Lib Dem minister: cut tax and increase your budget

Older readers may remember those elections where the Liberal Democrats would appeal for your vote with a promise to put up income tax.

The Lib Dems entered the 2001 election, for example, promising the increase the basic rate by a penny (to spend more on education) and put up the top rate to 50 per cent.

But now one of the party's ministers says a future Welsh government should cut taxes to increase its own budget. Welsh Office Minister Lady Randerson, challenged about the impact of a tax cut on government revenues, told Plaid Cymru's Lord Wigley: "You do not take account of the well-known economic mechanism that reduced taxes create more money in people's pockets, which stimulates the economy, which in turn causes more taxation to be collected. That is a basic point of economics that the government are pressing."

So cut taxes and watch the cash roll in - despite a warning from Labour that a cut in the basic rate could lead to a £200m shortfall in the Welsh government budget. In the same debate, Lady Randerson defended the UK government's decision to only allow the Welsh government to change tax bands in "lockstep" with each other - disabling Tory plans to cut the 40 per cent rate alone and Lib Dem suggestions that only the basic rate be cut.

Lady Randerson said: "Devolving income tax would give the Welsh government a crucial lever that they could use to reduce taxes across the board in Wales to put money back into the pockets of people in Wales who are working hard and deserve to hold on to more of the money that they have earned. It will create new incentives for growth and jobs and rekindle the spirit of entrepreneurialism. If the people of Wales decide in a referendum in favour of income tax devolution, the Welsh government would become responsible for almost half of the income tax generated in Wales, making it more accountable while giving them flexibility over levels of tax and spending."

She also tackled the now common complaint that the restrictions on tax rates mean the powers are useless: "An important issue is, crucially, that devolution of income tax would give the Welsh Government access to a significantly larger revenue stream to finance borrowing. So it is far from being a power that cannot be used."

You can read the debate, led by former Welsh Tory leader Lord Bourne, here. It's possibly the only time you'll see quotations from Shakespeare and the Silk commission in the same volume of Hansard.