Plaid MP welcomes Holtham’s accountability call

Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson Jonathan Edwards MP has welcomed the second report from the Independent Commission on Funding and Finance for Wales, which argues that some tax-raising powers should be devolved to Wales.

Mr Edwards has argued for a ‘Barnett floor’ and for the increased transparency of Barnett consequentials – two recommendations that are to be welcomed in this final Holtham report.

Mr Edwards said:

“This has been a very important week for Wales with the publication of the new Economic Renewal Programme and now the Independent Commission’s second and final report on Funding and Finance in Wales.

“This report recommends a very different way of financing Wales, and we welcome the broadening of the debate and the ideas presented.

“One of the key issues raised is the accountability of politicians for the decisions that they take.

“Under the present system, the Welsh Government is given a cake and told to cut it how they see fit, rather than shoulder any responsibility for baking the cake first.

“The present funding system for Wales, the Barnett Formula, is clearly ridiculous.

“It is based largely upon the ability of English departments to argue the case for their own spending and then cut our public services budget by at least £300m per year.

“A ‘Barnett floor’, to prevent the situation getting worse, should be introduced immediately as advocated in the report.

“That should be followed by the development of a needs-based formula so that services are funded according to need, not on a crude per-head calculation.

“A proper system of accountability for Welsh politicians should be introduced, allowing the public to decide which financial policies and priorities should be enacted by allowing the Welsh Government to take responsibility for raising an element of its funding.

“In terms of maturing as a country, as a political nation, this would be a significant and much needed step forward.

“These recommendations in principle are also made by the Scottish Calman Commission, which was set up by the three Unionist parties.

“In failing to implement the recommendations of the first Holtham Commission report, including a ‘Barnett floor’, both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are letting Wales down, just as Labour failed when they had the chance to get a fairer funding system for Wales.”

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