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New powers to make Welsh Government more accountable to voters says Crabb

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb says changes about to be voted on by MPs will make the Welsh Government more accountable to voters. Speaking during the final debate on the Wales Bill in the Commons, he said that control over some taxes and business rates will give Welsh Ministers responsibility for raising a quarter of the money that they spend.

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Welsh economy has lowest GVA per head of any part of the UK

Wales is the the worst performing part of the UK in terms of money pumped into its economy.

The gross value added statistics show the value of wages and profits from goods and services.

Wales had the UK's lowest GVA per head at just under £17,000 in 2013.

London had the highest at just over £40,000, but Wales and north west England showed the biggest growth.

Ten councils agree on 'combined authority'

Ten Welsh councils have agreed to work together to develop a combined authority for the south east Wales region.

The new 'combined authority' will see the councils work to deal with issues on economic development, transport and planning.

The councils making up the new body are:

  • Blaenau Gwent
  • Bridgend
  • Caerphilly
  • Cardiff
  • Merthyr Tydfil
  • Monmouthshire
  • Newport
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff
  • Torfaen
  • Vale of Glamorgan

The authorities will now look to discuss the proposal with Welsh Government and other stakeholders.

On behalf of all council leaders in South East Wales, Cllr Bob Wellington CBE, Leader of Torfaen and the Welsh Local Government Association said:

"The development of a combined authority will not create a new or ‘extra’ organisation. It will create a clear decision making structure that will allow councils to deliver at a strategic regional level, while also ensuring local communities retain a strong role in shaping their sense of place and the services they receive.

“There is much work left to do, and we look forward to discussing the proposal further with Welsh Government and our wider regional partners. If successful, the proposal will bring regional collaboration to previously un-reached levels, and will mark a significant evolution of local government’s role in Wales.”

Final debate on tax and borrowing Bill

MPs will hold their last debate later on plans to give the Welsh Government some tax and borrowing powers and make changes to the way the Assembly is set up.

The Wales Bill gives ministers in Cardiff control over stamp duty, landfill tax and aggregates tax as well as allowing for a referendum on devolving income-tax varying powers.

It also makes other changes including giving the Assembly the power to lower the voting age to 16 in any Welsh tax referendum.

This is the last debate on the bill which is expected to become law without any further challenges.

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Welsh Secretary named Politician of the Year

Stephen Crabb's prize was a cartoon by Mumph, depicting his political juggling act Credit: Mumph

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has been named politician of the Year at the annual Welsh Political Awards. The judges praised his achievement in setting a new constitutional course for Wales following the referendum in Scotland in September.

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