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Welsh Govt calls again for decision over tax powers

Wales' Finance Minister has called on the UK Government to "clear the political blockages delaying the devolution of vital tax varying and borrowing powers to Wales." She claims it would allow the Welsh Government to move ahead with plans for a relief road around for the M4 at Newport.

Jane Hutt is making the call exactly a year to the day since the Welsh and UK Governments agreed a deal to progress reform to how Wales is funded.

The Welsh Government wants to progress with major infrastructure improvements. Credit: David Jones/PA

The Welsh Government needs the UK Government to devolve the borrowing and tax varying powers recommended by the Silk Commission before it can progress with major infrastructure improvements, including the South Wales Metro and proposals to build an M4 relief road in Newport.

The UK Government had committed to deliver a response to the Silk Commission's recommendations to part one of their work in the spring but, they've launched a consultation on one recommendation - to devolve stamp duty.


Wales left off list of rural areas for fuel duty cut

Wales has been left off a list of rural areas where motorists could benefit from a 5p-per-litre fuel duty cut.

The UK Government has applied to the European Commission to vary the duty rates in seven Scottish and three English towns.

It wants to extend a scheme which currently operates for the Scottish islands, and the Isles of Scilly.

The idea is to reduce prices in rural areas, where they are typically higher because of the costs of transporting fuel.

10 rural areas have been chosen in England and Scotland - but none in Wales. Credit: PA

Petrol stations in the remote areas selected would have to register with HM Revenue & Customs to claim 5p per litre relief on unleaded petrol and diesel, a saving which they then have to pass on to customers.

It could increase the number of people across the UK benefiting from the scheme to 120,000.

Four Welsh counties - Anglesey, Gwynedd, Powys and Monmouthshire - were originally considered for the scheme - but none have been included on the Government's submission.

Commissioner and Wales Office join forces to watch Whitehall's language

Welsh Secretary David Jones has tweeted that a member of the Welsh Language Commissioner's team will be seconded to the Wales Office in London.

The Welsh Secretary says the move is designed 'to ensure the UK Government provides high quality services in the Welsh language where there's demand.'

No appointment has been made yet but the Commissioner, Meri Huws says that the official 'will work closely with (Whitehall) departments to ensure they develop their Welsh language services in line with the relevant statutory framework for the Welsh language for the benefit of the people of Wales.'

Owen Smith 'delighted' to continue in post

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.

– Owen Smith MP, Shadow Welsh Secretary


Caerphilly MP becomes Labour leader's aide

Caerphilly MP Wayne David has become PPS to Ed Miliband in the Labour leader's reshuffle of his parliamentary team. His appointment to a politically crucial job in the run-up to the next UK General Election is being seen as a promotion from his previous rôle as a member of the Shadow Justice team.

Westminster North MP Karen Buck has also been appointed as PPS to the Labour leader.

Welsh-born MP promoted in reshuffle

So far neither the UK Government cabinet reshuffle nor Labour's Shadow Cabinet reshuffle have seen any changes, good or bad, for Welsh politicians. But the former leader of the Welsh Lib Dems, Lord German, took to Twitter to point out the credentials of one newly-appointed Lib Dem minister.

Stephen Williams was born in Abercynon and went to Mountain Ash comprehensive school before studying at Bristol University. He's been the Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West since 2005.

Reshuffle: frontbench Welsh politicians

As the UK Government cabinet reshuffle continues, here are the Welsh MPs and peers who currently have government rôles:

  • David Jones (Conservative) - Welsh Secretary
  • Stephen Crabb (Conservative) - Wales Office minister and whip
  • Baroness Randerson (Lib Dem) - Wales Office minister
  • Jenny Willott (Lib Dem) - Assistant Whip

Labour leader Ed Miliband is also expected to reshuffle his Shadow Cabinet team. Here are the Welsh MPs and peers in his front-bench team:

  • Owen Smith - Shadow Welsh Secretary
  • Nia Griffith - Wales
  • Ian Lucas - Foreign and Commonwealth
  • Wayne David - Justice
  • Christ Bryant - Home Office
  • David Hanson - Home Office
  • Kevin Brennan - Education
  • Huw Irranca-Davies - Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Mark Tami - Whip
  • Susan Elan-Jones - whip
  • Baroness Gale - whip (Lords)
  • Lord Bryan Davies - Wales, Transport, Treasury (Lords)
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