Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards has welcomed comments by Graham Allen MP, Chair of the influential Political and Constitutional Reform Committee in the Commons, on the fate of new income tax powers for Wales.
Giving evidence to a meeting of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee this morning, Mr Allen strongly urged MPs to amend the Wales Bill to remove the lockstep which prevents band variation and said that holding a referendum on such a technical issues as the transfer of such powers would be “ridiculous.”
Mr Edwards said that Mr Allen’s remarks supported Plaid Cymru’s stance that a referendum would not be necessary if the powers are rendered useless by the lockstep.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Welsh Grand Committee meeting where Welsh MPs will discuss the Autumn Statement and the economy, Mr Edwards said:
“It is encouraging to see Plaid Cymru’s stance supported by Mr Allen, a constitutional expert who has significant influence in Westminster.
“The principle of fiscal autonomy has already been conceded by the devolution of minor taxes, so a referendum on an income tax sharing arrangement whose only benefit would be to increase the borrowing capacity of the Welsh Government is a waste of time.
“The First Minister and the Secretary of State for Wales seem to be in cahoots on this one. Rather than being a poster boy for the Tories, the First Minister would be better advised listening to an experienced colleague like Mr Allen.
“Ever since the Draft Wales Bill was published, Plaid Cymru has said that we would table amendments to the bill calling for the lockstep and the referendum to be scrapped. Mr Allen’s comments are a welcome contribution to the debate and I look forward to working with him in the coming months.
“For the sake of the Welsh economy, the First Minister and Secretary of State must take heed of these comments and ditch their delaying tactics. Yesterday the Financial Times labelled London the dark star of the British State economy - sucking in wealth from every other part of the State.
“The only solution is to empower our national government with the necessary job-creation levers. Silk is the bare minimum. Those politicians who undermine the integrity of the Silk package are putting narrow party interests before the wider interests of the people of Wales.”