An expected announcement on tax and borrowing powers for the Welsh Government has been delayed.
The UK Government had previously said it would respond in the Spring to an independent report which recommended transfer of certain financial powers.
The Welsh Secretary now says talks are continuing.
Welsh Secretary David Jones has been explaining why an expected announcement on calls for the Welsh Government to be given borrowing powers and control over taxes has been delayed.
Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith has criticised a delay in the UK Government's response to a call for the Welsh Government to be given the power to borrow money. He says it means 'the gaping hole in Wales' capital budget still isn't being addressed.'
– Owen Smith MP, Shadow Welsh Secretary
It is hard to know if this is simply incompetence or whether our Secretary of State’s antipathy toward devolution is blocking the borrowing powers. Either way, it is Wales and the Welsh people that are losing out as David Jones continues to deny the Welsh Government the tools they need to kick-start the Welsh economy that is being failed by the Tory-led coalition.
An announcement on the prospect of the Welsh Government gaining borrowing powers won't be made this week as had previously been expected.
Welsh Secretary David Jones had previously said that the UK Government's response to the Silk Commission would be made in the spring which he said was defined as ending on June 21st. The Wales Office say there won't be an announcement before June 21st. David Jones says,
– David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales
We have made good, positive progress in our assessment of the Silk Commission's recommendations. We expect to make an announcement in the very near future.?
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has repeated his commitment to giving the Welsh Government powers to borrow money for major construction projects. Danny Alexander made his comments as he met Paul Silk, who's report recommended both borrowing and tax-raising powers should be transferred to Wales.
– Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury
While the Treasury will need to consider this report very carefully, as I said in October I am committed to giving Wales new borrowing powers provided the Welsh Government takes financial responsibility through revenue raising powers. I think that the level of ambition in the Silk Commission recommendations is a very encouraging sign.
The Welsh Government should be given the right to set income tax rates here in Wales. That's one of the main recommendations of an official report into how we pay for devolution. It would mean more power -and responsibility- for ministers here, as our political editor Adrian Masters explains
First Minister Carwyn Jones told me that he welcomes the Silk Report but remains unconvinced about the need for the transfer of income tax powers to Wales. He told me that 'We're not seeking the devolution of power over income tax' and says fairer funding is a bigger priority.
You can see his answers in the video below:
Welcoming the Silk Commission's report, Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith said:
In assessing those recommendations, we will need to test not only whether the proposals are in the financial interest of the Welsh people but also whether they pass the test of enabling an equitable and sustainable financial settlement for the whole of the UK.
And where those changes represent a significant departure from the current devolution settlement, for example on income tax powers, the Commission is right to conclude that such changes ought to be subject to a referendum.
Welsh Secretary David Jones has welcomed the publication of the Silk Commission's report calling it 'an important report.' As you can see in the video below he told me the UK Government will make a 'very serious assessment' of its 33 recommendations.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has welcomed the Silk Report as the 'latest step in our long campaign for a federal UK.' She said:
The Welsh Liberal Democrats’ vision for devolution has always included ensuring the National Assembly has the best range of powers available to improve the lives of the people of Wales. The idea that the National Assembly can make laws and spend money, but can't control how much tax is collected has always been an anomaly.
We believe that gaining powers over taxes will make the Welsh government more accountable to the people of Wales and will encourage the government to pursue better polices for growth.
“t is now essential that the UK and Welsh governments work quickly and cooperatively to explore ways to implement the Silk Commission’s significant recommendations. A new Wales bill in the this Parliamentary term is crucial for the implementation of Silk’s recommendations.
We have been arguing for greater devolution for over a century. This is the latest step in our long campaign for a federal UK. It will strengthen Wales and help make a real difference to the lives of people across the country.