Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Saturday, 18 April 2009 16:59 UK

Lib Dem leader 'no sleaze' appeal

By Phil Parry
BBC News

Kirsty Williams
Kirsty Williams addressed the Welsh conference for the first time as leader

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams told her party conference it was time to move away from spin and sleaze in politics.

She told their spring conference in Cardiff there should be honesty and openness for schools and hospitals in money they can expect from government.

Kirsty Williams also stressed their pledge to scrap tuition fees for Welsh students.

Ms Williams was addressing her first party conference as leader.

She emphasised her party's commitment to new technology to reach potential voters, but also made an apparent reference to the current controversy in Westminster over scurrilous emails.

"It is already clear that on blogs, on Twitter and on YouTube, the old politics is proving to be as bereft of principle as it is of creativity," she said.

Without honesty and fairness there will be more promises broken, more irrational cuts, more trust squandered
Kirsty Williams

"We watch this tragic comedy unfold and find that when we talk straight, allow open debate and reject the politics of spin and smear our ideas are spread, shared and promoted further by a Welsh public desperate for honesty, substance and a clear sense of values."

Kirsty Williams focussed on getting rid of tuition fees and giving schools more certainty when it came to fixing budgets.

"Without honesty and fairness there will be more promises broken, more irrational cuts, more trust squandered."

"We would scrap tuition fees for Welsh students, we will be straight with our teachers and tutors about the money they will have to run their schools this year and next."

She attacked what she said were the bureaucratic processes of the Welsh Assembly Government in helping to retrain workers.

Bail outs

"If you run a business and have waded through the red tape trying to apply for assembly government support, you will know that just a few hundred thousand pounds have actually been released.

"They might call it Pro-Act but it's looking more and more like Slo-Act to us."

Addressing the financial crisis, Kirsty Williams advocated lower taxes for those in lower and middle income brackets and said banks should be better regulated.

The banks should be given a choice between concentrating on High Street lending and taking high risks playing the markets, she said.

"They can take these risks as long as they're completely detached from the High Street," she said.

The Welsh leader earned the loudest applause with her comment about no extra public money for banks.

"If things go wrong there will be no more bail outs," she said.

Earlier the conference debated motions on police accountability, keeping Wales's families in their homes, tackling alcohol abuse and making Europe work for Wales.

On Sunday the conference will be addressed by Roger Williams MP, deputy leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Christine Humphreys, president of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

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