WELSH secretary Simon Hart has urged Plaid Cymru to “call the dogs off” over a possible tourism tax the Welsh Government could introduce.

The comment came in the House of Commons when Plaid's Westminster leader raised the impact of rising energy costs on a small business in her Dwyfor Meirionydd constituency.

Hart urged Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts to discuss the planned tax with her party leader Adam Price, after promising he would speak to the Chancellor over measures to support small businesses with growing energy costs.

His comments could be seen as an attempt to barter over policy areas devolved to Wales after the Conservative secretary of state suggested a "deal".

The Welsh Labour Government plans to consult on a proposed tourism tax later this year, with councils likely to have a say over how much they could charge visitors in their areas.

The Welsh Government estimates tourism was worth more than £5 billion to the nation’s economy in 2019.

The tourism tax is included in a co-operation deal between Labour and Plaid.

Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Ms Saville Roberts told the Commons: “The Oakeley Arms in my constituency is a superb inn located in a grade II-listed building at the heart of Snowdonia National Park. It is off grid, it is limited by regulations on energy efficiency measures, and its owners now face a quadrupling in energy bills.

“Does the Secretary of State agree that small businesses need more support? Will he speak to the Chancellor about extending the price cap to our hard-pressed small and medium-sized businesses?”

Mr Hart replied: “I will definitely speak to the Chancellor as I often do about these things.

“However, as a deal, perhaps I could suggest a deal to her, which is I will speak to the Chancellor to get further information if she would speak to her leader in Cardiff and perhaps get him to call the dogs off by way of cancelling the tourism tax which Welsh Government wants to impose on businesses, causing further hardship to people in her constituency.”

Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Ms Saville Roberts replied: “If the Secretary of State kept to the powers he has in Westminster, perhaps he would have better support. There are now no Tory councillors in any of the Plaid-held councils along the west coast of Wales.

“Rumours of an economic package are rife, not because the Government care about struggling households and businesses but because, of course, they want to distract from their own lawbreaking.

“Household energy bills will likely increase to £2,800 in the autumn, yet the Chancellor is sitting on his hands until it proves politically convenient. Is the Secretary of State not ashamed of his Government’s behaviour?

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Mr Hart said: “I do despair sometimes, with the greatest respect.

“I urge her to wait, for what should not be a great deal more time, to hear precisely what we have in store on the cost-of-living challenges.”

First minister Mark Drakeford has previously said a tourism charge could be set and collected by local councils and used to facilities such as public toilets that support the local tourism industry.

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