Live updates

  1. Nick Powell

Fresh challenge to Carwyn Jones from UKIP or Conservatives ruled out

The Assembly authorities have ruled out the possibility of the Conservative or UKIP leaders challenging Carwyn Jones in a vote for First Minister tomorrow.

AMs will meet to see if a fresh vote between Carwyn Jones and Leanne Wood produces a different outcome.

The Plaid Cymru leader is expected to withdraw from the contest, which was tied 29-29 last week.

The first business at the next plenary will be a further roll call vote unless one of the candidates indicates that they want to withdraw their nomination, in which case the remaining candidate will be the Assembly’s nomination.

The Presiding Officer will immediately recommend to Her Majesty that the Member nominated by the Assembly be appointed as First Minister.

– National Assenmby for Wales

UKIP have said that they will "oppose the coronation of Carwyn Jones" and force a vote by putting up someone themselves.

As that is not possible, any protest would have to take the form of a procedural challenge -a token attempt to stop the nomination of First Minister going ahead.

Advertisement

  1. Nick Powell

Plaid and Labour to "exchange ideas" but no M4 deal

Sources in both Labour and Plaid Cymru are suggesting that as well as reaching an agreement to nominate Carwyn Jones as First Minister they have agreed a mechanism for the parties to exchange information and ideas. They are confident of having found enough common ground already to make progress on some policies in the next 100 days.

Credit: PA

However, on one major area of disagreement between the two parties -the route of the M4 relief road- discussions seem to have made no progress. There are signs that they will adopt a joint approach to the UK government's new Wales Bill, which promises further devolution from Westminster.

  1. Nick Powell

Vote Labour to stop UKIP in police election says former Plaid leader

Former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Elis-Thomas. Credit: ITV News

Former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Elis-Thomas has called on voters in North Wales to make Labour either their first or second preference for police commissioner. Lord Elis-Thomas is standing as a Plaid Cymru Assembly candidate but says that in the police commissioner election on the same day, voters "need to think and act tactically".

I’m calling on all supporters of Plaid Cymru, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats right across North Wales to cast either their first or second preference vote for Labour’s David Taylor on Polling Day, to stop UKIP from inadvertently benefiting.

– Dafydd Elis-Thomas

At the last police commissioner election, Dafydd Elis Thomas backed Labour's Tal Michael in North Wales. But unlike now, there was no Plaid Cymru candidate although many in the party backed the independent Winston Roddick, who went on to win.

In police commissioner elections, voters are asked to express two preferences on a single ballot paper, so Lord Elis-Thomas has left open the possibility of voting Plaid Cymru as a first preference and putting Labour second. That would only help Labour in a run-off against a third party, which the former Plaid leader says he fears could be UKIP. But he went on to say that it was Labour that had the candidate "who can unite our region".

I know he would make an outstanding commissioner, bringing a much-needed new energy and enthusiasm to the role.

– Dafydd Elis-Thomas

Two years ago, Plaid's leader, Leanne Wood, sacked Lord Elis-Thomas a chair of an Assembly committee. He had criticised her for describing a vote for UKIP as "a vote against Wales". Last year he survived moves to deselect him as a candidate. He was backed by his constituency party members after he agreed not to criticise Plaid Cymru policy without discussing it with them first.

Five candidates are standing for election as Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales:

  • Arfon Jones -Plaid Cymru
  • Julian Sandham -Independent
  • David Taylor -Labour
  • Simon Wall -UKIP
  • Matt Wright -Conservative

Advertisement

  1. Nick Powell

Public Health Bill defeated

The Public Health Bill has been defeated in the Senedd after the final vote on the proposed law was tied with 26 votes for and 26 against.

The Presiding Officer was then required to use her casting vote to halt the legislation.

E-cigarette ban fails after Plaid Cymru withdraw support. Credit: PA Images

The Welsh Government, which has no majority in the Assembly, had been relying on the support of Plaid Cymru AMs to pass its proposals, which included restrictions on the smoking of e-cigarettes.

Relations between the two parties broke down this afternoon following a row over earlier legislation.

