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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Full coalition agreement is published

I am in and out of committees all day so I have not had a chance to absorb all the details of the full coalition agreement. However, on first glance there seems to be some tangible benefits specifically for Wales, in addition to the reforms and actions that are planned to put the economy onto a firm footing and to create a more liberal constitution.

This is an extensive and detailed reform agenda that puts national interest before party. Deficit reduction remains at the heart of everything.

This government will deliver fairer taxes for the people of Wales, with significant increase in the personal allowance in the fisrt budget. We will also see the restoration of fairer pensions.

On the Referendum – We want this to happen at the earliest opportunity. Labour failed to deliver this and we have now seen that no real preparatory work was done on the question. We will be campaigning on a yes vote. We know the Deputy Prime Minster is committed to this and will come and campaign. We strongly hope to see the Prime Minister doing the same.

The Housing LCO was held up by the Tories, it should never have been lost in the wash up. This contains important Liberal Democrat policy and we are delighted to have revived a legitimate request by the Assembly for more powers.

The commitment to a Calman style commission for Wales is a key commitment of the Treasury to take this work forward. It does not rule out changing the way Wales is funded but places deficit reduction before everything. A mess that Labour created.

This commitment takes us beyond where Plaid and Labour have envisaged us being and moves us on past their style of begging bowl nationalism. It will look at tax-varying powers and greater financial accountability for Wales. Labour have had 13 years to deliver fair funding for Wales and didn’t.

Unlike them, we have been able to secure UK government commitment and involvement which will go well beyond the motivation of simply reforming the funding system but promise real change for the next generation.

On electrification of the railways - there is support in this document for further electrification but no specific commitments. This is probably as much as we are going to get at this stage!
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