Scotland fall-out: Wales talks money and power

Another quiet day in politics. Alex Salmond is standing down, Ann Clwyd isn't and Guto Bebb is very sorry.

The United Kingdom may never be the same again (copyright all politicians) but many of those involved in Welsh constitutional debates are generally sticking to the views they held before Scotland went to the polls.

Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood says the referendum should be a trigger for Wales to get more powers. First Minister Carwyn Jones says the prime minister should have held a constitutional convention before the referendum and that Wales is underfunded by £300m a year. (If only there were a mechanism such as a general election in the next year under which Mr Jones's party could take power at Westminster and fill that funding gap).

Labour, the Conservative and the Liberal Democrats are all committed to continue with the spending formula that Mr Jones says leaves Wales so under-funded. This week's "vow" by the leaders of the three largest parties at Westminster has left their representatives in Wales with some explaining to do. Carwyn Jones said the £300m shortfall could be addressed without reforming Lord Barnett's formula.

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb told us: "When the Prime Minister talks about a fair devolution settlement for Wales, clearly we don't want to leave any issues off the table and I would expect the issue of funding, as difficult as it is because we're in a difficult financial climate having to make difficult choices about the public finances, you would expect that issue to be addressed as part of the debate we're having."

All three major UK-wide parties are pledged to address it, or seek to address it, although none has explained how the Welsh government will somehow find its budget increased amid the cuts elsewhere that will follow next year's general election, whoever wins.

Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander gave the Liberal Democrat view: "I think the Barnett formula works well for all parts of the United Kingdom". He said there was a specific Welsh issue - of spending convergence - but the introduction of a 'floor' under the formula would tackle that issue. (Some might say the "convergence" issue applies only when spending is rising and the specific Welsh issue is really that £300m under-funding).

What then of the wider question of more powers? Carwyn Jones said Wales wouldn't play "second fiddle" in the new UK. He said Wales needed the same devolved structure as Scotland, although it might end up with different powers. He appears keen to order from the same menu as Alex Salmond but would prefer to go a-la-carte.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats challenged the other parties to sign up to the Silk commission's proposals for more powers as they have (without specifying how many extra AMs they want).

Mr Crabb thought there would ultimately be more symmetry between the Welsh and Scottish devolution settlements but said it would be for the people of Wales to decide (presumably, if a referendum on tax powers is ever called). "Nobody should look at arrangements in Scotland and automatically read across to Wales", he said.