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Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006, 10:53 GMT
Poverty at core of Labour policy
Rhodri Morgan
Mr Morgan called for the election to be decided on Welsh matters
Labour has unveiled policies for the Welsh assembly election - among them a pledge to test public policy to ensure it helps to end child poverty by 2020.

In essence every 1 of public money it plans on spending will only be allowed if it helps to fight child poverty.

It also wants to expand free childcare, increase schools sport and to allow the suspension of the right to buy council houses when necessary.

The plans were ratified by a special conference on Saturday.

Labour is currently the biggest party in the assembly and if that were to be the case after the assembly election in May next year, the policies set out how it would run Wales for the next four years.

We want this election to be determined on Welsh issues in Wales
Rhodri Morgan

The party is proposing changes in the way public money is spent, with a commitment that all future assembly government spending maximises the impact on the poorest families in Wales.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said policies would be judged according to whether they helped achieve the goal of reducing child poverty.

He told BBC Wales: "We've already made faster and further progress in reducing child poverty than any other part of the UK but we are not complacent about it and we want to try to eradicate it by the year 2020.

"As regards areas devolved to us like health, education, local government, the environment, transport, it's just to test the policies.

"Do they contribute or do they actually frustrate the ambition of eradication of child poverty by 2020?"

'Judge on record'

Mr Morgan said he hoped the assembly election would be decided on Welsh matters, not dominated by issues for which Westminster is responsible, such as the war in Iraq.

He said Labour would be unveiling more of a policy programme over the coming months which was "designed for the Wales of the 21st Century".

In his view, it was vital Wales was well-equipped in terms of science and technology and could respond to the threats of global warming and the economic challenges of the economies of China and India.

"We want this election to be determined on Welsh issues in Wales - it's the Welsh general election," he said.

Poverty generic
Labour aims to end child poverty in Wales by 2020

"But I can't rule it out that events in London or Iraq could colour it or overshadow it - they certainly did in 2003 because it was right on the button of when Iraq was happening."

Other plans unveiled by Labour include a review of hospital car parking charges and incentives to try to encourage newly-qualified dentists in the NHS.

Free childcare would be made more widely available and expanded from three-year-old to two-year-old children.

Health plans include a review of hospital car parking charges and incentives to encourage newly-qualified dentists to remain in the NHS for longer, such as help with the cost of tuition fees.

Local NHS managers would be rewarded for successful innovation by being given more freedom locally, but that autonomy would be withdrawn where managers are deemed to be failing patients.

A target would be set to reduce homelessness by 20% by 2008 and to pilot the development of Community Land Trusts to make more affordable housing available.

There is also an aim for Welsh Olympians to win at least 15 medals over the course of the Olympics from 2004 to 2024.



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