The defeat was the final act before the Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler, announced the end of the 2011-2016 Assembly.

It won't meet again before it's dissolved next month, prior to the election in May.

  1. Nick Powell

Plaid say Labour were offered way out of defeat

Plaid Cymru have said that the party offered to support the recall of the Assembly before it's dissolved next month if Labour would agree to dropping restrictions on e-cigarettes from the Public Health Bill. The move followed the breakdown of co-operation between the two parties after the Public Services minister, Leighton Andrews claimed that Plaid had been a "cheap date" when he needed support for his Local Government Bill.

On the very last day of the Assembly, Leighton Andrews has shown a disrespect for parties and individual AMs seeking to create a consensus across political divides. He chose to belittle cooperation and put his own Government’s legislation in jeopardy. This afternoon, Plaid Cymru proposed to Welsh Government that the Bill should be withdrawn before the vote and that the Assembly should be reconvened immediately after Easter to vote on a Bill with all sections on e-cigarettes removed. Plaid Cymru would have supported that legislation.

– Plaid Cymru Spokesperson

Until today, the Government had thought it would get its legislation passed although all the opposition parties were against the e-cigarette restrictions. That's because Plaid had allowed two of its AMs, including its Health Spokesperson, Elin Jones, to vote in line with their personal wish to see the use of e-cigarettes discouraged. Ms Jones and the other AM -Llyr Gruffydd- have now been instructed to vote against.

The expected defeat of the Government tonight will be almost the final event in the Senedd before the Mace is removed later this evening, marking the end of the 2011-2016 Assembly. The Labour Government has survived for five years despite not having an overall majority and only faces losing a major piece of legislation on the very last day that the Assembly will sit before the election. There's expected to be a tied vote, with the Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler required to then use her casting vote to stop the Bill proceeding.

  1. Adrian Masters

Plaid 'stitch-up' claim over devolution talks

Jonathan Edwards MP requested minutes of the devolution talks

A refusal to publish the minutes of cross-party talks on Welsh devolution is a 'Westminster stitch-up' according to a Plaid Cymru MP.

Jonathan Edwards made his comments after being refused access to the record of discussions held at the beginning of the year by the Welsh Secretary which are often referred to as the 'St. David's Day Agreement.'

However his attack has been criticised by the UK Government which says that Plaid Cymru had signed up to the consensus reached during the process.

The talks and the subsequent blueprint published by David Cameron and Nick Clegg have formed the basis of the UK Government's draft Wales Bill which will change the powers of the Welsh Government and the National Assembly.

Jonathan Edwards tabled a written question asking to see the minutes and has criticised the refusal of the Welsh Secretary to publish them:

There are gaping holes in the draft Wales Bill, ranging from the devolution of Network Rail functions and funding; devolution of policing; the appointment of a Welsh Crown Estates Commissioner; devolution of S4C; review of devolution of criminal justice.

The refusal of the Secretary of State to publish minutes of the meeting smacks of another back room Westminster stitch-up between the Tories and the Labour Party.

Plaid Cymru will be tabling amendments to the Bill to ensure that the people of Wales get the democracy and accountable government they deserve and we will continue to challenge the unionist parties to put their tribal politics to one side and act in the Welsh national interest in improving this crucial Bill.

– Jonathan Edwards MP, Plaid Cymru

This is the response from the Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb to Jonathan Edwards' Written Parliamentary Question:

I held a large number of meetings as part of the St David’s Day process. These included meetings with the parliamentary representatives of the four main political parties in Wales to identify which Silk Commission recommendations had political consensus to be taken forward. It was agreed that discussions at these meetings would remain confidential, and the Government has no plans to publish minutes.

– Written Answer by Stephen Crabb MP, Welsh Secretary

But a Wales Office source points out that Plaid Cymru took part in the St. David's Day process.

Plaid Cymru played a full part in the St. David's Day Agreement and signed up to the political consensus that underpinned it. They cannot now pretend to have no idea how that consensus was reached.

– Wales Office source
Load more updates