Wales politics

Labour ex-Treasury minister Burnham 'knew' Wales got poor deal

Andy Burnham
Image caption Andy Burnham says as number two at the Treasury he could not change government policy

A Labour leadership candidate has said he knew Wales was getting an unfairly low share of UK spending while he was a Treasury minister eight years ago.

But Andy Burnham told BBC Wales he was unable to change government policy.

In 2007, he rejected calls to review the Barnett formula, used to determine changes in the Welsh government budget.

All four leadership candidates - Mr Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall, have been speaking to the Sunday Politics Wales programme.

Leaders of all the main parties in Wales have claimed that the Barnett formula is over-generous to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Eight years ago, as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Burnham told Parliament: "The government has no plans to review the Barnett formula."

But now, speaking to BBC Wales, he said: "I conducted the last spending review of the last Labour government and I looked in detail at the Barnett formula, and concluded that it wasn't fair to Wales and there would need to be changes to it to ensure a much fairer funding settlement.

"That remains my view. It hasn't changed."

Asked why he rejected calls to change the formula while in office, he said: "That was the government line at the time, and obviously I wasn't in a position to over-rule that.

"I wasn't number one at the Treasury, I was number two [to Chancellor Alistair Darling].

"But the great thing about a contest like this is that you can speak for yourself and put forward your own manifesto to put your own stamp on the Labour Party.

"In this respect I believe Wales has been short-changed and as leader I would take steps to correct that."

Image copyright PA/Labour Party
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn, Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper are in the race to be the next Labour leader

All four candidates to lead Labour support the idea of a constitutional convention to plan the future pattern of powers across the UK's nations and regions.

Yvette Cooper said: "I want to see the constitutional convention taken forward, but it needs to include more than just the Labour Party.

"We need all sorts of different community voices and organisations from across the country to be part of that."

Jeremy Corbyn believes Labour's Welsh history offers a guide to the future.

"The NHS came from Aneurin Bevan, Keir Hardie was the MP for Merthyr, we have that huge background in Wales," he said.

"The very roots of Labour are in Wales. Let's be proud of it."

Liz Kendall said she was neither a Blairite nor Brownite candidate.

"I'm the Kendallite candidate, I also strongly believe in devolution and decentralisation," she said.

"Things will happen differently in different parts of the country. The Welsh Labour government will know what's best for Wales."

The four candidates will take part in a hustings in Cardiff in July.

Sunday Politics Wales is on BBC One Wales at 11:00 BST on Sunday 28 June.

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