Labour and Plaid Cymru confirm Welsh Government co-operation agreement
Welsh Labour’s First Minister Mark Drakeford and Leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price have unveiled their long-trailed co-operation agreement
The agreement is a joint policy programme covering 46 areas, ranging from the delivery of free school meals to all primary school pupils; a commitment to take immediate and radical action to address the second homes crisis, to long-term reform of the Senedd.
They say that this is a new form of political working arrangement. The two partners – the ruling Labour party’s Welsh Government and the Plaid Cymru Senedd Group – will work together to jointly develop and oversee the delivery of the policies covered by the agreement over the coming three years.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The Welsh Government has an ambitious Programme for Government, which it will deliver over this Senedd term. But we do not have a monopoly on good ideas and we will work with progressive parties where we have shared and common interests to benefit people in Wales.
“This Co-operation Agreement brings the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru together to respond to some of the most pressing issues facing Wales today, such as climate change and the energy and cost-of-living crisis.
“We can achieve more for people in Wales by working together and the Co-operation Agreement is both a response to the external challenges we face and a chance to build on the opportunities in our future. It will also help us secure a stable Senedd over the next three years, capable of delivering radical change and reform.
“These commitments build on our shared values of social solidarity, a sustainable planet and a vibrant democracy.”
Adam Price, Leader of Plaid Cymru said: “Almost a quarter of a century ago, people in Wales voted for self-government for Wales, with a promise of a new type of politics.
“They placed their trust in a new democracy with an instruction to work differently – inclusively and co-operatively.
“The challenges we face require real ambition to deliver radical ideas. The fallout from leaving the European Union, the legacy of the pandemic, and the UK Government’s determination to erode the Senedd’s powers all increase the need for transformational change.
“Taken together, the bold policy pledges will unite Wales and benefit every generation, from all primary school pupils receiving free school meals to a national care service, free at the point of need.
“I am pleased this pioneering Co-operation Agreement is founded on common ground on a range of issues that will make a long-lasting difference to people’s lives.”
As part of the agreement, a publicly-owned energy company for Wales could be created to encourage community-owned renewable energy generation; there will be further investment in flood defences and new measures to strengthen the Welsh language and support for young people’s mental health.
The groups are keen to stress that this is a bespoke agreement – it is not a coalition; Plaid Cymru Members will not be joining the Welsh Government as Ministers or Deputy Ministers. Plaid Cymru will appoint a designated lead member for the agreement and committees made up of Welsh Ministers and Plaid Cymru designated members will be established to reach agreement on issues covered by the Co-operation Agreement.
Funding has been put in place as part of the Co-operation Agreement and will be reflected in the draft Budget, when it is published in December.
Both parties reiterated that all issues outside the Co-operation Agreement will be handled in the normal course of political engagement.
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and the party’s sole Senedd member Jane Dodds MS responded to the deal saying: “Now more than ever it is important that parties are able to work together to confront the big issues affecting Wales. I look forward to seeing the detail but be assured that as leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats I will continue to demand better people across Wales and hold both Labour and Plaid Cymru to account.
“On the surface, there are a number of issues which have been covered in the announcement that were part of our manifesto, including work to tackle Wales’ high child poverty levels through the expansion of free school meals and greater childcare provision. The Welsh Liberal Democrats will work constructively with the Government on issues such as the above and in improving our democracy and fighting for increased powers for Wales.
“But, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will remain an independent opposition party ready to hold Labour and Plaid Cymru to account, particularly in how they intend to reach their goals of net-zero by 2035.
“I will continue to fight to make the Welsh Liberal Democrat’s budget priorities heard. This includes our desire to see a Children’s and Young People’s Budget, a ringfenced budget for mental health, more action on the cost of living crisis and support for small businesses.
“I am also concerned the agreement does include measures to tackle long NHS and ambulance waiting times. It is absolutely vital that all parties and stakeholders work together to tackle the crisis in healthcare provision in Wales as we continue to recover from COVID-19.
“Unlike the Welsh Conservatives who take their instructions from Westminster, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will remain an independent opposition voice for Wales.
“Against a backdrop of job insecurity, the rising cost of living, and coronavirus, people across Wales need to see practical solutions to their problems and that is what I and the Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to work towards.”
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