Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-business agenda is the exact opposite of what Wales needs, says Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
Despite Labour pledging that Jeremy Corbyn would visit Wales once a month, today (19 November 15) will be his first visit since his election as leader (over 60 days ago).
Kirsty Williams AM said:
“Under Corbyn, the Labour party is completely shambolic. The only coherent narrative Labour currently has is that they are anti-ambition, anti-enterprise, and anti-business. This is the exact opposite of what Wales needs.
“Under Labour, Wales is the only part of the UK where average wages are decreasing. We need ambition and fresh ideas, not the politics of Jeremy Corbyn trying to drag us back even further backwards.
“People want a vibrant Welsh economy with real job opportunities so they can get on in life. Welsh Liberal Democrats will help empower business to thrive in Wales, creating the high-value jobs that will finally get our economy moving.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only party that knows a fair, liberal and sustainable economy is essential to enable people to succeed and to shape their own future.”
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The Welsh Liberal Democrats have expressed fears for the future of the planned Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, after the project was not mentioned once in the Energy Secretary’s key speech today.
The project was spearheaded by former Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey, who led a renewed commitment to new renewable energy technologies as part of the Coalition Government.
Despite being an ongoing major energy project today’s speech by Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, dubbed “a new direction for UK energy policy”, failed to even refer to it.
Peter Black AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, said:
“For such a major energy project to not get a single mention in the Minister’s speech is a very worrying sign. I sincerely hope that the Conservatives aren’t getting cold feet and starting to row back on this vital scheme.
“The tidal lagoon will create and support thousands of jobs in the Swansea Bay area, as well as make Wales a world leader in this exciting new green technology. The opportunity here is immense – that’s why the Liberal Democrats spent so long in Government ensuring that this scheme would become a reality.
“We’ve already seen dithering and feet-dragging by Conservative ministers on the tidal lagoon, but climate change won’t wait for them to get their ducks in order. We need action and swift assurances from the UK Government as soon as possible.”
The speech also contained very little mention of support for other new renewable technologies, a key focus of the Liberal Democrats during their time in Government.
Veronica German. Lead candidate for South Wales East added:
“If anyone ever doubted the importance of having Liberal Democrats in Government, this speech spells it out in black and white. If this is the new direction for our energy policy, I think the Conservatives need to turn around as soon as possible.
“This speech is a clear sign that the Conservatives are set on rowing back years of hard work by Lib Dem ministers on encouraging green energy and expanding renewables. The Tories are abandoning all pretence of caring about climate change.”
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The full text of Amber Rudd’s speech can be found at:https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/amber-rudds-speech-on-a-new-direction-for-uk-energy-policy
The Labour party is in “complete disarray” over its M4 plans, said Veronica German after the First Minister sacked a Labour AM as a committee chair after she spoke out against the plans.
Jenny Rathbone said an "unhealthy culture" at the top of the government stopped AMs from speaking out on issues. Another AM and former Minister Alun Davies has said he's disappointed at the sacking and that Labour AMs should be “free to debate these matters”. Labour’s Deputy Leader of Flintshire Council has also called for a vote of no confidence for the First Minister.
Last year the Welsh Liberal Democrats secured an agreement with the Welsh Government that “no construction of an M4 relief road would start before the next Assembly elections.”
Veronica German, Welsh Liberal Democrat Lead Candidate for South Wales East said:
“For members to break ranks now shows how desperate Welsh Labour are becoming. There must be an election coming, as never in the past 4 years has she spoken out against Labour’s disastrous running of our health service, our schools or Cardiff Council.
“The Labour party is in complete disarray. They long have had a culture of stifling debate and avoiding scrutiny and this has clearly caused resentment.
“The chances of the Welsh Government ever getting a strong enough majority to force through its plans are slim to none. It’s time the Government accepted this.
“In budget negotiations, the Welsh Liberal Democrats used our influence to ensure that no construction of the M4 relief road will start before the next Assembly elections and that a detailed Environmental Impact Study into the project will be commissioned.
“Our proposed alternative is less expensive, less likely to damage vast swathes of our environment and academically recommended. It will invest in public transport, not just tarmac, and reduce congestion by taking cars off the road.
“It’s for all these reasons that we ensured no final construction contracts would be awarded this side of the Assembly election, meaning the entire project can still be scrapped by the next Welsh Government.”
The wording of the budget agreement secured by the Welsh Liberal Democrats includes:
The Welsh Government has made a decision to use some of its borrowing powers to build an M4 relief road around Newport (borrowing powers will also be used to fund infrastructure investment in North, Mid and West Wales) and a preferred route has been identified. However the Welsh Government recognises the objections and concerns about aspects of the plan.
Both parties have agreed that no construction of an M4 relief road would start before the next Assembly elections.
They have also agreed with the Welsh Liberal Democrats to commission a detailed Environmental Impact Study on the Welsh Government preferred route before any detailed design work begins. The Welsh Government maintains that they are open to reviewing their position dependent on the outcome of the study and any public inquiry. Both will be considered in detail before deciding how to proceed.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats received the backing of the the National Assembly to unite against plans by the Tory UK Government to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998.
In their 2015 manifesto the Conservative Party pledges to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a ‘British Bill of Rights’. In coalition, Liberal Democrats blocked plans to repeal the Human Rights Act and leave the European Convention on Human Rights, but now David Cameron is re-heating proposals to scrap fundamental human rights protections.
Leading a Welsh Lib Dem debate in the National Assembly, which states that the Assembly “firmly opposes any attempt by the UK Government to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998’, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams AM said
“These human rights laws protect the most vulnerable in society: they have stopped the state spying on us, helped victims of rape or domestic abuse, supported peaceful protest, protected soldiers, guarded against slavery and provided answers for grieving families.
