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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Spiderman and the funding of the Welsh Assembly

In an echo of the motto from the Spiderman movies, that with great power comes great responsibility, the Secretary of State for Wales told MPs today that it was no longer acceptable for the Welsh Assembly to spend nearly £15 billion of public money without having some accountability for raising it.

She said the Welsh Government could be given powers to levy some taxes, depending on the findings of a body set up to explore greater devolution:.

Mrs Gillan said the Silk Commission could offer plans to levy taxes such as rubbish dumping costs, air passenger duty on flights and stamp duty when buying homes.

Opening a Commons debate, she said: “With power comes responsibility.

“It is surely better for the devolved institution to be accountable to the people of Wales not just for decisions on public spending in Wales, but by being responsible for raising some of the money needed to pay for those decisions.

“Even local authorities, despite receiving block grants, have responsibility for raising local council tax and, consequently, recognise the difficulty of raising tax monies before spending money.

“There is no reason why one institution should be immune from any tax raising and simply spend money and continue to ask for more.”

Mrs Gillan said the current system, where Westminster gives Cardiff Bay a cash handout, failed to provide enough accountability for Assembly Members (AMs).

She added: “I personally think that cannot be right.”

In a strange role reversal though her Labour Shadow, Peter Hain and his MPs were busy laying down road blocks to this sort of further devolution. Who would have thought that a Conservative Secretary of State could be more devo-friendly than the so-called radical Labour Party?

Of course I will claim some credit for the role of the Liberal Democrats in that, but nevertheless it is an interesting role-reversal.

Mr. Hain apparently believes that fiscal devolution to the Welsh Assembly will destroy” the nation. He seems to think that the outcome of the Silk Commission will be to limit Wales to only the income it can raise from Welsh taxpayers. As he points out the Holtham commission calculated that approximately £17.1bn of tax revenue is raised in Wales every year. Total public spending in Wales is around £33.5billion, almost twice the amount raised.

This is absolute nonsense of course, as was made clear by Cheryl Gillan. It is the kind of scaremongering and rabble-rousing that Labour often accuse the Liberal Democrats of indulging in. In actual fact we are too responsible to do so, unlike Labour.

Labour are seeking to prejudge the findings of the Silk Commission before it has even got underway, by effectively rewriting its remit. Their record on holding back devolution is bad enough. Today they have taken it to new depths. Do they have no shame?
in answer to your question about whether Labour have no shame


Quite simply, the party comes first, middle and last. Getting into government in London is the ONLY concern and nothing else matters. The voters, country, democracy etc are not a concern. Labour and the party itself trump all else.
Absolutely agree with both Peter and anon. The trouble that we have here in Wales particularly is that the general voting public appear to believe every lie that the labour spin doctors put out.In this respect, we get what we deserve.
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