FMQs: Birthdays, Screaming Heads & Steel



FMQs, 3rd July 2018

Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.): Labour’s Health Record

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS. It’s a time of celebration, but was the First Minister ashamed Wales is the UK nation to cut NHS funding? The Health Secretary admitted at the WLGA meeting it was a “mistake” to cut health funding in 2011. Would the First Minister commit to spending the additional £1.2billion Wales will receive as a result of the UK Government’s “NHS birthday present” on health?

The First Minister didn’t dispute the cut, saying Wales spends more on health and social care per-head than England in general. There have been cuts to social care in England and it’s created more postcode lotteries. The Conservatives imposed austerity on the UK, it’s for them to end it. He believes the £1.2billion was “a myth” – it’ll come, but will be offset by cuts elsewhere in the local and devolved budgets.

Verdict: Block – A combative first FMQs by interim Tory leader, Paul Davies, but Carwyn managed….just.

Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda): Brexit & (Suggested) National Care Service

Wales’ ageing population means health and social care services may be increasingly unable to deal with pressures. There’s a need for a bold vision as there was for health in the 1940s; is it time to create a National Care Service, particularly in light of Brexit? What planning was the Welsh Government taking to prepare for a possible “no deal” Brexit – which could impact medicines? They’re planning for it in England, we should in Wales.

The First Minister didn’t know what a National Care Service would do, but it was right to integrate health and social care further having already reduced “bed blocking”. Carwyn didn’t believe any planning would be suitable for a “no deal” Brexit; it “would be a disaster” and akin to “running around in circles screaming”. It’s worrying people are being softened up to the idea when two years ago it wasn’t going to happen.

Verdict: Hit – A shocking admission that there’s no work being undertaken for a “no deal”.

Caroline Jones AM (UKIP, South Wales West): Tata-ThyssenKrupp Merger Deal

The recently-announced deal to merge steel companies is a relief for Welsh steelworkers, but it’s clear the steel industry still needs help. Every single UK infrastructure project should use UK steel and more needed to be done to secure energy supplies at Port Talbot.

The Welsh Government made a £60million package available; nothing’s come from the UK Government in money or political interest. The First Minister welcomed the deal, saying there’s been a lot of progress since the crisis. However, we had to be careful when talking about protectionism as there’s a large export market for Welsh steel.

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.

Backbenchers

David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central): Will the First Minister make a statement on fire safety in high-rise blocks in Wales?

£3million has been provided to remove and replace cladding on affected social housing tower blocks. For privately-owned tower blocks, it’s the responsibility of the management company or owner to undertake the necessary works and based on the profit they make from them it’s right they do so. Help may be provided in circumstances where the management company (i.e. residents associations) finds it difficult to make their buildings safer.

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.

David Rees AM (Lab, Aberavon): What proposals does the Welsh Government have for improving public transport in areas that will not be served by the South Wales Metro?

The new rail franchise will include additional services in each region of Wales. Legislation may be introduced to re-regulate bus services, which will form a key part of the Metro. Bus grants to councils have been maintained at £25million-a-year despite cuts.

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.

Simon Thomas AM (Plaid, Mid & West Wales): Will the First Minister make a statement on the future of marine energy in Wales?

The Welsh Government recognises the potential and will continue to support marine technology. The First Minister didn’t rule out using the £200million that would’ve been used to support the Swansea Tidal Lagoon for alternative marine energy projects. He disputes the figures used by the UK Government to justify pulling the plug on the lagoon, saying Wales only wanted “fair play” (vis-a-vis Hickley C subsidies).

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.

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