The Silk Commission recommends that the Welsh Government should be able to vary income tax rates here in Wales.
The Silk Commission's first report is published today. It's expected to recommend the Welsh Government should have control of some taxes.
An opinion poll for the commission looking at whether the Assembly should get more powers has found support for Welsh taxes.
Plaid Cymru's Westminster leader, Elfyn Llwyd MP, has responded to the UK Government's submission to the Silk Commission by criticising what he's calling the lack of depth and direction to the 114 page document.
– Plaid Cymru 's Westminster leader, Elfyn Llwyd MP
This is a very disappointing submission which clearly shows that the UK Government has little interest in securing a stronger , more efficient devolution settlement for Wales.
It offers no real ambition or vision for our nation.
This is further evidence that the UK Government is completely out of touch with public opinion given the consecutive polls in Wales have shown a growing appetite for greater autonomy.The evidence also reveals the lack of consensus between the ConDems in Westminster and their colleagues in Cardiff who are completely undermined by today's publication
The MP went on to say;
– Plaid Cymru 's Westminster leader, Elfyn Llwyd MP
We now wait with much anticipation to hear whether Labour MP's from Wales are willing to endorse the Welsh Government's submission.
In start contrast to the Unionist discord, Plaid Cymru's submission to the Silk Commission makes a united and convincing case for a fairer and more robust devolution settlement.
We fully support the transfer of powers in all- important fields such as justice and policing, energy generation, broadcasting and transport in order to deliver greater transparency and accountability in a better Wales.
– Welsh Government spokesperson
We will read the UK Government's evidence with interest, but of course it must be for the Silk Commission to form its own view on the issues which it raises.
"We will be happy to assist the Commission further as necessary.
"This document, which is the product of a lot of work across Whitehall, does say the devolution settlement is in a good place" says Welsh Secretary David Jones.
'It suggests areas that the commission may want to consider for further devolution, or maybe not as the case may be".
The UK Government has released its evidence to the Silk Commission that's looking at the potential for further devolution to the Welsh Government and Assembly. It's provided a very detailed description of the current devolution settlement but makes no specific proposals for change.
However it does make frequent reference to the advantages of the current settlement and the potential problems of going further. This is particularly noticeable in the case of two major areas where the Welsh Government has asked for a transfer of power, non-nuclear energy and policing.
Given the nature of energy policy, which involves matters of national importance reaching across Great Britain and the UK, ... the management and strategic direction of energy policy is determined by the UK Government. Our domestic goals require major investment in energy infrastructure - much of that investment will be sourced internationally - and a consistent framework for energy policy attracts potential investors to our energy industry.
– UK Government evidence to the Silk Commission
Overall, the current [policing] arrangements work well. There are four key points to bear in mind in considering the devolution boundary for policing. They are:
A. Policing is inextricably linked with the criminal justice system.
B. Existing governance and partnership arrangements provide a significant level of integration and autonomy.
C. There are cost and complexity issues with separating out national structures and arrangements.
D: The Strategic Policing Requirement and the management of national threats.
The Commission will report in early 2014. The Welsh Secretary, David Jones, argues that having set up the Silk Commission, the UK Government should not tell it what its findings should be. Eventually ministers will have to decide whether to accept its recommendations.
– Welsh Secretary David Jones MP
The next stage of the Silk Commission has the potential to make an important contribution to ensuring a firm foundation for the longer-term governance of Wales within the United Kingdom.The UK Government’s evidence provides the Silk Commission with a thorough and objective analysis of the Welsh devolution settlement which, I hope, the Commission will find useful as it undertakes its work. I look forward to the Commission’s findings early next year.”
The UK Government is expected to reveal later if it's willing to look at giving more powers to the Welsh Government and Assembly. It's due to publish the evidence it's submitted to the Silk Commission on the Constitution, set up by the Wales Office to look at the future of devolution.
The Commission has already made radical proposals for devolving taxation and borrowing powers and is now looking at whether responsibility in other areas still controlled by central government should be transferred to Cardiff Bay.
The Welsh Government has already called for a major shift in power. Control of the police and non-nuclear energy are at the top of its agenda but Carwyn Jones wants the courts and prisons to eventually be transferred as well.
Both Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats want to go further and faster but the Welsh Conservatives have said that the case for devolving control of the police and criminal justice has been made.
They have asked for the devolution of energy policy and broadcasting and for the Assembly to get the right to make St David's Day a public holiday.
When the UK Government's position is revealed, attention is likely to focus on what it's prepared to offer on energy and on policing and other areas currently controlled by the Home Office.
Plaid Cymru has made its demands for the transfer of powers from Westminster to Cardiff Bay, a week after the Welsh Government unveiled its ambitions. The party claims that devolving a wide range of powers should happend as soon as possible. Policing and criminal justice head the list.
They were top of Carwyn Jones' more gradual proposals as well. Plaid also wants natural resources and energy policy handed over, when the Welsh Government only asked for control of water and said nuclear power should be excluded from the devolution of energy. Plaid Cymru's other demands include:
- The Food Standards Agency
- Electoral Arrangements
- JobCentre Plus
- The Crown Estate
- A separate civil service for Wales
– Plaid Cymru Constitution Spokesperson Ieuan Wyn Jones AM
We believe that having these powers in Wales will make the devolution settlement work better and ensure that the Welsh Government will be more accountable to the people of Wales. Plaid Cymru has long made the argument for the transfer of powers over criminal justice, energy and broadcasting to the Welsh Government. It is in the Welsh national interest for decisions on these to be made in Wales, particularly for a Welsh way of policing and justice, environmental sustainable development and ending the democratic deficit in the Welsh media.
Plaid Cymru agrees with the Welsh Government that Westminster's role should be limited to a list of specific powers, with everything else automatically devolved. It claims that the proposals it's submitting to the Silk Commission on the constitution are 'comprehensive, reasonable and realistic'.
– Plaid Cymru Parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd MP
There must be greater consistency in the devolution settlement. The reserved powers model in both Scotland and Northern Ireland should be adopted in Wales to provide greater clarity for where powers lie, rather than the current opaque system. This will increase efficiency and accountability for the Welsh Government. Now that Wales makes its own laws, there is an obvious need for a Welsh legal jurisdiction to reflect this, and this should be introduced quickly, followed by Welsh policing and criminal justice powers. Scotland and Northern Ireland both have these powers.
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has repeated his commitment to giving the Welsh Government powers to borrow money for major construction projects. Danny Alexander made his comments as he met Paul Silk, who's report recommended both borrowing and tax-raising powers should be transferred to Wales.
– Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury
While the Treasury will need to consider this report very carefully, as I said in October I am committed to giving Wales new borrowing powers provided the Welsh Government takes financial responsibility through revenue raising powers. I think that the level of ambition in the Silk Commission recommendations is a very encouraging sign.
The Welsh Government should be given the right to set income tax rates here in Wales. That's one of the main recommendations of an official report into how we pay for devolution. It would mean more power -and responsibility- for ministers here, as our political editor Adrian Masters explains
First Minister Carwyn Jones told me that he welcomes the Silk Report but remains unconvinced about the need for the transfer of income tax powers to Wales. He told me that 'We're not seeking the devolution of power over income tax' and says fairer funding is a bigger priority.
You can see his answers in the video below:
Welcoming the Silk Commission's report, Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith said:
In assessing those recommendations, we will need to test not only whether the proposals are in the financial interest of the Welsh people but also whether they pass the test of enabling an equitable and sustainable financial settlement for the whole of the UK.
And where those changes represent a significant departure from the current devolution settlement, for example on income tax powers, the Commission is right to conclude that such changes ought to be subject to a referendum.