Crabb spells out what will be in the new Wales Bill.
Representation, legislation but no taxation is not a position that Stephan Crabb wants to see continue. That’s the message he delivered when presenting the Queen’s speech to the Welsh Senedd.
He outlined plans for far-reaching reforms to the Welsh devolution settlement since the referendum in 1999. Indeed Crabb said that he was redrawing the original devolution settlement.
Scrapping the conferred model of devolution, in which Westminster grants certain powers to Wales, and replacing it with a Scottish-style reserved model in which all powers are presumed to be devolved unless specified otherwise.
But on the vexed question of taxation the Secretary of State challenged Carwyn Jones to use existing powers that allow the assembly to raise ten pence in the pound in income tax.
Crabb says that the failure in the original UK devolution settlement to grant tax-raising powers to Wales has had a damaging effect. It means that Cardiff is always blaming London for being shortchanged. This has to change.
One of the great mistakes the UK body politic made in the immediate years after devolution to Scotland and Wales was to take a whole step back, a kind of wilful retreat from projecting any kind of confident face of UK government.
Crabb, the Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said that the Tories now want to deepen devolution.
A pragmatic Wales?
“There is a strong philosophical tradition within British Conservatism that supports decentralisation and localism and devolution.”
His plans allow the assembly to change its name to a parliament and to set its own franchise.
His plea to Carwyn Jones was that pragmatism and collaboration should be the new politics of Wales. Now that would be an innovation.
When tackled about a referendum on tax varying powers by the Almanac, he said that strong representations were being made to him which he would reflect on. But on balance he thought a referendum on the issue was important. He pointed out that Scottish people had been asked the question and he felt it right that the people of Wales should be asked the same question.
Despite his words in support of a referendum it seems that if the Westminster government want the Welsh Government to go down the road of being responsible for raising some of its own cash then scrapping the need for referendum is the only way this will happen. So there would be no surprises that this requirement might be dropped when the Wales bill is put to the Westminster parliament.