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Wales should get same offer as Scotland says First Minister

First Minister Carwyn Jones has responded to proposals for a major transfer of additional powers to Scotland by saying that Wales should be offered the same. But he added that the Welsh Government would then choose what to accept and that he continues to have concerns about income tax powers.

Whatever has been offered to Scotland today must be also offered to Wales, so we can better determine our own preferences for the future. However, we have consistently said that before any consideration can be given to income tax we must see fair funding delivered. It would completely irresponsible to lock in underfunding.

We would certainly expect to be offered full control over our electoral arrangements and Air Passenger Duty, in common with Scotland. It would unfairly discriminate against Wales if these were not on the table, and I would expect the UK Government to make this clear in the coming days.

A promise was made to the people of Scotland, and that is being delivered. However, I have long said we cannot continue with this piecemeal approach to devolution and changing the UK. We need a proper conversation that treats all four nations as equals, and which develops a long-term view on what the new UK should look like. This stuttering, ever-changing series of offers is confusing to people, and ultimately extremely damaging to the prospects of the union staying together in the long-term.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

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"I'm standing up for the NHS" says Carwyn Jones

The First Minister holding his news conference Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales Nick Powell

The First Minister has defended the Welsh Government's record on the NHS, claiming it's wrong to suggest the health service is better in England. He said targets will be reviewed and patients given a new web service.

http://mylocalhealthservice.wales.gov.uk will give detailed information about how the local NHS is performing in each part of Wales and will be used to drive up standards.

Carwyn Jones said spending on cancer treatment is already £11.92 higher per head of population higher in Wales than in England and he challenged the UK government to match it.

He also said nearly six out of ten requests for cancer patients to receive drugs not yet approved for routine use were granted in Wales but 70% of applications to the cancer drugs fund in England are rejected.

But the First Minister wouldn't commit to protecting the health budget from future cuts. He said the Tories were calling for an extra £800 million without saying where the money is going come from.

He argued that health is such a big part of the Welsh budget that even a small increase for the NHS meant a big cut elsewhere.

The only solution was a better funding settlement for Wales and the Prime Minister was badly advised if he thought that was just an issue for people in Cardiff Bay. The people of Wales wanted tax and borrowing powers devolved.

Carwyn Jones called on the Welsh Secretary, David Jones, to apologise for delays in devolving the minor taxes recommended by the Silk Commission. He accused the Secretary of State of giving the construction industry in England a veto on whether the Welsh Government controlled stamp duty.

He said that was was half of Wales' potential tax revenue and the ability to borrow money to pay for an M4 relief road around Newport depended on it.

Prison will give north Wales an 'economic boost'

Carwyn Jones says a new prison will provide good quality jobs in the area Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

A new prison in north Wales will provide an economic boost for the region, provide good quality jobs and allow offenders to be closer to home, according to the First Minister.

Carwyn Jones AM visited the former Firestone site on the Wrexham industrial Estate, which is one of the potential sites, and met Wrexham Council representatives.

He said: "The Welsh Government has supported the proposal for a prison in north Wales for many years and I was very pleased that the benefits of having a prison here have been recognised by the UK Government.

"It will bring opportunities to North Wales in terms of training and employment, in terms of construction and work within the prison, as well as the wider benefits to the whole region.

"With an estimated 1,000 jobs created and contributing millions of pounds a year to the regional economy, the prison will without doubt be an economic boost."

He said it was a credit to local authorities in north Wales that they worked together to secure a prison in the area. The site of the new prison has not yet been announced.

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First Minister sets out legislative programme

Carwyn Jones has told AMs this evening about eight new Welsh laws his government will ask them to pass during the next 12 months. They include plans to ease NHS finances, to tackle domestic violence and to outlaw fly-grazing, when horses are left on land that does not belong to their owners.

The First Minister also gave a broad outline of when each bill will be introduced into the Senedd.

  • Public Service Workforce Bill -to be introduced by July next year
  • NHS Finance Bill -to be fast-tracked this autumn
  • Housing Bill -to be introduced in November
  • Fly-Grazing and Abandonment of Horses and Ponies Bill -to be introduced by December
  • Higher Education Bill -to be introduced in early 2014
  • Ending Violence against Women and Domestic Abuse Bill -to be introduced next June
  • Future Generations Bill (Formerly Sustainable Development Bill) -to be introduced by July next year
  • Planning Reform Bill -to be introduced by July next year
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