07/07/2013 The Wales Report


07/07/2013

A special Wales Report as First Minister Carwyn Jones answers questions from Huw Edwards about your hospitals, schools and jobs, and the future powers of the Welsh Assembly.


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ask him his priorities for our schools and the Welsh economy. And

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how does a man who does not have the Wales Report, a special edition of

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the programme. It is the last edition of the current series and I

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am delighted to welcome the first Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones.

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Thank you for joining us. pleasure. It has been a big week in

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this place, and given the debate on organ donations, it has been the

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strongest statement, if you like, of devolution in action. Do you see it

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that way? I think that is true. was many hours in debating with lots

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of very good and thoughtful contributions. And unusually a

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number of members did not make up their minds until the debate had

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finished, which is always unusual. It was an important piece of

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legislation, a long time in the making, but now we can move ahead

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with it. Interesting, talking to people after what happened, we are

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14 years into the process of devolution and lots of people said

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it was the first time they latched on to the fact that the Welsh

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Assembly had real powers in important areas. If it disappointing

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that we come to this stage and people do not realise that? I think

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people understand free prescriptions and bus passes, and they understand

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that if they come from here, they voted two years ago on a new package

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powers for the Assembly. But unmistakably the vote we had this

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week was particularly important. It led to the news on several channels

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and that is of course a first for this place. Including a very

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important news programme, if I might say. Absolutely, yes.You are

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clearly taking pride in that, and lots of people took pride that

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process. Let's talk about the things that people are not taking pride in.

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59,000 pupils in Wales at the moment under process of special measures.

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This is after 14 years of stewardship by the Labour Party in

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Wales. Does that bother you? course and we will do something

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about it, as people will expect. We have a new review, looking at the

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way education is delivered, and we have to look carefully at the number

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of local education authorities in Wales. We have 22 and just about

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everybody agrees that is too much. We have to make that far more

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efficient. When does that happen? The commission that I have set up

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will report by the autumn, and outline possibilities for the

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future. In terms of a timetable, we are looking at legislation beyond

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2016 because work will need to be done in the meantime. Consultation,

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putting the structure in place, and beyond 2016 we will be able to

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increment it. Is that quick enough? You cannot do these things more

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quickly. It cannot be done overnight. It has to be prepared

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for. We have to think about how many authorities, what the boundaries

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might be, the effects on staff, all these things have to be prepared

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over time. Then of course the legislation comes at the end.

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concentrating on the wrong thing when we look at structure? Some

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people have been saying to us that there is a problem with teaching in

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Welsh schools and the standard of teaching is what feeds into the

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results. It is not to do with overarching structures and local

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authorities but what goes on in the classroom. Are you focusing on that

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sufficiently? We are. There are very good examples of superb leadership

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and teaching in schools in Wales. It is making sure that experience is

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spread across Wales that is important. We are introducing a

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Masters qualification in teaching, which will drive up the standard of

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teaching once again. That will ensure we get a better level of

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consistency. It is not all about structure. Structure is important,

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but it is also important to help teachers become better teachers in

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the future. What is the optimum number of authorities in your view?

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Notched 22. It is difficult to put on an absolute figure, probably the

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early teens. As many as that?That is about right. I am not wedded to

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that idea. It may be too few. I have an open mind on those things but I

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do know that 22 is very difficult and certainly too much. Some viewers

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will think that we are starting at a late stage. Reforms are needed,

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reforms because lots of people are behind. But it is 2013. Why are we

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starting at this point? Why was this not started five or seven years ago?

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We could not do it until 2011. We could not do it until we got the

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powers to reorganise the structures of local authorities. We have only

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had the powers since 2011 and now we are able to use them. And you are

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having to think about these without the minister who was driving through

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the reforms, Leighton Andrews. Was that a big loss? He was a very

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talented minister and it is unfortunate what happened. No doubt

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he will play an important part in the future. Hugh Lewis is a former

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teacher and he will take forward those reforms. There is no change of

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direction. If Mr Andrews had not resigned, would you have continued

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with him in Government? Yes, that is clear. There will be a clear role

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for him in the future. What did you say to him when he found out he was

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campaigning against your policy and his own policy? It was very

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difficult. If he was to take a decision about school closures, I

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said this would come back. People said what about your constituency

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and it was very difficult. Did you consider sacking him? That would

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have happened in Westminster. resigned. But would you have sacked

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him? The situation did not arise. It would have been very difficult. He

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did resign and I accepted his resignation. These things happen

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from time to time. He is a great campaigner, a great campaigner, and

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he will be very valued in the future. Let's talk about his

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campaigns because he has been campaigning against the health

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policy and health reforms. Hospital reforms, where are you with that?

