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Devolution and Growth Across Britain

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:47 pm on 3rd June 2015.

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Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 1:47 pm, 3rd June 2015

Perhaps I will help the hon. Gentleman shortly, because I am coming straight on to Wales.

We are told that the Wales Bill will deliver a clearer, more stable devolution settlement for Wales and devolve important new powers to the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government. We understand that a funding floor is to be introduced to protect Welsh relative funding and provide certainty for the Welsh Government in planning for the future. We support measures to put Welsh devolution on a stronger statutory basis, as is the case with Scotland. We agree with taking forward proposals from the Silk commission and extending the power that the people of Wales have over their transport, elections and energy.

To come to the point made by Jonathan Edwards, let me be clear that Wales must not be unfairly disadvantaged by the Barnett formula. The Conservative-led coalition cut the Welsh budget by £1.5 billion. This Conservative Government must ensure that there is a fair funding settlement for Wales by introducing a funding floor. That funding floor should not be contingent on an income tax referendum.

The Queen’s Speech refers to legislation to implement the Stormont House agreement in Northern Ireland. This issue was raised in Prime Minister’s questions. The legislation will provide the architecture to deal with the past, institutional reform at Stormont and certain economic measures, including the devolution of corporation tax. In view of the concerning escalation of the dispute over welfare reform, we urge the Government to do all in their power to work with the Northern Ireland parties and, where appropriate, the Irish Government to avert this serious threat to political and economic stability in Northern Ireland.