Page last updated at 18:43 GMT, Monday, 17 May 2010 19:43 UK

Cameron offers 'respect' agenda to assembly


David Cameron offered a message of cooperation to the Welsh assembly

Prime Minister David Cameron has offered a "respect" agenda for relations between the Welsh assembly and the UK parliament.

The Tory leader, speaking at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Monday, said he would be willing to come before the assembly once a year to answer questions.

He said in return, assembly government ministers should be willing to appear before Westminster select committees.

Mr Cameron's visit to Wales follows a similar one to Scotland.

He had promised to visit Wales within days when he spoke to Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones last Wednesday.

The prime minister confirmed his commitment to devolution and his enthusiasm to work productively with the assembly, which is governed by a coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru.

As in Scotland, Mr Cameron called for an "agenda of respect" - this time between Westminster and the Welsh assembly.

I think we need a relationship based on respect and something of a fresh start, where we say right, let's put the past aside
David Cameron

He described the United Kingdom as a family, adding that while families sometimes fell out when money was tight, it was his intention to keep the UK firmly together.

He met the first minister and deputy first minister, and held talks with the Welsh Conservative and Welsh Liberal Democrat leaders.

Mr Cameron has offered the assembly government the chance to delay cuts planned for this financial year until next year.

He said this was part of the relationship of respect between the two administrations but added that in the end, every part of the UK had to play its part in making cuts.

He earlier went to the GE aircraft maintenance plant at Nantgarw near Cardiff where he also outlined his commitment to devolution.

"I think devolution can work, we've got to make it work, and it's up to, I think, the Westminster parliament and the Welsh assembly to work out how to work together better," he told workers.

David Cameron at the GE aircraft maintenance base
The prime minister spoke to workers at a factory near Cardiff

"I think we need a relationship based on respect and something of a fresh start, where we say right, let's put the past aside.

"This is a prime minister who within his first week has come here to Wales because I want to keep the United Kingdom together, I want a new start in the relationship, with the Welsh Assembly Government - let's do that and let's make the United Kingdom work better, and let's make devolution work better."

First Minister Carwyn Jones has said he wants the assembly government to have a "constructive relationship" with the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat UK government.

As soon as the coalition government was formed at Westminster, Mr Jones said his main aim was that "the priorities of the people of Wales come first".

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said following Monday's meeting: "The first minister and deputy first minister had a constructive first meeting with the prime minister.

'Businesslike manner'

"A range of issues were raised, including possible flexibility around budget cuts for this year and the UK government's plans to reduce the number of MPs and the consequential impact on the number of assembly members.

"The meeting also discussed the need to keep options open on the date of the referendum on further law making powers.

"The Welsh Assembly Government will now consider how best to take these forward in a constructive and businesslike manner."

Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh secretary in the UK government who accompanied Mr Cameron on his visit, has said the economy and a referendum on more legislative powers for Wales were her first priorities in the role.

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