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Labour split on fair funding and further powers for Assembly

Plaid Cymru b

Plaid Cymru's Treasury spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, has issued fierce criticism of the Labour party for failing to offer any clarity on their vision for further financial powers and fair funding for Wales.

Speaking after the Wales Bill was debated on the floor of the House of Commons, Mr Edwards said that the clear difference of opinions between Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP raised serious questions over who exactly speaks for Labour when it comes to securing a fairer deal for our nation.

Mr Edwards said:

"In all corners of the British state, the Labour party tells a different tale and it is high time their hypocrisy was held to account.

"On reforming the Barnett formula which sees Wales lose out on around £400m a year - an independent calculation - Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has argued for change.

"However, only this weekend Labour leader Ed Milliband said at the party's Welsh conference that Labour's Barnett formula has served us well - echoing the comments made a few months ago by Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith. In Scotland, Labour's devolution commission has promised no change to the formula.

"On removing the lockstep - which restricts the ability of the Welsh Government to vary individual tax bands as advocated by the Silk Commission - the Labour party's fork-tongued rhetoric is even more baffling.

"Owen Smith MP has repeatedly labelled the lockstep a "Tory trap" and the First Minister has said it is "useless" and "makes no sense at all." However, in the Commons chamber today, Mr Smith admitted to accepting the principle of a lockstep.

"Also, when my colleague Hywel Williams MP tabled an amendment to a Welsh Affairs Committee vote to scrap the lockstep from the Draft Wales Bill, all three Labour MPs abstained.

"This is a complete omnishambles from the Labour party. On Barnett, they are willing to sacrifice Wales in order to prop up the Tory-led No campaign in Scotland. On the lockstep, they see-saw between supporting, opposing, and having no view at all!

"This lack of clarity and coherence is an insult to the people of Wales. The janus-faced Labour party's smoke and mirrors strategy is blocking the process of strengthening Wales as a nation. What is Labour policy when it comes to the funding formula and income tax devolution?"

Notes

- Owen Smith MP agrees with the lockstep during Wales Bill debate (p.622) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/chan145.pdf

- Ed Miliband says the Barnett formula “has served us well and it can continue to serve us well.” He also confirms there will be no review of Barnett (43:00) http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03yvw16/Sunday_Politics_Wales_30_0...

- Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones claims lockstep is “useless” and “makes no sense at all” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-26132156

- Owen Smith MP calls lockstep a Tory trap http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-26052652

- Scottish Labour’s Devolution Commission (p.16) http://s.bsd.net/scotlab/default/page/file/c07a7cdb97a522f4c5_h1m6vwh8l....

- Owen Smith MP: “We shouldn’t buy the notion that Barnett has ill-served Wales” (15:16) http://www.itv.com/news/wales/2014-01-13/sharp-end-january-13-2014/

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