logoWorking hard for Wales

Labour's Election Manifesto for the National Assembly for Wales

Labour's five pledges to the people of Wales

A Labour Assembly will:

Foreword

I'm proud it was our party which delivered the National Assembly for Wales. It's no talking shop. It will have real powers and control over an £8 billion budget.

It means vital decisions on jobs, schools, hospitals, public transport, protecting the environment will be made here in Wales.

That's why the election on May 6 is so important. The National Assembly can be a real force for good. But to fulfil its potential we need as strong a Labour presence as possible.

The Tories will only use the Assembly to turn the clock back. The Nationalists, want to use it to wreck the United Kingdom. Only Labour will use it to meet the real priorities of the people of Wales.

I am proud of what this Government has achieved already in Wales. Just this month, the national minimum wage has been introduced. Families have been helped by the largest ever increase in child benefit and the lop tax rate. Pensioners by the abolition of eye test charges. All delivered by this Government just as we delivered the Assembly.

But there's a great deal more to do to build the modern and fairer Wales people want. And under Alun Michael's experienced leadership, Labour will ensure that's exactly what the Assembly will deliver.

The values of Wales - community, solidarity and social justice -shaped the Labour Party. These same values underpin this new Labour Government. And through our party, they will help shape the new Wales.

Rt Hon Tony Blair MP
Leader of the Labour Party


My vision for Wales

Alun Michael - Secretary of State for Wales and Labour's leader for the National Assembly for Wales

This manifesto sets out Clearly our plans and policies. It shows how we will tackle injustice and equip our country for the challenges of the new century.

I have campaigned for devolution for Wales for over 30 years. I'm proud to be part of a Government which delivered it. It's now up to us in Wales to make sure the National Assembly delivers a better future for all our people.

It's a great opportunity and a massive responsibility. The National Assembly can help heal old divisions, pull our country together, and create a new politics of partnership. It must build on the new mood of energy and confidence flowing throughout our country, which the Labour party has worked so hard to create.

Above all, it must make government work for the people by delivering real change on the ground in every region of Wales. And that is what it will do under Labour.

This manifesto sets out clearly our plans and policies. It shows how we will tackle injustice and equip our country for the challenges of the new century.

We will ensure the Assembly invests £1 billion extra to rebuild, renew and modernise our National Health Service in Wales. Our children and students will benefit from the £844 million extra for schools and colleges. Our old people will benefit from our promise of free bus travel throughout Wales. And the Assembly will be a partner with others to cut crime and disorder, rebuild communities and offer hope to our young people.

We are promising to fund 30,000 extra New Deal places to step up our crusade against long-term unemployment and to ensure we have the new skills needed for the new jobs which are being created in Wales. We will work in partnership with business to create the right climate for jobs and prosperity. We will work in partnership with local government and the voluntary sector to create a better Wales.

Wales stands on the brink of a bright new future, I am convinced the Assembly can play a vital role in realising these ambitions and hopes. And under Labour, it will.

Alun Michael


Education - Building for the Future

Since Labour came to power in May 1997 we have been improving education for all our children. Class sizes are being cut. Schools in disrepair are being modernised. The wasteful and bureaucratic nursery voucher scheme has been abolished. Now Labour has pledged to invest an extra £844 million to improve education and training at all levels in Wales over the next three years. Only by electing Labour in May can this extra investment in education be guaranteed.

A Labour Assembly will ensure that every child in Wales gets the best start in life. Labour has already succeeded in guaranteeing, for the first time ever, a nursery place for every four-year-old. A Labour Assembly will aim to extend that opportunity to every three-year-old whose parents want it.

The Labour Government has set ambitious all-Wales targets for achievement in our schools. These are vital to educational excellence in Wales.