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Lots of people are very concerned about their local services, about

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whether they are losing their casualty departments. I know that

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from my hometown. Are you focusing on the right areas here? Will people

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suffer because of your reforms? There is no choice. We need a health

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service that is safe and sustainable in the future. The reconfiguration

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that is driven forward is driven by clinicians, not politicians, in the

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teeth of opposition from doctors and nurses. People are not impressed by

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it. The doctors are. It is clinically driven. All of the

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departments tell me that the present structure will not work in the

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future. If you are a politician, do you ignore what you are being told

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by consultants? Do you listen to their professional views and then

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structure casualty in a way that is safer for people and for

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sustainable? You are listening to them but you have to answer to your

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own voters and people that are accessing those services. Some of

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these services will not exist in the future in the form they are in

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today. Are you telling me you are not mindful of what voters are

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thinking and you are just taking advice from clinicians and other

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people in the profession? You are bound to be mindful of what voters

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are thinking. I would have thought so. That does not mean that things

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can continue as they are. This is a problem across the UK, not just

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Wales. It is the easiest thing for a politician to do, to leave things as

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they are when there is controversy. The service will collapse in the

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future. We can't do it. It would not be fair on the people that depend on

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those services. Why is it so difficult to draw people into the

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medical profession in Wales? It is a problem elsewhere, you are right,

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but it is certainly an acute problem in Wales and more of a problem in

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some areas. People say poor training and bad working conditions. What

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makes Wales unattractive? It is not as though we have an enormous number

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of vacancies. The problem is trying to recruit people. In England, the

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problem does not happen because there are so many fewer casualty

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departments per head of population and we have so many. We cannot magic

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up consultants. People tell us to train new doctors, which we are

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trying to do, but they can travel anywhere in the world. We are trying

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to recruit consultants into Wales because of the quality of life,

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working conditions and training conditions. Doctors are saying to us

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that reconfiguration is the best way of achieving those goals. Bringing

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more people in as trainees, where they will see more opportunities and

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get more experience, and creating more situations where people feel

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they can flourish professionally in our casual to departments. They are

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telling us that unless we move forward with certain changes, then

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those conditions will not exist in the future that is bad for

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everybody. Casualty departments are such a hot topic. What do you say to

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people in areas where they are confronted with a big change in the

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kind of service they have got used to over the years? We can move

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casual to departments, have a more serious 115 miles away, there is no

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threat to life and it is not dangerous. Those reassurances do not

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wash with people. Even the changes that have been proposed, and there

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have been no decisions yet of course, do not suggest closing

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casual to departments. It is downgrading. We are not suggesting

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they will not be 24-hour departments. You can still go to

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them. There will be changes, but then we have always done that. If

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you have severe burns, you go to Swansea, which has always been the

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case, no matter where you live in South Wales. For serious head injury

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commie go to Cardiff, which is where the expertise is. If I have a

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serious head injury in Bridgend, I would be to Cardiff. We have always

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had a reconfiguration of services where expertise... You try to make

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them as local as possible, of course you do. But you need to have

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expertise in one place to have a better outcome. If that means going

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ten or 15 miles, which is the biggest distance possible to be

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travelled, to give people a better chance of surviving, we need to look

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at that. Why are people not buying that argument? Why are they so

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sensitive about the downgrading of services? It is bright. I understand

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that, our hospital, our area. -- it is pride. People do not understand

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the medical profession, not wilfully, but you have to say to

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people that you cannot just recruit doctors off the tree somewhere. We

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have to make sure that services are sustainable so that we can recruit

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enough doctors in one place to provide that service but also make

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sure they are safer. Years ago the medical profession was different.

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Now medics increasingly want to see enough cases coming through casual

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to departments to get enough experience of treating those cases.

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If the hospitals do not provide that experience, the doctors leave. The

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trainees then don't come. It is difficult to explain it to people

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but that is the reality, unfortunately. At what point do you

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decide that a health board is too big, too unwieldy, too inefficient

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to continue as it is? At what point does it make more sense to split

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something up? There is no evidence of that at the moment. The

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commission that I have set up has been asked to look at the governance

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of the health boards but not that their boundaries. We went from 22

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health boards to the number that we have now. We have to be mindful of

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not reorganising the health service once again and the disruption that

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that would cause. It is important to make sure these structures work.

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these problems manageable? Are they explainable, justifiable? There

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needs to be a change, clearly, about management, but it is not as though

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every health board is going through the same difficulties as the biggest

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one. The other boards are not as big. In terms of population, they

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are. Having the right leadership is key. We see this with schools. The

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difference fresh leadership can make in a school is phenomenal. The same

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applies to the health service and anywhere in the public sector.

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view expressed by many experts about the biggest health board is to do

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with its size and its manageability, and you think the shape of it is

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fine? Is there an optimum size? Probably not. In terms of being able

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to provide the services it needs to provide, at the moment I would argue

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that the boundaries are right. Looking at the performance that are

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going to be on the table. Your colleague Owen Smith for example,

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campaigning against elements of that policy. How do you manage that

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process? It is quite clear that as a political party Welsh Labour, it is

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natural. There is no one hospital being forwarded in terms of

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another. The name of the party should not be attached to campaigns

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like that. Why are people out on the streets? I have spoken to people who

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think that the hospitals are going to close. Quite often people will

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fear the worst, I understand that. I have taken the time to speak to

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people to say, this is the situation. So Owen Smith has

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misunderstood the situation? People can make representations on behalf

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of hospitals in their own area, I have no difficulty with that.

