Today's big story at Westminster: the Welsh Grand

 

Some thought it would never happen. Others argued over the venue. But after weeks of speculation around Westminster, I can report that the Welsh grand committee has met to discuss the Silk commission's report on devolution to Wales.

Committee members - Welsh MPs plus a few faces from east of Offa's Dyke - gathered in committee room 14 in the House of Commons to digest what Paul Silk and his fellow commissioners had to say.

Welsh Secretary David Jones - who says he's moved from "devo-sceptic" to "devo-realist" - opened the debate with a 28-minute speech in which he carefully avoided saying what he thought of the proposals or indeed whether the UK government would implement them.

He did indicate the government's support for the Welsh government to acquire borrowing powers which would be "commensurate" with any revenue stream it acquires through the devolution of minor taxes.

Braintree Tory MP Brooks Newmark stressed his Welsh credentials - "my family had a steel business in Wales" - before raising concerns about borrowing powers "I'm concerned that ultimately UK plc will foot the bill if things go wrong".

David Jones confirmed the UK government would ultimately pick up the tab if Wales defaulted on its debt. Without giving much away, Mr Jones did suggest the Silk report would be considered in the context that the Welsh government should be responsible for raising some of its own budget.

He was followed by his Labour shadow, Owen Smith, who questioned Mr Jones's previous suggestion that the Treasury would have the final say on whether to devolve taxes. Mr Smith's suggestion that under Labour the Wales Office - not the Treasury - would take the key decisions was not universally accepted.

"Silk is where the rubber hits the road for Wales right now," said Mr Smith, who said Labour support the devolution of taxes such as air passenger duty and the aggregates levy if it unlocks borrowing powers.

Labour would support the Welsh government getting the power to vary income tax rates after a referendum if the Barnett formula that decides much Welsh spending is reformed and if it can be shown that it would be good for Wales.

The new faces included Tory Jesse Norman, who tweeted: A day of joy on the Welsh Grand Committee re: tax devolution for Wales." He wondered if England would end up subsidising tax competition Will England end up subsidising tax competition against his home county of Herefordshire.

Mr Norman was not alone. Chester MP Stephen Mosley tweeted: "Gatecrashing Welsh Grand Committee today to highlight cross-border issues which may be caused by devolution of tax raising powers to Wales."

The Welsh Grand is a committee of two halves, and the second session has just got under way. I have been diverted by the prime minister's speech on Europe but I will return to the Welsh Grand if news breaks out there.

UPDATE: The Hansard report of yesterday's two sessions has been published here. If that doesn't satisfy your appetite, why not listen to or download tomorrow night's edition of Today in Parliament.

 
David Cornock, Parliamentary correspondent, Wales Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

They think it's all over. It is now.

Welsh Secretary David Jones and his deputy Stephen Crabb have been answering MPs' questions for the last time before the summer recess.

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 77.

    76.Boxer_the_Horse

    Is it fair for Manchester and Newcastle Airport to be Subsidised but not Cardiff? Don't you think it a bit rich a Tory MEP complaining about competition. If we didn't have WG who would fight our corner? Not the Tories!!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 76.

    Woodsey, as so often, you are so eager to counter-attack that you don't read other's blogs.
    I wasn't complaining (yet) about WAG subsidising Cardiff Airport. I was commenting that airport passenger tax, when devolved, wouldn't keep Carwyn in pork pies.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 75.

    74.Boxer_the_Horse

    Newcastle, Manchester Airports need to be closed down then because they are subsidised by their authorities. Also its ironic that a Tory MEP representing South West England is complaining about unfair competition if the WG buy Cardiff. Thought Tory philosophy was all about competition.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 74.

    ' Labour support the devolution of taxes such as air passenger duty' [DC above] Kind of ironic to devolve airport revenues at the predicted point that Cardiff airport closes. It's only the rugby charter flights that keep it open.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 73.