To help achieve these targets a Labour Assembly will:

Further and Higher Education

A Labour Assembly will work towards a knowledge economy where people from all backgrounds have access to the most modern skills and technology. In today's world, skills and education are the passport to jobs, prosperity and rising living standards. That is why we will ensure that 36,000 extra students go on to further and higher education, both for their own development and to meet the increasing demand for highly skilled graduates. As well as providing extra resources for further and higher education, a Labour Assembly will pilot education maintenance allowances for low-income families.

Post-16 education

Labour welcomes the recommendations of the independent Education and Training Action Group for Wales (ETAG) on the future of post-16 education and training in Wales. In particular, we welcome the proposals to end the inefficiencies in the present system and to produce a coherent and integrated structure for post-16 education. This will break down the existing barriers between academic and vocational courses, and education and training. Rather than being in competition, we want to see schools, local authorities, Training and Enterprise councils and further education colleges working in partnership to meet young people's needs, and the demands of a modern economy.

Labour in the Assembly will work - as ETAG proposes - in partnership, enlarging choice for young people, whether in sixth forms or elsewhere, meeting the future skills needs of Wales, and fulfilling peoples aspirations.

Lifelong learning

Labour in the Assembly will promote the principle that learning is a continuous process throughout life, which should be accessible to all. Lifelong learning is central to the economic well-being of Wales, and the key to developing the skilled, adaptable workforce that we need to gain a competitive advantage in the rapidly-changing global economy of the 21st century.

Our pledge: invest an extra £844 million in education and training

Renewing the NHS

Labour has moved swiftly to fulfil its commitment to restore and modernise the NHS in Wales by spending an extra £60 million from our first Budget on health services, plus a further £25 million on helping to reduce hospital waiting lists, and £12 million to cope with winter emergencies. We have pledged to invest more than £1 billion extra in the National Health Service in Wales over the next three years to improve standards of patient care. A Labour Assembly will raise spending on the NHS in Wales in real terms every year, and put the money into front-line services.

We are ending divisive competition in the NHS and replacing it with partnership, combining Community health and acute services to create a single health service for each area. This will provide a seamless service for patients.

Labour has already acted on its pledge to reduce hospital waiting lists. A Labour-led Assembly will continue the drive to reduce waiting times in Wales. In particular, we will look to abolish waiting lists for some operations, starting with cataracts, and encourage the introduction of a pre-booked appointments system.

By the end of a Labour Assembly's first term, no one will wait more man six months for outpatient treatment, or more than 18 months for inpatient treatment. We will draw on best practice and innovation to increase the number of operations which do not require an overnight stay in hospital.

A Labour Assembly will set explicit service standards for health authorities, local heath groups and NHS trusts, and we will implement clear sanctions if performance and efficiency are not up to standard.

A Labour Assembly will appoint a health supremo to break down the barriers between the NHS and local authority social services to eliminate wasteful 'bed blocking' where hospital beds are taken by patients whose long-term care needs would be better served in the community.

Labour has produced the first-ever public health strategy for Wales. We want to reduce inequalities in health standards and inequalities in access to health services. Life expectancy in Wales has been among the worst in Europe. Labour in the Assembly will work to improve this situation through a radically modernised National Heath Service.

In addition, a Labour Assembly will:

Our pledge: invest more than £1 billion extra in the National Health Service in Wales over the next three years

Economic prosperity

Building a world-class economy

In challenging economic times, where much of the world is in recession, the Labour Government is successfully steering a course of economic stability. We have tackled the legacy of public debt left by the Tories, and delivered low inflation and the lowest interest rates for over 30 years. This stability is the best possible basis for rebuilding the Welsh economy.

A Labour Assembly will use the tremendous opportunity which European Objective 1 status offers to change Wales for good. Whereas under the Tories, parts of Wales lost out on obtaining European structural funds, Labour has secured Objective 1 status for West Wales and the valleys, enabling these areas to claim the highest level of EU aid - more than £1.3 billion, with more EU funding likely to come on stream for other parts of Wales. Labour believes that the overriding aim of the National Development strategy, which will be approved by the Assembly, must be to create more, highly skilled, better-paid jobs.

