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Welsh Tories face tax split troubles again

by Adrian Masters

There could be further embarrassment for the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd chamber this afternoon. The group had agreed to abstain on a Plaid Cymru amendment opposing UK Government plans for income tax devolution.

Click here for more details and here for further background on the difficulties this issue has caused the party. But I understand some of the still-disgruntled of four AMs (or five depending on who you include!) could vote against the amendment.

To the outside world it may seem a minute distinction but with an already tense atmosphere within the group it could once again make its split painfully public on an occasion when both Welsh Secretary David Jones and Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies will be in the Senedd chamber at the same time.

Conservatives "to abstain" in Assembly Queen's Speech vote

by Nick Powell

Welsh Secretary David Jones will today exercise his right to sit and speak (though not vote) in the Assembly for its debate on the Queen's Speech, including changes to devolution that involve giving income tax raising powers to the Welsh Government, subject to approval in a referendum.

They'll be limited by the so-called "lockstep", which requires any changes to affect all bands of income tax. It's an issue that's split the Welsh Conservatives. Four Tory AMs were sacked as shadow ministers for abstaining in a vote, although party policy in Cardiff Bay is against the lockstep.

They argued that Conservative AMs shouldn't oppose what the Welsh Secretary is doing at Westminster, even when he's out of line with what they've decided. There will be another vote today, when all Conservatives are due to abstain, rather than embarrass the Welsh Secretary when he's in the Senedd.

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Queen's Speech: child neglect, NATO and tax powers

A Welsh MP's bid to toughen up the child cruelty laws has won the backing of the UK Government. Amongst the new laws set out in today's Queen's Speech, there'll be a move to widen the definition of 'neglect' to include emotional and psychological cruelty.

There were other measures too affecting Wales directly and indirectly in a speech that was criticised by the opposition as 'uninspired' but hailed by the government as 'a programme to improve the lives of the people of Wales.' Our Political Editor Adrian Masters reports.

Welsh MP's campaign for tougher child cruelty laws wins UK Government support

Ceredigion MP Mark Williams says he's delighted the UK Government is planning to toughen up child cruelty laws. The Liberal Democrat MP had introduced a Private Member's Bill to widen the definition of cruelty to include emotional and psychological neglect.

Today's Queen's Speech included a pledge to adopt the principles of Mr Williams' bill. He says it's a much-needed change.

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Plaid Cymru's alternative Queen's Speech plans

Plaid Cymru has listed ten bills it says would benefit Wales if they were to be included in the Queen's Speech. They are:

  • Fair Funding: reforming the way the Treasury works out how much money the Welsh Government gets
  • Infrastructure bill: to improve Wales' transport rail and road links
  • Economic fairness: to 'rebalance' the UK's economy away from the South-East of England
  • Employment Rights: banning zero hours contracts and exploitation of migrants
  • Natural Resources: transferring control of the Crown Estates to Wales
  • Welsh Language: obliging companies with government contracts to abide by the Welsh Language act even if their HQ is in England
  • Tourism and hospitality: cutting VAT for the industry
  • Victims' Rights: enshrining victims' legal rights
  • Domestic Violence: criminalising all aspects of domestic violence
  • Justice and Policing: creating a separate Welsh jurisdiction

UK Government's final bills set out in Queen's Speech

In her speech to parliament today, the Queen will set out the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition Government's final programme of legislation before next year's UK General Election.

Amongst the bills which are expected are moves to reform pensions, to allow voters to sack, or 'recall' MPs and to offer tax-free childcare to working parents. The Welsh Secretary will appear before the Assembly next week to explain how Wales will be affected.

However, it's unlikely there'll be any new Wales-only bills. A Wales Bill transferring financial powers to ministers in Cardiff was announced in last year's Queen's Speech and is currently going through Parliament.

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