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  1. Nick Powell

Minister confirms departure from Cardiff Bay

Economy Minister Edwina Hart has now issued a statement confirming that she's stepping down as an AM at next year's Assembly election.

It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the people of Gower, the constituency in which I was born, for the last 16 years. Since I was first elected to the Assembly in 1999, I am pleased that I have been able to champion the cause of so many local organisations, and work with so many constituents. I am very grateful for the support they have given me during this time, and I will continue to represent their views vigorously until the end of the Assembly term next year.

– Economy minister Edwina Hart AM

Together with Finance Minister Jane Hutt, Edwina Hart is one of just two AMs to have been in the Welsh Cabinet since it was first formed under Alun Michael in 1999. She contested the Welsh Labour leadership when Rhodri Morgan stood down as First Minister but was defeated by Carwyn Jones.

Edwina has brought a wealth of experience to Government. Under her guidance the Economy, Transport and Science portfolio has just presented the best ever inward investment figures for Wales – a tribute to her determination and energy in going out to sell Wales around the world. The fact that Edwina was able to command respect in portfolios as diverse as health, EST, Social Justice and Finance demonstrates her political abilities and attention to detail.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

Two of Edwina Hart's constituency neighbours have also announced today that they're standing down. Gwenda Thomas also confirmed her decision to her local party in Neath this evening, with Keith Davies earlier making his announcement in Llanelli.

  1. Nick Powell

Minister to leave Assembly as three Labour AMs decide not to stand again in 2016

Edwina Hart, Keith Davies and Gwenda Thomas are all leaving Cardiff Bay Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

One of the two Assembly members to have served in every Welsh cabinet since the first election in 1999 is expected to announce tonight that she won't stand again next year. Economy and Transport Minister Edwina Hart is understood to be making the announcement to her Gower constituency party this evening.

The former Deputy Health Minister Gwenda Thomas is also due to tell her local party in Neath tonight that she too won't be seeking re-election. They join Keith Davies who announced earlier today that he will be quitting Llanelli after just one term as an AM.

So three Labour AMs in neighbouring seats are all leaving the Assembly next year. But it's Edwina Hart's decision that will command the most attention. One of the most powerful figures in the Welsh Government, responsible over the years for finance, health and now the economy, she'd been tipped as a possible successor to Dame Rosemary Butler as the Assembly's Presiding Officer.

The Labour party encourages its AMs and MPs not to leave it so late to declare their intentions and another five have already done so. Last minute announcements are by no means unusual but by delaying her decision Edwina Hart has left herself open to suggestions that she fears the loss of Gower to the Conservatives, who won the Westminster seat for the first time at the General Election last month.


Tories: we would empower teachers not cut jobs

The Welsh Conservatives are dismissing the latest Labour attack on their spending priorities which Llanelli AM Keith Davies says would have led to nearly 10,000 teachers losing their jobs since 2011. Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies says:

Far from cutting the number of teachers in Wales – Welsh Conservatives would empower them, giving staff and parents far more say about what happens in classrooms.

Direct funding of schools would get rid of the unwanted red tape and bureaucracy that hampers our teaching staff - while freeing up a hundred million pounds of additional investment for schools.

We will take no lectures from a hypocritical Labour party that has got it catastrophically wrong on education for the last ten years. Their own education minister was sacked last year because he disagreed with Labour policy.

It is Keith Davies’s party that has driven our education system into the ground and put our pupils at the bottom of the UK league table. He should apologise – not launch playground attacks on other politicians.

– Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Opposition

Meanwhile Shadow Education Minister Angela Burns said it's been Labour which has presided over school closures.

We have long campaigned for direct funding of schools in Wales - empowering teachers, boosting morale, cutting unwanted Labour bureaucracy, and investing in schools.

Keith Davies unashamedly fails to mention his own party’s cuts to the education budget – and the numerous school closures driven through by Labour.

Perhaps he can tell us how many teaching jobs Labour has cut in the last ten years?

– Angela Burns AM, Shadow Education Minister

Keith Davies - Labour statement

Following the news that the Llanelli AM Keith Davies has been discharged from hospital after nearly a month, a spokesman for the Assembly Labour grop said

We are pleased that Llanelli AM Keith Davies has been discharged from University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, and is currently recuperating at home.

After initial tests it was diagnosed that Keith had suffered a blood clot on the brain; a condition that was treated without surgery.

It is important that Keith is given as much time as he needs to recover fully before he returns to work at the Assembly and the Labour Group looks forward to seeing him as soon as he is well enough.

Keith and his family would like to thank all the medical professionals who gave him such first class care at the University Hospital of Wales.

Keith Davies’ condition is improving slowly

Labour have released details on the condition of Llanelli AM Keith Davies who was taken 'seriously ill' last month.

Keith Davies’ condition is improving slowly. He is conscious and talking but he remains in a High Dependency Unit at University Hospital of Wales where tests are on-going.

Keith’s family and Welsh Labour would once again like to thank those who have sent in messages of support for Keith and we look forward to seeing him back at the Assembly when he makes a full recovery.

– An Assembly Labour Party Spokesman


Welsh Lib Dem leader's best wishes for seriously ill AM

The Welsh Liberal Democrat leader says 'it wouldn't be right' for the parties in the Assembly to take political advantage of the serious illness of Llanelli AM Keith Davies. Kirsty Williams said she understands that Plaid Cymru has made a temporary 'pairing' agreement with the Welsh Government.

Mr Davies' absence leaves Labour without a majority, but the Lib Dem leader said the pairing arrangement is 'appropriate' and that it would be wrong for the other parties to take advantage of the situation.

She also said that she'd sent a text to the First Minister Carwyn Jones when she'd heard about Mr Davies' illness asking him to pass on the best wishes and prayers of her and and her party.

Llanelli AM Keith Davies 'in a stable condition'

A spokesman for the Labour Party confirms that Keith Davies, the AM for Llanelli, remains in hospital under observation.

Mr Davies, 71, was taken ill on September 26th.

Keith Davies is in a stable condition at University Hospital of Wales. He is still undergoing tests at the Neurosurgical Unit and remains under observation.

Keith’s family and Welsh Labour would like to thank those who have sent messages of goodwill and support.

– Assembly Labour Party spokesman
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