Wales politics

Income tax: Big move to drop referendum, Ramsay says

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionNick Ramsay says tax devolution is a big constitutional issue

A senior Conservative AM has called on his party to look again at its policy to devolve some income tax powers to Wales without a referendum.

It comes after some Tory MPs told Chancellor George Osborne they felt the people of Wales should have their say.

Nick Ramsay, the Welsh Tories' shadow finance minister, said it was a "big move" to drop the referendum.

A Welsh Conservative spokesman said "we make no apologies for wanting to make Wales the low tax capital of the UK".

Mr Ramsay was one of four AMs sacked from the Welsh Tories' front bench in 2014 because of splits on tax devolution.

They were later re-instated.

The chancellor announced plans to devolve some power over income tax rates without a referendum in his spending review in November.

Since then, Welsh Conservatives' leader Andrew RT Davies has said he would use the powers to take 5p off the higher rate and 1p off the basic rate if he became first minister.

After Welsh Tory MPs met the chancellor on Wednesday, Brecon and Radnorshire MP Chris Davies said income tax devolution was an issue which divided the Tory group at Westminster.

He is one of five MPs who have argued that dropping plans for a referendum was in clear breach of a manifesto commitment for the 2015 general election.

Mr Ramsay told BBC Wales he felt there was "no problem" with having a referendum, and that it was a "big move" to drop that requirement.

"It's clear now that a number of members of parliament aren't happy about it, and a number of party members have raised the issue with me," he said.

"One thing is clear - tax devolution is going to happen.

"But on such a big constitutional issue as income tax do we really want to press ahead without a referendum?"

A Welsh Conservative spokesman responded: "It is the intention of Conservatives in government at Westminster to devolve income tax powers and to make the Welsh government more accountable for the money it raises and spends.

"The group firmly backs the secretary of state for Wales [Stephen Crabb] and the chancellor in this, and we make no apologies for wanting to make Wales the low tax capital of the UK."

More on this story