Page last updated at 18:05 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Coalition partners ease power row

Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones
Labour and Plaid have been in a coalition since 2007

Labour and Plaid Cymru appear to have settled their differences after a row which at one stage seemed to threaten their Welsh assembly coalition.

Their leaders issued a joint emergency statement after earlier warnings that the coalition was at risk of collapse.

That followed a Labour statement ruling out progress on a referendum to give the assembly full law-making powers before the UK general election.

But Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones said "all options" on timing were open.

Their statement added that these included "if... practical", an autumn referendum.

Earlier, senior Plaid sources had called the Labour news release which began the row, the most serious threat to the coalition since its formation in 2007.

The party described it as a "serious breach of trust" and "completely unacceptable".

A senior Plaid source had said: "There is no way the party would allow its ministers to sit around the table with Labour if this is allowed to stand."

Labour news release
Welsh Labour's Welsh joint policy committee has met, prioritised the need to campaign for a general election victory, and agreed to start considering the All Wales Convention report in detail as a prelude to stepping up wider party consultation with AMs and MPs, councillors, trade unionists and members as soon as the general election is over
Welsh Labour statement

Labour's statement was issued at midday on Tuesday as a joint response by the Welsh Labour leadership to a report by the All Wales Convention published last week.

The report was commissioned by the assembly government as a central part of the Labour-Plaid coalition, which was formed in 2007 after the last assembly election.

The convention concluded that the assembly should be given full law-making powers in devolved areas through a referendum.

The report said that a "yes" vote in favour of boosting powers was obtainable in a referendum, but not guaranteed.

Welsh ministers have always said they are committed to holding a poll, if it is winnable, by May 2011.

A row between coalition partners Plaid Cymru and Welsh Labour seems to have cooled

The statement was issued in the name of Welsh Labour chair Garry Owen, First Minister and Welsh Labour leader Rhodri Morgan, and Welsh Secretary Peter Hain.

It said: "We welcome the detailed report by the All Wales Convention and reaffirm Welsh Labour's commitment to primary legislative powers for the Welsh assembly and to campaign for these in a successful referendum.

"Because a 'No' vote in a referendum could set back devolution for several decades, triggering the referendum process needs to be based on a firm prospect that public opinion is ready to respond positively in the referendum.

"Our internal policy process has already begun: Welsh Labour's Welsh joint policy committee has met, prioritised the need to campaign for a general election victory, and agreed to start considering the All Wales Convention report in detail as a prelude to stepping up wider party consultation with AMs and MPs, councillors, trade unionists and members as soon as the general election is over."

Mr Morgan is stepping down as Welsh Labour leader and first minister next month, with his successor to be announced on 1 December.

All options for the timing of a referendum remain open... nothing has been ruled in or ruled out, including, if it proved practical, a referendum in the autumn
Later joint statement by Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones

In a statement to AMs on the convention later in the afternoon, Mr Morgan said: "The assembly government intends in the new year to bring forward a motion for a full debate on the convention's report.

Hour-long meeting

"I am reassured that the convention believes that our One Wales (coalition) agreement to hold a referendum during this assembly is both practical and achievable, but I must leave the details to my successor as first minister."

It is understood the wording of Mr Morgan's statement to AMs was agreed in an hour-long meeting between Mr Morgan, and the Plaid leader and Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones in the morning, before the Labour news release was issued.

Plaid Cymru AM Dai Lloyd told Mr Morgan in the Senedd chamber: "Can I assure you, first minister, that Plaid Cymru will not let Labour drag its feet on this."

Mr Morgan replied that moves towards a referendum had to work around the general election, expected in May or June.

An emergency joint statement from Mr Morgan and Mr Jones was then issued, shortly after AMs had finished discussing the convention report, and the coalition disarray over the possible date of a referendum.

The statement said: "The assembly government once again reaffirms its commitment to the 'One Wales' (coalition) agreement in relation to a referendum on 'part four powers' (under the Government of Wales Act 2006).

"Both parties recognise the difficulties which would be created for a purposeful and united 'Yes' campaign, if that were attempted to be held during the run up to a general election.

"Both recognise that a successful 'Yes' campaign will rest on mobilising support from all political parties in Wales, and from those who have no political affiliation.

"Otherwise, all options for the timing of a referendum remain open.

"Nothing has been ruled in or ruled out, including, if it proved practical, a referendum in the autumn."



SEE ALSO
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24 Nov 09 |  Wales
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