Sadly what was on offer in the debate on the first part of the Silk Report at the Welsh Grand Committee in Westminster this week was poor, Welsh Secretary Tory David Jones was his usual non committal self passing the decision of what taxes to devolve the Treasury while his opposite number the incredibly smug Owen Smith took the opportunity to get on his soap box and essentially questioning the legitimacy of the Silk Commission by quoting some lines from the report about people daring to suggest the Welsh Assembly Government should be more accountable to the Welsh public.
Owen Smith, along with other Labour MP’s also held up Carwyn favourite straw man of borrowing powers before any take powers could be discussed, but Owen Smith seem to row back on that accusation when he was challenged by one of the Tory MP’s later on in the debate.
The debate continued with a range of pro and anti tax devolution Welsh and English MP's arguing their cases and lots of point scoring challenges from all sides and the Tories and Labour dominating most exchanges, Plaid Cymru’s MP's gave the report a pretty cautious welcome while the Lib Dems spoke in agreement with Labour that the small taxes devolution could be dealt with in a Finance Bill -let’s hope by the time the next part of the report is published our MP’s can raise their game and debate the issues not call each other names.
And one final point the discussion inevitably got onto the state of the Welsh Economy and this exchange between Alun Cairns and Owen Smith summed up the intellectual deficit of Welsh politicians of all parties in matters economic that is at least part of the reason why our economy continues going down the drain.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned the greater dependency in Wales and offered a whole host of reasons, such as demographic issues, an ageing population, and so on. How much does he attribute that greater dependency to the relatively poor economic performance in Wales in comparison to the rest of the UK, over, say, the last 15 years?
I do not attribute it to that at all. I attribute it to 150 years of history, industry, the legacy of change, the demographics of our country, the distance from London and the simple truth that Wales has a greater relative need than many parts of England, which requires a greater degree of expenditure. A sensible, compassionate Government would understand that and continue to fund that through more equitable redistribution of funds across the UK. I hope that the newly-compassionate Conservatives will recognise that and continue to do so. However, I have my doubts