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£1.2m to improve skills and prospects of people from ethnic minority communities

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford with Abdalla Ali Yagoub, a volunteer mentor with Sova Cymru's ACE project. Credit: Welsh Government

A £1.2m EU-backed project to improve the skills and job prospects of people from ethnic minority and migrant communities has been announced by Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford.

I’m delighted to announce almost £1m of EU funding for Sova Cymru’s ACE project. It will provide important opportunities for many people at risk of exclusion, and will help develop a stronger and more inclusive society in Wales. This is another example of the contribution EU funds are making to enhancing skills and training in Wales, including huge investment in thousands of apprenticeships and traineeships.

– Mark Drakeford, Finance Secretary

Wales still a great place to do business says Ken Skates

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Economy Secretary Ken Skates has stressed that his priority is now to protect jobs and "maintain economic confidence" in post-referendum Wales.

Speaking ahead of his key note address at the Institute of Welsh Affairs he emphasised that Wales will continue to be an open, responsive and business friendly country.

Wales' economy has developed hugely over recent years and now boasts a strong international reputation as a place to come and invest.

Already this year announcements from Aston Martin, MotoNovo, TVR, Essentra, EE and BT have demonstrated our growing reputation as a magnetic country to locate to and trade from.

This is partly down to our open, responsive and business-friendly approach. We remain committed to this, to developing Welsh business and to working with new partners to draw in investment.

Post referendum my priority is protecting jobs and doing everything in my power to maintain economic confidence and stability.

– Ken Skates, Economy Secretary

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  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. Nick Powell

Welsh Government produces its own version of the draft Wales Bill

Carwyn Jones claimed that his bill would offer a 'stable' devolution settlement Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The Welsh Government has produced its own version of the draft Wales Bill, as an alternative to the proposals for further devolution that were 'paused' by the Welsh Secretary last week. Unveiling his 'Government and Laws in Wales Bill', First Minister Carwyn Jones claimed that it would deliver a stable, long-term devolution settlement for the people of Wales.

It includes substantially fewer 'reserved matters' -powers to be retained by Westminster. It also provides for further devolution in future, with the Welsh Government eventually gaining control of policing and the courts. The bill would immediately create a distinct legal jurisdiction for Wales.

Whilst it was the right decision for the UK Government to pause and reflect on their proposed Wales Bill, we are still deeply concerned at the lack of consultation and involvement in the process. So today, in the spirit of constructive collaboration and co-operation, we have published a comprehensive made-in-Wales alternative Bill which addresses those concerns, and provides a stable, long term solution to the future governance of Wales. We hope the UK Government will use the space created by the pause on their Bill to engage constructively with our proposals and believe it offers solutions to many of the difficult issues we currently face. This is the Bill we could still deliver together.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

The immediate response on behalf of the Welsh Secretary suggested that it was unlikely that many of the First Minister's proposals would be incorporated into the actual Wales Bill.

The Secretary of State has already announced changes to the Wales Bill that will command broad support and deliver a stronger devolution settlement for Wales. As part of the St David’s Day process, Welsh Labour specifically ruled out devolving policing and creating a separate legal jurisdiction. The fact is the Labour Party is split from top to bottom when it comes to devolution. This alternative Wales Bill is clearly a concession to Plaid Cymru ahead of the Assembly elections in which Labour is expected to lose seats.

– Spokesperson for Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb MP

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said the Welsh Government's bill wasn't worth the paper it was written on, as Labour MPs haven't put forward these proposals at Westminster.

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