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
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.
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.
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.
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|
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|
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|
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.|
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.
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.|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
We will ensure it is committed to:
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: