The Shadow Welsh Secretary has told ITV Wales that in some areas, such as education and social care, there's a case for less devolution.
Welsh MPs will debate the Budget and the Queen's Speech in the Welsh Grand Committee today.
Owen Smith joins the Shadow Cabinet after two years as an MP. But he is no new boy. He was first linked to the Wales Office 10 years ago.
The Shadow Welsh Secretary, Owen Smith, has attacked the Chancellor both for his overall economic strategy and for the specific consequences for Wales of today's Budget.
The Chancellor could have introduced a package of measures to stimulate our economy: cuts to VAT and National Insurance, for example, and increased spending on house building and other infrastructural projects that would increase economic activity and boost tax receipts. And today’s Budget, in which the Chancellor said he was going to ‘level with’ Britain, acknowledges as much by adopting a version of Labour’s plan on National Insurance and by increasing the spending on infrastructure too.
But look at the fine print and what do you see: none of these things come in this year and most, like the elusive extra £3 billion on infrastructure, only due to appear in 2015 – when the Tories may well be out on their ear. And the same Osborne hallmarks of ‘jam tomorrow’ and sleight of hand are apparent in the treatment of the budget for of National Assembly.
– Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP
David Jones announced that Wales would get an extra £161 million to spend on infrastructure – but we all remember that this is just putting back some of the £500 million cut in capital spending that was made in 2010 budget and even in the terms of this Budget it’s not quite as simple as the Welsh Secretary would have us believe, because a further £59m is cut out of the Welsh Government’s revenue funding, forcing hard decisions about cuts to services on which we all rely.
Today was the last day of the consultation by the Welsh Secretary, Cheryl Gillan, on how the Assembly should be elected. The Shadow Secretary of State, Owen Smith, has issued his response, claiming that it is an attempt to rig the electoral map of Wales that should be abandoned.
– Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP
This Green Paper was Cheryl Gillan's attempt at rigging Wales' electoral map in the same way that her Cabinet colleagues were trying to gerrymander the results of the next general election. Now that those plans have been scuppered by Coalition disarray, Cheryl Gillan should waste no time in dropping her own proposals, for which she has no mandate. With not long to go before the Cabinet reshuffle, Cheryl Gillan needs to ignore speculation and get on with the job in hand. She could start by not hesitating with this decision and by dropping her defunct proposals immediately.
Mrs Gillan's preferred option is to cut constituency AMs from 40 to 30, in line with the proposed cut in Welsh MPs. The number of regional list AMs would be increased to keep the total number the same. Failing that, she wants constituencies with much more equal numbers of voters.
However the Welsh Government has argued that any decision should be a matter for the Assembly itself. The Liberal Democrats say they will no longer back changing the Westminster seats but the Prime Minister says that he will press on with that proposal.
Plaid Cymru has criticised comments by Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith about the future of devolution in tonight's Face to Face programme. Mr Smith says there should be joint decision-making by Wales and England in important areas like Higher Education funding and social care.
But Plaid's Rhodri Glyn Thomas claims the remarks show there's still an anti-devolution strain in the Labour party.
Here's the section of today's Welsh Grand Committee in which Wales Office minister David Jones made his claims about what he called the 'limp and flaccid response' of the Welsh Government to business opportunities during the Olympics. You can read the Welsh Government's equally robust response here.
Monmouth MP David Davies found cross-party support when he told MPs in the Welsh Grand Committee that he'd summoned Defence Ministers to explain their thinking about the future of the Welsh Cavalry at a one-off hearing of the Welsh Affairs committee which he chairs.
Wales Office minister David Jones criticised Carwyn Jones' Welsh Government for what he said was its failure to plan to take advantage of overseas investment opportunities during the Olympics.
Speaking during today's Welsh Grand Committee Mr Jones claimed the Cardiff government was 'not intending to participate' in a British Business Embassy which would operate in London during the games. He said this was 'very regrettable' and added that,
If the Welsh Government doesn't take part, that would amount to an act of shameful and wanton negligence.
The Welsh Government has hit back with an equally withering response. A source said,
Not for the first time, the junior Minister in the Wales Office, seems to be completely ‘out of the loop’ when it comes to what's really happening in Wales. It raises questions about how much he is actually being told by the rest of the UK Government.
The fact is, the Welsh Government has worked with UKTI to ensure Welsh business interests are fully represented at these events. In addition, we will continue to use every single opportunity to ensure we maximise any business opportunities that arise from the Olympics.
This work will clearly involve the use of our new office in London - an office that the Wales Office bitterly opposed. Mercifully - in the interests of Welsh business and Wales' future prosperity - we chose to ignore their counsel.
Controversial UK Government plans to introduce different pay rates for public sector workers in different parts of the UK have so far dominated today's meeting of the Welsh Grand Committee.
There have been signs that the Government is backtracking on the idea, but ministers at today's session stood by the principle, even if they dispute the use of the term 'regional pay' as you can see in this exchange between Labour's David Hanson and Wales Office Minister David Jones MP.
Labour's new Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith marked his first appearance in the role in a House of Commons debate with a withering attack on the UK Government's programme of legislation. He made his comments during a day-long meeting of the Welsh Grand committee.
Below you can see his remarks as well as the equally withering response of the Welsh Secretary, Cheryl Gillan. Apologies for the sound quality - the acoustics in the committee room left a lot to be desired.
Treasury Minister David Gauke facing a series of qs on regional pay plans from Labour MPs on Welsh grand cttee….From @adrianmasters84 on Twitter:
…despite reports Govt backtracking on regional pay, D.Gauke is standing by it:’we must ensure public sector pay reflects local conditions’From @adrianmasters84 on Twitter: