Author Archives: Peter Black AM

Peter Black AM writes…A Welsh budget cast in partnership

The summer of 2014 was a particularly busy one. In addition to the usual constituency and regional based activities I was also engaged in a series of meetings with the Finance Minister and her officials in an effort to get a budget deal for the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

The history of these deals has been chequered during this fourth Assembly. Labour do not have a majority so they need the support of at least one other party to get their budget through. They will not deal with the Conservatives so that just leaves two other possible partners.

At first, the Labour Government had it made. They negotiated with both the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru, and played one off against the other. In their first budget, they struck a deal with the Welsh Lib Dems and as a result, the pupil deprivation grant was born. In the second they did a deal with Plaid Cymru, who secured a two year investment in apprenticeships.

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Opinion: more freedom, more responsibility, more accountability for Wales

The launch of the Silk Commission’s first report this week is a real win for liberalism.

The report looks at the financial powers that the National Assembly for Wales should have, how accountable it is for its spending and how we ensure effective economic policy is rewarded. I welcome the report’s declaration that a number of taxes, such as air passenger duty and landfill tax, should be devolved. But more significantly, the report also recommends that by 2020, …

Posted in News and Wales | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Opinion: Standing up for the rights of mobile home owners

A recent survey by a consumer watchdog has found that more than 40 per cent of park homes residents have said that they feel unable to sell or buy their home freely due to a fear of site operators blocking sales. Consumer Focus Wales has discovered that almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of park home residents in Wales who were interviewed have experienced problems on their site in the past five years, while 29 per cent have experienced problems with site maintenance, security or safety standards.

Local councils have also told the consumer watchdog that penalties are not severe enough for rogue site operators, while it is almost impossible to revoke a licence. The high costs of potential court cases against rogue site operators means that local authorities are reluctant to take action which might affect vulnerable residents.

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Peter Black AM writes: Welsh Liberal Democrats say no to regional pay

The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that regional pay would further entrench Wales as a low-pay economy, both in the public and private sectors. More to the point it would lead to men and women doing the same job at different ends of the country, but receiving different rates of pay. I believe in the principle of an individual being paid a rate for a job, not in a multi-tier system which sees wages set on a postcode-by-postcode basis which will ultimately see the rich areas of south-east England become richer at the expense of the rest of the UK and …

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Opinion: A guide to fighting list seats

In writing this article I do not claim any great wisdom in how to fight list elections. In fact the fact I survived the latest Welsh Assembly poll has more to do with the decline in the Plaid Cymru vote than anything I did, though the amount of effort and targeted work we put in must have had some significance in securing a 54 vote majority.

This is what I did. It may not be appropriate in other areas and it may be fairly obvious to any experienced campaigner. Inevitably there were things I could have done better or did not …

Posted in Op-eds and Wales | Tagged | 4 Comments

Opinon: two referendums and an election – Wales and coalitions (part 3)

The third element of the coalition agreement relates to the powers of the Welsh Assembly. At present we can only pass laws piecemeal. An order passing legislative competence in a specified area of policy is requested by the Assembly, scrutinised by us and by the Welsh Affairs Select Committee and then passed in Cardiff Bay and in both houses of Parliament before receiving royal assent.

It is a long and expensive process not to mention frustrating. The Housing order for example took three years to be approved. The referendum, which is now scheduled to be held in the spring, will …

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Opinon: fighting for funding – Wales and coalitions (part 2)

Previously, I referred to the fact that the Coalition Agreement contained three specific provisions relating to Wales. One of these concerned the drawing down of legislative powers over housing.The second provision relates to the way that Wales (and Scotland for that matter) is funded. This is a matter of some controversy here and the coalition agreement offers little clarity on how it is to be resolved. It is safe to say that the rather esoteric phrase referring to it needs to be subject to negotiation with UK Treasury Ministers so as to establish the best way forward.

Funding has been …

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