Proposals to be published to boost powers for Wales

The UK government is today expected to publish draft legislation that would pave the way for the Welsh Assembly and government to be given greater powers and freedoms to raise money.

The UK government is today expected to publish draft legislation that would pave the way for the Welsh Assembly and government to be given greater powers and freedoms to raise money.

The proposals, to be published by the Wales Office, are expected to enable ministers in Cardiff Bay to gain powers over stamp duty paid by home owners as well as provide the Welsh government with the opportunity to borrow to invest in major projects and, subject to a referendum, provide certain limited powers to vary income tax.

The legislation is also expected to reverse a ban on election candidates for the Assembly standing in both constituency seats and on regional lists; and it will increase to five years the terms of each Assembly and bring to an end the practice of ‘double-jobbing’ whereby AMs can also serve as MPs.

The proposals come following the publication of the first report of the Silk Commission assessing the future powers of the Welsh devolved institutions.

Whilst minister’s in Westminster believe that the proposals will improve the accountability of the institutions Cardiff, Welsh Labour have reacted with some caution, worried that it could be a UK government weeze to achieve further cuts to budgets.

Shadow Wales secretary Owen Smith has explained:

“We remain concerned that Conservative politicians are making false promises to the Welsh people about the possibility of reduced taxes without any reduction in the quality of the services they rely on. We welcome the news that the UK Government is at last to give Wales borrowing powers, to counteract the shortfall in Welsh budgets that has arisen from the Tory-led coalition’s £1.6bn worth of cuts.”

For Plaid Cymru, it’s leader in Westminster Elfyn Llwyd expressed his disappointment that the UK government has cherry picked the bits of the Silk Commission it likes whilst simply ignoring those it didn’t. He commented:

“We are disappointed to see that the UK government has cherry-picked the cross-party Silk Commission’s recommendations by omitting the transfer of Air Passenger Duty from Westminster to Wales and introducing a ‘lockstep’ on the income tax powers. Plaid Cymru wants to see the integrity of the Silk Commission preserved and we will seek to achieve this by tabling relevant amendments to the Wales Bill when the opportunity arises.”

The Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee will provide detailed scrutiny of the proposals.

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