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.
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.
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.
The second day of the Plaid Cymru confefrence in Aberystwyth has again seen the party attack the Welsh Government's record.Read the full story ›
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has told her party's conference that Wales needs a change of government, replacing what she called a "tired, incompetent, Labour regime". She told delegates in Aberystwyth that Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour leader had changed nothing about the Welsh Government.
The Labour leadership may have changed. But one thing doesn’t change. And that is the undeniable need for a change of government in Wales. Be under no illusion – a change at the top in Westminster does not undo Labour’s poor record here.
The UK Labour leader will, we are told, be coming to campaign against the Party of Wales despite voting with us more often than his own party in Parliament.
Remember, he’ll be calling on people here to back a Welsh Labour Government, who not only defended Trident nuclear weapons but called for their relocation to Wales.
Plaid claim they can form a government on their own after the Welsh election next May, though they admit they probably can't achieve an overall majority in the Senedd. No party has ever managed that. The same was true in Scotland until the SNP went from minority government to total domination of Scottish politics. The SNP's leader, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, was in Aberystwyth to urge Plaid Cymru to follow her party's example.
If the SNP can win in Scotland, there is no reason - none at all - that Plaid Cymru can't also win in Wales. Not at some distant point in the future. But now, next May, at this election.
You can win. Believe it. Work for it. And you will do it. And when Wales does turn from Labour to a party with ambition, vision and determination, people will realise just how different things can be.
Tonight Labour hit back on the issue where Plaid Cymru think the Welsh Government is most vulnerable -the running of the NHS. Labour claim that Plaid has no idea how much its proposed reorganisation of the health service will cost -or any rate won’t tell the people of Wales.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has given herself two hard a acts to follow at Plaid Cymru's conference. By the time she gets to her feet this afternoon, delegates will have already heard from Mark Serwotka, the leader of the PCS union, who's from Aberdare.
But top of the bill is the nationalists' heroine, the First Minister of Scotland Nicolas Sturgeon. The SNP leader, who looks set to increase her government's majority in next year's Scottish election, is making the trip to Aberystwyth this year.
Exchanges of speakers between the two parties are routine enough but it's become noticeable that although Leanne Wood has been happy enough to trek north, the SNP have generally left it to one of their more minor figures to return the compliment.
It's a sign of the close friendship between the two women, cemented when they both took part in the UK election debates earlier in the year. The kudos that Nicola Sturgeon gives to the conference outweighs any fears that Leanne Wood will be upstaged at her own party conference. The view at the top of Plaid Cymru is that they're resigned to constant comparisons between themselves and the SNP, so they might as well make the most of it.
Sure enough, any doubt that the Plaid can double its number of AMs and displace Labour as the biggest party in the Assembly is answered by pointing to the SNP's breakthrough in 2007, when it overtook Labour in the Scottish Parliament. It formed a minority government and went on to secure an overall majority four years later.
Plaid Cymru has identified the Welsh NHS as the key issue on which it will take on Labour.
Our Welsh NHS is being failed by Labour. We have fewer doctors per head than most countries in Europe, with Scotland having almost 50% more GPs than we do.
New drugs and treatments are often not available to patients simply because of the area they live in. We have the longest waiting times in Britain for people to be given tests that are crucial in diagnosing cancer.
We have the longest waiting times in Britain for people to start treatment, sometimes even when that treatment is lifesaving surgery.
The NHS can no longer be trusted in Labour’s hands. It can be trusted in Plaid Cymru’s."
Plaid Cymru is promising to spend on the Welsh NHS all extra money that comes to Wales as a result of in creased health spending in England. The party has ambitious plans to train a thousand extra doctors, set up specialist diagnostic centres for people suspected of having cancer and set up a new fund to pay for new medicines and treatments.
Labour and Plaid Cymru have reached a deal that will see the Welsh Government's local government bill become law. The Public Service Minister, Leighton Andrews, has agreed with his Plaid Cymru shadow, Simon Thomas, that there will be no move to force councils to mereg until after next year's Assembly election.
Plaid Cymru has stopped Labour from enforcing their map for local government reorganisation through the back door before plans are put to people. Large scale changes to Local Government structures should not be decided by politicians with no mandate but should be decided by people in an election.
The demands made by Plaid Cymru will mean that all parties can present their individual proposals in their manifestos and seek a mandate to implement them, without being bound by the current government’s preferences.
I’d like to thank Simon Thomas and his Plaid Cymru colleagues for the constructive approach they’ve taken on this matter. It is clear that status quo is not an option for local government, and an important part of the framework can now be put in place for much needed reform. It is now down to each political party to set our their proposals in the coming election.
The other opposition parties have poured scorn on the deal, accusing Plaid Cymru of selling out to Labour.
Plaid’s leader has happily cosied up and done a deal with them. We should’ve expected nothing less than this astonishing hypocrisy. You’d be hard pushed to make it up.
Thanks to Plaid and Labour, local people won’t get a say on the future of our councils. Thanks to them, councils could now be forced to merge.
Vote Plaid – Get Labour. It’s that simple - and this disregard for Welsh communities is concrete evidence.
Plaid have sold out, but received absolutely nothing in return. It’s bizarre. Their embarrassing u-turn is based on smoke and mirrors. They have achieved literally nothing. There is no commitment for a fair voting system and it was always the case that mergers were not going to happen before the Assembly election.
Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood has claimed that the draft Wales Bill is a feeble response to call for more devolution and shows that the Welsh Government is "failing to force proper powers for Wales from Whitehall's clutches".
The draft Wales Bill as it stands is an insult to our country. It only implements a fraction of the issues already agreed by all parties years ago through the Silk Commission report. Effectively, the Bill as it stands, enshrines Wales’ status as a second class nation in the UK. Throughout this process, Plaid Cymru has sought consensus on issues that all parties have signalled agreement on previously. We’ve worked constructively and have been prepared to meet others half way in order to do so. Sadly, the UK Government is unwilling to facilitated that sort of outcome and the Labour Welsh Government have proven that they are not taken seriously at UK level.
Plaid Cymru would abolish social care charges for the elderly and those with dementia if it were in government it has announced ahead of next year's Assembly elections.
The party’s Shadow Health Minister Elin Jones said that the party would achieve the goal through a phased approach:
- The party will deliver free non-residential personal care for older people within the first two years
- Nursing and residential care charges for those with dementia will be abolished within five years
- All remaining social care charges for the elderly would be completely abolished within the second term of a Plaid Cymru government
Social care is currently means-tested and charged at the point of need.
Earlier today Plaid Cymru announced it would scrap Wales' seven health boardsand replace it with a "National Hospital Board" responsible for running hospitals.
Plaid Cymru will deliver free personal care for the elderly and those with dementia, with a view to extend this to deliver free care for all.
The so-called Lottery of NHS Continuing Care will cease to exist. This is historic change that will put the needs of patients back at the heart of the NHS.
Plaid say they'd scrap the 7 health hoards and have one in charge of hospitals. GPs and local services would be integrated with Councils.Read the full story ›