27/11/2011 The Politics Show Wales


27/11/2011

Jon Sopel and Aled ap Dafydd with analysis of the political scene shaping Wales.


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Transcript


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Later in the programme, the Welsh secretary of the Unite union

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defends Wednesday's planned public sector strike.

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And the Welsh budget deal is done but at what price? The powerbroker,

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:01:09.:01:09.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2014 seconds

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the Leader of the Lib Dems Kirsty Hello and welcome to the Politics

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Show in Wales. Coming up, we'll hear from one of the Welsh budget's

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powerbrokers. It would have been unthinkable,

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giving it these difficult times, for parties to leave this country

:35:00.:35:03.

without a budget. But first, as Wednesday draws near it's becoming

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clearer how the biggest day of industrial action for a generation

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will affect our public services. Airports, courts, government

:35:08.:35:14.

offices, job centers, schools and council services will be hit. It's

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in protest at UK Government plans to make public sector workers

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retire later and contribute more to the cost of their pensions. Our

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reporter has been talking to Andy Richards, Unite's Wales secretary

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and TUC Wales President, at the union's recently refurbished

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Cardiff headquarters. The for more than three decades,

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this building, formerly known as Transport House in Cardiff, has

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been the hub of the labour movement in Wales.

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We spent �3.5 million on the building. It really need is

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spending. Unite Wales secretary Andy Richards

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told me that for years of refurbishment and �3.5 million of

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investment had finally tracked the previously down-at-heel

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headquarters of trade unions, the Wales TUC and the Welsh Labour

:36:03.:36:09.

Party into the 21st century. We have a new banner here. This is

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the Red Dragon. The banner of Wales. But it was the biggest labour

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dispute of this century that we have come to discuss. Andy Richards,

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what sort of level of disruption are you expected on Wednesday? What

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will public services look like to the public?

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Let me just say that we don't wish as a union to have any disruption

:36:31.:36:38.

at all. If it were possible that we could drag this Westminster

:36:38.:36:42.

government back to the negotiating table feet-first and kicking, we

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possibly wouldn't be having any disruption but we anticipate in

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Wales very few public services to be actually working.

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What level of public support do you think you have? It is a very

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difficult time for people at the moment. They are worried about

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their jobs and incomes are being squeezed. Is this the right time

:37:02.:37:08.

for this level of action? At this point in time, we have got

:37:08.:37:12.

quite significant growth in public support. That was shown at the June

:37:12.:37:17.

event that we had when teachers went on strike. As more and more

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people come into the knowledge that they are being asked to pay for a

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crisis engineered by the heads of the financial institutions, Cameron

:37:29.:37:36.

and Clegg's makes, and we see the attacks on workers' rights and

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trade unions coming forth from the Tories as usual, I think there is

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significant growing support. I think a lot of people, our parents,

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they see that cutbacks and losses of jobs in support services and so

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on, those loss of jobs mean there is going to be nothing for children

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when they leave school. As parents, we want better for our children at

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that age. People are coming to realise the severity of what this

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unelected Tory and Liberal Alliance are doing.

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One of the criticisms we are seeing from government is that public

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sector workers have pensions that people in the private sector could

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only dream of. Gold-plated pensions is what we hear. Can you give us an

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idea of the level of pension we are talking about amongst your members?

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Absolutely. Gold-plated? They are more like a brass plate it as far

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as our members are concerned. Our members in public services

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generally can expect a pension of between 70 and �80 per week when

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they retire. That is the vast majority of our members. There are

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the small section of employees who are on greater pensions but if you

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are asking me the majority of Unite union members, that is the actual

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level we are talking about. It is a fact that is being glossed over by

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this particular government. One of the issues you have got his

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the turnout level in at the ballot. 31 % of your members actually voted

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at all. Surely that is a problem for you that fewer than a third

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actually turned out and voted. Let me let you in on a little

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secret and the West -- and the rest of the Welsh nation. The reason we

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only have those turnouts in ballots is a result of people not are not

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supporting the union's line but in the main, people don't like to post

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a ballot paper back. You can't say that out of all the people that

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have underrated, they would have voted against the strike. Our

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indications given the polls we are doing that Unite, they show that

:40:02.:40:06.

most of them would have supported the strike. If David Cameron is

:40:06.:40:09.

saying that all of those people who didn't vote in the ballot would

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have voted in father, it follows that all those people who didn't

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vote for him would have voted for Labour? I don't think so. We have

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to be realistic. 31 %, given the ballot process, is not ideal but it

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is realistic and we can proceed with this dispute.