Labour will work hard with business to create jobs and a strong economy. While continuing to attract inward investment, the Assembly's priority must be to improve support for existing Welsh companies. Labour has reorganised and relaunched Business Connect - the business support service - to ensure it delivers the very best advice and assistance. Now we must ensure that every company in Wales knows what government support is available to help them grow.

To compete in the global market, we must ensure that we fully exploit the economic potential of knowledge-based business in Wales. Labour will establish a know-how centre for Wales", to give easy access for Welsh businesses to technical and research excellence in Welsh colleges and universities.

To help upgrade our skills base and build a winning workforce a Labour Assembly will increase the number of modern apprenticeships from 9,000 in 1999/2000 to 14,000 in 2001/2002.

Labour recognises the importance of venture capital and seed corn funding in small business success. We will therefore consult on the best method of improving the availability of secure finance for small and medium-sized Welsh enterprises, including a proposal to establish a Small Business Development Bank.

We will also establish a Welsh Business Forum which will bring together members of the Assembly with responsibility for economic development with business and trade union representatives.

Promoting tourism in Wales

Tourism brings significant economic as well as social benefits to Wales, and is a major sector of the Welsh economy. A Labour Assembly will take forward a new strategy for tourism in Wales, backed by increased resources, improving partnership and co-ordination within the industry, and promoting a dynamic and attractive image for Wales. A Labour Assembly will also want to ensure that long-term benefits are derived from events such as the Rugby World Cup and the Millennium celebrations.

A successful farming industry

Agriculture is one of Wales's most important industries. It provides £1 billion for the Welsh economy and supports one in four rural workers. Times are hard in the industry - farm incomes in Wales have been in long-term decline even as subsidies have risen. Labour recognises this and is doing all it can to help farmers. In particular, following an initial allocation of £12 million, we have announced a package worth more than £21 million in additional help to Welsh farmers.

A Labour Assembly will work with the Labour-created Rural Partnership for Wales, supported by the new Rural Unit in the Welsh Development Agency, to promote the Welsh rural economy.

A Labour Assembly will encourage the development of well-branded products which can command premium prices at home and abroad. We will also promote organic food production. Labour has already made the institutional changes necessary for the development of a successful Welsh Food strategy, and a Labour Assembly will take that strategy forward, in partnership with the Welsh food industry.

Our pledge: work hard with business to create jobs and a strong economy

Tackling low pay and poverty

Under the Tories, Wales became the low-pay capital of the United Kingdom. A Labour-led Assembly will launch a full-scale assault on low pay and poverty in Wales. It will build on measures such as the introduction of the minimum wage this year, which will benefit some 109,000 people in Wales -more than one in ten of the work force.

Up to 70,000 people in Wales will benefit from Labour's new Working Families Tax credit in its first full year of operation. This will guarantee families with someone in full-time work a minimum income of £200 a week from October, with no tax to pay on income below £235 a week.

Through the new Childcare Tax Credit, part of the Working Families Tax Credit, we will ensure that high-quality, affordable childcare is available to all families, not just a few.

To help make work pay for disabled people, the new Disabled Persons Tax Credit will ensure a minimum income of £220 a week to the family of a disabled person moving from benefit to full-time work, with no tax to pay on income below £274 a week.

Labour is introducing a new minimum pension guarantee, linked to earnings, of £75 a week for single pensioners and £117 a week for pensioner couples. Thousands of pensioners in Wales currently fail to take up their full benefit entitlement. A Labour Assembly will work with local authorities and the voluntary sector to ensure that pensioners are able to take up the help that is available to them.

A Labour Assembly will continue the expansion in Wales of Labour's New Deal welfare-to-work programme for unemployed young people, for the long-term unemployed, for people with disabilities and for lone parents. We have already generated over 5,000 new jobs through the New Deal in Wales, including 3,900 for young people. Now we are pledging that a Labour Assembly will take 30,000 unemployed young people off benefit and into work and training.

