Wales politics

Tax power restrictions 'starting point' for debate, says Cameron

David Cameron and Nick Clegg
Image caption David Cameron and Nick Clegg announced tax powers for Wales in November

David Cameron has said plans to hand restricted tax powers to Wales are the "starting point" for a debate.

UK ministers want to hold a referendum on allowing the Welsh government to vary income tax rates.

Each income tax band could only be moved at the same time and by the same amount - the so-called "lockstep".

A row over whether to back the lockstep or not led to Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies sacking four members of his shadow cabinet last week.

Mr Davies has criticised the lockstep while the four colleagues he sacked said they were supporting the policy of the UK coalition government.

Mr Cameron made his comments on the issue while visiting flood-hit areas of Pembrokeshire on Wednesday.

'Low tax party'

He did not comment directly on divisions within his party's assembly group, but said: "What we believe is that we need further devolution here in Wales.

"We want the Welsh assembly to have the power over taxes and we want the Conservative Party to be the low tax party in Wales campaigning here to make sure we help people with the cost of living by keeping the cost of government down and making sure they keep more of their hard-earned money to spend as the choose.

"That's what we stand for, that's what the Welsh Conservatives stand for and I welcome that.

"First of all we need to get the referendum, we need to have the debate about the referendum and the Conservative Party will be supporting a 'Yes' vote, and the starting point for all that is the settlement as set out in the [UK] government's response to the Silk inquiry."

The Silk commission was set up by UK ministers to look into devolved powers and said Wales should be responsible for raising some of the money it spends.

Last year, the commission recommended the Welsh government should have the flexibility to move each tax band independently of each other.

Nick Ramsay, Antoinette Sandbach, Mohammad Asghar and Janet Finch-Saunders were dismissed from the Welsh Conservatives' shadow cabinet last Wednesday.

The rebels disagreed with Mr Davies's opposition to the lock-step.

Two of them had said they could not support a position which went against the views of the prime minister.

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