Budget Processes

1. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Cabinet Office – in the Senedd at on 15 May 2024.

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Photo of Adam Price Adam Price Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

8. What steps is the Cabinet Secretary taking to improve the ability of the Senedd to influence the process of shaping the Government's budget? OQ61102

Photo of Rebecca Evans Rebecca Evans Labour 2:16, 15 May 2024

I'm continuing to work with the Finance Committee to agree improvements to our budget processes. Further discussions are planned over the summer with a view to agreeing an updated budget business protocol.

Photo of Adam Price Adam Price Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

Under systems based on processes in Westminister, there is a tendency for the Executive, the Government, to keep a very tight hold of the ability to set the budget. We in this Senedd, and, truth be told, in the Scottish Parliament as well, have inherited that stance. In the Scottish Parliament they have a Finance Bill, but it's only the Government that can bring forward amendments.

But this is not the only way of doing things, of course, and, as we now reform the Senedd, we are moving towards a European system in terms of the electoral system, and when we look at Parliaments in those nations—Scandinavian countries, for example—because of the negotiation between parties, very often where the Government doesn't have a majority, they provide for more powers in the hands of, for example, committees—the finance committees of those Parliaments—to table specific amendments to the budgets. And not just in Europe. Also, there are some Parliaments that do operate on a Westminster basis—Canada, India, South Africa—that also give that ability to committees to bring forward specific amendments. Why don't we emulate that here?

Photo of Rebecca Evans Rebecca Evans Labour 2:17, 15 May 2024

I'm always interested in finding out what’s happening in other countries. I think that the way in which we can operate in a collaborative and co-operative way here in Wales is demonstrated through the co-operation agreement that we have with Plaid Cymru. I think I’ve had, over the years, some really excellent discussions with Siân Gwenllian as the designated Member there in terms of our preparations for the budget. I hope that those discussions have gone on in a respectful way, where Plaid Cymru is able to see the influence that it has had on our wider budget. So, I think that the way in which we’ve approached things here has been on that kind of party political, if you like, approach to budget setting.

Of course, I’m interested in what’s happening elsewhere. Ultimately, we have to make things balance, if you like, so you could conceivably find yourself in a situation where you have amendments on different tax matters, for example, which mean that the outcome of those amendments leads you then to have to go back and look at your whole budget again to make it balance. But of course I’m happy to consider good examples of what’s happening elsewhere.

I think the budget protocol has been really important in terms of trying to find those additional points through the budget year where we can have that engagement. So, the debate that we have is really important. If we’re not able to publish an early budget because of choices made in Westminster, I go to the Finance Committee to have those discussions, and I know that the sessions with the chief economist have been well received as well. So, we’ve managed to agree quite a number, I think, of things in terms of the changes to the budget protocol, but there are some areas where we’ve yet to come to an agreement, and I know that we’ll have some more discussions over the summer on that.