Labour in Wales has already pioneered the extension of the New Deal to provide classroom assistants. A Labour Assembly will explore the potential for extending the New Deal to help the caring professions, particularly in health and social services.

Our pledge: take 30,000 unemployed young people off benefit and into work and training.

Children - the future of Wales

Our children must get the best start in life.
A Labour-led Assembly will seek innovative proposals for bolstering family life in Wales and enhancing opportunities for our children. Families should be supported in their choice either to look after their children full-time, or to combine work, education or training with parenting.

Labour will continue to develop a national childcare strategy for Wales which will help to give more parents the chance to take up work, education or training. We will also ensure that children are prepared for learning by the time they reach school, and have access to enjoyable developmental activities out of school hours.

A Labour Assembly will improve the health, the ability to learn and the social development of pre-school children in Wales through investment in a Sure Start programme. This will provide additional support for children at risk of failing to fulfil their potential, and their families.

A Labour-led Assembly will focus on the need to develop a strategy to safeguard the interests of all children in Wales, and in particular children in care. We will establish an independent Children's Commissioner for Wales, who will advise the Assembly on the delivery of services for children.

Environment

Transporting Wales into the future

A Labour Assembly will implement an integrated transport strategy for Wales. The Assembly will require local authorities to produce transport plans, setting out their strategic transport priorities, and will promote more investment in public transport, cycling and walking.

On top of the £2.25 million rural bus subsidy for Wales introduced by the Labour government for the first time last year, the Assembly will add £3 million in its first year to subsidise rural and urban bus services to radically improve transport choice and opportunity

We have already pledged to introduce a minimum half-fares concessionary scheme for pensioners travelling by bus. Labour in the Assembly, in partnership with local authorities, will phase in a scheme to give all pensioners free bus travel within the next three years. This means that under Labour all our senior citizens will be able to travel right across Wales by bus, half-price in the coming year and free within the next three years.

We believe that improved north/south links essential to the future economic, social and cultural cohesion of Wales. The Assembly will address the need for improved road links, work with air operators to improve services and introduce a new faster rail service by next year.

We will ensure that the new South Wales Eurofreight terminal is open within the first year of a Labour led Assembly.

Our pledge: give all pensioners free bus travel.

Sustainable Wales

A Labour Assembly will act to safeguard and improve Wales's environment. It will be under a statutory duty to promote sustainable development through policies that are economically efficient, socially just and environmentally sound.

Tir Gofal, the government's all-Wales agri-environmental scheme is a groundbreaking initiative, unparalleled in the UK. Labour will ensure that it is given prominence in the Assembly, and that farmers are encouraged to grasp the opportunities it offers. A Labour Assembly will ensure a substantial increase in the funding of agri-environmental schemes, so that 600 new farms can join Tir Gofal each year.

A Labour Assembly will also support a "Sustainable Parks in Wales" scheme over the next three years, designed to promote innovative partnership projects to look at new ways of working towards sustainable development in the Welsh National Parks.

Labour in the Assembly will ensure that the land use planning system helps to ensure that that development is sustainable and is in the best interests of the community.

A decent home for everyone

A Labour Assembly will work, in conjunction with local authorities and housing associations, to ensure that good quality housing is available to everyone in Wales, and in particular to alleviate the legacy of homelessness inherited from the Tories. Labour will work with local authorities to help them develop strategies to resettle homeless people in the community. Our aim is to ensure that no one should have to sleep rough in Wales's towns and cities.

One of a Labour Assembly's first priorities will be to instigate an all-Wales Housing Audit, which will provide an accurate picture of housing stock across Wales, including clear information on housing need and demand across all tenures, and the condition of existing homes.

A Labour Assembly will also work with local authorities to explore ways of drawing on private finance to tackle the estimated £1 billion of repairs, modernisation and redevelopment relating to council housing stock in Wales.

