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Plaid laments missed opportunity to reject controversial income tax proposal

Plaid Cymru's Hywel Williams says he's disappointed with Labour MPs for failing to back his attempt to persuade a cross-party committee to criticise UK Government plans for income tax devolution.

He'd proposed an amendment to the Welsh Affairs committee's report on the draft Wales Bill which would have called for the controversial 'lockstep' form of income tax power to be abandoned. The Bill would give Welsh ministers power to vary the tax but only by changing all rates simultaneously.

The amendment failed, however, and the Arfon MP says it was a missed opportunity.

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Controversial 'lockstep' tax power still means big change says committee chair

Although it backs the UK Government's plan to devolve some control over income tax to the Welsh Government after a referendum, the Welsh Affairs Select Committee report doesn't say what form that control should take. That's because there's sharp disagreement between and within the political parties.

The draft Wales Bill would give the Welsh Government the power to vary income tax by up to 10p but only by altering all three rates at the same time. This is what's known as 'lockstep' and critics say it would be so unwieldy that in practice it would be unlikely ever to be used.

But the chair of the committee, David Davies, says it would still be a significant change to the financial powers and responsibility of the Welsh Government.

MPs back income tax plan but call for funding change

A cross-party group of Welsh MPs has backed UK Government plans to transfer some control over income tax to the Welsh Government. But the Welsh Affairs Select Committee says that should only happen if the people of Wales vote for the change in a referendum.

In its report on the draft Wales Bill the committee also says it has 'sympathy' with the view that the way UK funds are allocated to Wales should be changed before any transfer of income tax powers. It says the formula used should be reviewed before the next UK General Election in 2015.

Another of the Bill's aims is also criticised. The committee says that instead of imposing five-year terms on the Assembly, the power to decide that should be devolved to Cardiff Bay.

MPs call for more housing and healthcare support for veterans

Welsh service personnel may risk and sometimes even lose their lives in service of their country. But a new report tonight warns that they are still not getting the support they need when they return to civilian life.

MPs on the Welsh Affairs Committee say more needs to be done for them in the key areas of housing and health.

Our correspondent Joanna Simpson has tonight's top story.

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MPs urge more housing and healthcare support for veterans

Public bodies need to do more to support armed forces veterans in Wales, according to a group of MPs.

The Welsh Affairs Committee report says housing and healthcare are key areas where there are problems.

"I had no actual record of injuries and any other ongoing things that were wrong with me" says Northern Ireland veteran Paul Harding.

"So, from that point of view there was no help whatsoever."

"When it came to housing I went to the council and they said we realise you're a veteran but that doesn't mean anything to us. You'll get a house when you get a house"

David Davies: 'more councils should sign military covenant'

"I think there are problems, and I think they've come about through rather inadvertent policies" says David Davies MP, who chairs the Welsh Affairs select committee.

"I think local authorities have quite rightly said we need to have people with a local connection before we allocate social housing.

"But those rules have had the unintended consequence of affecting members of the armed forces who may have been born and brought up in an area, but spent the last ten years serving their country".

"A lot of a local authorities have signed up to the armed forces covenant, which means people working within those authorities are aware of those issues".

Housing group: number of homeless veterans "unacceptable"

We welcome this report, but don’t think it goes far enough. Wales accounts for 5% of the UK population yet it provides 8% of UK military personnel.

It is unacceptable that a significant number of our veterans face homelessness. Waiting list for social housing in Wales are continuing to grow and we need to build more affordable homes in order to address this.

One of the barriers is availability of land and we are today calling on the Ministry of Defence to engage with the sector to draw up a memorandum of understanding, so that where suitable sites become available, we can develop social housing to help alleviate the problem.

– Nick Bennett, Community Housing Cymru

'One-stop shops' for veterans could help

One of the key recommendations from the report is the establishment of 'one-stop-shops' that would help provide veterans with information and support when they return to civilian life.

We should not be making it harder for people who have served their country in the ultimate way - putting their lives on the line - to access the services and support they need and deserve. For the same reasons, we must ensure that all services, no matter who is providing them, are provided efficiently and to the highest standard.

– David Davies MP, Chair of the Committee

The Welsh Government says it welcomes the report.

The Welsh Government is already making progress in delivering real improvements on the issues raised in the report. It is important that this continues and that those who have served their country do not suffer any disadvantage when they access public services.

– Welsh Government spokesperson
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