A Devoloution Precept?

Love him or loath him one can count on Guto Bebb to raise interesting points of view. Two of his latest posts on Tax and Borrowing Powers for Wales are a case in point (apparently a third is iminent). Agree or disagree with Guto, he always raises important issues worthy of debate.

The second in the series deals with weather a Devolved Wales could have tax varying powers, it is not surprising that Guto thinks not:
"Around 85% of the Welsh population live within 50 miles of the English border. This is crucial and makes a separate tax system in Wales a damaging prospect for all of us"

One of the difficulties people in the UK have with border problems is that having lived as an Island or collection of Islands, for so long we forget that these border problems are things that most countries have dealt with for a very long time. Having large populations living close to boarders with other countries is actually the norm. If Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal etc can overcome such difficulties then England, Wales and Scotland can too if they choose to go their separate ways.

But looking at the conundrum Guto raises from a Devolutionist view rather than a Nationalist one, I feel that there is a moral problem with having this level of government that has the power to spend money, but cannot be held to account for raising any of the money that it spends.

I love my free bus pass, I love the fact that I can use the swimming pool free of charge. You might argue that paying for these services means that less is spent on education, but the fact that I have these services means that I don't go to school so if I want to be selfish what care I. If providing the services meant an extra £X on my tax bill I might think differently.

The Boston Tea Party was about no taxation without representation – isn't representation without fiscal responsibility just as bad?

Even if all Guto's comments about the difficulties of differing tax systems between England and Wales are accepted, there is a way in which Wales could have fiscal responsibility.

On top of my Council Tax from Conwy Council, I have to pay a precept for the North Wales Police and a precept from my parish council.

Couldn't the Assembly also raise a precept?

Since the inception of Council Tax, Welsh councils have charged £200-£600 less than many English councils, doesn't this leave wiggle room for the Assembly to raise some of its own money through a devoloution precept?

A £100 band D Assembly precept would still make living in a band D house in Flintshire a lot cheaper than living in a band D house ascross the road in Cheshire, but would give, not tax raising powers, but tax raising responsibility to the Assembly.


  1. You haven't got a parish council.

  2. Yes, but the sort of house that is band D in Cheshire wouldn't be in band D in Flintshire. The English decided to reband council tax in Wales at the height of the Brown bubble, so band E in most of Wales (or band F in Cardiff) is equivalent to band D in England.

    But setting taxes in Wales would be a really good idea precisely because of border issues: we shouldn't look at this as a way to put them up, but to cut them. We could abolish Income Tax, Corporation Tax, National Insurance, and VAT, and replace them with a single tax on the unimproved value of land. That would be a real boost to productive investment, whilst making the people who would rather cover over our country with surface car parking pay for it.

  3. Steven Richards28/02/2010, 18:46

    Love him or loathe him? Unfortunately for Guto Bebb, more and more Tories in Aberconwy seem to favour the latter, with the Clwyd West Tory MP having to intervene more and more frequently to calm things down, but often making things worse.

    I see that 'Wales on Sunday' gave it a mention today:

    "THE Conservatives in Aberconwy – well, the ones who haven’t left or fallen out with the candidate – are campaigning hard to have one Guto Bebb elected to Westminster at the coming general election.

    Their glossy leaflet is made up to look like a women’s magazine. And, impressively, only contains two glaring errors.

    Firstly, it boasts of Mr Bebb “’living and campaigning locally”, which is only true if Caernarfon is now part of Aberconwy (it isn’t).

    And then it prints a picture of Mr Bebb with “MEP Jonathan Evans” showing his support. Which is curious, what with Mr Evans having not been an MEP since last June.

    Still, apart from that, good work!"

  4. Seems to me that is a real vote winner for devolution an extra tax precept.

    No the truth is that Wales needs to cut tax and the over-relience on the public sector. Sack 30% of Council office workers and the Welsh economy would receive a tremendous boost, as these often talented folk turned their minds to wealth creation in the private sector instead of endless meetings, bumpf, meetings, more meetings, glossy reports consigned to the waste bin, yet more meetings .....