Author Archives: Kirsty Williams AM

Kirsty Williams writes… Welsh Lib Dems to deliver key election pledge

Time and time again parents and teachers tell us that they are concerned about class sizes.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have listened to these concerns, looked at the international evidence, and in Government can today announce a new £36m fund to address infant class sizes.

Evidence shows a positive connection between smaller class sizes and attainment, particularly for pupils from poorer backgrounds. We want to create the space for teachers to teach, pupils to learn and better support all of our students.

This investment, linked to our other reforms, will:

  • Improve early years’ attainment;
  • Have a significant impact for poorer and disadvantaged pupils; and
  • Support teachers to be innovative and increase pupil engagement.
Posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments

Kirsty Williams’ New Year message: Welsh Lib Dems are “united, growing and up for the fight”

2016 will be a big year for Wales.  With the Assembly elections just around the corner, people will soon decide who they want representing them in Cardiff Bay.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats head into these elections with our heads held high and a record to be proud of.  During this Assembly, we have used our influence in budget negotiations to secure, amongst other things, over £200 million extra investment in schools through our Welsh Pupil Premium.  This policy, directed at pupils that need it most, is central to what we believe in: ensuring that everyone, no matter their background, will get a fair start in life.  Despite being a small group in the Assembly, we have made a big difference to the communities we represent.

We combine this dedication to fairness with a pro-enterprise agenda.  We believe in supporting people who have ambition and ideas.  We understand that it’s not just government that creates jobs, but business too.  We recognise that in the real world, even our brightest need support to create and innovate.

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Kirsty Williams’ speech to Welsh Lib Dem conference

It was with initial disbelief and then horror as I watched the events in Paris last night unfold
Our thoughts are of course with the families and communities who have been affected by this tragedy.
But we mustn’t forget that the whole point of terrorism is to intimidate and terrify
And the horrors of last night were indeed terrifying

Posted in Op-eds | 4 Comments

Kirsty Williams AM writes… An ambitious Liberal Democrat plan for the NHS Welsh people need

Today at the Royal Welsh Show I launched our party’s 3 point-plan for Wales’ NHS that puts patients first.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have a wide range of policies and proposals for reforms to improve our health service, but today I wanted to highlight the three key parts of our plans for the NHS ahead of next year’s Assembly elections.

The 3-point plan is as follows:

Guaranteed access to your GP: People are fed up of finding it a real struggle to make an appointment and to access their GP.  In this day and age, everyone should be able to make an appointment easily – that is what the Welsh Liberal Democrats will deliver. We would properly invest in an ‘Access to GPs’ scheme to guarantee a prompt appointment and extend GP opening hours.

End mental health discrimination: I am proud that our party has led on this issue across the UK. Only last month the Welsh Liberal Democrats revealed that in just two years there has been a 472% increase in young people waiting over 14 weeks to receive mental health services. That is a disgrace, which is why we would oversee a culture change to ensure mental health is treated on a par with physical health. We would ensure that patients with mental health issues have an equal right to access treatments as those requiring physical care.

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Kirsty Williams AM writes… Welsh Liberal Democrats oppose Labour’s e-cigarette ban

Electronic Cigarette InhalationAs a liberal I’m deeply sceptical of knee-jerk reactions to issues of public importance, especially when there’s a severe lack of evidence to support your claim. This was a view I thought I shared with the Welsh Labour Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, after he said in the debate on my minimum nurse staffing levels bill that “in pursuing public policy, legislation should almost always be a last, rather than a first resort.”

You can imagine my surprise, therefore, when the Welsh Labour Government announced plans to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places, along the same lines as the current smoking ban.

I called Welsh Labour’s plans into question as I led a debate in the Senedd on this matter earlier this month, asking the Health Minister to produce the evidence that he had to support this ban. Despite assuring me and other Assembly Members that there was “mounting evidence” which he’d make available to me “immediately after the debate”, it was two weeks until I received anything from him. This amounted to one single paper.

I’d hardly call that “mounting evidence”.

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Kirsty Williams AM writes… An important step towards minimum nurse staffing levels in Wales

Today, the National Assembly for Wales voted to give me permission to bring forward a Private Members Bill to set minimum nurse staffing levels in law.

I believe this is necessary in Wales because we currently have the highest number of patients per nurse in the UK, which means that all too often our nurses are unable to give the time to perform their role to their highest caring ability.

Evidence is increasing from across the world on the positive impact that nurse staffing levels have on patient care and the recruitment and retention of staff. Nurses who have fewer patients to …

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Kirsty Williams writes… Welsh Lib Dems more than double Welsh Pupil Premium

nick clegg kirsty williams - 1The Welsh Liberal Democrats were delighted to announce yesterday that we are more than doubling the Welsh Pupil Premium.

Two years ago, in a similar situation, we worked with the Welsh Government to ensure that Wales would have our own Welsh Pupil Premium. This meant that each school would get £450 per child on free school meals. This was an achievement we were rightly very proud of. However, while Liberal Democrats in England continued to increase the Pupil Premium, the unambitious Welsh Labour Government refused to do the same in Wales.

We have now changed that. Thanks to the Welsh Liberal Democrats we have more than doubled the value of the Welsh Pupil Premium, increasing funding to £918 per pupil.

