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Rebalancing the Economy

Volume 602: debated on Wednesday 18 November 2015

Our long-term plan is turning around the Welsh economy: since 2010, unemployment has fallen, manufacturing industry has created 12,000 jobs and the Welsh economy has grown faster than any other part of the United Kingdom.

Does the Secretary of State agree that key to rebalancing the economy is getting a proper grip of the public finances? Does he share my shock and horror at the recent TaxPayers Alliance report that exposes the enormous amount of waste in the public sector in Wales?

With his eagle and sharp eye on the care of the public finances, my hon. Friend makes a really important point. I was actually shocked by some of the examples from the TaxPayers Alliance that we have read. Clearly, the Welsh Government and the entire public sector in Wales need to get a much stronger grip on the disciplines of cost control and to get on top of managing the national finances.

Provisional results from the annual survey of hours and earnings by the Office for National Statistics show that Wales is at the bottom of the pay table and is the only part of the British state where earnings have gone down. Does that not indicate that the Welsh Government need to be empowered with a wide portfolio of fiscal powers—the Secretary of State has supported that for Scotland—as direct control from Westminster is clearly failing?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the Welsh Government need more fiscal tools. They need the responsibility of income tax devolution to encourage them to be a more financially responsible Administration. The point that he makes about earnings is also important. That is why he should be giving full-throated support to the steps that we are taking to drive up wage levels and end the curse of low pay in Wales.