U-turn a victory for us, say most politicians

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb
Image caption Stephen Crabb believes the devolution of income tax will change the political debate in Wales.

It is, according to Plaid Cymru, "welcome news and a significant victory for Plaid Cymru".

The scrapping of the requirement to hold a referendum before Wales gets limited income tax powers was scrapped in the chancellor's autumn statement/spending review.

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards said: "For several years, we have argued that the principle of fiscal autonomy has already been conceded by the devolution of minor taxes.

"This means that a referendum would have been a complete waste of time and resources, and we are pleased that the UK Government has finally seen sense on this matter.

But according to the Welsh Liberal Democrats, it's the Welsh Lib Dems 'wot won it'. Their leader, Kirsty Williams, explained: "The Liberal Democrats in government are the key reason why income tax varying powers are to be offered to Wales and I welcome today's announcement on the removal of a referendum."

Both Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats had previously demanded the implementation of the Silk commission's recommendations (which included a tax referendum) in full, although Leanne Wood, moonlighting at Westminster today as Plaid's Treasury spokesperson, said "that ship has sailed"..

Labour's Welsh Finance Minister Jane Hutt avoided the referendum entirely in her statement reacting to the spending review, preferring to focus on cuts in her spending power.

Conservative MP Glyn Davies, who has been campaigning to scrap the referendum for some time, didn't claim the credit but tweeted: "Been calling for this for years. Today Welsh devolution grows up and becomes genuinely accountable."

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb, who persuaded the prime minister and chancellor to agree the U-turn, believes it will change the terms of debate in next year's assembly election campaign. Politicians may have to think about how they raise money as well as how they spend it.

Mr Crabb said: "I will amend [draft] Wales Bill to remove referendum block on Welsh tax powers. Wales needs a more accountable & effective assembly."


The change has not been universally welcomed. Anti-devolution group True Wales said: "the introduction of income tax powers without a referendum is illegitimate and brings the devolution settlement into disrepute."

And UKIP's leader in Wales Nathan Gill said: "It's frankly outrageous that Osborne has opened the door to devolve tax raising powers to Wales without a referendum for the people."

No news yet though on what the bishops make of this latest plan to re-draft the draft Wales Bill.