FMQs: Carwyn Takes A Bow

After 9 years as First Minister of Wales, today’s the day Carwyn Jones’s tenure draws to a close. More on that later.

There was still one final duty left for him to perform – the last First Minister’s Questions of 2018.

Any Advice?

Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies (Con, Preseli Pembs.) asked what advice Carwyn would give to his successor?

“I’ve said it before: it’s hugely important to balance the job against your life, because it’s important to have time to think, and working day and night every single day is not a good way and not a sustainable way of working.”
– First Minister, Carwyn Jones

It was never going to be that smooth of course and Paul Davies turned to Wales’ tax powers, particularly a demand for a guarantee that income tax levels will remain low in the longer-term. The First Minister repeated a 2016 manifesto commitment that income taxes won’t change for the remainder of the Assembly term.

Regrets

Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E. & Dinefwr) reminded the First Minister that his leadership manifesto in 2009 called for an investment culture, not grants. Carwyn Jones pointed to the creation of the Development Bank as a clear move in that direction:

“….the point the Member is making is what therefore are we doing for small businesses and what are we doing to promote an entrepreneurial culture in Wales. I don’t believe that you can do one without doing the other. We have the development bank that’s been established and we see more businesses being created in Wales.”
– First Minister, Carwyn Jones

Carwyn did, however, admit that one of the main weaknesses in Wales was a lack of headquartered companies – something he would like to see change in the future.

Before the niceties of the resignation statement, Adam Price wasn’t going to let the First Minister off easily:

“Nine years ago, in your manifesto you also said that child poverty continues to be a plague on too many of our communities. Do you regret therefore that child poverty under your tenure has increased, now affecting more than one in three children in Wales? And if so, how do you justify the fact that during your tenure as First Minister you dropped your own target for reducing child poverty by the end of this decade?”
– Adam Price AM

The (typically Carwyn) answer: Austerity. Westminster.

Adam tried to cheekily press Carwyn to make one final commitment to the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen railway as an alternative investment to the Newport bypass but he wouldn’t bite.

“Happy to be judged” on Cardiff Airport

One of the policies which will be most associated with Carwyn Jones was the nationalisation of Cardiff Airport. Jane Hutt AM (Lab, Vale of Glamorgan) asked for an update.

The First Minister recollected Rhodri Morgan writing a column for The Western Mail saying he would be judged for the rest of his tenure on the performance of Cardiff Airport and on that basis Carwyn was happy to be judged.

“….it’s been personally a great pleasure for me to see the growth in the airport. I’d like to pay tribute to Roger Lewis, to Debra Barber and all those at the airport who’ve done so much to ensure its future. I knew there was a future there if it was run properly, and that’s what we intended to do, which is why….we didn’t try and run it ourselves via politicians or civil servants; it was run and is being run by an arm’s length company. And we see, of course, the great growth in passenger numbers that there’s been in that time.”
– First Minister, Carwyn Jones

As for the future, the Welsh Government will welcome private investment but the airport still needed to develop further before that can realistically happen. The future of Anglesey Airport is also tied to Cardiff and there were opportunities to further expand on services serving north Wales.

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