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Last Updated: Friday, 24 September, 2004, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Plaid leader wants Labour attack
Ieuan Wyn Jones
Ieuan Wyn Jones believes the people of Wales must have a say on devolution's future
Plaid Cymru's leader in the Welsh assembly, Ieuan Wyn Jones, has warned that the party's debates about its future "cut little ice" with voters.

He called for a referendum on whether the assembly should win greater powers, but also said Plaid had to tackle Labour on public services.

He told his party conference in Llandudno that a referendum should be run by the assembly itself.

Labour said Plaid was in "fundamental turmoil" over constitutional policy.

Mr Jones told party members: "When, as seems extremely likely, a referendum is held on the Richard proposals, that referendum should be organised by the assembly rather than through Westminster.

What about the young student who faces the world of work with debts of 15,000?
Ieuan Wyn Jones AM
"After all, this is a matter for the people of Wales to decide."

The assembly would be able to run its own referenda, although the clause in its constitution permitting it has never been used.

But Mr Jones told the conference: "There will be those who will have an academic argument about the future of Plaid Cymru, but this cuts little ice with the public.

"What about the constituent who has been waiting three years for a hip replacement operation?

"What about the young couple who cannot afford a home in their own village because the prices are sky high?

"What about the young student who faces the world of work with debts of 15,000?

"They demand answers from us today. We have a responsibility to rid Wales of New Labour and replace them with a government that will put the interest of our people first."

Mr Jones accused First Minister Rhodri Morgan of having "buckled from a position of strength" on more powers for the assembly.

The extent of the assembly's powers has been at the centre of party political debate in Wales.

Two weeks ago Labour decided that it wanted the assembly to be allowed to vary laws passed at Westminster. If it won the next general election, it would consult on either a limited further extension in assembly responsibilities, or full law-making powers.

But Labour would call a referendum before moving towards fuller powers.

At the Liberal Democrats' annual conference in Bournemouth party leader Charles Kennedy renewed his call for the assembly to have full law-making powers.

Welsh Culture Minister Alun Pugh said Mr Jones' speech showed "the battle for the heart and soul of nationalism in Wales is far from over."

The BBC's Wyre Davies
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