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Thank you. Earlier I spoke to Labour's Nia

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Griffiths and the Conservative Alun Cairns. I began by asking him for

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his reaction to what the unions are saying. I don't accept that. What

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frustrates me and disappoints me more than anything is that

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negotiations are ongoing and what sort of negotiations do you have

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when there is a strike hanging over you? It is worth remembering that

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the ballot was conducted generally for most of the unions in September.

:41:05.:41:08.

Just two weeks ago, at the beginning of November, the

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government offered a very generous concession in relation to the

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pension to improve it for lower earners and to protect the pensions

:41:18.:41:22.

for anyone who retires in the next 10 years. A significant shift on

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behalf of the government a few weeks ago but yet the unions are

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driving home strike action on Wednesday which could tip the

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economy over the edge into recession. That is what worries me.

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Nia Griffiths, negotiations are ongoing. Why walk away from the

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table now and why not give ground, seeing that the government has made

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compromise already? What sort of negotiators have we

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got? We have got megaphone negotiations with one thing being

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said, we will withdraw this offer if you don't call off your stride

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immediately, and a publication on the government's own website of a

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table which shows people are going to have 20 % cuts when the

:42:05.:42:08.

government is telling them they won't have those cuts. People don't

:42:08.:42:12.

have much faith when they see that happening. The government has had

:42:12.:42:17.

months and months to be round the table with unions on this. In 2000

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date, we bit the bullet and sorted things out. -- 2008. It was sorted

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out by negotiation. We never came to a stage like this. We have 33

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unions. Some very, very moderate unions and people who have never

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been on strike. A whole range of public sector workers who are

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extremely frustrated. The majority of them on not

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bothering to vote? The answer to that is what Andy

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said. We are all very, very busy. People have jobs and families.

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There wasn't the hype in the media we now have won the ballot was

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being done. A lot of this debate is centred

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around the gold-plated pensions. Where is the fairness in cutting

:43:07.:43:14.

the pensions of people who will be retiring on �4,000 per year or?

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That will relate to the salary level those people would have

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earned as well as the amount of years they would have contributed.

:43:21.:43:24.

Under the significant concession that was offered a couple of weeks

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ago, it would protect anyone and improved the penchant for anyone

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earning up to �15,000 a year and protect the interests of people

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earning up to �21,000 per year so the lowest earners would be

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protected and have better contributions. Anyone within 10

:43:43.:43:46.

years of retirement would be preserved and have exactly the same

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sort of pension they get now. That leave it the other a group of

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people that earned a lot more money. That gives them the opportunity to

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increase their contributions to insure they have their pensions for

:43:58.:44:01.

much longer because people are living longer.

:44:01.:44:04.

Do you believe everyone in the public sector is retiring on a

:44:04.:44:10.

gold-plated pensions? Under the terms of the pension, yes.

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Everyone in the public sector? Compared to the amount of

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contributions... That would be their salary that they would have

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earned and it would relate to their salary.

:44:21.:44:26.

�15,000 per year retiring on �4,000 a year? Is that there?

:44:26.:44:29.

If you are someone in the private sector earning that sum of money,

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they wouldn't even have that level of benefit that people in the

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public sector are getting so why don't have an issue with public

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sector workers themselves. I have an issue with union leaders are

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hell-bent on striking whatever the issue may be. That goes to show

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that huge concessions offered by the government a few weeks ago but

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they are determined to drive the strike home. The most delicate

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thing about this is the economy. It really does will be made at �500

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million, this strike will cost the economy, and she may drive a number

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of businesses in Wales and across the UK out of business.

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The Labour Party is in a pickle. You are so reliant on the unions

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for many -- for money and yet you are coming out and saying that

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people have the right to go on strike. It seems contradictory.

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I think we should all defend the right to strike. Let us look at the

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actual facts. The government has admitted this is a 3% tax. It is a

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tax, they have said, to help pay back the deficit. They recognise

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the pension thing was sorted out in 2008. You have people on low

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incomes losing �30 a month. People on average incomes are losing �90 a

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month. That is a lot of money went fewer and fewer -- fuel prices are

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rocketing. Money is being taken out of the economy and that money is

:46:01.:46:04.

actually going to send a lot of private businesses spiralling to

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have a. These generalities are not accurate.

