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Thursday, February 06, 2014

Labour at odds over further devolution

Having commented on the divisions within the Conservative Party over the Wales Bill, it is only fair to mention that Labour are having their own difficulties as well.

Although the Welsh Labour Government have reservations about income tax powers being devolved to Wales, they still seem inclined to welcome the move if it is done correctly. The Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Owen Smith on the other hand has sided with the dinosaurs within the Welsh Parliamentary Party and has come out against the idea altogether.

The BBC report Mr. Smith as saying that the power for Welsh ministers to vary income tax by up to 10 pence in the pound is a "trap" to force them to raise more of the money they spend. Quite rightly the Conservatives have pointed out that this is a change of Labour policy as it had previously said the plans were "a good idea for Wales".

As David Jones said, there is of course no compulsion on the Welsh government to change the rate of tax if it does not think that is appropriate.  But there is a huge advantage in terms of accountability, in terms of incentive and in terms of the income stream against which it could borrow, which it doesn't have at the moment.

Labour have now moved from fully endorsing the Sik Commission report to wanting to cherry-pick it to suit their own agenda.
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