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Last Updated: Friday, 8 June 2007, 05:39 GMT 06:39 UK
Minister warms to Plaid coalition
Edwina Hart (right)
Edwina Hart (right) at a Welsh Labour launch
A Labour cabinet member has indicated she would be willing to serve in a coalition Welsh Assembly Government with Plaid Cymru.

Health minister Edwina Hart told BBC Wales' Dragon's Eye that she would be happy to sit at the same cabinet table as Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones.

Ms Hart said: "This is about closer working and parties of similar ideas taking strands along together."

Labour has formed a minority government following May's assembly election.

Ms Hart was asked by the programme for her response to a call from Plaid Cymru's negotiator, Adam Price, for a formal coalition between the two parties.

She said she would be happy sitting at the same cabinet table with Plaid's leader Ieuan Wyn Jones.

She added: "Our door is open in terms of closer co-operation.

"I think we've got to recognise that this is grown-up politics now in Wales.

"This settlement was never going to produce a majority every time.

"This is about closer working. The Europeans have done it for a long time."

Labour has stated that First Minister Rhodri Morgan's door remains open for further formal discussions.

'Agreed programme'

Mr Price welcomed Ms Hart's comments, adding Labour needed to move quickly to secure a coalition with Plaid.

He said: "It has to be a formal coalition and it has to be a joint agreed programme of government.

"The present situation is completely unsustainable."

Meanwhile, supporters of an alliance of non-Labour parties are calling for the current assembly term to be extended to give those parties chance to form an alternative government.

Earlier this week, Mr Morgan said he intended to call a temporary halt to changes to Welsh hospital services.

It followed objections to Labour's proposals for health "reconfiguration," a major issue at the assembly election.

Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan is running a minority administration

Labour is five short of a majority and running a minority government, which means its policies will need support from other parties.

The party's programme includes measures to give NHS patients more rights and to improve environmental protection and waste management.

Mr Morgan said he hoped it would be possible to build a "progressive consensus" in the assembly to provide the policies that Wales required.

"It's no accident that the proposals focus on the bread-and-butter issues," said Mr Morgan.

"Our object must surely be not to create more law, but better law for Wales."

Budget and Business Minister Jane Hutt said Labour had carried out several discussions with the Lib Dems and Plaid since the election.

Plaid Cymru AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas told BBC Radio Wales that a coalition between the two parties would depend on Labour "showing some enthusiasm".

He said: "I would be very keen to hear Rhodri Morgan himself say that he would like to work with Plaid Cmyru and would be prepared to look at a coalition with Plaid Cymru.

"There is a sense of urgency here. We cannot continue in this situation forever. If Labour are serious about working with us, Rhodri Morgan has to contact Ieuan Wyn Jones."

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