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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

ID card dividend fantasy

A general trawl through various websites this morning threw up a rather bizarre Plaid Cymru press release. Issued on 29 June the release claimed that Wales could receive a rebate of up to £300 per person because 'the Assembly has voted not to introduce ID cards'.

The argument is that as Wales receives a consequential 5.9% Barnett share of any increase in public expenditure on devolved services, then we will also receive a similar share of the cost of introducing ID cards. Plaid reason that as the Assembly has voted not to allow ID cards to be used to access devolved services then that is the same thing as a complete veto on the proposal. Subsequently, they believe that the cash will be available to spend on other services provided by the Assembly such as education and health.

This is complete fantasy of course. The introduction of ID cards is not a devolved matter, therefore there will be no Barnett consequential and the Assembly will not see a penny of any increase in public expenditure related to this project. Although we can prevent ID cards being used to access services we pay for, we cannot stop them being introduced in the UK or Wales.

Plaid Cymru may be unhappy with the present constitutional and financial settlement but that is no reason to pretend that the Welsh Assembly has more influence than we actually do.


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