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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Paying for devolution

Like other bloggers I received a press release from Lee Waters of Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, urging us to establish the truth about the Barnett formula. This was picked up by the Western Mail this morning and has already been raised in the chamber today as part of First Minister's question time.

Sustrans have joined with the British Medical Association and the National Association of Headteachers, to call for an independent inquiry into the Barnett formula, the method used to decide how much money Wales gets.

The reform of the Barnet formula is not a subject that has come up on the doorsteps so far, nor is it likely to set people's imaginations on fire, however it is absolutely crucial in determining how much money the Assembly has to spend on education and health amongst many other matters.

Party lines are sharply drawn on this subject with the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru in favour of reform and Labour and the Tories opposed. An independent review to finally establish if a case exists for reform would therefore be welcome. Alas, it may take a coalition deal to get such an investigation onto the political agenda.

Update: Lee Waters writes further on this initiative on the Guardian's Comment is Free.
Isn't it hypocritical to demand more money from England at the same time as expecting greater political autonomy?
What we are saying is that a properly Federal Britain should be funded on the basis of need rather than an arbitrary apportionment based on population.
so more freedom from England - and more money too? I'd vote for that
If that is the outcome of the review....
Surely what should happen is greater power in the hands of local government, with a greater proportion of taxes spent at that level raised at that level combined with the Assembly being given tax raising powers and less money flowing from Westminster.

Whilst Wales is dependent upon Westminster for funding, Wales will never get any greater degree of autonomy.

Poorer areas sucking money from wealthier areas in large amounts will never solve any problems either, and politicians will always lobby for more money for their area, simply because there will be votes in it.
External funding is habit forming, it encourages waste and discourages enterprise. More good could be done with greater local autonomy.

Funding by need is too subjective. It would be far more benficial to get more financial independence from Westminster, probably as part of a general shift towards greater local and lower national taxation.

Wales has been sorely let down by Westminster. It needs to be helped to its feet, and then left to run on its own.
Let the Welsh Assembly set corporation tax, then it could lower it to attract more business.

Of course, given the ability of self determination bad decisions can be made, but at least then they will be mistakes made by the Welsh Assembly, not by manderins in Westminster.
Even with tax varying powers there will still be a need for a balancing grant which should be based on need.
And you haven't mentioned the anomaly that occurred on devolution - Scotland received more under Barnett than it should have done, because population actually fell since the base date for calculation.

- Frank Little
it may take a coalition deal to get such an investigation onto the political agenda.

Not to worry, whatever the results are in May, minority government is a daed donkey, and hopefully it will be layed to rest. As Im sure you know, and as even Labour surely must have realised by now, majority one-party governments are extremely rare in elections that use PR. I'm not a Lib-Dem voter, but I was astounded that Labour was so naive/arrogant in 2003 to think they could go it alone with only 30 seats. As events proved, a majority of 1 is no secure majority at all, and an insecure government is an irresponsable government.
Oh surely not. The welsh want to shout about how great they are because they're independent blah blah blah but then, surprise, surprise, not only do they want England to keep on paying for this "independence", but they want England to pay them even more.

YOU ARE NOTHING BUT fakes if you are happy to take money from ANY other country. you are certainly not independent.
Infact, you are cowards. We want our own English parliament and you have an assembly but you still dont have the nuts to go it alone. Pathetic.
He may be rather uncouth, but he's spot on. There is no chance in hell of the English being talked into giving you more money. You think Rhodri Morgan's comments don't get heard past Offa's Dyke??
Give Wales control of it's tax revenue, minus a deduction for it's share of defence, pensions, etc,and thats it. Spend what you raise, or can borrow.No "grant" of English money to finance free prescriptions or healthcare.
You forfeited any right to England's financial assistance when you voted for the Welsh Assembly. You want control of your own affairs, have it, and the responsibility it entails. Wales comparative poverty is none of England's concern. I really find it amazing that you dont grasp the fact you have no claim on us anymore.
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