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Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 17:04 GMT
Morgan glee at England 'jealousy'
Daily Express
The Express reports that only Wales will get free prescriptions
First Minister Rhodri Morgan claims his government's abolition of prescription charges means people in England are jealous of Wales for the first time.

Mr Morgan spoke as Labour prepared to unveil its achievements record ahead of May's Welsh assembly election.

The abolition of charges from 1 April was backed by AMs on Tuesday. In England most patients still pay 6.65.

"We have never actually managed to make the English jealous before... but we have done it," said Mr Morgan.

He cited a page one story in Friday's Daily Express claiming there was growing anger over Britain's "two-tier health service".

The Express ran the headline "Prescriptions free for everyone - but only if you live in Wales".

It also quoted Health Minister Brian Gibbons saying: "The vast majority of ordinary working class people will benefit substantially and, for us in Welsh Labour, that's what we are proud about".

Rhodri Morgan
Objective One funding, helping to create or secure over 90,000 jobs
New Deal - helped over 35,000 young people into jobs
Cut long term youth unemployment by over 85% in Wales
Ending the Tory 'quango-state' in Wales
Over 500m in Wales paid out in miners compensation
Source: From Labour Party Wales' top 50 achievements

Mr Morgan told BBC Radio Wales: "I think it's the first time that a Fleet Street newspaper has actually put a front page blasting headline on how wonderful it is that Wales has brought in free prescriptions, but playing into English jealousy and saying 'wouldn't it be wonderful if you all lived in Wales'.

Funding concerns have been raised by drug companies but Mr Morgan said there was "no question of going back" on the decision.

"What's happened is that over the period 2003 to 2007, we have been cutting the prescriptions charge year by year.

"What's happening on 1 April is that the final cut (is) from 3 to zero, and I think that it will be a red letter day for people in Wales."

He also claimed another of Labour's greatest achievements in Wales was making it a "full employment country".

He said people's belief in their own prospects had been restored and they no longer felt they had to leave Wales to get a better job or to "better themselves".

"What we're doing today is to establish what an outstandingly proud record we have got of achievement over the past seven-and-a-half years," he added.

But Plaid Cymru reacted by publishing a document, "Labour's failure to deliver", which they said highlighted examples of Labour's "broken promises, failures and incompetence".

A Plaid spokesperson said: "Rhodri Morgan's administration is bereft of ideas and has failed to deliver for the people of Wales."

Meanwhile the leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the assembly, Nick Bourne, said: "This could well be the shortest document in political history - unless Labour counts scrapped manifesto promises, long hospital waiting lists, economic stagnation, and educational failure as achievements."


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