Wales Bill - Committee (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 7th November 2016.

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Photo of Lord Wigley Lord Wigley Plaid Cymru 3:30 pm, 7th November 2016

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, for his response, but he must be feeling a little uneasy with the quality of the brief that he has been given on this. It is recognised the length and breadth of Wales that this is a totally unsatisfactory position which is causing problems for employers and those employees who are hoping to gain benefit from apprenticeship schemes. It is causing problems for the Welsh Government as they forward plan their budget for the coming year. We are talking of a sum of money that may be, let us say for argument’s sake, in the order of £150 million—a significant sum. Whatever the detail on the way in which these schemes are rolled out in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, none the less, if this is the funding arrangement that has been agreed, there should be transparency. We are now in November, and the budget will be coming in April. It is totally unsatisfactory for the UK Treasury and Government to place the devolved Administrations in this position. Whereas the note that no doubt will be sent round will give the fullest information that the Treasury is willing to make available, it none the less may well not answer the serious questions that have been raised.

I am grateful for the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Rowlands, with his expert knowledge in this area, and to the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, for intervening. We need to know. I realise that it is not the tradition to divide the House in Committee. However, if there is not a satisfactory answer from the Treasury and the Minister, I most certainly intend to come back to this on Report and, at that point, to press it. It is just not acceptable that we in Wales are placed in this position. It is not the fault of the Minister personally, but it is certainly the responsibility of the Government and the Treasury. I hope that between now and Report the Minister will have serious discussions with the Treasury, and that if he in his heart recognises that there is a serious problem here, he himself might choose to come back on this. On that basis, however, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 23 withdrawn.

Clauses 14 to 16 agreed.

Clause 17: Welsh rates of income tax: removal of referendum requirement

Debate on whether Clause 17 should stand part of the Bill.