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Lords in fresh attempt to lower voting age in Wales

A voter places a ballot paper in a ballot box Credit: PA Wire

Welsh peers will try again to lower the voting age to sixteen for Assembly elections when the Wales Bill returns to the House of Lords later. The Bill is mainly intended to transfer tax and borrowing powers to the Welsh Government but also oversees some changes to the way the Assembly is elected.

Peers from Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats have all tabled amendments which, if backed, would allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in future Assembly elections as they were in September's independence referendum.

Other amendments would see the transfer of all electoral arrangements to Cardiff Bay, a review of funding to Wales before any income tax devolution and the number of AMs increased from 60 to 80.

It's unlikely that the UK Government will back the proposed changes; it's already altered the Bill to beef up income-tax varying powers on offer and there have been repeated hints that further devolution would be a matter for separate legislation.

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Call for Welsh referendum change to be made law

The National Assembly should be able to hold referenda on major issues that are legally binding, according to Plaid Cymru. It'll try to alter the Wales Bill to include the move when in its final Commons stage today.

Plaid MP Hywel Williams says 'it would make government better and more legitimate' by leaving it to 'the people of Wales' to decide which powers should be transferred to the Assembly and when.

Clarify Welsh Government powers says Labour

Labour wants to alter the UK Government's Wales Bill to make it clear which powers have been devolved to Cardiff and which remain the responsibility of Westminster. MPs have their last chance to amend the bill when it reaches its final stages in the Commons today.

Shadow Wales Minister, Nia Griffith, says Labour's amendment would force the UK Government to make the division clear to avoid disputes and costly legal battles.

Final Commons debate for tax and borrowing plan

The Wales Bill will see the Welsh government get more control over taxes Credit: PA Images

MPs will get their final chance later to try to alter UK Government plans to change the powers of the Assembly and Welsh Government when the Wales Bill completes its journey through the House of Commons.

The Bill's main aim is to give the Welsh Government the power to borrow money and responsibility for some taxes. You can read more about the proposals by clicking here. Today's debate is the bill's final stage in the Commons before it moves to the Lords.

The Welsh Secretary has called it 'a major milestone in devolution.' But opponents say it doesn't go far enough and there's been widespread criticism of the form of income tax devolution which is being proposed for Wales.

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Parties urged to support Assembly name change

Plaid Cymru is urging other parties to support its bid to rename the Assembly as 'the National Parliament of Wales.'

Plaid has tabled an amendment to the Wales Bill, which is being debated by MPs and which would introduce financial powers and other changes.

Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary Leader Elfyn Llwyd, who is behind the amendment, describes the proposal as 'common sense.'

This amendment, if passed, would enforce a simple change - that the Assembly be officially named the National Parliament of Wales.

The Wales Bill already makes provision for officially changing the name of the Welsh Assembly Government to the Welsh Government. It is only right and proper that the institution's name also reflects its status as a full law-making body, as it has been since the 2011 referendum on further powers.

The leaders of other parties in Wales have already spoken in favour of this change. We hope that our straightforward and common sense amendment attracts them and their parties' support.

– Elfyn Llwyd MP, Plaid Cymru

Tax powers will sharpen minds in Wales - Lib Dems

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Kirsty Williams, has welcomed the introduction of the Wales Bill which would transfer tax and borrowing powers to the Welsh Government for the first time since devolution.

This is a proud day to be a Welsh Liberal Democrat. We have consistently supported greater financial powers for the National Assembly and today is a big step towards that goal.

I have been pushing for the Wales Bill to be published before the Queen’s Speech to ensure that it would pass before the next General Election. I am pleased this will now happen.

Tax varying powers will bring much needed accountability to Wales’ political system. It will sharpen minds in Cardiff Bay and bring the same level of accountability to Wales that exists in almost all other national parliaments. For too long the Welsh Government has been able to simply spend money without having the responsibility to raise it.

Stamp duty devolved to Wales could help lower the cost of buying a house and promote growth in the construction sector. If used effectively, devolving and reforming stamp duty could be a tool for growth and stimulating house building in Wales.

Wales must have a proper functioning parliament with additional fiscal responsibilities to help create a stronger economy and a fairer society.

– Kirsty Williams AM, Welsh Liberal Democrats

First Welsh taxes by 2018 says minister

Finance Minister Jane Hutt says business rates will be fully devolved to Wales from April next year with Stamp Duty and Landfill Tax following by 2018. Welcoming the UK Government's Wales Bill she said the two governments had agreed an 'ambitious' timetable for tax devolution.

In recent months I have been leading constructive discussions with the UK Treasury on our new financial settlement. I am glad that that we have secured agreement to set ambitious target dates for tax devolution, starting with non-domestic rates, which will be fully devolved in Wales from April 2015. This move will bring Wales into line with Scotland and will ensure that we benefit from the growth in this tax base over time. It will also make it easier to set business rate policy in a way that meets the needs of Welsh citizens and firms.

Full devolution of stamp duty and landfill tax will take longer, since these require passage of the Wales Bill by the UK Parliament. The Assembly will also have to legislate to introduce replacement Welsh taxes, which will come into effect when the UK taxes are ‘turned off’ in Wales. An April 2018 date for introducing the new Welsh taxes is ambitious but achievable. I will continue to develop my plans to ensure that those taxes are simpler and fairer, while supporting jobs and growth.

– Jane Hutt AM, Finance Minister
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