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Powers for a stronger fairer Wales - Alexander

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, says the financial powers being transferred to Wales will 'significantly strengthen' the Welsh Government.

The package of financial powers in this Bill will provide powerful new tools for Wales to exercise greater control over its future. The Bill also significantly strengthens the Welsh Government’s financial accountability and transparency. The Powers in this Bill will help future Welsh Governments to deliver a stronger economy and a fairer society in Wales.

– Danny Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury

'A major milestone in devolution' says Welsh Secretary

Today's publication of the Wales Bill has been hailed as 'a major milestone in Welsh devolution' by the Welsh Secretary David Jones.

The package of tax and borrowing powers it devolves to Wales should be used by the Welsh Government to grow the Welsh economy, give Wales a competitive edge and help the people of Wales feel more secure about having a better future.

Just as important, it will make the Assembly and the Welsh Government more accountable to the people who elect them. For the first time, they will be responsible not only for the money they spend but for raising some of that money as well.

– David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales

The Bill will also make Assembly elections fairer and more equitable.

The swiftness by which we have introduced this Bill is testament to this Government’s desire to see the Bill passed before the end of this Parliament and provides the opportunity for devolved governance in Wales to be fairer, more accountable and, crucially, more able to support economic growth.

– David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales

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Wales Bill introduced to Parliament

The Welsh Secretary and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury have jointly introduced the Wales Bill into parliament. This is the legislation which would transfer new financial powers to the Welsh Government.

  • Provide for a referendum on devolving partial control of income tax
  • If income tax is devolved, allow the Welsh Government to set rates
  • Devolve control of Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • Devolve control of Landfill Tax
  • Allow the Welsh Government to borrow money for major projects (specifically improving the M4)

The Bill also introduces some changes to the way the Assembly is run:

  • Fix Assembly terms at 5 years instead of the current 4
  • Allow candidates to stand in constituency and regional list votes
  • End 'double jobbing' so that AMs can't also sit as MPs and vice versa

Wales Bill to be published later

Details of new tax and borrowing powers for the Welsh Government will be confirmed when the UK Government publishes its Wales Bill. The bill is expected to devolve stamp duty landfill tax and landfill tax and to provide for a referendum on transferring partial control over income tax.

It's also thought there'll be provision for borrowing powers and a new power for the Assembly to be able to make its own arrangements for setting its budget. There are also due to be some relatively minor changes to Assembly electoral arrangements.

The UK Government says it wants to see the Bill passed before the UK Election next year.

Tory welcome for Wales financial powers

The Welsh Conservatives have welcomed today's announcement on further changes to the financial powers of the Assembly and the Welsh Government. Shadow Finance Minister Paul Davies said:

We welcome the detail of the Silk Commission Part 1 being announced today. The move towards the implementation of taxation levers in Wales is hugely significant and allows for the first time real accountability and responsibility over decisions made by governments in Wales. We welcome the announcements with regard to business rates, a long standing policy of the Welsh Conservatives helping our businesses to become more competitive with increased flexibility. We also welcome too, the details of borrowing for infrastructure, especially with an M4 Relief Road which has already been announced.

The UK Government's decision to allow a referendum on income tax is very significant.The Welsh Conservatives are committed to being the low tax party of Wales, keeping more of people's money in their pockets and allowing us to grow the Welsh economy.

– Paul Davies, AM Shadow Finance Minister

And the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies added:

This shows the commitment of the UK Government to Wales and I hope all parties will welcome the spirit of the announcements.We will continue to work towards the full implementation of Silk 1 and these initial steps provide a positive platform for future Welsh Governments to take responsibility and have real accountability.

– Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Opposition

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