Cameron on rail delays, tax referendums and the future

Prime Minister David Cameron at the Royal Welsh Show
Image caption A pinch of salt: David Camerons samples some Welsh produce at the Royal Welsh Show

David Cameron has visited Wales, attending the Royal Welsh Show for the second successive year. My colleague Nick Servini took the chance to catch up with the prime minister's thinking on current issues.

Does he still think there needs to be a referendum before the Welsh government gets some control of income tax rates. With the Welsh government in no hurry to hold a vote, and increasing devolution to regions of England without a referendum, would he take the chance to please the likes of the Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies by dropping the requirement?

I've transcribed some of his answers that might be of interest the next time the issue flares up.

He told Nick: "We haven't changed our commitments, but what I'd say is, I think what matters is for people in Wales is the outcome and the outcome I think we all now want to see is a funding floor for Wales to give Wales that guarantee about its future level of funding and I think that's right to be accompanied by devolution of income tax so you can have the varying of tax rates here in Wales because I want a responsible assembly.

"An assembly, or a Welsh parliament if you want to call it, that has the responsibility to both raise and spend money. I think that would enhance politics here in Wales. I think it'll make our politicians think more about the economic impact of the decisions that they make so let's try and get to that outcome but no, I haven't changed any of our commitments."

Read full article Cameron on rail delays, tax referendums and the future

Minister admits rail electrification 'challenges'

Lord Ahmad
Image caption Transport Minister Lord Ahmad: electrification has posed 'challenges'

Members of the House of Lords have been trying to find an answer to one of the big unanswered questions of the moment: when will the rail line from Swansea to London be electrified?

The target was 2018, but that is a date now rarely to be heard from the lips of government ministers.

Read full article Minister admits rail electrification 'challenges'

Former minister: leadership election 'shambolic'

Kim Howells
Image caption Kim Howells: the Labour leadership election is a "total shambles"

Seven Welsh MPs were among the 48 Labour MPs who rebelled against the party's leadership in last night's vote on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

Ann Clwyd, Geraint Davies, Paul Flynn, Carolyn Harris, Gerald Jones, Madeleine Moon and Jo Stevens all defied the whip to vote against the Bill rather than abstain.

Read full article Former minister: leadership election 'shambolic'

Pay rises, peerages and that end-of-term feeling

IPSA chair Sir Ian Kennedy
Image caption IPSA chair Sir Ian Kennedy says MPs should get a 10% pay rise

One of Wales's more outspoken MPs has just told me he doesn't have a view on one of today's big issues.

You'll be less surprised to learn that the issue is MPs' pay, with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority having signed off a 10% rise, taking a backbench MP's salary to £74,000 (backdated to May 8). Changes to MPs' expenses and pension arrangements mean there will be no extra cost to the taxpayer but that's unlikely to encourage MPs to venture in front of the cameras.

Read full article Pay rises, peerages and that end-of-term feeling

Fox hunting and EVEL: who has the whip hand?

A hunt Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tomorrow's vote on whether or not to relax the hunting ban has been postponed.

Who can remember those far gone days of the general election campaign when the Conservatives warned that putting Ed Miliband in Downing Street would see the SNP calling the shots?

Today, the Conservative government has decided to scrap Wednesday's vote to relax the hunting ban in England and Wales after the SNP said its 56 MPs would vote against a government move to bring the law in line with the law in Scotland.

Read full article Fox hunting and EVEL: who has the whip hand?

Lord David Owen and the Welsh radical tradition

Lord (David) Owen
Image caption David Owen: "I feel Welsh. I have no English blood in me at all"

Former Foreign Secretary and SDP Leader David Owen has been looking back on his Welsh roots.

Lord Owen was the latest guest on Radio 4's Reflections with Peter Hennessy in which the historian (and crossbench peer) gets senior politicians to talk about their life and times.

Read full article Lord David Owen and the Welsh radical tradition

Welsh Budget fall-out and delay to EVEL plans

Alun Cairns MP Image copyright ALUN CAIRNS
Image caption Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns - could he live on the "national living wage"?

It was a straightforward question: could you live on £7.20 an hour?

Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns didn't answer it. So I asked the question again. He didn't answer directly but said for someone on the minimum wage now (£6.50) to get a pay rise to £9 an hour by 2020 would be "fantastic news" with a more positive impact on Wales because of relatively low pay there.

Read full article Welsh Budget fall-out and delay to EVEL plans

George Osborne's Budget and Wales: at first glance

Stephen Crabb MP Image copyright Wales Office
Image caption "A landmark one nation Budget," says Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb.

So what does the Budget mean for Wales?

There was one brief reference to Wales in the chancellor's speech: "In Wales we are honouring our commitments to a funding floor, and to more devolution there, and investing in important new infrastructure like the M4 and the Great Western line"

Read full article George Osborne's Budget and Wales: at first glance

EVEL debate: 'We are a nonsense but somehow it works'

Madeleine Moon MP Image copyright Madeleine Moon
Image caption Madeleine Moon: "The history of these islands is one of constitutional abnormalities"

MPs have finished a three-hour debate on the government's plans for "English votes for English laws".

The opposition parties won a vote at the end by 291 votes to 2 after the Conservatives abstained. Commons leader Chris Grayling defended the proposals to limit the voting rights of MPs from outside England on new laws that affect England alone.

Read full article EVEL debate: 'We are a nonsense but somehow it works'

English Votes for English Laws explained

Diagram of English Votes for English Laws Image copyright Cabinet Office
Image caption English Votes for English Laws - an outline of the model for a Bill starting in the House of Commons

What do you mean, it looks complicated? The diagram is from the government's "explanatory guide" to its plans for "English votes for English laws".

It's a tale of vetoes, legislative grand committees, double majorities and "tablet computers" in division lobbies.

Read full article English Votes for English Laws explained