Monday 16 December 2013

Do we need a referendum on powers we won't use.

The result of a referendum on whether the Welsh Government should be able to vary income tax rates up or down would be too close to call, according to an exclusive poll for the Wasting Mule.

The poll – undertaken for the Mule  by Cardiff-based Beaufort Research – showed that 32% of voters would back such a power being devolved to Wales, with 30% against. Some 19% said they would not vote while a further 17% said they didn’t know. 1% of the sample were too young to vote. The figures do not add up to 100% because of rounding.

The 36% who are either Don't knows or simply admit they won't vote is understandable when you consider most of us wil probably find it hard to follow what is going on 

And it is a great pity the Mule does nor tel us what question was asked but a quick search of the Beaufort Website tells us that.

In the latest wave of the Beaufort Wales Omnibus survey, conducted in November, 1,022 adults in Wales aged 16 and over were informed that the UK Government says it will pass a law to enable a referendum to be held on whether the Welsh Government should be able to vary rates of income tax up or down in Wales.  Following this they were then asked “If such a referendum were held tomorrow, how would you vote?” 

To be fair the question is clear enough but maybe it should have had added that the overall Tax rate will not change 

Indeed this has led to Plaid Cymru Treasury spokesman Jonathan Edwards. claiming that No referendum is needed on the proposals to devolve income tax-varying powers to the Assembly, 
The Mule reports that .....

The Carmarthen East & Dinefwr MP argues that the type of powers of offer to Wales are less flexible than those recommended by the cross-party Silk Commission and will not require a public vote.
Instead of giving AMs the ability to vary individual income tax rates as originally proposed, it is expected the legislation anticipated to be unveiled this week will only all
ow all the rates to be moved up or down together in a “lockstep”.
The  ‘lockstep’ power  is one than exisist in Scotland and in the 14 years that it has been in existence under Labour Led or SNP governments have not been used once.
As Jonathen Edwards says 
“The fact that greater investment powers will be tied to the ‘lock-step’ income tax-sharing arrangement means that Labour are now trapped. There will be a limit on the amount that the Welsh Government can borrow to invest - however, the limit will be much lower unless it adopts the income tax-sharing arrangement.
He continued: “Personally, I do not see the need for a referendum if all we are to get is the lock-step arrangement that will not allow the Welsh Government to realistically vary income tax rates as it is not the original proposal agreed by all the parties...
“As a party, Plaid Cymru will seek to table amendments to the Bill when it is formally debated at Westminster in order to preserve the integrity of the original Silk Commission recommendations which were agreed upon by all the parties in Wales. For us, these are the bare minimum of powers that are needed, and were agreed as a compromise.”
Do we need a referendum on Tax varying powers which are unlikely to be used>

Indeed what's the point unless its a simple symbol of an increased authority  of the assembly.

But there's also the possibility that people will vote NO not because they don't want Tax powers but because they don't see the point of powers that will not be used .

The likelihood is win or lose the referendum turnout will be low unless there's a more substantial change on offer.

Next year Scotland face a referendum on Independence when all we in Wales have is the opportunity to vary some income tax and as I repeat "are unlikely to use".

Says it all really 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Silk says there should be a referendum. For cross party consensus, all parties should agree to everything Silk says. Consensus will help get things done. Very dissapointing for Edwards to but in and try and mess things up.