Welsh Tory leader floats 5 pence Welsh income tax cut

The powers have yet to arrive but some politicians are already planning how to use them.

You may have caught Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies on last night's Westminster Hour on Radio 4 arguing for a 3-5p cut in the 40% higher rate in Wales.

His ability to make that cut depends of course on the powers being transferred to Cardiff - after a referendum - and on the Conservatives being in a position to implement change.

Putting those hurdles aside, this is what he said: "What we need in Wales are more entrepreneurs, businessmen and women setting up companies here or staying here in Wales to create a more dynamic economy

"Now by and large most of those individuals sit within that 40 pence tax regime and I believe that by moving the tax bands by about 3 to 5 pence we could achieve a differential between others parts of the United Kingdom that would be mood and attitude-changing to create that that entrepreneurial society. And the cost to the Exchequer is only about £12m-16m if you focus on the 40 pence tax rate.

"We've got to do something that's game-changing in the Welsh economy otherwise we're going to carry on lagging behind other parts of the United Kingdom."

The figure of £12m-£16m is per penny - so a 5p cut could cost £80m. The Welsh Conservatives say the figures are based on a note from the National Assembly for Wales library service.

In the same programme, my BBC colleague Brian Wheeler asked First Minister Carwyn Jones if Labour (despite spending cuts elsewhere) would deliver more money for Wales under Ed Miliband.

"I've had assurances that the under-funding will be addressed," said Mr Jones. "Now [the] Barnett [formula] is 36 years old, it's creaking, no question about that, but from my point of view what I want to see is the funding gap that exists at the moment as far as Wales is concerned to see that gap being filled. How it's done is less of an issue."

Mr Jones rehearsed his familiar argument that Wales was not holding out a begging bowl but expecting a fair return for the country's contribution to the UK's prosperity- coal, steel, tinplate, slate etc - during the last century and a half.

He added: "We cannot go into the general election in May silent on the issue of Wales's funding situation. That wouldn't help us in Wales as far as the general election is concerned."