Question on Wales’ borrowing powers

Mark asked a question in response in the Statement on Funding Reform by the Minister for Finance and Leader of the House (Jane Hutt).

 

Dydd Mercher, 24 Hydref 2012
Wednesday, 24 October 2012

 

Mark Drakeford: Minister, I also thank you for your statement this afternoon. It is a tribute to the patience and persistence that both you and the First Minister have applied to securing a practical future funding solution for Wales. I would like to ask you three brief, specific questions this afternoon. First, can you confirm again the Welsh Government’s opposition to any future funding regime in which convergence is embedded and which, therefore, fails to recognise the relative needs of the Welsh population? Secondly, is there anything further that you could add to the indications that you have given this afternoon of timelines for implementing the arrangements that you have set out, including any legislation that might need to follow the publication of the stage 1 Silk report? Finally, can you provide any reassurance that you and ministerial colleagues are now working on potential infrastructure projects that could be brought forward for early access to borrowing?

 

Jane Hutt: I thank the Member for Cardiff West for those questions. We are in complete opposition to any funding regime that embeds convergence. It was this Assembly that gave cross-party backing to the Welsh Government in securing the Holtham commission, which did the analysis and provided the evidence that enabled us to go on to convince the Treasury that this could not continue and that we could not in the future be disadvantaged by the Barnett formula. Barnett formula reform remains on the agenda—not only do we say that, but the House of Lords select committee said that, as well as the Holham commission. However, we have a commitment today to address convergence in terms of the mechanisms, which I am sure will then be secured as a result of the forecasting of convergence.
The timeline is important. I spoke today to the chief secretary and to the Secretary of State for Wales about the importance, when we respond to Silk, of implementing any legislative framework that we need for this agreement before the next UK Government election, which will be in 2015. That means that we will then move forward to deliver on the agreement in terms of legislative opportunities, and, because we have a Wales infrastructure investment plan, we have projects in the pipeline that are ready to go. We have nationally significant schemes that we know will boost the economy and boost the opportunities for jobs and growth in Wales.