Mansion tax vote divides Plaid Cymru MPs

 

Labour's Commons debate this week on a "mansion tax" was designed to embarrass the Liberal Democrats but it induced a red face or two among Plaid Cymru MPs as well.

Plaid's parliamentary leader, Elfyn Llwyd, voted in favour of a new tax on properties worth more than £2m; his colleagues Hywel Williams and Jonathan Edwards didn't.

Mr Edwards had told the debate: "We are minded to support wealth taxes, and we therefore welcome the motion, but it is a bit thin on detail. Can the shadow minister reassure me that farmers will not be dragged into the new tax because of the value of their land, and not necessarily because of the value of their property?"

The shadow minister, Labour Treasury spokesman Chris Leslie, was grateful for his "support".

"Obviously there is a difference between residential and corporate arrangements, but our motion says that we want the Treasury to bring forward proposals at the earliest possible opportunity.

"We have seen the proposition set out by the Liberal Democrats and used it as the basis for our motion, but let us see what further options can be drawn together. We think that it would be a good idea, for example, for the Chancellor to commission the Office for Budget Responsibility to present detailed suggestions of ways in which the arrangements might work."

So the detail remains thin. The suggestion is that owners of £2m homes would pay a one per cent annual levy on them - £20,000 a year. But we don't know whether Labour's mansion tax (or the Lib Dem version) would be UK-wide, whether it would be administered by the Treasury or through a change in local government finance - or how property would be valued.

But that didn't prevent Labour exploiting the Plaid Cymru confusion. Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith took to twitter to wind them up: "I see some Plaid Cymru MPs failed to support our #mansiontax vote yesterday, preferring to back multi-millionaire landowners."

Cue this response from Plaid Cymru Treasury spokesman Jonathan Edwards: "We support wealth taxes, disturbed that Labour wont exempt the traditional Welsh family farm!"

Owen Smith queried the arithmetic: "How many acres can you get for £2m? About 300 by my reckoning. And the traditional Welsh farm? About 90."

Jonathan Edwards: "So farmers wont be exempted?"

Owen Smith: "Not ones whose houses are worth £2 million. The clue is in the name, see: #mansiontax."

That appeared to generate an outbreak of consensus. Jonathan Edwards: "If Chris Leslie had said productive agricultural land was exempt we would have supported. I did ask very kindly."

He explained later: "All they had to say was that they would exempt farmers who actively work their land. If Leslie had given that guarantee when I intervened, I would have been through the lobby faster than Owen."

Just to clear up any confusion, I asked Elfyn Llwyd where Plaid Cymru stand on a mansion tax. "The three of us voted in different directions the other day....I voted on the basis that I understood that it would not apply to farms. My colleagues, however, had a different understanding.

"They thought it would apply so therefore they were against and I went in favour, but the point is, if I find out in any shape or form it affects farms then clearly it's a non-runner; if it's purely to do with properties, in other words domestic property you live in, then that's a different issue altogether."

So if farmers are exempt from any mansion tax (if it ever happens), and you're lucky enough to live in a home worth £2m a year, it might be worth buying a few chickens for the garden and telling HMRC you're a farmer - it could save you £20,000 a year.

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

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 55.

    No point John all the children will be living on the streets so they won't be registered for schools to be able to participate. Don't expect too much from the Labour Party either John. The Councils they control are in the front line for fulfilling the Governments Bedroom Tax Policy. I don't see or hear much from The WAG on it either.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 54.

    .... Westminster has announced new funding for school sport and PE worth £150m a year for the next two years, ring-fenced money will be given directly to primary schools in England.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/21808982

    What about primary schools in Wales Carwyn, time to fight your (our) corner, and SoS Jones should help !

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 53.

    ... Wales versus England at 100 miles an hour, great game !

    #51, I just don't reply to his/her constant straw man comments, most should be moderated out, but on the other hand let people read his/her insults to his/her neighbours, just because they don't agree with him/her...

    ...

  • rate this
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    Comment number 52.

    ... an historic week for Italy, the election of Pope Francis and a first win against Ireland.

    Whilst here in Britain we don't allow the poor and unemployed people a spare bedroom, and under-tax the wealthy, in the name of humanity ...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 51.

    #45 When I read it I thought it was just one cocky Welshman telling another that he should have put Wales down for a bigger win. It appears that having his grosser insults to his fellow countrymen moderated off have made him so subtle that most of us missed it.

 

Comments 5 of 55

 

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