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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 July 2007, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Challenges facing new ministers
Mark Hannaby
BBC Wales political reporter

Ieuan Wyn Jones outside the Senedd
Ieuan Wyn Jones is 'satisfied' with the range and number of portfolios
The Welsh assembly's first Plaid Cymru ministers face the challenge of delivering change in often contentious policy areas.

For the first time, Plaid will face the demands of collective cabinet responsibility, and of being accountable for sometimes controversial measures.

Plaid did not scoop either the education or health portfolios - those remain with Labour's Jane Hutt and Edwina Hart.

But Ieuan Wyn Jones has declared himself "absolutely satisfied with the number and the range of portfolios" his party has gained.

Competitive

Mr Jones and Plaid colleagues Elin Jones, Rhodri Glyn Thomas and Jocelyn Davies must now implement the One Wales agreement upon which the coalition government was founded.

Alongside his deputy first minister role Mr Jones will take responsibility for the economy and transport.

He says he will be keen to make sure businesses become competitive and investment is encouraged across the whole of Wales.

Elin Jones
Elin Jones takes on new ministerial duties

But some business leaders have already raised concerns about One Wales plan of action for the economy.

The decision to rule out private finance initiative (PFI) schemes for NHS building projects has been criticised by CBI Wales Director David Rosser.

Under PFI schemes a private firm puts up the money to complete and manage a public sector hospital, and the government pays them back with interest over many years.

Meanwhile many in the business community will be eager to see some meat on the bones of policies outlined in the One Wales document.

They will want to know exactly how Mr Jones will make it easier for small firms to win government contracts and how he will increase road and rail links.

They will also be eager to hear how he will reduce rail journey times between north and south Wales and what a "green jobs strategy" means in practice.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas
Rhodri Glyn Thomas's brief as heritage minister is wide-ranging

The new Minister for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones, is well aware of her responsibilities, having shadowed the environment, planning and countryside brief in the last assembly.

Earlier this year she helped overturn cuts in the assembly government's payments to hill farmers under the Tir Mynydd scheme.

Ms Jones was warned by then countryside minister Carwyn Jones that not implementing such cuts could jeopardise the assembly governmnet's rural development plan.

As the new minister, she now has the opportunity to prove her argument that the farmers' payments could be reinstated without such consequences.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas's brief as heritage minister is wide-ranging and includes responsibility for tourism, heritage body Cadw, the arts, sport and the Welsh language.

It will fall to Mr Thomas to pursue a new law confirming official status for both Welsh and English, linguistic rights in the provision of services and the creation of a language commissioner.

Jocelyn Davies
Jocelyn Davies has the task of helping tackle affordable housing

New Deputy Minister for Housing Jocelyn Davies will have to help sustainability minister Jane Davidson implement solutions to the shortage of affordable housing in Wales which are already proving controversial.

The coalition has promised to give councils the power to stop buildings being changed to holiday homes, and to insist on 100% affordable housing on developments in areas of high housing pressure.

It will also suspend the right to buy council homes and give grants to first-time buyers.

How much they'd get hasn't yet been specified.

Principality Building Society Chief Executive Peter Griffiths has already said the grants policy will push up house prices, a point accepted by Plaid AM for Aberconwy, Gareth Jones.

It is certain that further analysis and criticism of the coalition's plans will not be slow in coming.




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