First Minister Carwyn Jones has responded to proposals for a major transfer of additional powers to Scotland by saying that Wales should be offered the same. But he added that the Welsh Government would then choose what to accept and that he continues to have concerns about income tax powers.
Whatever has been offered to Scotland today must be also offered to Wales, so we can better determine our own preferences for the future. However, we have consistently said that before any consideration can be given to income tax we must see fair funding delivered. It would completely irresponsible to lock in underfunding.
We would certainly expect to be offered full control over our electoral arrangements and Air Passenger Duty, in common with Scotland. It would unfairly discriminate against Wales if these were not on the table, and I would expect the UK Government to make this clear in the coming days.
A promise was made to the people of Scotland, and that is being delivered. However, I have long said we cannot continue with this piecemeal approach to devolution and changing the UK. We need a proper conversation that treats all four nations as equals, and which develops a long-term view on what the new UK should look like. This stuttering, ever-changing series of offers is confusing to people, and ultimately extremely damaging to the prospects of the union staying together in the long-term.
Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb says he'll be making the case for North Wales rail electrification 'at the heart of government.'
He's set to make his promise during a speech at the Daily Post business awards this evening which is part of histwo-day tour of the North.
Mr Crabb is expected to say:
This afternoon I visited Rhyl Station - one of the main stations on the North Wales coastline, to bang the drum for North Wales rail electrification.
Just like in the Valleys - electrifying the lines for stations like Rhyl would have a transformative effect for North Wales - connecting people and business with opportunities and jobs right across the country, so that geographic location is never a barrier to success.
North Wales needs modern rail infrastructure if it is to continue competing with the rest of the country.
This won’t happen overnight - it will take time, it will take money, and it will take a lot of hard work.
But I will be championing this around the cabinet table and making the case for North Wales rail electrification to my colleagues at the heart of Government.
Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith says the Smith Commission blueprint for giving new powers to the Scottish Parliament should not simply be translated into a plan for Wales.
The Labour MP says that the people of Wales should 'decide for themselves' what powers should be transferred in any future devolution. And he's repeated his warning that income tax devolution poses 'far more risks than benefits for Wales.'
This is his full statement:
The conclusions of the Smith Commission clearly have significant implications for Wales and we will need to consider them with great care. However, Wales is not Scotland. Our culture and history, our legal system, our economy and society are all more integrated with England than those of Scotland. The Welsh people will want to decide for themselves what additional powers we might want to exercise through our National Assembly, rather than simply following behind Scotland.
My view remains unchanged that those additional powers, and wider changes to the framework of devolution across the whole of the UK should be decided in a Constitutional Convention. However, at that Convention, the powers on offer to Wales will now need to reflect those that are being offered to Scotland, including on Income Tax.
At present, it seems clear to me that the devolution of income tax includes far more risks than benefits for Wales, especially given the Tory Party’s apparent willingness to break up Britain for party political gain. Nevertheless, that decision should ultimately fall to the Welsh people.
I welcome today’s Smith Commission report which I believe is another giant step towards the long held Liberal Democrat vision of a Federal United Kingdom and Home Rule.
While Scotland’s future devolution settlement is clear, the same can not be said for Wales – that needs to change as Wales must not be left behind.
First and foremost, Wales must speak with one voice if we are to be heard. All parties had representatives on the Silk Commission, therefore all parties should at the very least subscribe to the main thrust of the Commission’s proposals. So far, only the Liberal Democrats have done so in Westminster.
The Smith Commission’s report is wide-ranging and many of the proposals would also be appropriate for Wales. Momentum for devolution is moving faster now than it has for years. We must take this opportunity to ensure Wales gets the powers it needs to help build a stronger economy and fairer society.
Plaid Cymru has welcomed the Smith Commission's plan for future devolution to Scotland but says it's disappointed that it 'doesn't fulfil' the promises given to Scottish voters during the independence referendum campaign.
Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards says Wales must now be offered the same powers as those offered to Scotland.
Plaid Cymru believes that Wales is as much of a nation as Scotland, and powers made available to Scotland should also be made available to Wales.
We warned during the passage of the Wales Bill that it would be superseded by events in Scotland, and that has been proved by the proposals of the Smith Commission.
The challenge is now for the Welsh branches of the London parties to explain, if these powers are good enough for Scotland why aren’t they good enough for Wales?
The Welsh Secretary is expected to say he wants the North of Wales to build links to the UK Government's planned Northern English powerhouse.
He's starting a two day tour of the region during which he'll visit a range of key sites, meet businesses and other organisations.
And in a speech at the annual Daily Post business awards, he's expected to say:
North Wales is a beacon for investment and jobs - a Northern Powerhouse for the Welsh economy. This government has a long-term economic plan that creates the right conditions for growth in North Wales - a recovery that is broad based and balanced; that reaches into every region of the UK, so that London and the South-east don’t suck in the best at the expense of the rest.
North Wales is not just an economic region in itself, it is part of a wider community – not just South to Swansea and Cardiff, but North and East to Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Humberside.
The Northern Powerhouse the Chancellor has spoken about is not exclusive - not restricted to England. It’s about linking the northern regions, including North Wales, to trade, grow, attract private investment, and attract the best people. Business leaders in North Wales are the driving force behind the economic recovery in Wales and the people that are making North Wales our own Northern Powerhouse.
The Welsh Ambulance Service has responded to the claims of a Conservative MP that her 'mother died under the Welsh NHS.' Details of Anne Main's comments click here.
An inquest into the death of Ms Main's mother, Rita Wiseman, found there were faults with the ambulance which attended her but they did not contribute to her death. You can read Wales Online coverage of the inquest by clicking here.
Following Anne Main's comments during Prime Minister's Questions, Richard Lee, Head of Clinical Services at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said:
We deeply regret the failure of this piece of equipment, and our thoughts and condolences remain with Mrs Main and her family.
The Trust has spent £4 million in the last two years updating the clinical equipment on our emergency ambulances.
Our ambulances are among the best equipped in the UK, and we have robust systems in place to ensure that faulty equipment is serviced and repaired in line with the manufacturers’ recommendations.
The Trust has a procedure in place to allow crews time to check the equipment on their vehicle at the beginning of their shift, and staff are being reminded about their responsibilities to do this.
We are in the process of producing specific guidance on the pre-use check of vacuum mattresses, the piece of equipment in question at the inquest into the death of Mrs Wiseman, and anticipate that this will be shared with staff early next week.
Since April the Trust has recruited 86 staff into its workforce across Wales, including 43 staff into its Urgent Care Service, all of whom will be operational by the end of the month; 39 Paramedics, including 11 HEI (Higher Education Institute) Paramedics, all of whom will be operational by next February; and four Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), who will be operational by next April.
A further 16 Paramedics will be appointed in the coming weeks and are expected to be operational by February, and 44 EMTs will also be officially appointed, all of whom will be operational by next April.
In addition, we are continuing to upgrade our fleet with thanks to a £4 million investment from Welsh Government, which will enable the service to buy 41 new vehicles, including emergency ambulances and specialist rapid response vehicles, to replace existing ambulance fleet.
We would like to reassure the public that we are fully committed to providing a safe and high quality ambulance service for the people of Wales.