.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Monday, April 22, 2013

Danny Alexander suggests radical changes to Welsh devolution settlement

The Western Mail reports on remarks by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander at the Welsh Liberal Democrats Conference yesterday that the UK Government may be set to offer Wales the chance to vote on tax and borrowing powers:

Mr Alexander told delegates at the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference in Cardiff that he would “not allow” a UK Government response to the first part of the Silk Commission that fell short of a proposal for “significant” tax and borrowing powers for the Welsh Government.

Mr Alexander said there was a consensus around greater financial accountability for Wales and he would “work tirelessly” to make it happen.

Proposals in the first report of the Silk Commission into the future of devolution in Wales were headlined by a call for a referendum on income tax-varying powers, alongside proposals for borrowing powers and a slew of minor taxes.

“We need a new model of devolution for Wales,” Mr Alexander said.

“A model in which additional responsibility for raising revenues strengthens accountability too.

“A model in which significant income tax powers unlock commensurate borrowing powers for Wales too.

“We are still working through our response to the Silk Commission with the Welsh Government. But I will not allow a response to Silk that doesn’t meet those aspirations.”

Danny added: “Wales is still suffering from Labour’s failures.

“For over a decade, Labour refused to let go of the purse strings. Manchester council can set taxes – but not the Welsh Government. Cardiff council can borrow to invest in capital projects – but not the Welsh Government.

“The Scottish Government can vary income tax rates – but not the Welsh Government. The Welsh Assembly is unique across the rest of the world. It can make laws. It can spend money. But it can’t control how much it raises through tax.

“Where Labour failed, the coalition will act.

“I said when I came to Wales in 2010 that there was a ‘strong case’ for tax and borrowing powers, if there is a consensus in Wales.

“Now that we have such a consensus, I will work tirelessly to make this happen.”

Mr Alexander said the Treasury was working out the practicalities of its response to the first report of Silk, due soon, but insisted it was his job to ensure the response does not “fall short”.

Mr Alexander said a new system of assessing whether Wales is progressively losing out in comparison with England in terms of the amount of money it gets from the Treasury would be in place this year, in time for assessing budgets from 2015.
He had the opportunity to support amendments to the Finance Bill to devolve powers to Wales 3 days ago and he and other LD MP's voted against. Explain that one away Peter!
Why do it piecemeal when it is best done as a complete package with cross-government agreement (if possible)?
So just out of curiousity what powers were the amendments going to devolve to Wales?
I'm willing to give Danny Alexander the benefit of the doubt on this. But only because we know David Jones is effectively a devo-sceptic. Jones has come out and said he's against a new Government of Wales Act, against devolving policing, and of course the Lib Dems technically bought in to the UK Government's "evidence" to part 2 of Silk which was lamentable. If the UK Government now signs up to the whole of Silk part 1, and the timetable, we will have to take our hats off and say this is one area where the Lib Dems have improved the outcome. I'm much less sure about the validity and affordability of what the Lib Dems would do with income tax powers! But let's see what the UK Government actually recommends.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?