Details of new financial powers for Wales revealed

  • 18 November 2013
  • From the section Wales
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Welsh Secretary David Jones is due to update MPs later today on plans to give the Welsh government more financial powers.

If you can't wait until then (it could be 4.30pm or later), the Treasury and the Wales Office have published details here, risking the wrath of Speaker John Bercow, who is usually keen that MPs get to hear about major announcements first.

The UK government says it has accepted, in whole or in part, 30 of the 31 recommendations from the Silk commission - ignoring only the idea of devolving air passenger duty.

The key announcement appears to be that although the Welsh government could have some responsibility for gathering income tax, the Welsh government wouldn't have the power to vary individual tax bands. Instead, a "lockstep" approach would be introduced, ensuring every band had to be moved in tandem, so a 1p cut (or increase) in the basic rate would also mean a 1p cut (or increase) in higher rates. It would limit a future Welsh government's room for manoeuvre should it want to increase taxes on the rich while sparing workers on lower and middle incomes.

The Silk commission had recommended that the Welsh government should have the flexibility to move each tax band independently of each other.

David Jones, Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander and Welsh Finance Minister Jane Hutt have also been taking part in a news conference in Cardiff.

Mr Jones used the gathering to call for an early referendum on devolving income tax powers to Wales and said he's campaign for a "yes" vote.

In a separate statement, he said: "Through this package of powers we are announcing today, we are giving the Welsh government the tools to make the right investments in Wales.

"Infrastructure investment is vitally important to delivering long-term, balanced economic growth across the UK. This package of powers will enable the Welsh government to invest immediately in the areas of infrastructure it leads on, such as the key routes on the trans-European road network - the M4 and the North Wales Expressway.

"The government believes in devolution and we're determined to deliver. Accepting the Silk Commission's key recommendations on financial devolution strikes the right balance and marks an important step in Wales' devolution journey.

"These new powers will make for more accountable government for the Welsh people. It is now up to the Welsh government to seize this once in a generation opportunity - to drive forward Wales' economic development, and to use this opportunity to secure the growth and prosperity that Wales so desperately needs."

My colleagues in Cardiff will be adding more details on the BBC website during the course of the day.