Friday, November 01, 2013

Kirsty Williams welcomes coalition announcement

"More accountability and responsibility"

Walesonline reports: "The UK coalition leaders have today announced a series of new measures to enable the Welsh Government to invest in transport infrastructure, such as an upgrade of the M4, and the devolution of stamp duty. The announcement follows the news last night that the Celtic Manor, which hosted the Ryder Cup in 2010, will be the venue for a major Nato summit next year."

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, comments: “I am very pleased that we will be able to make advances on the Silk Commission’s recommendations. It is no secret that the opposition and delay to this announcement has come from the Conservative side of the coalition. It has been an uphill struggle to get them to agree to implement these key recommendations. Liberal Democrats have consistently supported greater financial powers for the National Assembly.

“It is a credit to my Liberal Democrat colleagues in government that this announcement has been made after over a decade of Labour inaction and months of Conservative inertia. While constitutionalists and academics will pour over the detail and debate today’s announcement, I want the people of Wales to understand how this will affect their lives.

“For the very first time, the amount of money a Welsh Government spends could be directly linked to success in promoting economic development. That should sharpen minds in Cardiff Bay and would also bring the same level of accountability to Wales that exists in almost all national parliaments.

“Stamp duty devolved to Wales could help lower the cost of buying a house and promote growth in the construction sector. The Confederation of British Industry and the business community believe that, if used effectively, devolving and reforming stamp duty could be a tool for growth and stimulating house building in Wales. This would create the much needed jobs we need in Wales to help our economic recovery. Wales’ devolution package is missing a critical element.

“Unlike most families and businesses, the Welsh government has the luxury of spending money handed out by others. Uniquely, Wales has no power to borrow or raise money. This lack of accountability for how money is raised breeds irresponsibility about how money is spent. Wales must have a proper functioning parliament with additional fiscal responsibilities to create a stronger economy and a fairer society.

“I know that the Liberal Democrat side of the coalition is working hard to ensure that we achieve this aim. At every stage we have been pressing, and we will continue to press, to bring more accountability and responsibility to the Welsh Government.  We want Wales to have further powers to drive forward Wales’ economic development, creating jobs and prosperity for our people.”