If the Welsh Government wins a referendum to secure income tax powers, Labour would bring back the 50 pence top rate in Wales. The policy was unveiled at the Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno today, from where Owain Phillips reports.
Labour's opposition to many of the devolution measures proposed recently has allowed its opponents to brand it as an 'anti-devolution party.' What we've seen at Welsh Labour's conference this weekend is a concerted effort to set out an alternative set of proposals that deal with that criticism.
Owen Smith's pledge on income tax is another significant part of that. But there was already controversy over the form of devolution when it was proposed by Scottish Labour. Critics say it's even more inflexible than the 'lockstep' model favoured by the UK Government.
Owen Smith said tax devolution would 'increase the accountability of the Assembly,' something he has repeatedly rejected in the past. Coupled with Ed Miliband's pledge to 'extend devolution' it's a clear attempt to wrest back control of devolution from Labour's political opponents.
The Shadow Welsh Secretary has committed Labour to giving Wales the same income tax powers that the party is proposing for Scotland. Speaking at Welsh Labour's conference in Llandudno, Owen Smith said 'Labour will take devolution forward again.'
He said that, as long as the disputed funding formula was changed and if voters agree in a referendum, a Labour UK Government would 'make sure the Welsh people are offered the same deal as the Scots on tax.' That proposal would see
- A future Welsh Government given control over 15p of every pound of income tax raised in Wales
- The power to increase the to rate of tax from 45p to 50p
- But Welsh ministers wouldn't be able to cut rates below UK levels
Owen Smith said the move would 'increase both the accountability of the Assembly and its borrowing capacity too.' But he also said it would prevent a 'race to the bottom' with different parts of the UK trying to 'undercut' each other
The Shadow Welsh Secretary is expected to commit a future Labour UK Government to giving greater powers to the Assembly and Welsh Government. In his speech to Welsh Labour's conference in Llandudno, Owen Smith will say:
David Cameron's War on Wales confirms that the Tories have now abandoned both their ambition to win seats in Wales and their historic mission to govern for the whole of the UK. The Tories new-found belief in devolution is a sham. They are not interested in using devolution as a means to empower the Welsh people, just as a tool to sow division between Wales and the rest of the UK.
Labour remains the only true party of devolution. We see devolution as a means of strengthening the hand of the Welsh people within Wales while also strengthening our voice across the rest of Britain. For Labour, Devolution has always been about sharing power so that each constituent part of the Union comes together to make a stronger whole, not about strengthening our ability to compete against one another within that Union.
– Owen Smith MP, Shadow Welsh Secretary
Labour will take Devolution forward in Wales, including devolution of tax varying powers, and we will increase the accountability of the Welsh Government for the money it spends. But in stark contrast to our opponents, we will do so in a way which builds great unity across Britain, and which allows Wales to reinstate fairness and social justice at the heart of our tax system.
Welsh Labour has pledged to fight back against what it claims is a Tory war on Wales. And the party's leaders have strongly defended their running of the Welsh NHS in speeches to their conference at Llandudno. Owain Phillips reports.
I was promised a 'significant intervention' in Ed Miiband's speech to the Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno. That turned out to be his promise to 'extend devolution' through a new Government of Wales Bill and a move to the reserved powers model.
There was something else significant in his speech though and that was his defence of Labour's running of public services in Wales, particularly the NHS. Until now, during the sustained criticism aimed at the Welsh NHS and education system, Labour's UK leadership has stayed largely silent.
Naturally that led to the suspicion that Ed Miliband's team secretly agreed with the critics. This weekend has seen the beginning of a new strategy of contrasting the Welsh NHS now with the way it was before devolution. A new front in the war on Wales.
At Welsh Labour's conference in Llandudno, senior party figures have led a concerted fight back against sustained criticism of Labour's record of running public services here.
Political Editor Adrian Masters discussed this and Ed Miliband's promise of further devolution with two party members, Jane Bryant who's one of Labour's candidates in the May's European Parliamentary elections and Mari Williams who'll contest Cardiff North in next year's UK Election.
Ed Miliband says he recognises problems with the Barnett formula and says it will be an area of consideration in the run up to the next election.
Ed Miliband told me Barnett formula has served Wales well in the past;recognises problems with it now;will be looked at in run up election.
Tune in to ITV Wales at 5:30 for the latest from the conference.
Ed Miliband makes a pledge that a future Labour Government would introduce an act to bring in a reserved powers model of devolution in Wales.
Ed Miliband promises a Labour govt would extend devolution in Wales with 'powers assumed as devolved to Wales unless specifically reserved.'
Ed Miliband promises a new Government of Wales Act to introduce reserved powers model of devolution.
Ed Miliband tells the Welsh Labour conference that "Labour in Wales is showing the way".
Ed Miliband acknowledges 'big challenges' but says Welsh NHS is better under Labour than it was under Conservative UK govt.
Ed Miliband says David Cameron is desperate to talk about Welsh NHS because 'he doesn't want to talk about what he's doing in England.'