Wales Bill - Committee (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 7th November 2016.

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Photo of Lord Kinnock Lord Kinnock Labour 4:00 pm, 7th November 2016

I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord. At the time, I almost rejoiced in the full implementation of the long-standing Labour Party policy—developed under my leadership, as it happens, on the basis of continued representation from my comrades in Scotland—that a specific opportunity should be given to the people of Scotland to decide on that issue. Equally, and with substantial force, there were representations from Wales that that offer should not be made. Influences, parties and opinions in Wales suggested that that should not be the case. But their views were set aside—while undoubtedly being recognised and respected, as is our manner in Wales—and the issue was never put, and it never generated the merest scintilla of a spasm of objection.

Almost on the contrary, at that time in the 1990s and at this time in the second decade of the 21st century, there was and is no evident support among the public for the idea of income tax-raising or income tax-varying powers to be allocated to the Welsh Assembly. In this era, when all of us, if we have any sense at all, must be aware of the feeling of distance that exists between the general electorate and those who are elected to govern them, we should be sensitive to the idea that when there is no measurable support for a proposition that is as significant as the varying of taxation powers, and yet the recognised elected authority and the Executive go ahead and grant that power, on the best day it will be greeted as an irrelevance. On a less good day, it will be greeted with cynical dismissal.