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Tax powers referendum move criticised

The campaign group True Wales which formed the NO campaign in 2011's Welsh powers referendum has criticised a UK Government move on devolving income tax.

George Osborne announced in his Spending Review statement that long-planned control over part of income tax will be transferred to the Welsh Government without the need for a referendum.

This is a major change from the law which paved the way the transfer and has been welcomed by some politicians in all parties, although a number of Welsh Conservatives remain opposed.

But Rachel Banner of True Wales says the move makes the 2011 referendum 'illegitimate.' Here's her statement:

In 2011, so worried were politicians and Yes campaigning groups about the possibility of a No response from the electorate that the referendum question itself - agreed by the Secretary of State for Wales and the Electoral Commission - contained a pledge that a Yes vote would not lead to tax powers.

This was included despite the fact that the UK Coalition Government agreement had stated that a Calman-style Commission would be established in the event of a Yes vote. Politicians loudly denied that a Yes vote would lead to tax powers, while the Holtham Report on fiscal devolution was treated as some dirty little secret to be kept under the Assembly mattress till the referendum campaign was over.

On that basis, True Wales believes that the introduction of income tax powers without a referendum is illegitimate and brings the devolution settlement into disrepute.

– Rachel Banner, True Wales


Report into electrification problems to be published

A report into the electrification problems affecting the line between south Wales and London will be published later.

The report will outline how long the electrification process will take. Credit: Hitachi

Electrification of the line between London Paddington and Cardiff was due to be completed by May 2017, with that extended to Swansea the following year.

But the cost has tripled from the original estimate of £874m to as much as£2.8bn. The project is also running behind schedule.

Earlier this month MPs raised concerns over the rising cost of the project.

The Network Rail report is now expected to reveal how long the project will take and will be published along with new timescales of developments.


Number of drink-driving convictions 'alarming'

Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives says the conviction rate for drink driving is 'alarming'.

Figures from an insurance company show four Welsh communities dominate the top five worst areas for drink driving:

  • Crewe
  • Llandrindod Wells
  • Cardiff
  • Newport
  • Swansea
  • Aberdeen
  • Blackpool
  • Darlington
  • Telford
  • Plymouth

Although conviction rates across the country continue to fall, it is alarming to see Welsh cities such as Cardiff featuring so prominently on the list.

It’s clear that more needs to be done to drive home the message that getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drink or drugs is completely unacceptable and puts lives at risk.

The fact drivers in Cardiff are more than 15 times more likely to have a drink or drug-drive conviction than counterparts in London is very concerning and more needs to be done to educate individuals and warn of the dangers involved.

– Andrew RT Davies AM, LEader, Welsh Conservatives
Credit: John Giles / PA

Today Welsh police forces launch their anti-drink/drug driving campaign.

Gwent Police will lead the month-long campaign, running from 1st December 2015 to 1st January 2016.

Last year in Wales a total of 30,718 motorists took part with 488 returning either positive results or failing/refusing to take the breath test.

We are committed to making the roads in Wales safer and year on year we raise awareness of the dangers of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs through campaigns such as this one.

Christmas and New Year are a time for enjoyment and social events, and whilst I would encourage everyone to have a good time, it is important to reiterate our key message; if you drink, don’t drive and if you drive, don’t drink – it’s that simple!

– Julian Williams, Assistant Chief Constable, Gwent Police
  1. Nick Powell

Wales won't get extra NHS money says First Minister

First Minister Carwyn Jones has told AMs that the Welsh Government will get almost no more money as a result of the UK Government's announcement of extra funding for the English NHS. Increases in England lead to matching percentage increases for Wales under the Barnett Formula but Mr Jones said they'd be cancelled out by cuts in other parts of the English health budget. The First Minister dismissed as naïve a call from the Conservative leader for any extra money to be given to the Welsh NHS.

Today the Chancellor has announced £3.8 billion worth of extra money for the English NHS in the next financial year. There will be a Barnett consequential for that uplift. Will you commit to ringfencing that money in the next budget round so that it is put into the Welsh NHS?

– Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies AM

Is he saying to us today that there will be a full consequential to Wales as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review? Because our understanding is entirely different. What was being trailed on the radio this morning is that there will be cuts in public health and medical education and that money will be transferred to the NHS budget. There will be no consequential if that happens. So if he thinks there will be a consequential in those circumstances, I'm afraid his naïvety overtakes his perception.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM
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