Joel Barnett, the former Labour cabinet minister credited with inventing the formula that decides how much money Wales gets from Westminster, has died at the age of 91. He was Chief Secretary to the Treasury during the Wilson and Callaghan Labour governments of the late 1970s, when a temporary -and secret- method of funding Wales was devised for the Welsh Assembly that was rejected in the 1979 referendum.
Despite the defeat of devolution, the Barnett Formula was retained and made official. It limited any annual increase (or cut) in the funding of the Welsh Office (now the Welsh Government) to the change in spending on equivalent departments in England. Its intention was to slowly reduce the greater funding that Wales received.
Lord Barnett's daughter Erica said he died peacefully at home on Saturday morning after a short illness. She said he retained his interest in politics during his illness and "the last words he spoke to me were about the European Union budget". The upsurge in interest in the Barnett Formula following the Scottish Referendum - and the "vow" by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg to retain the system - had provided a "great boost" to him, she said.
His death was confirmed this morning by the Labour Party. The Shadow Leader of the House of Lords Baroness Royall, who used to be the European Commission's representative in Wales, paid tribute to him.