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Kirsty Williams sets out Welsh Liberal Democrats’ priorities for financial powers

June 21, 2011 11:48 AM

As Carwyn Jones prepares to make his statement setting out his aproach to achieving enhanced financial powers for the Welsh Government, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, Kirsty Williams, has outlined the approach she believes should be taken. Kirsty Williams portrait

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

"Liberal Democrats have consistently supported greater financial powers for the National Assembly for two reasons. Firstly, it will bring more accountability and responsibility to the Welsh Government and secondly because a progressive Government would be able to use these powers to drive forward Wales' economic development, creating jobs and prosperity for people in Wales. That should be this government's number one priority.

"Our manifesto supported both Barnett reform and tax-varying powers, as being proposed for Scotland. In contrast Labour stood on an election manifesto that was, at best, ambivalent on increased financial autonomy. Carwyn Jones now appears to have performed an about turn.

"Requests for further powers can not be conceived as part of a short term political tactic to blame all of Wales' woes on the Westminster Government.

"For over a decade, the Labour government in Westminster refused to countenance the devolution of any financial powers whatsoever, happily bestowing on local councils powers that it would not contemplate for the National Assembly. Now, for the first time, there is a government in Westminster who is willing to consider positively the case for further financial powers to be devolved to Wales.

"It is important that Wales makes a strong case for financial powers. This case needs to be based on evidence and have maximum support across political parties and across Wales. Today, Carwyn Jones must make the leap from short term opportunist leader of the Labour Party to become the First Minister for all of Wales with an agenda that commands respect. He must set out with clarity and intellectual rigour an approach to financial powers that is designed to build a coalition of support in Wales and that demands the respect of politicians in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Westminster. If he does that he will have the full support of the Welsh Liberal Democrats."

Notes to editors:

During the election campaign, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander MP visited Wales, stating:

"After the control freakery of the Labour years, we now have a Government in Westminster that is actively looking to devolve more powers where possible. We have already committed to work with the new Welsh government to develop a Calman-style process.

"This will aim to develop the financial autonomy of the Welsh Government to give the Welsh Government more opportunity to create the right environment for encouraging growth, for example by varying stamp duty."