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Income tax referendum would be a waste; OUR VIEW.

Democracy is the best form of government, and the one adopted by every enlightened and progressive country in the world, but there is no getting away from the fact that it can be a very expensive business.

So the argument that broke out yesterday about whether Wales needs a referendum on gaining powers to vary income tax needs to be set in the context of the likely cost of the exercise to the public purse.

Here in Wales we get plenty of say in those who rule us, with the opportunity to vote at varying intervals for local councillors, Assembly Members and Members of Parliament. That, some might say, is more than enough democracy to be going on with.

Under the Wales Bill currently going through Parliament, Ministers in Wales could vary income tax by up to 10p in the pound, subject to a referendum.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said he felt that "on balance", an income tax referendum still needed to be held - a view not shared by his opponents.

A few years ago, a referendum to support such change would have been inevitable, but the Scottish independence debate has dramatically moved the dial. Despite the "no" vote, Scotland is getting much more power over its own destiny, and it appears that some English regions will also receive devolved powers without a referendum.

On that basis, you seriously have to question the value of a referendum on the issue here. It would be an expensive process at a time when public money is so tight, and given that it would not be a vote on full independence, is unlikely to generate anything like the level of public engagement that the Scottish referendum provoked.

The First Minister is quite right to be wary of needing a referendum in Wales on every issue. Whether one is needed on this one is highly debatable.

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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 5, 2014
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