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BBC Wales Guto Thomas reports
"The roll call of big political guns begins"
 real 56k

Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 15:19 GMT
Tory vote ban for Welsh MPs

Welsh MPs could be banned from voting on English issues if the Conservatives win next month's general election.

The Tory manifesto launched in London on Thursday claims that the British constitution needs to be rebalanced following the setting up of the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament.

The Conservatives also plan to cut the overall number of ministers and MPs at Westminster, along with the number of ministerial advisers.


There are few issues that relate to England only because the whole legislative framework for England and Wales remains at Westminster

Ieuan Wyn Jones

But Labour have dismissed the Conservative proposals as "dangerous" and said they would create two classes of MPs.

The creation of the Welsh Assembly two years ago has effectively meant that English MPs are barred from voting on issues like education and health which are devolved to Wales.

Tory election campaign leader in Wales Nigel Evans said specific issues only related to England and should therefore only be voted on by Welsh MPs.

But the other parties have poured scorn on the plan.

Labour who have been launching the Welsh version of their five-point pledge card in Cardiff, said the plan would create two different classes of MPs which would undermine the union of the UK.

Campaigning on manufacturing on a visit to a factory in the Rhondda, Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said the Conservative's proposals simply would not work.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy
Charles Kennedy: Flying visit

"There are few issues that relate to England only because the whole legislative framework for England and Wales remains at Westminster, " said Mr Jones.

"It is vitally important that Welsh MPs have an opportunity to vote."

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats who are seeking a wholesale revamping of the constitution, have said the proposals do not go far enough.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy - who flew into Cardiff as part of his nationwide tour - launched a stinging attack on Plaid Cymru.

At a news conference at Cardiff International Airport Mr Kennedy said a vote for Plaid was "a wasted vote".

Improve economy

"Plaid will increasingly be seen as frankly an irrelevance in this election," he said.

Plaid meanwhile have attacked Labour for concentrating their economic policies in London and the south east of England.

Outlining their proposals to assist manufacturing and to improve the Welsh economy, they want a 50p in the pound rate of income tax on earnings over 50,000 and a reduction in corporation tax.

They also want to reduce national insurance contributions from 10 to 8% in Objective One regions to act as stimulus to the regeneration of the local economy.

Hard-hit agriculture was also on the election agenda on Thursday as the National Farmers Union Cymru launched its manifesto aimed at putting the industry on the road to recovery after the foot-and-mouth crisis.

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