    #70 'Well I rather have Owain on my team than some of the characters you've mentioned. '
    I have nothing against OG. Died after fighting gallantly for something he believed in:but he lost. Wallace won - at least for a time. Wallace was more influential. A dubious character; a murderer, but influential. Mao was a genocidal-scale murderer but influential. Look at the poll. Influence not niceness.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 72.

    #66 ' I suppose you have the fictional St.George'
    We do, along with Georgia.
    You of course, have the historical figure of Dewi, who lived in the 6th century (#500 - 589 ) and in a truly amazing miracle managed to leave his bones in a shrine at his eponymous Cathedral, that are dated to the 12th Century.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 71.

    woodsey Old boxer neever does answer a straight question with a straight answer. He just twists it around and blames everyone else for not answering in a straight way. just to prevent him having to answer. Not a PR politician is he. Are you Box.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 70.

    67.Boxer_the_Horse
    Well I rather have Owain on my team than some of the characters you've mentioned. Never betrayed by his countrymen and never captured or accept a royal pardon. Re straight answer. Did you ever answer yes to the question on whether Cardiff voted for Devolution x2

  • rate this
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    Comment number 69.

    Send em all to Cornwal to retire.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 68.

    Twice in one day and on the same blog Box and you still can't accept your may be wrong. Same as you were about the Yes vote and you still can't accept that. You are really something. woodsey He is the Saint of many other countries as well. See England haven't got one of their own. Like every thing else they have got to take other peoples. Even their countries.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 67.

    #65 The problem that I actually have is that I never get a straight answer. Try again Do you, Cythraul, personally believe that OG was one of the top 10 most influential people in the World.
    Personally, I don't see how anybody can rate his influence above Wallace (i.e Scots patriot, not Wensleydale-cheese eater).

  • rate this
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    Comment number 66.

    64.Boxer_the_Horse

    When English people vote Princess Diana 3rd in their top ten of heroes you are on a sticky wicket Boxer. I suppose you have the fictional St.George

  • rate this
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    Comment number 65.

    Re.64

    The problem you have here Boxer is that the result was the opinion of a very distinguished group of figures on the international stage. The opinion of Welsh people is irrelevant!

    Croeso Woodsey.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 64.

    Perhaps you two Welsh speakers could sort it out. Or were there two polls promoting OG ??
    Either way, do either of you truly believe that a medieval warrior in a very small country, who died in obscurity, was one of the 10 most influential people in the World ?
    Come on ! A straight 'Yes'. I dare you.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 63.

    In Wales he is known as Owain Glyndwr, in both Welsh and English; since Wales is an English-speaking country, why should only writers from England determine the English spelling?

    Owen Glendower is a character in Shakespeare, but otherwise that spelling should be dropped along with Conway and Carnarvon.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 61.

    No Boxer, I didn't get it wrong.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/541321.stm

  • rate this
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    Comment number 60.

    #59 But Cythraul said:
    At the turn of the millennium the Sunday Times polled 100 of the world's leading figures for their most influential figures in history. Owain Glyndwr made the TOP 100. In fact, he made NUMBER 7. '
    viz No 7 in the World.
    I was asking you to agree that this was ridiculous.
    If Cythraul got it wrong, and it was just famous Welshmen, I'll file it with famous Belgians.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 59.

    57.Boxer_the_Horse
    Boxer, your endless jibes about the Welsh Language is bordering on paranoia. You do live in a predominantly English speaking part of Cardiff but it hasn't stopped the demand for a Bilingual School being built there. Get out while have the chance! Re. OG I said he came 2nd out of a 100 in a Poll of the most famous Welsh people not the World

  • rate this
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    Comment number 58.

    Sorry Box you are losing the plot. You picked me up on my grammatical mistake and in your next comment you made one. Come now don't you even see your own mistakes. Or don't you make any in your mind. For some one so precise in his grammatical English. Something is amiss if you can't even get someones name right. If Shaky couldn't spell his own name no wonder it is said he didn't write his work.

 

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