solution will only work if such viewpoints can be harmonised into a relationship based on mutual respect. This may well need the intellect of a professor and the faith of an archbishop to deliver!

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