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Labour AMs decide to back Wales Bill

Labour AMs have agreed to back the UK Government's Wales Bill when it's debated in the Senedd today.

Although the bill includes significant new powers for the Assembly, the Welsh Government has argued that it also gives ministers at Westminster new opportunities to curtail devolution.

The UK Government had made it clear that it would not over-ride the Assembly if it refused legislative consent for the Wales Bill to be passed. It also said that a new deal with the Treasury on how the Welsh Government is funded would be dropped if the bill did not go ahead.

The decision to back the bill was taken at a meeting of the Assembly Labour group on Monday evening.

As the Conservatives are also committed to supporting the UK Government's legislation, it now seems certain to pass when the vote's taken in the Senedd tomorrow.

As the party who delivered devolution for Wales we have rightly adopted a challenging, but responsible approach towards the passage of the Wales Bill.

This is not the Bill we would have developed and it is not the Bill that Wales deserves. However, on balance this legislation will give the country more constitutional certainty and the fiscal framework in particular represents a real step forward.

After a considered debate, the Labour Group has decided to vote in favour of allowing the UK Government to proceed.

– Labour Group Chair Hannah Blythyn AM

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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

Plaid "unfit for government" say Labour

Labour have accused Plaid Cymru of bringing the Assembly into disrepute, following the defeat of the Public Health Bill.

The decision from Plaid today smacks of a party unfit for Government. The only thing that has changed since last week's Stage 3 vote on the Public Health Bill is a single off-the-cuff remark in a jokey final plenary session. To vote down an important Bill on this basis alone simply brings the entire institution into disrepute. People in Wales have just lost a series of important new health measures, which had been worked upon for years. We could have broken the pairing agreement to get this through, but that is not the way we do business. Elin Jones has clearly been put in an impossible position by her group and that is deeply regrettable as she has done so much to shape the final proposals.

– Welsh Labour source

The Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, said he was "deeply disappointed" and predicted "widespread anger" at the bill's defeat. He said five years of careful preparation had been wasted.

[The Public Health Bill] would have introduced important new measures to improve the provision of pharmacy services across Wales and the provision of public toilets for young and old. It would have introduced a ban on intimate piercing for children under 16 and new outdoor smoke-free places in hospital grounds, children's playgrounds and schools.

– Health Minister Mark Drakford AM

Mr Drakeford also defended the controversial attempt to restrict the use of e-cigarettes, which are seen by many AMs as a way of helping people to stop smoking. He said he'd wanted to "protect a generation who have grown up in a smoke-free environment from re-normalising smoking".

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