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Monday, September 27, 1999 Published at 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK

UK: Wales

Stop whingeing, Michael tells opposition

Alun Michael tells the Labour conference of his vision for Wales

Assembly First Secretary, Alun Michael, has challenged opposition parties in the National Assembly to "stop whingeing" and try to make the Assembly work.

In his speech to the Labour conference in Bournemouth, Mr Michael told delegates that devolution had ushered in a new style of politics.

"I'm proud that we are doing things differently in Wales," he said.

[ image: Mr Michael criticised the three opposition parties]
Mr Michael criticised the three opposition parties
Although Mr Michael spoke of his hopes that European funds would help boost economic regeneration, he said nothing about the need for the Government to provide the necessary matching funds.

There has been controversy over the issue of match funding.

Wales has qualified for Objective One funding - the highest level of European regional aid - but it needs to be match-funded by the UK Government, and so far, there is uncertainty over when this will be done.

'Make devolution work'

Delivering his first speech to the party since the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales, Mr Michael argued that under his leadership the Assembly was starting to make devolution work.

First Secretary Alun Michael: "We have a determined team in the Assembly which will build a strong Wales"
In the centenary year of the Labour Party, Mr Michael also outlined the role of Wales in shaping the party through the years.

Mr Michael's speech, followed a week in which the Wales Labour Party and Plaid Cymru fell out in dramatic fashion.

Plaid threatened to withdraw all co-operation with Labour in the Assembly after uncovering what it described as a "dirty tricks" campaign designed to discredit Plaid.

Plaid president Dafydd Wigley also warned that Labour faced a censure motion in the Assembly if it failed to secure match funding from Westminster for the European Objective One regeneration aid totalling £1.2bn.

In his speech, Mr Michael said Mr Wigley was "playing with fire" in demanding that the Assembly be given tax-raising powers.

"People in Wales have enough problems without higher taxes," he said.

He said it was the Labour Party that was the "true party of Wales".

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