There have been hints that a decision on tax and borrowing powers for Wales was close, but don't hold your breath.
Welsh Secretary David Jones MPs will face questions about his department's record over the last year from MPs on the Welsh Affairs committee
Speaking on Sky's 'Murnaghan' programme on Sunday, the former Welsh Secretary also launched a fresh attack on the HS2 project.
Wales risks being left behind the rest of the UK in terms of future employment and prosperity, according to the Welsh Secretary. David Jones was responding to the publication of international figures showing pupils in Wales performing worse than in England and Scotland.
Today’s figures are extremely disappointing, and highlight the important challenge that the Wales – and the UK as a whole – faces to ensure our young people are equipped with the tools they need to shine in the competitive employment market.
We are living in an increasingly competitive world and if Wales is to succeed in the global race, we will need more scientists, engineers, and young people who are equipped with the skills to put them at the front of the queue.
– David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales
Most importantly, we need to inspire them to pursue their ambitions. Today’s worrying figures do very little to help us achieve that aim.
It is vitally important that the Welsh Government now seeks to address these serious educational deficiencies and give the young aspirational people of Wales the skills they need to succeed.
The Welsh Secretary, David Jones, has defended a delay in making a decision on the transfer of tax and borrowing powers to the Welsh Government. First Minister Carwyn Jones raised the delay with the Prime Minister at a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee in Downing Street.
The transfer of some taxes were recommended in a report by the Silk Commission which was published last November. At the time the Welsh Secretary said the proposals would be 'discussed immediately' and promised a response by the spring of this year.
Earlier this month the Prime Minister refused to commit to a new date saying that a consultation on one of the taxes involved, Stamp Duty Land Tax, needs to finish. That's being echoed by the Welsh Secretary who described today's JMC meeting as 'positive and productive,' before adding:
I fully understand how important the Silk Commission's report is. The Commission's recommendations raise issues of crucial importance to Wales and to theUnited Kingdom as a whole. As a Government, we are determined to make the right response to those recommendations. We listened to industry concerns about the proposed devolution of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) by consulting further. We are considering the further representations that have been made, and are finalising our response to the Commission's recommendations.
– David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales
The Silk Commission is currently examining the powers of the National Assembly, and the boundary of the Welsh devolution settlement, under Part II of its remit. It is due to report its Part II findings in the spring of next year, and we will consider the Commission's Part II recommendations carefully when published.
The news that Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has been sacked in the UK cabinet reshuffle inevitably led to speculation that change could affect the Wales Office too. But several sources say that Moore is the only cabinet figure to be affected which suggests that David Jones' position is safe.
Any further changes are expected to be amongst middle-ranking ministers. Ed Miliband is expected to reshuffle his Shadow Cabinet team too. Those changes could also come today.
The Welsh Secretary is expected to urge ministers in Cardiff Bay to do more to 'align' the economy of Wales with that of England. David Jones is expected to tell the Conservative conference in Manchester that Wales is 'diverging' from England 'for the worse
The Welsh arms of both the Federation of Master Builders and the Confederation of British Industry have said that they will support the devoltion of Stamp Duty to the Welsh Government when the UK Government consults on the idea.
– Federation of Master Builders Cymru Director Richard Jenkins
We welcome the Treasury’s intention to seek the views of business on this matter and therefore will make our policy clear. We urge UK Ministers to respond positively to the recommendation to devolve Stamp Duty made by the Silk Commission. Our view is that Stamp Duty Land Tax should be devolved to the Welsh Government as a matter of urgency. The Welsh housing industry is in a poor state of health and Stamp Duty could be used to creatively to support the sector, and to offset the accumulated costs of development, which are set to rise.
– CBI Wales Director Emma Watkins
The views of the CBI are very clear in supporting the devolution of stamp duty. If used effectively, devolving and reforming stamp duty could be used as a tool for growth, stimulating housebuilding and supporting home buyers. We will engage with the Treasury over the summer and make the views of business known. The lack of certainty and clarity on a deadline for Silk is not helping business - both those in Wales and those looking to invest. CBI will continue to engage with all parties for a swift resolution, in the interests of driving forward the economy - and growth.
Welsh Finance Minister Jane Hutt says she's putting her "trust and confidence" in today's statement from the Treasury that the UK Government will devolve tax-raising and borrowing powers to the Welsh Government.
– Finance Minister Jane Hutt AM
It's a great step forward, it is a recognition and as Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary [to the Treasury] said, the final step to enable us to get those economic and financial levers to help us boost our economy. Today it is clear that the UK Government and the Treasury in particular wants to devolve this. Let's get over this little step in terms of consultation and then let's get the announcement.
Ms Hutt said she was sure that the consultation on whether to devolve Stamp Duty, which is levied on property sales, would lead to that tax being included.
We have already consulted on stamp on Stamp Duty ... [the housebuilders] were up for both -devolve and reform Stamp Duty.
Welsh Secretary David Jones rejects the accusation that the consultation on stamp duty is a delaying tactic saying that 'this is a very serious piece of devolution and it's important we get it right.'
Plaid Cymru's Treasury Spokesman Jonathan Edwards says the consultation on stamp duty will 'only cause further delay and .. may be seen as a cynical move to halt the transfer of power.'
When looking at best practice of decentralising taxation around the world, property taxation is seen as one of the most appropriate taxes to devolve. The Secretary of State’s anxiety flies in the face of global evidence.
It’s important to note that the Silk Commission had consulted widely in coming up with these recommendations, why is the UK Government second-guessing the careful work of the Commission?
– Jonathan Edwards MP, Plaid Cymru
It’s obvious that all three London parties are deeply split on the issue of financial powers for Wales, and the dithering of the Labour Government over whether it wants the full Silk package or only part of it hasn’t helped matters.
Finance Minister Jane Hutt has issued this statement following the news that the UK Government will consult businesses on the likely effects of transferring stamp duty to the Welsh Government.
The recognition that the Welsh Government should have early access to borrowing powers for the M4 is welcome news, however we are impatient for a full response to Silk which was first due in the Spring.
As a result of our negotiations I fully expect any issues to be resolved in September which is crucial if we are to meet the timetable for draft legislation to be published in the Autumn.
The issue of stamp duty has been looked at exhaustively. The Holtham Commission, Silk Commission and Calman Commission have all recommended its devolution.
– Jane Hutt AM, Finance Minister
The Welsh Government held an event with the construction industry and business leaders earlier this year to gain their views and there was a clear sense of agreement that stamp duty should be devolved and reformed.
We need taxes such as stamp duty devolved so we can boost house building, create jobs, backing the Welsh economy and continue to deliver our priorities for Wales.
We now expect the UK Government to deliver on Silk, for Wales. We believe rapid progress on this issue would provide a genuine ‘win win’ for both the UK Government, Welsh Government and crucially the people of Wales.