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We are delighted to present the final report of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales. For us both, it has been a genuine privilege to lead this inquiry and to make what we hope is a serious contribution to the debate about the constitutional future of Wales.

In our deliberations, commissioners have grappled with critical questions about the way Wales is governed, about the health of our democracy and how to engage citizens from all parts of our country. From the start, we placed the people of Wales front and centre: it is vital that their voices are heard and that they lead this debate, so that in the future they may have a real sense of agency and influence in the decision-making of our nation.

This report places Wales on the front foot at an uncertain time for politics. Our commission stands out as a cross-party enterprise, with the voices of the 4 political parties elected to the Senedd represented, alongside the expertise and experience of those with no party allegiance. None of us has approached this work with any agenda beyond the commitment to explore what institutions and practices will best serve the people of Wales. Through our discussions and unanimous conclusions, Wales has shown the way in demonstrating reasoned, inclusive debate based on data and evidence.

We began our work by starting a conversation with the people of Wales. We did this through multiple channels of engagement which continued for over 12 months. Citizens were keen to engage and, given the opportunity, made thoughtful, measured and insightful contributions. We believe that the results of this approach have demonstrated the kind of engagement that’s needed to revitalise Welsh democracy, and the appetite for serious and constructive political debate among the people of Wales.

In our report we tackle 4 key issues:

First, we address the challenges to democracy. These are by no means unique to Wales and are faced in countries across the world with a wide diversity of constitutions. They extend far beyond structures and electoral systems. It is vital that we learn by listening to international experience on how to overcome such challenges. We believe that Wales has the potential to create a more robustly democratic culture, to become an expansive democracy, through innovative engagement mechanisms that enrich the work of elected representatives. This is absolutely critical if we are to overcome the disengagement and cynicism that puts our democracy at risk.

Second, we consider the state of inter-governmental relations and the boundaries of the Welsh devolution settlement. The relationship between the UK government and the devolved governments has fallen far short of the co-operation that citizens expect and which is essential to the successful operation of the Union. We call for urgent steps to strengthen the legal and procedural pillars of the relationship.

Third, we identify areas where new devolved powers are essential to protect the current settlement, and others where the voice of Wales could and should be strengthened through shared governance mechanisms. These are changes are urgently needed to put the settlement on a stable and secure footing.

Fourth, we present our in-depth analysis of 3 options for Wales’ constitutional future:

  • enhanced devolution
  • Wales in a federal UK
  • an independent Wales.

We are grateful to the members of our Expert Panel, whose work on this analysis was invaluable. We conclude that the analysis demonstrates the viability of all 3 options. Each has strengths and weaknesses, each poses risks and opportunities. It has not been our task to select any one of these as the best option for Wales; rather it has been our intention to illuminate the future choices for the people of Wales.

We are a diverse and independent commission, each of us contributing from our own experience and expertise. We have tried to be as impartial as possible in our analysis and conclusions.

With a UK general election on the horizon, followed by a Senedd election in 2026, we are optimistic that the political parties will respond without delay to our analysis and conclusions, in the same spirit of openness and constructive debate that has guided our work. Crucially we hope that the people of Wales will use the findings of our report to raise their voices and help shape how Wales is governed in future.

Professor Laura McAllister and The Rt. Hon. Dr Rowan Williams