:46:08.:46:13.

A teacher retiring on �32,000 a year will amass after they have

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worked for 40 years a pension funds equivalent to �600,000. That is a

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generality. I am not using this figure to counteract what Nia

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Griffiths is saying. I want to say we should protect the contributions

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of lowest earners and protect the worms are due to retire shortly.

:46:34.:46:38.

Can we move on to the Autumn Statement? One of the headlines is

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a new package of stimulus for small to medium-sized enterprises and a

:46:43.:46:47.

loan guarantee from the government. Is that going to be enough, bearing

:46:47.:46:52.

in mind that on average there are 1,200 people being made unemployed

:46:52.:46:56.

everyday? The economy is in a very difficult

:46:56.:47:01.

situation, in spite of the deficit reduction plans we have got. A

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quarter of every penny spent on salaries of public sector workers,

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a quarter of it is being borrowed, amounting to one of the �20 million

:47:11.:47:21.
:47:21.:47:24.

a day on interest on the debt only. -- one under �20 million. It is

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about trying to get confidence in the market and getting money out of

:47:28.:47:33.

small businesses so they can plan and expand. It has to be taken into

:47:33.:47:37.

account of the context of the wider economy around the world but

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particularly what happens in the euro-zone because I wouldn't mind

:47:40.:47:44.

betting some of the euro-zone countries won't be by Christmas.

:47:44.:47:48.

This is similar to the loan guarantee scheme which Labour

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announced back in 2008. We be supporting it?

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We want to see measures like this coming forward. I worry it is too

:47:56.:48:00.

little too late. The government has to make sure this lending to small

:48:01.:48:06.

businesses happens. Edwina Hart in Wales has promised �55 million for

:48:06.:48:10.

small businesses in Wales. We recognise the desperate need for

:48:10.:48:13.

helping small businesses to help the private economy grow, to help

:48:14.:48:18.

people create jobs. From the Chancellor we need larger measures

:48:18.:48:22.

as well to increase public confidence.

:48:22.:48:28.

We have to end it there, I am afraid. Nia Griffiths, Alun Cairns,

:48:28.:48:32.

Thank you. So, the deal's been done, the Liberal Democrats have signed

:48:32.:48:35.

up to the Welsh Government's budget. In return for Lib Dem support,

:48:35.:48:38.

Labour have agreed to agreed to what's described as an economic

:48:38.:48:41.

stimulus package to protect jobs and will spend an extra �20 million

:48:41.:48:51.

on the country's poorer pupils. The Liberal Democrats said that a

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proper funded people premium would be �40 million. As I understand it

:48:55.:49:00.

and we have just had the announcement, this is a �20 million

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announcement so this must be people premium light.

:49:04.:49:07.

The Liberals can show they are doing something but the Labour

:49:07.:49:10.

government has been spending the past six months condemning the

:49:10.:49:14.

Liberals for their policies in London. Obviously, they needed a

:49:14.:49:18.

partner and they have got one. But they have got one at a cheap price.

:49:19.:49:23.

We didn't know what Plaid Cymru wanted for weeks. We understood

:49:23.:49:29.

what they wanted in the end but it was too expensive. This is an

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agreement to secure a budget for the people of Wales. It was done

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after a lot of detailed negotiation and what is important is we can

:49:36.:49:41.

look forward to securing the financial basis for Wales in the

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year to come. And the Welsh Liberal Democrat

:49:43.:49:48.

leader, Kirsty Williams, joins me now.

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The people premium, as it is called, had a �40 million price tag

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attached to it. This is not the people premium, therefore.

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Of course, if the Welsh Liberal Democrats had won the election in

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May, we could have implemented the policy in full. Let us be clear,

:50:06.:50:10.

because of what we have been able to negotiate with the Labour Party,

:50:10.:50:15.

the money is more than doubled to go to the poorest children. An

:50:15.:50:19.

additional �20 million. A package of �32 million which will make a

:50:19.:50:24.

difference to the children who are not reaching their full potential.

:50:24.:50:28.

