Differences of opinion have resurfaced between Welsh Conservative Assembly Members and between their leader and the Welsh Secretary
Opposition leader Andrew RT Davies says the 40% tax rate should be reduced if the Welsh Government gets income tax powers
The Welsh Conservatives' Shadow finance minister sets out his view of what sort of business bank Wales needs and why
The Presiding Officer has been asked to investigate claims that a Conservative Assembly Member had been drinking before he spoke in the Senedd chamber yesterday. A member of the public has accused Monmouthshire AM Nick Ramsay of making contributions that 'were slurred, incoherent and insolent.'
The Welsh Conservatives have not yet commented nor has Mr Ramsay. It's understood that it was his birthday yesterday but he's told colleagues that he had not been drinking. The Presiding Officer is due to make a response imminently.
The Welsh Conservative leader has welcomed his party's income tax proposals for Scotland, describing them as a 'game changer.' Andrew RT Davies says the announcement supported arguments that he and colleagues in the Assembly have been making about tax powers for Wales.
He wouldn't be drawn on whether or not the UK Government's income tax proposals for Wales should be changed as a consequence, saying that was a matter for MPs and Peers. But he said the Scottish plans were 'significant' and that he'd spoken to Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson about them.
The proposed income tax devolution set out in the Wales Bill has led to a row between Mr Davies and the Welsh Secretary David Jones and a split amongst Welsh Conservatives which led to four Assembly front benchers being sacked.
The Welsh Conservatives have launched their European election manifesto. Their lead candidate, Kay Swinburne, said she's confident that the party can reform the EU, renegotiate its powers and then hold a referendum of Britain's membership.
– Conservative MEP Kay Swinburne
We understand and share people's concerns about the European Union. Our businesses value the single market but they find the degree of interference in our everyday life excessive. Welsh Conservatives recognise that Wales benefits from its links with Europe as part of a strong United Kingdom. But we also know that people today feel the EU is heading a direction they never signed up to. Public support for Britain's membership is strained.
Kay Swinburne said she supports the people's right to move freely between European countries, so long as it is to work rather than to claim welfare benefits. She added that workers from new countries joining the EU should be restricted for a longer period than was imposed on Bulgaria and Romania.
The Conservatives claim that David Cameron is achieving "real change" for the better in Europe, though the party also thinks that there is still a long way to go. The Welsh Secretary, David Jones, spoke of the EU's "increasingly top down socialist model".
Senior Welsh Conservatives have renewed their attacks on the Welsh Government's handling of public services. It comes on the second day of their party's conference in Llangollen. Our Political Editor Adrian Masters was there.
Political Editor Adrian Masters talks to two Conservative candidates at their party's conference in Llangollen. Laura Knightly will contest Alyn and Deeside in 2015 and Craig Williams is standing in Cardiff North.
Welsh Secretary David Jones defends his party's sustained criticism of the Welsh Government. Speaking to Political Editor Adrian Masters at the Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen he said it was justifiable scrutiny of Labour's performance.
The two most senior figures in the Welsh Conservatives will return to the matter which has so divided them in recent months and led to the sacking of four Tory frontbenchers. But they've put their differences aside, or at least won't be referring to them in public this weekend.
David Jones and Andrew RT Davies will both deliver speeches to the Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen. They'll both criticise Labour's record of running public services here in Wales and they'll both highlight what their party is achieving for Wales through the UK Government.
They'll both also talk about the devolution of income tax power to Wales but you won't be able to spot much difference between them on the form of income tax power which is being devolved. No mention of the dreaded 'lockstep.'
It doesn't mean the differences have gone away though. It was pointed out to me that the Prime Minister's repeated references to Andrew RT Davies and his commitment to low taxes in Wales amounted to an implicit endorsement of his stance.
But if the differences remain, the heat has certainly been taken out of the dispute in public at least. Anyway, most of this weekend's speeches have concentrated on attacking Welsh Labour's running of public services in Wales.
That at least is something on which they can all agree.
The Welsh Conservative leader will accuse Labour ministers in Cardiff of being 'in office but not in control.'
Andrew RT Davies is expected to pick up on Welsh Labour's claim that repeated criticism of its running of public services amounts to a 'war on Wales.' Mr Davies will say the Conservatives are fighting, but fighting against Labour.
Their management of the Welsh NHS as we heard from Jeremy Hunt and Darren Millar yesterday is scandalous. That’s why we’re fighting. For every single child failed of a decent education. For every patient left waiting in agony.For every single person who wants a successful business but can’t because of Labour’s regulations.
– Andrew RT Davies, Welsh Conservative leader
Labour has had 15 years at the helm. They might be in office, but they are not in control. Just look at their record: 1 in 7 on an NHS waiting list. The worst education results in Western Europe. A nationalised airport. When you listen to a record like that, you realise who is really at war. A war against ambition.
The Welsh Secretary will call on the First Minister to commit to a referendum on income tax powers for Wales or risk being seen as 'the Peter Pan of Welsh politics.' David Jones will tell his party's conference in Llangollen that tax responsibility is part of 'grown up government.'
We think that there should be an early referendum, that there should be a campaign for a ‘yes’ vote and that that campaign should be based on a commitment to cut the Welsh rate of tax. We Conservatives believe in low taxation because it’s good for the economy. And we believe in lower taxation in Wales, because it will give Wales a competitive edge. It will stimulate enterprise. It will give Welsh people – all Welsh people - more money in their pockets to spend with Welsh businesses. In short, it will be good for Wales.
– David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales
So I invite Carwyn Jones to commit to that early referendum and commit the Labour Party in Wales to lower taxes, too. Let’s see if he has the ambition, and is brave enough, to do that. To accept the accountability that should go with grown-up government. Or if he wants to be the Peter Pan of Welsh politics.The eternal political adolescent. The First Minister who never grew up.
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies will say the transfer of some powers over tax to the Welsh Government is an 'historic' opportunity to 'put more money back into people's pockets.'
He'll expected to tell delegates to the Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen that devolution of tax responsibility for taxes is not about power for power's sake:
Under the Welsh Conservatives, there is only way taxes will go – and that’s down! The devolution of taxes means that for the first time – the opportunity is there for us to not only put forward the big thinking we’re already doing, but to cut taxes too and to give people in Wales and those who want to come to Wales the chance to keep more money in their pockets. We’ve already said what we would do with some of those powers. We’d scrap stamp duty on house up to £250,000. We’d freeze council tax. We’d abolish business rates for small business up and down Wales.
– Andrew RT Davies, Welsh Conservative leader
Do you know what this would mean for people? It would mean every household in Wales would pay less council tax.13,000 house buyers a year wouldn’t pay stamp duty at all. And over 75,000 businesses would benefit from our business rates policy. This is what low tax:big ideas means. Putting more money back into people’s pockets.