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Financial Accountability

Volume 611: debated on Wednesday 25 May 2016

In order to become truly accountable, the Welsh Government need to take responsibility for raising more of the money that they spend. That is why, as part of the Wales Bill, we will devolve income tax powers to the Welsh Assembly. I look forward to continuing to work alongside the Welsh Government to implement those powers.

I hope my right hon. Friend agrees that while the Welsh Government are profligate in many ways, the reinstatement of the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway via Llanbedr Pont Steffan will be helpful to the entire Welsh economy. Such spending would be welcomed by all the citizens of Wales, who realise that investment in transport infrastructure is a precursor to economic prosperity.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that there are several examples of the strange priorities shown by the Welsh Government. Investment in railways is a priority of the UK Government, as shown by the electrification of the line from Swansea through to Paddington. That in itself will provide greater opportunities for rail travel, such as the upgrade of the valleys lines, which, in turn, provides a knock-on, positive effect on more rural communities.

Air passenger duty has already been devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly and is shortly to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but despite this, the Budget did not propose that it be devolved to the Welsh Assembly. Will the Secretary of State support the devolution of air passenger duty, and if not, why not?

Rates of taxation, including air passenger duties, are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, who always keeps levels of taxes under review. The hon. Lady will be well aware that the Treasury is looking at this matter and will report in due course.

13. A few years ago in Boston, Massachusetts, a few revolutionaries said, “No taxation without representation”, so does my right hon. Friend agree that it is very important that the Welsh Assembly takes advantage of the Wales Bill and applies its own income tax? (905025)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the continued interest that he shows in Wales. I want the Welsh Assembly to be a mature legislator taking more responsibility for the money that it spends by raising money itself. On that basis, it will become truly accountable to the people of Wales, and will have to look differently at the sorts of spending priorities it has and the commitments it makes.