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Welsh Secretary talks to Muslim and Jewish communities about extremism threat

The Welsh Secretary has met senior figures from the Muslim and Jewish communities on a series of visits which also saw him meet a community group and officers from the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit.

Stephen Crabb's visit was said to have been planned long before the Paris attacks, but the aftermath of those attacks meant the talks had a new focus on the threat from extremism and the UK Government's rôle in combatting it.

The abhorrent attacks in Paris are a reminder of just how close to home the terror threat is.

Two weeks ago I, like thousands of people from across Wales, stood shoulder to shoulder with leaders from the Muslim and Jewish communities outside the Senedd to make clear that the views and actions of these terrorist extremists are completely inconsistent with Welsh freedom values.

These terrorists are indiscriminate and their victims are Muslims just as much as they are people from other faiths. I know that Muslim parents across Wales are concerned about how easily this poisonous ideology can be downloaded from the internet and that is why it is so important that we work together to tackle this threat.

We all have a responsibility to prevent radicalisation and the UK government is reaching out to communities to offer support and partnership to defeat violence and extremism.

– Stephen Crabb MP, Secretary of State for Wales

The Welsh Secretary also tweeted pictures of his visits to the New Leaf Project and the Muslim Council of Wales.

Plaid Cymru welcomes inclusion in TV election debates

Leanne Wood has previously criticised Plaid's exclusion

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has welcomed reports that her party will be included in the election debates hosted by ITV and the BBC.

Plaid Cymru welcomes the expected revised proposals put forward by ITV and the BBC.

We have always maintained that it is an important democratic principle that people in this election should be presented with a clear picture of the choice that they face on polling day.

This is a significant victory for the vast number of people who have campaigned for the inclusion of the anti-austerity parties in these debates.

I look forward to taking part and making the case for Wales to have as strong a voice as possible in Westminster by backing Plaid Cymru in May.

– Leanne Wood AM, Plaid Cymru leader

Welsh Government moves to end Right to Buy scheme

A White Paper has been published setting out the Welsh Government's intention to end the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire scheme.

The Welsh Government say social housing stock has fallen by 45% since the scheme was introduced. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The scheme, introduced in the 1980s, allows eligible social housing tenants to buy their council or housing association property at a discount of up to £16,000.

Between 1981 and 2014, nearly 140,000 council homes were sold.

The Welsh Government claim the move is necessary to protect Wales' social housing stock. Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister, Lesley Griffiths, has also set out plans today to halve the current maximum discount to £8,000.

Our supply of homes is under considerable pressure and we are still seeing social rented properties being taken out of our social housing stock because of the Right to Buy, which is forcing many vulnerable people to wait longer for a home. This is why decisive action is needed to protect our social housing to make sure it is available for those who need it most.

– Lesley Griffiths, Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister

Following legislation brought in three years ago, local authorities have been granted permission to suspend the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire scheme locally.

Today Carmarthenshire Council, the first to ask for its suspension, has had its application approved.

We very much welcome this decision by the minister, which will help alleviate the demand on our housing register and support our vision to make more good quality homes available for local people...We also welcome other measures that Welsh Government is seeking to introduce to further protect much needed affordable housing across Wales, and we are very proud that here in Carmarthenshire we are leading the way.

– Cllr Kevin Madge, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council

The White Paper consultation seeks the public’s views on the proposals.

The consultation will close on 16th April this year.

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

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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.

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