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.

William Powell with his roots in the rural community is well placed to represent rural Wales. He is a member of the Farmers’ Union of Wales so he will be able to speak for farmers with confidence in the Chamber. William also serves on the committee of the Lloyd George Society – a true liberal.

Aled Roberts takes on the education portfolio. During his tenure as leader of Wrexham Council, they boosted the GCSE results of the pupils in the county. Aled has already, on his first day back, called for the Labour Government to introduce a pupil premium in Wales given that that the Welsh equivalent of Ofsted recently said that pupils from poorer backgrounds do not have the same opportunities as their wealthier counterparts.

Our new AM for Wales South Central, Eluned Parrott, with her experience working with the higher education sector, will take on the business and enterprise portfolio. Eluned worked very hard during the National Election campaign, delivering leaflets all across her region and supporting constituency candidates wherever. A true team player.

Peter Black, who has been an Assembly Member with me since 1999, takes on Local Government and I will be shadow minister for health to ensure that the Labour Government does not take us down the wrong avenue.

We will be ready to support the Welsh Government where we agree however we will not be afraid to criticise when the Welsh Government gets it wrong.

But for the next few months we will also we watching closely the actions of the UK Government!

It was great to welcome the Cabinet to Wales this week and that Nick Clegg took the opportunity to meet with Welsh Lib Dem members to answer their questions, including some on the future of devolution in Wales. Throughout the General Eelection in 2010, we saw how natural and confident Nick was at addressing large groups of people. Members of the Welsh Liberal Democrats were very happy that Nick took time out of his busy schedule in Wales to come and talk to them and take their questions.

While the Cabinet were in Wales, the Prime Minister addressed the Assembly on devolution issues. The Coalition Agreement committed both parties to ‘establish a process similar to the Calman commission for the Welsh Assembly’. In Scotland, this process looked in detail at the devolution stettlement considering ways of increasing the financial autonomy and responsibiity of the Scottish Government but also at wider devolution issues.

The Coalition Government has now asked the four parties in the Asssembly to consider what the remit of such a commission should be. We shall engage positively in that process but we should also be clear that there were two parties who committed to such a process and we need to deliver. I know that there are precious few Tories in Government who really believe in extending devolution for Wales (and there are no Lib Dems in the Welsh Office). So we are relying on the Lib Dems in Government to hold the Prime Minister and his colleagues to his committment.

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This entry was posted in Wales.

One Comment

  • If extending devolution to Wales means everything being run by Labour forever, no thanks.
    At least under the UK parliament, we get a change every 12-18 years.

    Before forcing us to accept further devolution, you might want to find out how many voters really want it.

    The referendum in March didn’t show a huge appetite, however the yes campaign span the result.
    35% turn-out was hardly a ringing endorsement for change.

    The ardent ‘yes’ voters all turned out. In Wrexham, the yes vote was 64.1% – but the turn-out was just 26.8%, so almost 3/4 of voters were either ‘don’t knows’ or ‘don’t care’s.

    Carmarthenshire’s as Welsh as it gets , but even there, 29% of the voters who bothered said no. And 56% of voters stayed home, rather than vote for change.

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