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  1. Adrian Masters

Welsh Tories face tax split troubles again

There could be further embarrassment for the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd chamber this afternoon. The group had agreed to abstain on a Plaid Cymru amendment opposing UK Government plans for income tax devolution.

Click here for more details and here for further background on the difficulties this issue has caused the party. But I understand some of the still-disgruntled of four AMs (or five depending on who you include!) could vote against the amendment.

To the outside world it may seem a minute distinction but with an already tense atmosphere within the group it could once again make its split painfully public on an occasion when both Welsh Secretary David Jones and Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies will be in the Senedd chamber at the same time.

Nick Ramsay will co-operate with 'drink' inquiry

Conservative Assembly Member Nick Ramsay won't make any comment following the announcement that the Presiding Officer will investigate a complaint that he was drunk when he spoke during a debate in the Senedd chamber.

But a Welsh Conservatives spokesperson said the complaint is being treated seriously and the AM for Monmouth will co-operate with the Presiding Officer's inquiry.

Nick Ramsay was making valid contributions in an important debate on mental health. He agrees that all correspondence from the public should be treated with the utmost importance and will speak to the Presiding Officer accordingly.

– Welsh Conservative spokesperson

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Presiding Officer to investigate 'drink' complaint

A spokesperson for the Assembly Commission has confirmed that the Presiding Officer will look into a complaint about the conduct of Conservative Assembly Member Nick Ramsay.

The Presiding Officer has received a letter of complaint relating to the behaviour of an individual Assembly Member in the Plenary session on 10 June.

Regulation of Plenary proceedings is a matter for the Presiding Officers. They will be looking into the circumstances thoroughly and properly over the coming days.

The rules of debate are governed by Standing Order 13 and the Assembly Members’ Code of Conduct sets out the standard of behaviour expected from Members during Assembly business. Members must at all times in their conduct promote respect for the Assembly and extend respect and courtesy to other Members.

– Assembly spokesperson

Nick Ramsay's Senedd speech at heart of 'drink' claims

This is the exchange in the Senedd yesterday, when Nick Ramsay is alleged to have been drinking before speaking.

The intervention by the Monmouth AM in the Assembly debate on mental health was heard in near silence in the Senedd. Health Minister Mark Drakeford, expressed disappointment at what the Tory AM was saying.

'Drink' complaint levelled against Conservative AM

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.

  1. Adrian Masters

Welsh Tories welcome Scottish tax plans

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.

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Reform, renegotiation and referendum on EU say Tories

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.

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.

– Conservative MEP Kay Swinburne

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".

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