Page last updated at 13:39 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 14:39 UK

Lab-Plaid partners 'delivering'

Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones
Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones announcing their deal last year

Welsh Assembly Government partners Labour and Plaid Cymru claim they are delivering better services, a year after their coalition was formed.

But opposition parties have spoken of failure and missed opportunities.

Labour and Plaid signed their One Wales agreement after last year's election to the Welsh assembly which failed to give Labour an overall majority.

The deal included policy commitments on a range of devolved policies in Wales such as health and education.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan has stressed the health services in Wales as a key assembly government achievement.

I believe we made the right tough choices, voting with our heads not with our hearts
Labour First Minister Rhodri Morgan

He emphasised a new hospital building programme and a planned 150m complex in the county of Caerphilly, hailing it as Britain's first truly 21st Century hospital.

"Labour has so much to celebrate this week, with it being the 60th anniversary of the founding of the NHS, Wales' greatest contribution to the modern British welfare state," said Mr Morgan.

"Isn't it great news as well that this is the very week that Edwina Hart, the health minister, has authorised the start of work on the 50m new hospital for Blaenau Gwent, to be called Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan."

The Senedd

We said we want a referendum on or before the end of the assembly term and we are well on the way to achieving that

Plaid Cymru Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones

Mr Morgan said there were tough choices in forming a coalition with Plaid, but the alternative might have let the Conservatives into government in Wales.

"I believe we made the right tough choices, voting with our heads not with our hearts - a decision based on the desire to honour Labour's election pledges and deliver for the people of Wales to the maximum degree possible," he said.

Plaid leader and Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones told BBC Wales there was a new agenda and the coalition was delivering on housing, education and health.

On possible constitutional changes, the agreement between Labour and Plaid included a commitment to a referendum on full law-making powers for the assembly.

"We said we want a referendum on or before the end of the assembly term and we are well on the way to achieving that. We have a convention which represents all parties so we now have a proper debate," he said.

But he admitted there were some areas where they could not make progress.

"There were a number of things we would have liked to have delivered in year one," he said.

Liberal Democrat Mike German
The One Wales agreement has kept the two parties together, but failed to stop parts of Wales falling apart
Mike German, leader, Welsh Liberal Democrats

"Such as helping pensioners with council tax but, because of the tight financial settlement we weren't able to deliver on that. That's something I regret."

But the Conservative opposition in the assembly said the government had failed to deliver on key pledges such as the foundation phase, education for very young children.

"It's an agenda which denies people choice in public services," said Welsh Tory leader Nick Bourne.

He said the convention to discuss new powers for the assembly had not yet met, suggesting the planned referendum will not happen before the next assembly elections.

On health, Mr Bourne said Mrs Hart was unpicking the policies of her predecessor in the job with another NHS reorganisation.

Welsh Liberal Democrats accused the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition of failing in its commitment to a referendum on constitutional changes for the assembly.

The convention to gauge public opinion on further powers was crawling along, they said, and it was unlikely a referendum would be held before 2011.

The party also pointed to problems over education policy in Wales.

"The One Wales agreement has kept the two parties together, but failed to stop parts of Wales falling apart - particularly in education," said Lib Dem leader Mike German.

"There are major issues surrounding the introduction of the foundation phase in education, funding of further education, funding of higher education and the backlog in building repairs."




SEE ALSO
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04 Jul 08 |  Wales politics

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