An announcement on the prospect of the Welsh Government gaining borrowing powers won't be made this week as had previously been expected.
Welsh Secretary David Jones had previously said that the UK Government's response to the Silk Commission would be made in the spring which he said was defined as ending on June 21st. The Wales Office say there won't be an announcement before June 21st. David Jones says,
The Welsh Government will get an extra £104m over the next two years from the budget, according to the Wales Office minister Stephen Crabb. He says that Wales will only see its budget reduced by 0.2% compared to a 1% cut in other Whitehall departments.
And he says that cut will be off-set by an increase in the knock-on effect of spending in England on devolved areas like health and education, meaning a small increase of £104m.
The Liberal Democrat Baroness Jenny Randerson is to be a junior minister at the Wales Office, serving under David Jones and alongside Stephen Crabb.
Nearly every suggestion in the Welsh Secretary's consultation on changing how the Assembly is elected has now been formally opposed by the Welsh Government. Cheryl Gillan had set out her thinking in a government Green Paper.
- Switch from 40 constituency AMs and 20 elected on regional lists to 30 of each. This is Mrs Gillan's preference as it would use the new Westminster constituencies.
- Alternatively stick to the 40:20 ratio but create new Assembly constituencies that have much more equal electorates than at present.
- Scrap the rule, introduced in 2006, that constituency candidates cannot also stand on a regional list.
- Make it illegal to be an AM and an MP at the same time.
- Permanently extend the time between Assembly elections from four years to five.
A switch to a 30:30 voting system is widely seen as making it harder for Labour to govern on its own and Welsh ministers don't accept that the Green Paper is politically neutral. But they also argue that there is an important constitutional principle at stake.
It would be content if a two thirds majority was required. The Welsh Government states that the rule against dual candidacy was put to the voters in Labour's manifesto. The issue of dual mandate AMs and MPs is dismissed as a non-existant problem. The idea of five year Assembly terms is accepted.
Wales Office also estimates that increasing the child benefit threshold will benefit 21,000 Welsh households. 70,000 low paid workers will be better off due to an increase in the national minimum wage. If Valleys rail electrification goes ahead it will represent an investment of some £300 million.
Although the Budget report doesn't note changes of less than £100 million, the Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan has identified an extra £11.7 million between now and the next spending review. The Wales Office also estimates that Welsh 42,000 people will no longer have to pay any income tax.