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BBC Wales's David Cornock
"Those who hope that the Assembly will be given more power are likely to be disappointed"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 06:12 GMT
Labour may keep Welsh Secretary role
Tony Blair, Labour graphic
As Labour publishes its general election manifesto on Wednesday, there are signs that Tony Blair is prepared to retain a Welsh Secretary at the Cabinet table.

It has been widely predicted that the post would be axed and that a new regional role taking in all the nations would replace it

But campaigning in Scotland, Mr Blair indicated to a newspaper that he would look again at the role of the Secretary of State for the country.

The Labour leader is expected to confirm the same for Wales when he visits later on in the campaign.

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy
Paul Murphy: The Welsh Secretary's post could be saved
The Conservatives have confirmed they want to merge the Welsh role with another Cabinet post while the Liberal Democrats favour a Secretary of State for the Nations.

Plaid Cymru. meanwhile, see no long-term role for the post at all.

Labour's manifesto is to have its Welsh launch in Rhyl on Wednesday afternoon - in the marginal Vale of Clwyd constituency.

Labour is the last of the "big four" parties to publish its programme for the election.

Jointly written

The party is expected to say that only a Labour government at Westminster can ensure the Welsh Assembly works effectively in areas like health and education.

The manifesto entitled 'Ambitions for Wales' includes a foreword written jointly by the assembly's First Minister Rhodri Morgan, and the Welsh Secretary, Paul Murphy.

The 44-page document sets out how the assembly is delivering policies in health and education which reflect the ambitions of the Blair government.

Assembly politicians who had hoped for more devolved powers for Cardiff Bay are likely to be disappointed.

With the body still in its infancy, Labour says it will wait for the assembly's own review of its operations in two year's time.

Elsewhere in Wales, the Conservatives will be campaigning on agricultural issues including foot-and-mouth, and the Liberal Democrats will be highlighting social exclusion.

Plaid Cymru will be addressing the assembly's performance over the last two years.

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