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Friday, September 23, 2011

Labour's Legislative programme under attack

When one is in opposition and attacking the government it is nice to have one's views validated by an independent observer who has both respect and credibility. This is especially so when we are arguing that the government is not acting in the best interests of Wales.

The views of Sir Emyr Jones Parry, who led the inquiry that established the case for a more powerful Welsh assembly are particularly powerful, though like everybody else I am surprised at the strength of those opinions and the fact that he expressed then in public:

Speaking at a conference in Cardiff Bay, Sir Emyr said: "Perhaps the priorities in there (the Welsh Government's plans) are not a natural fit for the problems Wales confronts.

"That's a very diplomatic way of asking whether the Welsh economy, whether the skills Wales needs, whether the educational requirements Wales has... whether we think all of those are going to be strengthened by an obligation to have cycle lanes in a joined-up network across Wales.

"I'm not sure whether they actually hit the button."

There have been arguments that you cannot legislate for economic growth and by and large that is true but there is legislation that can be put in place to facilitate it. This includes introducing Tax Increment Financing, in which local Councils regain control of business rates and are able to borrow against future income from an area of land so as to regenerate it.

It is also possible to consider legislating for the better coordination of transport at a local level so as to provide for business growth, to simplfy planning requirements and to strengthen Council's ability to respond to an economic downturn by for example varying business rates in a particular area. All it takes is imagination and resolve, both qualities that appear to be missing in the Welsh Government.

So far, in its legislative programme the Welsh Government has failed Wales by not addressing the economic agenda. It is nice to have Sir Emyr Jones Parry's sanction for that view.
I'm pleased that Sir Emyr Jones Parry has spoken out and I couldn't agree with him more. With the current ominous global economic outlook it's absolutely crucial that the Welsh Government focusses on the needs of the Welsh economy and Welsh businesses. So, what real action have we seen from this new Labour Administration? Well...not a lot. Given what's going on in the rest of the World, we may not have too much time left to develop and implement the policies we need. Let's hope Carwyn Jones' Programme for Government, to be announced this coming Tuesday, doesn't turn out like Gordon Browns' 'Vision for Britain'!
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