David Jones and Andrew RT Davies with the Prime Minister in April 2013

Taxing times for the Tories

Differences of opinion have resurfaced between Welsh Conservative Assembly Members and between their leader and the Welsh Secretary

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Face to Face

Adrian Masters talks to political leaders, public figures and extraordinary people in this series of one-to-one interviews.

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Report raises crucial questions about Wales' future says Welsh Secretary

The UK Government says it'll now consider the recommendations of the Silk Commission. Welsh Secretary David Jones says any major changes which need new legislation will have to wait until after the next UK General Election.

This Government has consistently reaffirmed its clear commitment to devolution, and we warmly welcome the Commission’s second report which sets out its recommendations for making devolution in Wales work better.

The report raises crucially important questions about the future governance of Wales within the United Kingdom. Therefore, it is only right that we now take the time to consider in full each of the recommendations and their implications.

We will consider implementing some of the changes the Commission has recommended during this Parliament. But there is insufficient time remaining in this Parliament to implement any changes that require primary legislation.

These will therefore be a matter for the next Government and Parliament, and for political parties to set out their proposals and intentions to the electorate ahead of the General Election in 2015.

– David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales

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Earnings rising faster in Wales than elsewhere says Welsh Secretary

by Adrian Masters

The difference of opinion during today's session of the Welsh Grand committee was sharply on party lines. On the one side of the committee room MPs hailed latest figures as proof that UK Government action is helping turn around the economy in Wales.

On the other side, mostly Labour MPs said cuts in spending are hitting Wales disproportionately and dismissed claims of growth in the economy as being based on increasing personal debt and inflated house prices.

But Welsh Secretary David Jones told the Welsh Grand committee that 'people in Wales have seen their earnings increase by 4.4% in 2013 which is an increase of twice that of the UK as a whole and more than twice that of inflation.

'Worrying' figures mean Wales risks being left behind, says Welsh Secretary

Wales risks being left behind the rest of the UK in terms of future employment and prosperity, according to the Welsh Secretary. David Jones was responding to the publication of international figures showing pupils in Wales performing worse than in England and Scotland.

Today’s figures are extremely disappointing, and highlight the important challenge that the Wales – and the UK as a whole – faces to ensure our young people are equipped with the tools they need to shine in the competitive employment market.

We are living in an increasingly competitive world and if Wales is to succeed in the global race, we will need more scientists, engineers, and young people who are equipped with the skills to put them at the front of the queue.

Most importantly, we need to inspire them to pursue their ambitions. Today’s worrying figures do very little to help us achieve that aim.

It is vitally important that the Welsh Government now seeks to address these serious educational deficiencies and give the young aspirational people of Wales the skills they need to succeed.

– David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales

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Welsh Secretary and First Minister on UK's future

by Nick Powell

The Welsh Secretary has added his voice to the UK Government's attack on the Scottish Government's plans for independence. In a speech in Durham this evening, David Jones argued that open borders and a shared currency are only guaranteed for Scotland through a 'no' vote in next year's referendum.

Alex Salmond believes an independent Scotland could retain the pound in a currency union with the continuing UK. But could it? If Scotland decided to leave the UK it would also be leaving the UK’s currency. The pound would of course continue to be the currency of the UK, and the laws and institutions that currently oversee our stable, resilient and successful currency -like the Bank of England- would continue in place. But a separate Scotland would sit outside those arrangements, and would need to put in place new currency arrangements of its own.

– Welsh Secretary David Jones MP

Meanwhile, First Minister Carwyn Jones, who last week claimed that Wales could seek to veto a currency union with an independent Scotland, has been speaking in Dublin. He chose the capital of the last country to leave the UK to explain how England should fit into a devolved United Kingdom.

He told the Institute of International and European Affairs that he opposed an English Parliament "unbalancing" the UK. The First Minister instead suggested special recognition of English concerns in Westminster, plus "significant transfers of power" from Whitehall to large city-regions of England.

The UK is changing and the referendum in Scotland has thrown new light on the fact things cannot carry on as they are. A debate about what the constitution should look like is needed. I believe the creation of a constitutional convention, giving a UK-wide perspective on the governance of each part of the UK and their relationship to one another, is the way forward. The current system, with different processes across the UK is not fair or sustainable.

What is clear is the need for mutual respect for devolved legislatures. There must be consistency in the way powers for the devolved bodies are conferred and defined in law. Powers should only remain at the centre if it is strictly necessary for them to do so. Each nation needs to know exactly where it stands if we are to work together as a family of nations within a strong United Kingdom.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

Welsh Secretary accused of £200m tax cut call

The Welsh Secretary has been accused of committing his party to a tax cut costing £200m. In the Commons, Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith seized on comments made by David Jones following the news that some control of income tax could be transferred to Wales.

Owen Smith said a cut of 1p in income tax would cost £200m and challenged the Welsh Secretary to say what services he'd cut to pay for it. In response David Jones said any future tax changes would be up to a future Welsh Government.

But he repeated his call for an early referendum on devolving income tax power to the Welsh Government and said Conservatives would campaign for lower taxes.

Hinkley deal is 'positive step forward' for Anglesey says Welsh Secretary

The agreement on a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset is 'a positive step forward' for similar plans for Anglesey, according to the Welsh Secretary. David Jones says the deal marks 'the start of a renaissance in British nuclear power generation.'

Today’s announcement at Hinkley Point will provide the added impetus for Wales to exploit its own energy potential. It underlines the UK’s position as one of the most attractive electricity investment markets in the world.

Hitachi’s investment at Wylfa B offers significant potential benefits to the economy in Wales, and particularly on Anglesey, through increased high-quality employment and supply chain opportunities.

– David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales
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