“Scrapping the Human Rights Act would undermine our Welsh devolution settlement and be a retrograde step in the promotion and protection of human rights. It would only make the system more complex with one set of laws applying to devolved issues and another to non-devolved issues. Far from breaking the link with the ECHR, scrapping the Human Rights Act would make it harder to pursue cases domestically and would force people to use the Strasbourg route instead.
“There is certainly a debate to be had about how we can improve the ECHR and promote a deeper understanding of human rights. However this must be framed within sensible debate and not nationalistic furore spearheaded by right-wing politicians for short term political gain.
“The Liberal Democrats blocked David Cameron from scrapping the Human Rights Act in Government and we must stop him again now. That is why we are leading this debate today, calling on the National Assembly to unite to stop the Conservatives riding roughshod over our hard-won rights.”
Assembly Members overwhelmingly voted in favour of Kirsty Williams’ ‘More Nurses’ bill in the National Assembly today.
In December 2013 Kirsty Williams AM was successful in the National Assembly’s ballot to introduce backbench legislation. Her proposal would see Wales become the first country in the UK with a legal duty on safe nurse staffing levels.
Speaking after the vote, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:
“This significant vote brings safe staffing levels in all of our hospitals a step closer.
“I am pleased Assembly Members from all parties have supported my bill today.
“The premise of my More Nurses Bill is very simple: nurses who have fewer patients to care for, can spend more time with each patient. As a result, they can provide better, safer care.
“I’m fed up of hearing bad news stories about our NHS here in Wales. This Bill offers Wales to lead the way in the UK on this issue.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have set out a package of measures to help rural areas thrive.
The party’s ‘Countryside Charter’ will create thousands of new jobs and ensure people living in rural areas have access to the facilities they need to prosper.
The Charter includes measures to improve high speed internet provision in rural areas, keep local services open and secure the future of the farming industry.
The Countryside Charter includes plans to:
- Close the gap between urban and rural areas in high speed broadband and internet provision
- Give rural firms the transport infrastructure they need to grow and compete in global markets
- Secure the future of the farming industry
- Fight to secure the long-term future of Welsh Young Farmers’ Clubs
- Keep essential local services and facilities open
- Help rural businesses grow and expand by continuing to improve the planning system
- Help young people in rural areas develop their skills
- Support our fishing communities
Veronica German, Parliamentary candidate for Monmouth said:
“Rural areas play a large part in Britain’s economy with the rural economy worth £210bn. The Welsh Liberal Democrats want to unlock this potential so rural areas can thrive.
“In order to prosper, rural areas need good local services, appropriate infrastructure and more housing.
“It is vitally important that all parts of Wales, urban and rural, benefit from the economic recovery. For that to happen, Wales needs an economic plan which recognises the specific challenges and opportunities in rural areas.
“Only the Welsh Liberal Democrats will create a stronger economy and fairer society where everyone and every part of the UK can reach its full potential.”
Labour would borrow £70bn more than the Liberal Democrats in the next parliament as Ed Miliband again refused to give a specific date when he would balance the books during their manifesto launch.
Responding to Labour’s manifesto launch, Veronica German parliamentary candidate for Monmouth said: "By failing to set a clear timetable for when they plan to finish the job of balancing the books, Labour is playing Russian roulette with Britain’s economy.
"Despite being the party that doubled national debt and that saw unemployment rise by nearly half a million, it would seem that Labour still don’t get it.
"Whichever way they dress it up, their plans would mean borrowing £70bn more than is necessary and would drag austerity out for years to come."
On Labour’s plans for devolution, Veronica added:
"Labour’s manifesto has simply reiterated that the Liberal Democrats are the only party offering real fair funding for Wales. By committing to a minimum funding floor, Labour has merely signed up to a Coalition policy.
"The Liberal Democrat would go even further than a minimum funding floor. We would commission work to calculate how much Wales is underfunded by, and we would then top-up Wales’ budget. Only then will Wales have fair funding.
"We have repeatedly called on the Labour party to pledge to fully implement the recommendations put forward by the cross-party Silk Commission. They have failed to do that today. Again, Labour’s pick and mix approach to devolution would leave Wales behind."
Tory spending plans will not help the NHS but rather damage vital public services says Veronica German.
Veronica German, Parliamentary candidate for Monmouth said:
“The Tories still haven't said where they would find the money the NHS needs, unlike the Lib Dems. With their plans to cut and keeping cutting the budget throughout the next five years, they will have to take the money from other areas, damaging our precious public services.
“Unless and until the Conservatives show how they plan to pay for their promises, the Liberal Democrats will remain the only party to make a real, credible commitment to funding the NHS.
“The Liberal Democrats are the only party who has committed to giving the NHS the £8 billion it needs, which means millions of pounds extra for Wales' health service, and we have set out how we will pay for it."
No final construction contract for the planned M4 relief road has been awarded thanks to the Welsh Liberal Democrats, the party has said today.
Following the news that the ‘Early Contractor Involvement’ contract has been awarded to undertake statutory development and environmental work, the Welsh Lib Dems reiterated the agreement in their budget deal with the Welsh Government that no final design work would be carried out nor full contracts awarded before the end of this Assembly term.
Veronica German, Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for Monmouth, said:
“Welsh Liberal Democrats have said from the start that the proposed ‘Black Route’ is completely unnecessary. Our proposed alternative for a relief road is less expensive, less likely to damage vast swathes of our environment and academically recommended. The reduce costs would allow us to invest in public transport, reducing congestion by taking cars off the road.
“It’s for all these reasons that we ensured no final construction contracts would be awarded this side of the Assembly election, meaning the entire project can still be scrapped by the next Welsh Government. This latest announcement doesn’t change that.”