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Severn River Crossing Plc to appear before Welsh Affairs Committee

Credit: PA

The Welsh Affairs Committee will be holding their first evidence session as part of their enquiry into the future of the Severn River crossing today.

The Committee will hear from Philip, General Manager, and James Rawle, Deputy General Manager, of Severn River Crossing Plc.

It is expected that they will focus on the upcoming transition of the crossing to public ownership as well as the day-to-day concerns of motorists.

I am pleased that Severn River Crossing Plc have agreed to appear before the committee to outline what progress has been made ahead of the transfer of the crossings to public ownership. It is important that we are reassured that robust planning is being carried out and a timetable is in place to ensure that there is no disruption to services.

In this inquiry, we also want to know what the people who regularly use the crossings think. On 13 June we will be holding a public event in Chepstow and would welcome your views on how the crossings are run and what would improve your experience.

– David Davies MP, Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee

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MPs to look at cross-border health problems

Welsh MPs are to investigate the effects on people living along the border of increasingly different health services in Wales and England. It'll be the second time that the Welsh Affairs Committee has held an inquiry into cross-border health issues.

The MPs will look at how well or otherwise the two systems work with each other after officials agreed a Protocol in 2013. They'll also look at the experience of patients living either in Wales or England who rely on the NHS on the other side of the border.

A spokesperson says that the committee won't take evidence about the quality of care either in Wales or England.

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.

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.

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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.

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"

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