Posted in Op-eds and Wales | Tagged , , and | 8 Comments

Kirsty Williams writes… nothing to fear from parties working together

As we know, 2010 was the first time a coalition cabinet had been formed in Westminster since 1945. This obviously marked an historic occasion. However, coalition is something that is far less unusual in the Welsh political system and I believe experiences taken from Wales can be of benefit to the party as we approach the next General Election.

Between 2000-03 the Welsh Liberal Democrats were in a coalition government and our achievements during those three years were substantial. In fact, much to Labour’s annoyance, in 2002 we were able to claim that over a hundred Lib …

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Kirsty Williams AM writes: Why Welsh Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru have joined forces

welsh-liberal-democratsThis week, and much to the surprise of many political commentators in Wales, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and I held a joint press conference announcing that we are to join forces to negotiate with the Welsh Labour Government on next year’s budget settlement.

In the National Assembly, the Welsh Government has exactly half of the Assembly Members. Therefore, each year the Welsh Government needs the support of at least one of the opposition parties to pass their annual budget. In the past, this has given the …

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Kirsty Williams AM writes: Welsh Liberal Democrats will fight for more for disadvantaged children

Yesterday the Welsh Labour Government submitted its £15 billion draft budget which reveals its spending plans for the next year.

In its current form, the Welsh Liberal Democrats cannot support this budget as we don’t believe it goes far enough to tackle the problem of making sure that children from deprived backgrounds get the fair start in life they deserve.

Last year, the Welsh Liberal Democrats vastly improved the Welsh Government’s budget by agreeing to support it in return for the introduction of a Welsh Pupil Premium. Despite failing standards in our schools and an ever growing spending gap per pupil when compared …

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Kirsty Williams writes: A lack of transparency in the Welsh Government

At a time when the public has so little confidence in our political system, it is essential that Governments do all they can to create a more transparent system.

The Coalition Government in Westminster has recognised this and put in place significant changes for the good of democracy. It was only as a result of the UK government’s decision to publish all departmental spending over

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Kirtsy Williams writes… Looking back at 2011 and looking forward to 2012

2011 has most certainly been a year that has kept all of us busy – elections to the Assembly, referenda, journalists following us around making sense of it all and the people of Wales playing an active part in Welsh political life. As the Arab spring was sweeping through the Arab world bringing with it elections and democratic accountability, Wales was also playing its part in making its voice heard.

This time last year, I was a few months away from leading my party into my first Assembly elections as leader. The media was predicting a wipe out for the Welsh …

Posted in Op-eds and Wales | 3 Comments

Kirsty Williams writes… The Welsh Pupil Premium

Last week I announced that the Welsh Liberal Democrats will be voting with the Welsh Labour government for the budget on the 6th December.

We have agreed to support the 2012-2013 budget on the basis that we will be introducing a Welsh Pupil Premium.  This means that from April 2012, every child in Wales on free schools meals will recieve an extra £450 of funding – no matter where they live, or what school they go to.  This is a total Pupil Premium spending of £32 million, of which £20 million is brand new money for the education budget.

Some …

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Kirsty Williams AM writes: Getting down to business in Wales

The long running saga of the ‘Welsh Lib Dem two’ has now been resolved but not without some pain. While Aled Roberts was able to re-take his seat as an Assembly Member, it was clear in the National Assembly that John Dixon did not have the same support.

I would like to pay tribute to John Dixon. He has served the public diligently and with distinction on Cardiff Council. He would have been an enormously effective and hard working Assembly Member. He has paid a very high price and I would like to pay tribute to him for the dignity with which he has handled the situation over the past two months.

Aled Roberts too has had a difficult couple of months but he is now back in the Assembly where he belongs and we have wasted no time in getting down to business and I have been able to announce the team that will hold the government to account.

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Kirsty Williams writes: Slow progress in Wales

We are six weeks from the elections and the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Government getting on with the job they were elected to do – governing and legislating. The Scottish Government is demanding more fiscal powers and they are rocking the constitutional boat. Whether you agree with the SNPs policies or not, they are doing something. The story in Wales is different.

The first major government announcement in Wales came on Tuesday when the First Minister rose to his feet to outline his Welsh equivalent of the Queen Speech. This should have been a momentous occasion since the people …

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Kirsty Williams writes… Education is a cause that unites us all

Education has always been particularly important to Liberals. Wales has always prioritised education but this great tradition has been left to slide.

Alarm bells rang when last summer, our GCSE and A level results fell behind England for the first time.

Now, two recent reports have exposed just how badly Labour and Plaid Cymru have mismanaged the Welsh education system.

Firstly, an international assessment of performance (PISA, run by the OECD) has shown that Wales is the lowest achieving nation of the UK and falling behind many European countries. Welsh students have fallen behind in reading, mathematics and science. …

Posted in Op-eds and Wales | Tagged and | 11 Comments

Kirsty Williams AM: why I want to lead the Welsh Liberal Democrats

I am incredibly proud that the Welsh Liberal Democrats are on the verge of electing the first female party leader in Wales. It is a significant point in Welsh political history, and one that will follow a decade of immense change in how our country is governed.

I have had the privilege of being involved in that change, from the referendum campaign and the National Assembly Advisory group through to the rough and tumble of three election victories in Brecon and Radnorshire. That process of change is not about to stop and I want the Welsh Liberal Democrats to be …

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