A new government for Wales

A modern Welsh democracy

A Labour Assembly will work with local councils to modernise local government in Wales and to achieve further improvements in standards in key areas like education and social services. Labour will seek, in co-operation with local authority representatives through the Assembly's Partnership Council, to pilot ideas, initiatives and ways of working that will enable local councils to do more for their communities. Labour will also set out models for political management of local government, so that local councils can choose more effective structures that better represent the needs of their communities.

Labour will not tolerate poor standards or malpractice in local government, we will put before the Assembly a code of conduct, incorporating an ethical framework which all councillors will be under a duty to observe. This will be drawn up in liaison with the Partnership council and will ensure the highest standards of probity and honesty in civic office.

The Labour government is putting an end to the Tory quango state in Wales. We have drastically reduced the number of NHS trusts, abolished quangos such as Tai Cymru, merged others, such as the Welsh Development Agency, the Development Board for Rural Wales and the Land Authority for Wales, and introduced an open system of public appointments.

A Labour-led Assembly will take this work forward, through a further review of these bodies, governed by the principle that all public appointees should be accountable to elected politicians, whether at a local, regional or all-Wales level, and that the number of quangos is reduced to a minimum. In particular, we envisage a strong role for the Assembly's subject committees in monitoring the performance of non-departmental public bodies.

Social inclusion

Tackling social exclusion is one of the major challenges facing the Assembly. Labour is already encouraging local government to work with health authorities and trusts, the police, local businesses and community groups to tackle the problems caused by crime, ill health, poverty, drug abuse and family breakdown. We will use our new £48 million Social Inclusion Fund within the Assembly budget to support pilot projects which harness our spending on health, social services, education and crime prevention even more effectively in the fight against social exclusion.

A Labour Assembly will produce an annual report monitoring changes in the key indicators of exclusion in Wales and appraising progress across the Assembly's area of responsibility.

A strong voice in Europe

A Labour-led Assembly will develop a distinct European role. Our aim will be to establish Wales as one of Europe's most prosperous and dynamic regions. Labour will work in partnership with local authorities, business, voluntary organisations and the people of Wales to ensure that the European funds which will flow from Objective 1 status and other European programmes are used in the most effective way.

European legislation has a major impact on many of the policy areas for which the Assembly will have responsibility in Wales. That is why it is important that the Assembly should have a presence in the united Kingdom's permanent UK Representation (UKRep) in Brussels. A Labour-led Assembly will take steps to make sure that high quality staff from the Assembly (who will remain UK civil servants) fill key positions within UKRep and that there is close and effective contact with secondees from the Assembly and other Welsh organisations to the European Union's institutions.

The Assembly should also have an input into the work of the European Council of Ministers, and the role of the Welsh European Centre in Brussels should be expanded to give the Assembly a voice of its own in Europe.

Labour will ensure that European issues are given full and proper consideration in the Assembly, and that is why we will ensure that the Assembly has a Standing Committee on European Affairs, chaired by an Assembly Secretary.

Supporting the Welsh language

Labour is pleased that support for the Welsh language has in recent years proceeded on an all-party basis. Labour in the Assembly will work with the Welsh Language Board, with local authorities, and with public and private sector organisations to safeguard and promote the language.

Labour's commitment to the language has destroyed the myth that the Welsh language is the sole preserve of Welsh nationalists. We have ensured that the language, which in the past has been a subject of divisions, should no longer be treated as a political football. We therefore reject the Tories' divisive recent attempts to undermine this consensus.

Equal opportunities for all

Labour has ensured that the National Assembly for Wales has a duty to apply the principle of equal opportunity to everyone. As a party, we have already demonstrated our commitment to the principle of equal opportunities for women by fielding more women candidates for the Assembly than any other party.

