Welsh First Minister Sympathetic to Tourism VAT Reduction
At last week’s National Assembly for Wales, the First Minister of Wales was asked about his position on a policy that calls for a reduction in VAT by Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for Brecon and Radnorshire. The First Minister expressed his sympathy for the Campaign.
Kirsty Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire, Welsh Liberal Democrat)
I’m surprised, First Minister, you haven’t taken this opportunity to support a policy—not just a policy being promoted by my party, but a policy that was being promoted by members of your own business rate advisory group, who saw the benefit of what this could deliver for the manufacturing industry in Wales. Perhaps you’d like to go back again and have a look at the merits of this policy.
Now, one of the other ways in which we could help protect jobs across Wales is supporting the tourism sector. Over 128,000 people in Wales rely on the tourism industry for their employment. Now, we have the highest rate of VAT levied on tourism in the whole of the EU, despite regulations that would allow it to be cut to as little as 5 per cent. My party has demonstrated our clear support for such a reduction; will you commit your party to supporting this policy and do what you can to lobby the Westminster Government to take advantage of this EU derogation and allow us to support our tourism industry, not just here in Wales, but across the UK?
Carwyn Jones (The First Minister of Wales, Welsh Labour)
Well, I have sympathy for the argument, but I have to ask: what was she doing before May? Her party was in Government in Westminster, and yet apparently that’s forgotten about now. The opportunity was there for the Lib Dems to make that argument when they were in Government in London. She knows that VAT isn’t devolved. I may have sympathy for her position, but nothing was said before May, when she had the opportunity to influence the UK Government. Tourism is important. We know that we’ve seen an increase in visitors coming into Wales. We have spent, of course, money on promoting Wales and promoting Visit Wales—money that the Conservative Party said was propaganda. Money that’s used to promote Wales around the world and bring visitors into Wales is Government propaganda.
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