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New powers over cash

photoYet, another historic day for Wales. Well not quiet as historic as when the Prime Minister announced taxation powers for the Assembly but a minor note in history when the principle players explained the detail. There’s only so much history that a man can take. it seems everyday in Wales is history happening

Perhaps it would be better be describe it as a love-in between the two governments or to give it its true title “we’re better together.” Take note, you Scots.

Indeed Jane Hutt Wales’ Finance Minister said as much when she said it “shows how much can be achieved by working together, and how devolution can thrive in a spirit of genuine partnership.”

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and the Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones came all the way down from London to announce a detailed response to the Silk Commission on financial powers.

Their aim was to make Carwyn Jones and his Merry band not just to spend money, but to be really adult about things and raise some of his own cash. Or to put it into Whitehall speak to increase the financial accountability of the Welsh Government and National Assembly for Wales.

It certainly was a first, David Jones sounded positively enthusiastic about giving the Assembly powers..  All be it, about the prospect of an early referendum on tax varying powers.

His devious plan was that a future Welsh Conservative government would lowerincome tax.  But it was an all or nothing policy, no varying of the higher rate taxes alone. “So take that. Andrew RT Davies, forget your plans, I’m making Conservative policies in Wales.”

So in a spirit of peace and harmony these are what the two Governments have agreed. There will be legislation to allow a referendum on tax varying powers.  Although Labour don’t want to use these powers until “Wales is fairly funded.” When will that be? In the fullness of time.

All are agreed that the reforms mean the Welsh Government will be able to borrow to invest in new infrastructure projects across Wales – which will create jobs and support the economy.  This includes early access to borrowing to help fund an enhancement of the M4, subject to the ongoing consultation.

The devolution of Stamp Duty Land Tax and Landfill Tax will go ahead. Carwyn Jones will have full control over business rates for the first time. Powers will be given to the Assembly to introduce new taxes and associated tax credits, opening a new avenue for policy development in the longer term. Yes, but only with the agreement of the UK Government. God knows what this socialist government might tax if they were given a completely free hand.

And there is no way that the People’s Airport of Cardiff was going to get a competitive advantage by devolving air passenger duty. There’s sweetness and harmony, and a step to far, and that is certainly a step to far. Although Jane Hutt vowed to continue the battle,

All will come to pass before the next General Election in May 2015.




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