First Minister Carwyn Jones has arrived in Patagonia for the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the first landing by Welsh settlers in Argentina. He's met the Governor of Chubut Province, Martin Buzzi, and tonight they will attend a performance of music and dance in Puerto Madryn, founded by the Welsh as Porth Madryn on 28 July 1865.
Governor Buzzi earlier told the local newspaper El Diario de Madryn that the celebration of the Welsh pioneers evoked the issue of the Malvinas (Falklands) because it showed that the Argentine State respected the culture, religion and especially the language of immigrants.
The Welsh settlement in our lands belies the idea held by some islanders that under the Argentine flag they would not be respected.
The President of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, who has previously compared the Welsh settlers with the Falkland Islanders, was also due to attend tonight's festivities. But she's cancelled all her engagements because she has laryngitis.
Welsh Government sources say David Cameron has told Carwyn Jones that he expects the Queen's Speech to include a Wales Bill devolving further powers to the Welsh Government and Assembly.
The Prime Minister and First Minister had a "cordial" phone conversation, in which David Cameron seemed surprised by suggestions from opposition parties that the bill won't be included in the legislative programme read out by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament.
The two men are said to have spoken about the work they need to do together to secure the future of the United Kingdom, as well as other devolution issues. Carwyn Jones will meet Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb later this week for the first time since the election.
George Osborne's promise of a cut in the tolls on the Severn Bridges suggests that if he stays in office after the election he'll deny the Welsh Government control of the crossings when they return to public ownership. First Minister Carwyn Jones has said that if he had the power, he would reduce but not abolish the tolls, using the income to pay for M4 improvements as wells as maintaining the two bridges.
First Minister Carwyn Jones has called on the Labour party, as well as his opponents, to set out a timescale for delivering on the promise of fair funding for Wales, made in the St David's Day agreement on further devolution. He told his monthly news conference that it was important to know not just the value of the so-called funding floor but when it would be introduced.
The principle has been accepted and is welcome but then the principle was accepted a long time ago. What we need is a timescale now to see how Wales' underfunding will be addressed and that is true of all the parties, including my own. As a party we need to outline exactly how we will now take forward the issue of Wales' underfunding and that we could do that according to a set timetable.
Carwyn Jones added that he expected that the degree of unfairness in how Wales is funded, compared to the rest of the UK, is now less than the £300 million a year calculated by the Holtham Commission. He said adding a minimum proportion of public spending for Wales -a floor- to the Barnett Formula was the best way of stopping any future reduction in the Welsh share of Treasury money.
Meanwhile a survey of 7,000 people across the United Kingdom by Edinburgh shows that 68% of Welsh people believe that Wales receives less government funding than it is due. Only 43% in England think their country's treated unfairly, as do 44% in Scotland. in Northern Ireland, it's 37%. The figures have been seized on by Plaid Cymru, which is calling for funding parity with Scotland and says that could be worth an extra £1.2 billion a year to Wales.
This extensive survey vindicates Plaid Cymru’s unique position in making the case for Wales to have parity with Scotland – in terms of funding and powers. Everyone accepts that Wales is the poor relation in the UK in terms of funding for schools and hospitals, but only Plaid Cymru demands that Wales is treated on the basis of equality. The Barnett Formula was introduced in 1978 – by Labour – and ever since, our funding disadvantage has been entrenched. That’s decades of Wales not receiving its fair share of resources. The Westminster parties have all signed up to retaining that formula. Plaid Cymru says it’s unjustifiable for Wales to continue to be short-changed.
First Minister Carwyn Jones has categorically ruled out holding a referendum on Welsh income tax powers "unless and until the the long term funding of Wales has been addressed satisfactorily". In a letter to Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb, he says the St David's Day agreement on more powers for the Assembly does not meet that test.
Mr Crabb wrote to the First Minister yesterday, saying that the momentum for more devolution may now be lost without "strong and positive engagement" from the Welsh Government. In his reply, Carwyn Jones adds to his initial response that the cross-party agreement had been "rushed and unsatisfactory".
I make no apologies for not supporting an announcement that falls far short of Wales' needs. I have no intention of seeking a referendum on partial devolution of income tax to Wales unless and until the long term funding of Wales has been addressed satisfactorily. You will recognise that neither the announcement by the Prime Minister, nor the Command Paper published by the UK Government, provides any such assurance. I am bound to say that the whole process leading to your announcement and Command Paper was deeply disappointing and frustrating. It was slow to start, ad hoc and poorly prepared. The first hint of financial proposals was given to me by the Prime Minister -not you- in a phone call a mere three days before your announcement. I was very clear to the Prime Minister that the proposals he described were unacceptable.
Carwyn Jones will be questioned in the Senedd on his attitude to the Saint David's Day agreement, after he makes a statement to AMs later this afternoon.
The First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones will today fly to America visiting Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York.
He'll spend St David's Day on Capitol Hill meeting the Friends of Wales Caucus, a group of Congressmen who promote Wales in Washington.
From the Welsh settlers who moved to America to build new lives to the companies who now recognise Wales as a fantastic place to do business - we’re proud to have such a strong relationship with the United States.
There are 270 US owned companies in Wales and the value of Welsh exports to the USA in 2013 was over £3billion, that’s a 400% increase since 1999.
The USA continues to be Wales’s top export destination by far. These are figures we want to build and improve on, that’s one of the main reasons for my visit.
Shadow Welsh Secretary promises to devolve powers over the work programme, which aims to get people back into work, if Labour gain power.Read the full story ›