Shadow Welsh Secretary has hit back at claims that he and fellow Labour MPs have 'torpedoed' proposals to transfer control of some taxes including income tax (following a referendum) to the Welsh Government. Owen Smith said:
Labour is the party that campaigned for devolution and delivered it for Wales and Scotland, and we support additional powers where they will help grow the Welsh economy, such as borrowing powers to invest in infrastructure. But we will not risk undermining the solidarity of the union with other parts of the UK, nor the ability to redistribute between richer and poorer areas. It is only the nationalists with their desire to break up the UK, and the Tories who want to undermine public services, that would proceed to major new powers without a full analysis and very careful consideration.
Shadow Welsh Secretary, Owen Smith, has described the PISA results for Wales as 'disappointing' but says that 'the Welsh Labour Government has already recognised the scale of the challenge we face and has put in place the measures required to turn things around.'
He added that
The response of the Welsh Government to today’s results has been honest, serious and long-sighted, in contrast to the short term, party-political points which Conservative UK Cabinet Ministers have sought to make today. Using the education of Welsh pupils, striving for attainment in some of the most challenged and deprived communities of Britain, as a means to score points off the Labour Party, is a cheap trick which will be seen for what it is by the Welsh people.
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.
Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith says that Swansea 'remains one of our great cultural centres' despite not being chosen as City of Culture.
The disappointing news that Swansea narrowly missed out on the City of Culture award does nothing to diminish the fact that the City remains one of our great cultural centres in Wales and beyond.
The brilliant bid put forward by the City will have served to remind people of that fact right across the World and I am sure that it will have played a part in increasing visitor numbers, especially next year, during the centenary celebrations for the City’s greatest literary son, Dylan Thomas.
His ugly, lovely town, crawling, sprawling by the side of a long and splendid curving shore will go from strength to strength, of that there is no doubt.
Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith has sounded a note of caution about the transfer of control over part of income tax to Wales. He told our Political Editor Adrian Masters that politicians need to be certain Wales would be better off under the change.
Shadow Welsh Secretary, Owen Smith, has accused Swalec owner SSE of 'spin' by claiming to have reported a £150m loss. He criticised the energy group for 'selling its own product to itself,' a reference to its wholesale and retail divisions.
No matter how hard SSE spin by highlighting a £150m loss in its retail arm, the reality is the company’s overall profit came in at around £350m. The attempt to plead poverty will fall on deaf ears in Wales, where we already have the highest energy bills of anywhere in the UK.
SSE’s profits of £350m have allowed it to give shareholders inflation-busting pay-outs while customers face inflation-busting price hikes. It can only do this because it operates in a flawed market. The group sells its own product to itself and hasn’t got enough serious competition.
A long-term solution is to reform the energy market, which a Labour Government will tackle head on. But we also need a short-term answer to sky-high prices. That’s why Labour is calling on David Cameron to freeze energy prices and address the cost of living crisis facing families across the country.
Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith has sharply criticised the decision by SSE to increase energy prices.
Families in Wales are being particularly hard hit by this increase.
Wales – where there are more than one million SSE customers - already suffers from the highest energy bills and lowest levels of disposable income of anywhere in Britain.
This is nothing more than an act of gross profiteering. People in Wales are clearly being ripped off by this energy company and it needs to stop.
People are already suffering under David Cameron's cost of living crisis and now, thanks to his failure to stand up to the big energy companies, consumers will be hit by ever high bills, with SSE increasing prices by nearly 10%. This is a sign that David Cameron only stands up for the privileged few.
If ever there was proof that Ed Miliband was right and we need a freeze on energy prices, this is it.
Pontypridd MP Owen Smith has just issued his reaction to Ed Miliband's reshuffle. Mr Smith remains in the rôle of Shadow Welsh Secretary.
I’m delighted to be continuing as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales in Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet, and will be continuing to hold David Jones to account for his failure to stand up for Wales around the Cabinet table. People in Wales have been hit even harder than those in the rest of the UK by this Tory-led Government’s failed economic strategy, with wages down £1700 on average, energy bills up £300 and 40,000 families hit by the hated bedroom tax.
In Ed Miliband we have a strong and determined leader who is taking the fight to David Cameron and his out-of-touch Government. Ed has put together a formidable team and in the remaining 20 months before the General Election we’ll be relentless in our efforts to expose the failure of the Tory-led Government to tackle the cost of living crisis and to offer hope to the British people that there is an alternative.
There's no change for Pontypridd MP Owen Smith following Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. He remains the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales and the only Welsh MP in the top tier of Labour's parliamentary team.
Labour's due to set out changes to other spokespeople shortly.
Plaid Cymru has said that if the Supreme Court strikes down the Assembly's new law on farm workers's wages, Westminster must pass a new Government of Wales Act to devolve the necessary powers.
Given that the purpose of the Bill was to protect Welsh agricultural workers after the UK Government scrapped that protection, it is disappointing that the Attorney General has referred the Bill to the Supreme Court. This comes on the same day as the Silk Commission poll findings that once again show that the people of Wales trust the National Assembly more than they trust Westminster and want to see significantly more powers transferred to Wales.
Plaid Cymru hopes that these important safeguards for agricultural workers are found to be within the National Assembly’s powers.
Meanwhile the UK Government has defended the Attorney General's decision to refer the legislation to the Court, arguing that it is a necessary procedure under the devolution settlement.
All legislation passed by the National Assembly for Wales is examined to ensure it is within their competence. Upon examination of the Agricultural Sector (Wales) Bill, the Attorney General considers that it raises important questions about the breadth of the National Assembly for Wales’ legislative competence and that the Supreme Court is the right forum for resolving those questions. The UK Government is committed to continuing to do all it can to ensure that the current devolution arrangements work effectively.
But the Shadow Welsh Secretary, Owen Smith, has claimed that today's action is part of a pattern of behaviour by the Welsh Secretary, David Jones. He added that a previous challenge to the Assembly's Byelaws Bill cost £150,000 before the judges ruled last year in the Welsh Government's favour.
After the last attempt, David Jones said he’d learnt lessons about the boundaries of devolution but once again he is questioning the Assembly’s authority.
David Jones and Dominic Grieve voted to scrap the Agricultural Wages Board in England and now they’re trying to block a Bill that will protect the wages and conditions of 13,000 farm workers in Wales. But what’s really at stake is Tory acceptance of the devolution settlement and respect for the Welsh Assembly.
The Tories are revealing their antipathy to devolution and their determination to block Labour measures to make Wales a fairer place.