Plaid Cymru has responded to the publication of the Wales Bill by pledging to table amendments that would preserve the integrity of the Silk Commission’s recommendations on devolving further powers to Wales.
Hywel Williams MP, who sat on the Welsh Affairs Committee scrutinising the Draft Wales Bill, expressed disappointment that the UK Government had “cherry-picked” some Silk’s recommendations and that his party would seek to put this right so that the transfer of new fiscal powers will bring maximum benefits to the Welsh economy.
Mr Williams added that any votes on the amendments would be “a test of Labour’s priorities” given the clear split in opinion between the party’s members in London and Cardiff over granting Wales more job-creating powers
Speaking shortly after the Bill was published, Hywel Williams MP said:
"Plaid Cymru has been united and consistent in making the case for the transfer of job-creating and economy-boosting financial powers from Westminster to Wales.
"We therefore welcome the publication of the Wales Bill that will seek to implement some of the recommendations of the cross-party Commission on Devolution chaired by Paul Silk.
"However, our goal from the start has been to preserve the integrity of the Commission's original recommendations and it is disappointing to see that they have been cherry-picked in this way.
"We will aim to put this right by tabling amendments to the Wales Bill with a view to scrapping the lockstep - a roadblock that would limit the Welsh Government's income tax-varying powers and was not part of the original recommendations. We will also seek to amend the Bill so that Air Passenger Duty is devolved to Wales as per the Silk Commission report.
"Having labelled the lockstep a "Tory trap" and having bought Cardiff airport, it would be a huge embarrassment for the First Minister of Wales - as the most powerful member of the Labour Party in the UK - if he fails to convince Labour MPs in Westminster to support these amendments which are so crucial to boosting the Welsh economy.
"The Wales Bill will therefore be a test of Labour's priorities.
“Overall, the Bill represents a lost opportunity to include the recommendations of the second report of the Silk Commission which indicated that wider powers such energy, transport, and policing should be transferred to Wales. There is plenty of time in the parliamentary calendar given that the Coalition Government has run out of substantive things that they can agree on to legislate. We could have had a full and comprehensive Wales Bill.”