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do not want to see them out on the street? It is important that people

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do not get the idea that Welsh Labour Party has a particular view

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in terms of hospitals. And there is no threat to the accident and

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emergency departments. Clearly the big umbrella is man -- is money.

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Having been in this post since the last election, what is your death

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now on the balance, if you like. Do you have the levers that you need,

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with all the debate about needing powers to borrow, do you have the

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economic levers that you need? are never going to have all the

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economic levers. Some will stay with the UK government, and many are

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outside of the control of the UK government. When we seek new powers

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we do it for a reason. For example arriving. We should be able to

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borrow to a limit. In the same way as Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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That is important because there will be some projects, transport for

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example, that will need to be taken through in Wales in the next few

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years. And the money can only come through borrowing. The argument put

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forward by the Treasury is that you need a source of revenue. Northern

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Ireland does not have that. So our argument has been stamp duty, but it

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very important. And we would argue passenger duty as well. That would

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give us around 200 million of an income stream. I just go into as

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quickly, wide did you purchase Cardiff airport? -- why. The airport

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would have closed, it was being run down. And hundreds of jobs would

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have gone with it. It is important for the country to have an airport.

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Some people geographically, do not use Cardiff airport. But when I go

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abroad I'm often asked, does Wales have an international airport? And

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if it did not then that would reflect badly. If you have an

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international airport you are taken seriously. But nobody uses it.I

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disagree. The percentage of passengers has increased by 9%. We

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understand that it is still a long way short of the store. Money has

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been putting to refurbish the arrivals area and that has gone down

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well. We are looking at the road system outside the terminal which

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frankly looks unwelcoming. There is an issue about the state of the

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terminal building itself. Airlines are looking at the airport as an

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investment. If you are an airline and the building looks as if it is

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in a bit of a state you are going to think, passengers are not going to

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come here. If you are a passenger and have to log -- to walk along way

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from the car park, these things have two be addressed. Is that enough to

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bring some of those big airlines back from Bristol to Cardiff with

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Mike because without that do accept that it is not going to look like a

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flourishing economic prospect? Discussions at taking place at the

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moment. Landing charges are important. There was a very rigid

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structure in place before and that is now being changed. The idea is

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not to buy an airport and kissed the money goodbye. We will subsidise it,

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no question. But we are looking for commercial operators to coming into

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partnership with us. Perhaps to bike path of the airport so that the

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money comes back that quickly. And there is interest out there, large

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operators who do have that interest. I would have been worried if they

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had been no interest from the commercial sector, but it is. It is

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just a question of taking it through a very difficult period. To go back

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to where we wear for that exchange, and in the same context, if you have

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the power to borrow, what more then can you do? What would your ambition

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be, five years down the line? What kind of things would you be looking

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to do with that extra money? Mainly infrastructure. The other aspect is

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the Severn Bridge. If you can borrow, you can invest not just in

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transport infrastructure but digital infrastructure as well, to create

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the conditions for economic growth. We are not seeking some enormous

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fiscal power, but it could be used in a targeted way. Looking at

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motorways, for example, the railways, all those games. Along

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with broadband. Is that the key element that Wales economically is

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dragging behind the rest of the UK? It has not trapped behind, we are

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doing better than other areas such as the North East of England. The

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employment rate in Wales is lower than London for example. But we do

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want to do better. For me the big challenge is not just transport

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infrastructure but broadband. If you put in place a fastball band

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structure then people can set up the business anywhere they want. They do

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not have to move out of Wales. It is the equivalent of what the railway

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lines used to be in the 19th century. The economic benefits would

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the enormous. In the next few weeks, when you talk about delivery in the

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year ahead, in the position of First Minister who does not have a

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majority in the assembly, how much of a handicap is that? And does that

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podcast doubt over any ambitions that you express? Well we have

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managed so far. But as I said in this very building the day after the

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election, we want to work with the other parties. We have tried to do

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that to get legislation through. We have worked with other parties on

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the budget. We are aware that we do not have an overall majority. But it

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is not like Westminster. I would argue there is far more working

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between parties. Were used to the fact that for 14 years there has not

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been a party with an overall majority. Are you unsettled or

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anxious about the fact that the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru

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have decided to put on a united front to discuss budget options with

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you? I am not surprised. In some ways I am surprised it has taken

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them that long. They have decided their strongest position is to work

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together but that is a matter for them. What is important is that we

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have a budget for the end of the year that reflects the priorities of

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the government, yes, but of some other parties as well. That is the

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way budget negotiations are conducted here. Give me one thing is

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for viewers to latch onto and come back in one year to say, Carwyn

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Jones said he would do this. Something that would be symbolic of

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his determination? It would be investment in the economy.

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Investment into Wales by companies overseas. That has been driven by

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the fact that we have gone out there and sold Wales in a way that has not

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been done in a few years. We work of course with the UK government to

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promote Wales and that is important. It is to seek more money and more

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jobs coming into Wales. That is what I ask people to judge me on. We will

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come back and measure that. Thank you for talking to us. Just some of

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the challenges facing the First Minister and the Welsh government in

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the year to come. We will be back in the autumn to examine any progress

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because this is the last edition of the programme for this series. Over

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