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Plaid doubts Welsh Govt's call for parity with Scots

Despite Carwyn Jones' position that Wales should be offered all the extra powers being given to Scotland, Plaid Cymru's claiming that the Welsh Government isn't even actively seeking the power over fracking that Scotland already has.

The people of Wales should have the power to decide on licensing for fracking in their communities. Plaid Cymru wants Wales to have responsibility over fracking so that we can introduce a moratorium on a process that carries a host of unknown risks for the environment and public health. The Scottish Government has made this happen there, but unfortunately the Welsh Government has done absolutely nothing to stand up for Wales’ interests.

It is now clear that the Labour Government has not made any representations to the UK Government for these powers to be devolved which suggests that Labour sees no need to challenge Westminster’s policy of promoting and encouraging fracking in Wales.

– Llyr Gruffydd AM, Plaid Cymru

Householders should pay less for policing services - Crime Commissioner

The Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner wants householders to pay less for their policing services this year.

A consultation with the public helped Mr Salmon reach his recommendation.

Christopher Salmon is recommending a 5% decrease in the policing element of council tax payments across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys.

After a public consultation around 30% of people said they paid too much for the police service.

Mr Salmon’s precept proposal will go to the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Panel tomorrow, who have the power to reject the initial proposal.

Once the Commissioner and Panel agree a figure it will be implemented.

“The police force has significant reserves of £43m of public money and the long-term trend is that crime is falling...I want to realign the level of precept with the real cost of running Dyfed-Powys Police; a fall in the precept will help that process...Ours is not a rich part of the world but I can now ensure that families struggling with bills will pay a little bit less. Dyfed-Powys householders will pay the same for policing in 2017 as they did in 2014."

– Christopher Salmon, Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner


The vow to Scotland's been kept, claims Cameron

Major new powers for the Scottish Government and Parliament will be spelt out today. They're the result of the "vow" made by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg in the final days of the Scottish independence referendum campaign, as they sought to save the UK at a time when polls were suggesting that Scots might vote to leave the union.

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has called for Wales to be offered the same powers as Scotland. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The three leaders committed their parties to enacting the new powers after the Westminster election but they also promised to publish the details of the legislation before Burns Night, on 25 January. Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has called for Wales to be offered the same powers and the UK Government is aiming to publish a cross party agreement before St David's Day on 1 March.

The Prime Minister will be in Scotland today and will meet the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. The SNP leader has already said that the cross-party agreement for Scotland on which the legislation will be based does not amount to Home Rule. She claims that's what Scots were promised if they voted against independence. Mr Cameron is expected to make a speech challenging her version of events.

"In September the people of Scotland came out in record numbers to decide the future of the United Kingdom. They voted clearly and decisively to keep our family of nations together. But a ‘no’ vote did not mean ‘no change’.

The leaders of the other main political parties and I promised extensive new powers for the Scottish Parliament – a vow – with a clear process and timetable.

We said we’d get cross-party agreement by St. Andrew’s Day – and we did. We said draft legislation would be published by Burns Night – and here we are, three days before the celebrations start, with those clauses before us."

– Prime Minister David Cameron MP

The Prime Minister will claim that whoever forms the UK Government after May 7th, these new powers are guaranteed. He'll argue that the Scottish Parliament will determine how 60% of public money is spent in in Scotland and for the first time most of the money spent by the Scottish Government will come from taxes raised in Scotland. The package will include control of part of the welfare state, worth £2.5 billion.

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb meets members of the Muslim and Jewish communities

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb is to meet senior members of the Muslim and Jewish communities in South Wales later.

They'll be discussing concerns of both communities in the wake of the Paris attacks and their aftermath, although the meetings are said to have been planned before those events.

He'll meet the Muslim Council for Wales and Rabbi Michael Rose during the visits.

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb Credit: PA

The latest Welsh NHS row in the Commons

The Welsh Secretary and his Labour opposite number have clashed in the Commons over the performance of the health service in Wales. Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith said Stephen Crabb had failed to stop the Prime Minister and other cabinet colleagues denigrating the Welsh NHS.

In response, Mr Crabb, said Labour was ducking scrutiny over its handling of the NHS and called for an apology from Ed Miliband following reports that he planned to 'weaponise' the NHS during the election campaign.


Welsh Secretary welcomes rise in start-up loans

The Welsh Secretary has welcomed a 30% increase in the number of people in Wales receiving UK Government money to start their own businesses. The figures show that the Start-Up Loans Company lent almost £4.5 million to 712 entrepreneurs in the last year.

Stephen Crabb welcomed the news:

Since 2010, we have seen 26,000 new businesses Wales. Schemes such as Start up Loans provide budding entrepreneurs across Wales with the tools they need to turn their ideas into living, breathing businesses.

Our long term economic plan is all about supporting small businesses, backing aspiration and encouraging more young people to follow their dreams. I am thrilled to see this happening all across Wales and hope more young people apply to the scheme and get the chance to start their own businesses.

– Stephen Crabb MP, Secretary of State for Wales

Law change needed to guarantee more nurses on wards says Welsh Lib Dem leader

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams says all other attempts have failed to guarantee minimum numbers of nurses on wards. She's trying to introduce a new law which would force health chiefs to guarantee staffing levels.

Giving evidence to the Assembly's Health Committee, Kirsty Williams told AMs that some health boards continue to fail to do so despite strong guidelines and targets.

NHS £40 million extra "is panic measure" say Tories

The Welsh Conservatives have described the extra £40 million to help with winter pressures on the NHS as a panic measure by the Welsh Government. They've contrasted today's announcement with how an extra £300 million was allocated in England last November, on top of £400 million previously announced.

This is a last minute panic measure after queues of ambulances outside hospitals and A&E nurses working in conditions that are more stressful than on the frontline in the Iraq War. The UK Government announced additional money months ago to allow the English NHS to plan for winter pressures, in contrast to this eleventh hour decision by Labour at the height of winter.

– Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar AM
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