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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2007, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Labour pledge to cut NHS waiting
Peter Hain and Rhodri Morgan at Welsh Labour's manifesto launch
Peter Hain and Rhodri Morgan at Welsh Labour's manifesto launch
Shorter NHS waiting times, cheaper rail travel for pensioners and 6,500 affordable new homes are promised by Labour for the Welsh assembly election.

They were among 11 key pledges made by the party as it launched its manifesto.

Labour said NHS waiting times would be cut to a maximum of 26 weeks by the end of 2009 if it is in power after 3 May.

The party also pledged 25,000 apprenticeships, and extra support for childcare under what it called a "mobile mammas" scheme.

Labour has been in government since the assembly was founded in 1999.

We do what it says on the tin: we've proved that over the last eight years
Rhodri Morgan, Welsh Labour leader

But it was forced into coalition with the Liberal Democrats from 2000 - 2003, and since losing its majority in the last term it has run the assembly as a minority government, with 29 out of the 60 seats.

Rhodri Morgan, who has led the party in Wales and been first minister since 2000, launched the manifesto in the Rhymney Valley town New Tredegar.

Mr Morgan said: "We've chosen to come to New Tredegar because it's an example of the challenge that Labour has faced up to over the last 10 years (since the 1997 general election) and the last eight years (since the assembly was set up)"

Welsh Labour activists show the party's pledges
25,000 apprenticeships
Extra children's bond for all children entering school
Maximum 26 weeks NHS waiting times
Pharmacy-based NHS drop-in centres
100,000 homes made energy efficient and 30,000 micro-generation units
New not-for-profit nursing homes
Discounted rail travel for pensioners and 50 new train carriages
20m national fund for youth service
6,500 new affordable homes
16m clean-up fund for cities, towns and villages
Extra support for childcare with "mobile mammas"
Source: Welsh Labour manifesto

He said challenges remained but hope "has been brought to communities which 20 years ago were hopeless. And now they are hopeful because of what we have done.

"But it doesn't mean the job is done because we still have to continue to build on where we've been and what we've been doing.

"We do what it says on the tin: we've proved that over the last eight years. We hope the people of Wales will give us the chance to do it again over the next four years."

Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain said there was a "tremendous risk to the future of Wales" if Labour supporters stayed at home on voting day.

"We've got a great manifesto here with a lot of fantastically exciting policies and this manifesto launch is about saying to the voters of Wales: 'Come out and vote for Rhodri'," said Mr Hain.

The launch was at a children's centre, and Mr Morgan set a group of youngsters off on a treasure hunt to find items that represented Labour's pledges.

Labour called its pledge to cut NHS waiting from referral to treatment to 26 weeks an "ambitious commitment".

It said it would also provide some NHS services at drop-in centres at pharmacies and establish new not-for-profit nursing homes.

'Further and faster'

The party said it would also increase its commitment towards helping lone parents into work.

It would provide "practical help" to lone parents to get jobs and tackle problems involved in staying in work and building careers, such as having to take time off to care for sick children.

The party would work with the UK government to jointly fund the scheme, which would begin in areas where there are most lone parents. The cost to the assembly government would be 2m a year.

Labour said it was modelling its ideas on European "mobile mammas" projects, which involve all-women co-operative businesses.

The manifesto also promises to increase the number of apprenticeships to 25,000 by 2011, up from 16,000 in 2007.

Labour said it was responding to the 2006 UK government-commissioned Leitch review of skills, which "encourages us to go further and faster". It put the annual cost of the apprenticeship expansion at 21m.

Another pledge is to increase expenditure on "social housing" by 430m over the next four years. That will mean an extra 6,500 affordable homes by 2011.

Labour also wants to give local councils the power to suspend the right-to-buy "in areas of identified housing needs".

The manifesto further pledges to introduce discounted off-peak travel on Arriva Trains in Wales for pensioners. The level of the discount is not yet known, but Labour said it would negotiate with the train company.

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