Assembly recall after council tax vote row

Senedd Credit: ITV News Wales

It now looks likely that the Assembly will be recalled to vote on council tax benefits regulations. I understand the leaders of Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats have met the First Minister to try to reach an agreement which would allow the recall during the Assembly's Christmas break. It follows Labour's failure to push through rules for new council tax benefit schemes yesterday.

The most likely date for a recall seems to be in two weeks' time. Plaid sources say their agreement is subject to a 'sunset clause' which would mean limit the regulations to a year. It's what Plaid was calling for in the run up to last night's vote as its Local Government spokesman told me earlier:

The Welsh Conservatives weren't involved in the talks. That's because a bitter row has broken out between them and Labour over whether or not any kind of deal was reached.

Opposition leader Andrew RT Davies says his group had reached an agreement with Local Government minister Carl Sargeant which would have 'facilitated' a vote on the rules but which was vetoed by the First Minister.

But a Welsh Government source denies any negotiations ever even took place:

On Wednesday, the Welsh Tory Leader approached the Welsh Government with a set of totally unacceptable, inappropriate and unrelated demands, in order to secure their support to get the vote through the Assembly. Not content with deliberately trying to impose needless financial uncertainty on 330,000 Welsh households over Christmas and the New Year, the Welsh Tories tried to exploit the situation for their own narrow political ends. Their behaviour was reprehensible. The Welsh Government’s response to the Welsh Tory Leader and his grubby deal, was to show him the door. No negotiations took place and nothing was offered.

In return a Welsh Conservative source gave more detail about the talks which they insist took place and resulted in an agreement.

We were approached to make a deal by Carl Sargeant. (There was) a meeting on Tuesday when a deal was agreed. The deal was for a veteran's card but we understand the First Minister vetoed this proposal. If Labour don't want further support for veterans, shame on them.