Silk Commission: Income tax referendum unlikely - academic

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An expert on devolution says a referendum on giving the Welsh government powers over income tax is unlikely to happen.

Professor Richard Wyn Jones said a commission whose report was published last week had put up too many hurdles.

But Labour AM Mark Drakeford told a conference on the Silk Commission that the analysis was too pessimistic.

They were responding to the report which said a referendum should be held on devolving income tax powers.

'Quadruple lock'

Prof Jones described a "quadruple lock" in the Silk proposals which means the Welsh and UK governments, two-thirds of AMs, and both houses of parliament must agree before the vote takes place.

Start Quote

The long-term prospect is that Wales can continue to eschew the benefits of living in a modern creative democracy for the foreseeable future”

End Quote Professor Richard Wyn Jones Wales Governance Centre

The Silk report also said it should only happen if the Welsh government and the Treasury agree on changes to the funding system for Wales.

The Treasury uses the contested Barnett formula to work out the size of the Welsh government's budget, but the Welsh government says it is shortchanged by the formula.

Prof Jones, director of Cardiff University's Wales Governance Centre, told the conference: "The long-term prospect is that Wales can continue to eschew the benefits of living in a modern creative democracy for the foreseeable future."

But Cardiff West AM Mr Drakeford said he did not share the "over-pessimistic" interpretation.

Addressing the same conference in Cardiff on Monday, organised by the Institute of Welsh Affairs think-tank, Mr Drakeford warned his audience not to rule out a "bilateral solution" between the Welsh government and the Treasury on funding.

He said Prof Jones had "underplayed" the way the Silk Commission, which includes representatives of Wales' four main parties, "managed to craft a cross-party consensus around its proposals".

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