FMQs, 26th September 2017
The Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central) raised the issue of NHS waiting times and winter preparedness. Across Wales, there’s been a 400% increase in waiting times for surgery with big differences between different health boards.
The First Minister said there was clear evidence waiting times had improved for diagnostic procedures. Wales isn’t immune to pressures on the NHS and £50million has been made available to improve waiting times further. He did, however, accept inconsistencies between health boards that needed to be addressed.
UKIP leader, Neil Hamilton AM (UKIP, Mid & West Wales) reignited the row over the Circuit of Wales project. Why was the Welsh Government continuing to press for a £100million business park when the existing enterprise zone in Ebbw Vale has only created or safeguarded 390 jobs? Ignoring “inter-party fisticuffs”, would an alternative plan be considered?
Carwyn told the chamber that a lack of suitable buildings is a reason for lack of progress at some enterprise zones. The reasons Aston Martin was attracted to St Athan was that a building was already there that met their specifications, hence why the Welsh Government wants to invest in Ebbw Vale. The Circuit of Wales could be looked at again if the developers come up with better financial arrangements.
Finally, Plaid Cymru leader, Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda), said Wales must be “the only nation in the world where super prisons are highlighted as tools for economic development”. Did the First Minister expect other prisons to close if the Port Talbot proposal goes ahead?
Secondly, she asked about the decision-making surrounding the dumping of mud from Hinkley Point nuclear power plant site near Cardiff.
The First Minister said there were questions for the Ministry of Justice to answer as prisons policy is non-devolved. Parc Prison was controversial when it was built in Bridgend, but now nobody pays attention to it (Owen: This is true and Carwyn used to be councillor for one of the wards closest to the prison). He didn’t want to do anything to jeopardise any future “Swansea Metro” but there are issues that need to be addressed with the prison estate.
On the nuclear mud controversy, he was a little more animated. Licensing isn’t done by Minister, but Natural Resources Wales. The story is also based on the account of one person. There are instances where Welsh nuclear matter is stored or processed in England (Wylfa to Sellafield).
I’m guessing this comment from Carwyn was a mistake with Y Cofnod rather than a Freudian slip:
Gareth Bennett AM (UKIP, South Wales Central): Will the First Minister make a statement on Cardiff’s bid to hold matches for the 2020 UEFA European Football Championships?
The Welsh Government have met with the FAW over a potential last-minute bid as major events raise Wales’ profile abroad. The pressing need to redevelop Cardiff Central station has been raised with Network Rail. There’s no reason why Wales couldn’t attract major events without harming the tourism industry generally as major events can act as a catalyst for investment elsewhere in the country.
Mark Isherwood AM (Con, North Wales): How is the Welsh Government supporting apprenticeships in Wales?
The Welsh Government are making progress on their pledge to create 100,000 apprenticeships. Following a complaint that Welsh police forces are unable to access apprenticeship levy funds given to Wales, the First Minister said this may not have happened if policing were devolved to Wales, something the Conservatives have consistently opposed.