Under Labour the Assembly will ensure that combating discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, disability or sexuality will have a high profile. We will establish a Standing Committee on Equal Opportunities, which will be responsible for monitoring the performance of the Assembly in promoting equal opportunities. In particular, a Labour Assembly will work to increase further the representation of women and ethnic minorities within those public bodies to which it has power of appointment. The Assembly will also ensure that they are properly represented at all levels of its own staffing structure.

The new Disability Rights Commission, established by the Labour Government, will have a Welsh Commissioner, who will report annually to the Assembly.

Wales in the giving age

The Assembly cannot succeed without the active support of the wider community, and in particular the voluntary sector. Labour has pioneered a new positive relationship between voluntary organisations and both national and local government. The creation of the Assembly provides an important opportunity to develop that relationship further.

Labour, through the Government of Wales Act, has required the Assembly to make a scheme setting out how it proposes, to promote the interests of relevant voluntary organisations. The Welsh Office and the voluntary sector in Wales have already agreed a Compact setting out a framework for their future working relationship. A Labour Assembly will use the measures included in the Compact as a basis for its own voluntary sector scheme, which will be drawn up in partnership and consultation with voluntary sector organisations.

A Labour Assembly will seek to increase the level of volunteering in Wales, particularly amongst young people. We want Wales to be a nation of active citizens.

The best for Wales

The arts and sport play a vital part in our national life. Labour in the Assembly will work to promote levels of participation in artistic and sporting activities, as they are essential both to the enrichment of our quality of life and to the renewal of our economy.

Labour will work with the Arts Council of Wales to implement a strategy to support artists and performers, and to develop community arts activities. We will establish a Music Development Fund to help more children participate in musical activities. Labour in the Assembly will also work to ensure that Wales gets its fair share of lottery proceeds.

We welcome the recent decision of the National Museum of Wales to allow free access for parties of school children. A Labour Assembly will go further, and ensure free access for all children to the National Museums and Galleries of Wales by the year 2000.

Labour will support our sportsmen and women in striving to build on the many international successes which they have already achieved, whilst ensuring that sport plays a continuing role in the life of our schools and colleges. We will also safeguard and improve the provision of sports facilities, playing-fields, play areas and open spaces, assets which have been run down under the Tories.

A confident Wales

Labour's outline policy statement, upon which this manifesto is based, was approved by over 90% of the Welsh Labour Party membership in a unique ballot earlier this year. Labour stands united around its policies to renew the Welsh economy and deliver social justice for the people of Wales.

Wales is standing on the brink of an exciting new era. The devolution which Labour has delivered has engendered a new sense of self-confidence amongst the people of Wales. Labour is ready to offer the leadership that will build on that new confident identity and address the challenges we will face as a nation in the 21st century. We stand for the future not the past; for togetherness not division; for the many not the few.

We will work hard for Wales. We will deliver for Wales.

A new style of politics

Since Labour won the General Election, the Welsh Office has pioneered a new inclusive style of politics. We have abandoned Tory dogmatism and are working with all those who wish to improve life for the people of Wales.

In government our partnership has embraced all of Wales, especially local government, business, trade unions and voluntary groups. We want to develop this approach in the Assembly and create in Wales a model 'participatory democracy', one which engages all its citizens in shaping their own lives by giving them a stake in decisions which affect them.

We believe in a strong Wales working in partnership with a strong UK. In under two years the Labour government has started to make a real difference to people's lives, after 18 years of Tory neglect, but there is much more to do. Changing Wales for good will need a sustained effort by the Assembly working in co-operation with the Labour government at Westminster.

That is why we need a Labour majority in the Assembly elections to embark on this historic task and put our vision and our policies into practice

Labour is determined to ensure that the Assembly is a modern political institution.
We will ensure it is committed to:


What you can do

This manifesto shows how Labour's government of Wales through the National Assembly will make life better for you.

If you would like to help us build a better Wales you can:


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Last Modified: Monday, 22-Oct-2012 14:30:46 BST