What's on offer

We have finally got an answer to a question many of us have been trying to get from the first minister for a while.

The question is whether he actually wants control over income tax?

And the answer is yes.

Let me take you back to last Thursday after the Smith Commission recommended the full devolution of income tax to Scotland.

In response, Carwyn Jones said he would like to be offered the same powers.

We all know there is a big difference between wanting to be offered something and actually wanting something.

The leader of Plaid Leanne Wood was obviously aware of the difference as well because during First Minister's Questions she asked him whether he just wanted the offer or the actual implementation of the powers in Wales. In other words, was he serious?

Wriggle room

And the answer was yes.

Even she appeared to be taken aback because her subsequent lines of questioning were more appropriate for a no response.

So we now know the first minister wants the full devolution of income tax to Wales and some control of things like housing benefit, which are due to be introduced in Scotland.

There is one big caveat which gives him an enormous amount of wriggle room and that is the insistence that there needs to be a better financial settlement from Westminster first, or as he calls it "fair funding".

Up until now, journalists like me have never been able to get past the fair funding point with him on income tax.

Behind scenes

The answer to the question of whether he would like to see income tax devolved has always been met with variations of the "well it depends on Westminster" theme.

Now he's gone beyond that and admitted for the first time that if he gets extra cash from a new UK government next year then he will press for income tax devolution.

Whether he still thinks there should be a referendum is another matter, but in the past he's said he supports one.

So what caused the change? Behind the scenes, advisors are saying it's a change of tone rather than a seismic shift but he also spent some time with the new First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, last week and the two of them are said to have got on well.

That may have had a bearing on what was the most pro-devolution stance from the first minister in a while on a subject he's been very cautious on - tax.