The Shadow Secretary of State for Wales says David Cameron's proposals on Welsh devolution are "a step in the right direction" - but said clarity is needed over the so-called 'funding floor'.
I welcome the fact that the Conservative Party now agrees with Labour, that we need fair funding for Wales and further devolution. Clearly, the package on offer does not go as far as Labour would like, on policing or devolution of the Work Programme, for example, but it is a step in the right direction.
It is disappointing, however, that after so many months of dialogue the Prime Minister has not brought forward details of how a funding floor will be applied for Wales, making it impossible to know whether Wales would be better or worse off under this plan. It is also concerning that the Prime Minister appears to suggest that fair funding is contingent on the Welsh people voting yes in a referendum on tax powers.
Following this morning's devolution announcement, our political editor Adrian Masters asked the Prime Minister why he did not go further and give Wales the same sort of powers that are on offer to Scotland.
This is what he said:
Plaid Cymru says it has been left 'disappointed' by the UK Government’s command paper on further devolution.
I thank the Secretary of State for facilitating this process and Plaid Cymru entered into it in the spirit of cooperation.
For reasons that have not been satisfactorily explained, however, Westminster has insisted that the people of Wales settle for a powers package that falls far short of the normal going-rate of devolution in the United Kingdom.
Whilst some inclusions, such as the devolution of powers over fracking, are to be welcomed, this command paper falls well short of the powers that can help us strengthen our communities. And it goes nowhere near getting the funding settlement that Wales is owed after decades of disadvantage.
Responding to the St David’s Day announcement, First Minister, Carwyn Jones said Wales was not being treated with the same degree of respect as Scotland.
The First Minister also said the process had been "rushed and unsatisfactory".
Wales is still not being treated with the same respect as that being afforded to Scotland and this continuing imbalanced approach is damaging to the UK. The proposals only go some of the way to matching Labour’s devolution offer already set out by Ed Miliband, but they fall short in crucial areas - such as on policing. The move towards a funding floor is an important step forward and we have been pushing for this for some time. But we cannot be confident that funding for Wales has been put on a fair and sustainable footing until the detail is agreed at the next Spending Review. This is disappointing and should also be seen in the context of an unprecedented £1.5bn cut to the Welsh budget in this term.
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Welsh Labour has criticised the proposals for further devolution expected to be announced by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister later. A spokesperson says:
Any progress on putting the Welsh devolution settlement on a firmer footing in terms of powers and funding should be welcomed.
However, this process has shown one thing above all others - that Wales remains an afterthought for the Tories.
There’s no parity with Scotland in the offer being mooted and people will rightly ask why that is.
They’ve slashed £1.5bn from our budget and they have waited until the last days of this parliament to start talking about fair funding for Wales.
The Labour offer in the General Election is clear – an ambitious devolution package, fair funding and a commitment to tackle the cost of living crisis.
Plaid Cymru sources are privately expecting to be disappointed by today's devolution announcement by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. The party has engaged with the talks led by Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb and is hopeful for some of its aims to be realised in the St. David's Day agreement.
Ahead of the announcement, Party leader Leanne Wood said,
Plaid Cymru entered talks with the Westminster parties in a spirit of cooperation and we stated clearly what the next steps for Wales should be. We look forward to reading the command paper upon its publication.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is expected to tell his party's Welsh conference that today's devolution deal is 'another step towards Home Rule for Wales.'
And he's expected to say that the moves 'would not have happened without the Liberal Democrats.'
He'll tell party members that Liberal Democrats in government 'have delivered greater devolution to Wales than anyone could have expected in 2010.'
Mr Clegg is expected to say
Today we have taken another step towards Home Rule for Wales with the new powers in the St David's Day Agreement.
This means a plan for fair funding for Wales and a new constitutional settlement, moving to a reserved powers model and handing over more control of important areas like renewable energy.
Make no mistake, this would not have happened without the Liberal Democrats. Giving away power does not come naturally to the Conservatives. Silk would not be being implemented at all without Liberal Democrat Ministers sitting at the cabinet table, making the case over and over again for devolving power to Wales.
But we will not rest here. The genie is out of the bottle.
We want proper Home Rule for Wales.
We will be the guarantors that fair funding will be delivered.
And we will continue to campaign to give Wales more control over its own affairs in areas like policing and transport.
The Liberal Democrats are fighting Wales' corner in Westminster, just as you are fighting for your communities day in and day out.
The Prime Minister says that today's expected announcement of further powers for the Assembly and Welsh Government is part of the Conservative party's 'ambitious, long-term plan for Wales.'
David Cameron said:
This is a further important landmark in Welsh Devolution, which will allow the next Parliament to legislate for a stronger, fairer settlement for the people of Wales.
Conservatives have an ambitious, long-term plan for Wales and we want the Welsh Government to use these new powers as tools to help grow the Welsh economy from the inside up.
By securing fair funding for Wales, we have removed the final barrier to the Welsh Government holding a referendum on income tax.
As Conservatives, we believe that politicians should be responsible for raising some of the money they spend, and it is now time that the Welsh Government gives the people of Wales the chance to decide on this matter.
Right across the UK it is the Conservatives who are delivering on devolution.
In Scotland, Northern Ireland, the regions and cities of England, on English votes for English laws and on devolution for Wales, we are giving people more say over the decisions that affect them.