Only one in five of the children that receive free school meals go

:50:28.:50:34.

on to get five good GCSEs including maths and English. If we are to

:50:34.:50:38.

avoid the Welsh economy suffering in the decades to come, we have to

:50:38.:50:41.

upscale our workforce. This is the beginning of that programme.

:50:41.:50:46.

Transforming the chances. Under the people premium, the money,

:50:46.:50:51.

as I understood it, followed the child through their education. Can

:50:51.:50:54.

we take it for granted you have achieved a deal with the Labour

:50:55.:51:00.

government that will see this money continuing beyond this year?

:51:00.:51:05.

Obviously, the vote is on this year's budget. I am confident that

:51:05.:51:09.

when the documents are published next week, we will see an ongoing

:51:09.:51:13.

commitment to those poorest children. This money, you are right,

:51:13.:51:17.

will follow the child whether they are in primary or secondary school

:51:17.:51:21.

and will go directly to the schools, allowing head teachers and

:51:21.:51:25.

classroom teachers to decide how best to support those children.

:51:25.:51:30.

The money will have to continue, otherwise, if more teachers are

:51:30.:51:32.

employed through the people premium, they will have to be made

:51:32.:51:36.

unemployed? It would be an unwise government

:51:36.:51:40.

who would take this money away from our poorest children, who need it

:51:41.:51:45.

the most, so we can transform their chances and so that in years to

:51:45.:51:50.

come we will not be looking at these terrible statistics. We know

:51:50.:51:54.

that for years the Welsh economy has been based on cheap labour. We

:51:54.:51:59.

can't compete on that basis any more because there will always be

:51:59.:52:03.

countries in the Far East that will be cheaper. We need a prosperous

:52:03.:52:07.

economy in future and unless we tackle the problems facing our

:52:07.:52:11.

economy and put in place plans and policies to tackle some of this

:52:11.:52:14.

structural problems in the Welsh economy, we will never see the

:52:14.:52:24.
:52:24.:52:25.

country move forward. Why not plough all of this money

:52:25.:52:29.

into a stimulus package? There is a stimulus package the

:52:29.:52:34.

details of which will be announced tomorrow. �38 million coming down

:52:34.:52:37.

from the Westminster government which will go into stimulating the

:52:37.:52:44.

economy in the next months to come. It is important to be able to plan

:52:45.:52:48.

for future generations. Otherwise, we will constantly have governments

:52:48.:52:52.

struggling to deal with the here and now and Wales is rest -- is

:52:52.:52:57.

poorer than the rest of the UK and it is incumbent on politicians to

:52:57.:53:01.

put in place policies to insure that in future, our economy will be

:53:01.:53:06.

in a stronger position to resist international economic crisis or

:53:06.:53:10.

downturns in the economy. The politics of this might lead

:53:10.:53:14.

someone to take the view that it is a relief for you to have an

:53:14.:53:18.

association with read -- with Labour after a close working

:53:18.:53:21.

relationships with your party and the Conservatives in Westminster?

:53:21.:53:26.

It demonstrates that the Liberal Democrats are working to work with

:53:26.:53:29.

other -- are willing to work with other political parties when the

:53:29.:53:35.

country needs it. When we didn't have a majority at Westminster

:53:35.:53:40.

level, we provided stability. Willing to work on the cheap

:53:40.:53:43.

according to Plaid Cymru? There is something depressingly

:53:43.:53:47.

predictable about the reaction of the other parties. It would have

:53:47.:53:51.

been inconceivable for this country at this difficult time not to have

:53:51.:53:56.

a budget that his past. We have played a part in that, providing

:53:56.:54:00.

that stability and creating an economic stimulus package and

:54:00.:54:03.

fulfilling our manifesto commitment to get resources to our poorest

:54:03.:54:06.

students. Can we end of the sad news that the

:54:06.:54:10.

first -- the Football Association of Wales have announced the death

:54:10.:54:15.

of the national team manager, Gary Speed, at the age of 42. What is

:54:15.:54:19.

your reaction to that sad news. It is a terrible, terrible shock

:54:19.:54:24.

and a tragedy for his family and a tragedy for Welsh football. He has

:54:24.:54:28.

only been manager for a fraught period of time but has made a big

:54:28.:54:31.

impact. We have seen that some great results and people across

:54:31.:54:36.

Wales will be very shocks today. Thank you. I am sure Alan year's

:54:36.:54:38.

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