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We’re on the cusp of something big

The Welsh Liberal Democrats’ More Nurses Bill will give the Welsh NHS “the good news story it’s been looking for” if passed this week, the party has said.

My Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill is expected pass Stage 4 of the legislative process on Wednesday. The Bill would see Wales become the first part of Europe with a legal duty to have sufficient nurse staffing levels on hospital wards.

In the history of the Assembly, only one other Private Members Bill has made it all the way into law – the Mobile Homes Bill passed by Welsh Lib Dem AM Peter Black.

Over 4,500 members of the public have signed petitions in support of the Bill which, if it passes stage 4 next week, could receive royal assent in March.

After two years of graft and hard work, we’re on the cusp of something big. This small but fundamental change in the way we staff our wards with nurses will undoubtedly save lives.

The logic is simple: more nurses on our wards means each nurse can spend more time with each patient, ensuring better care as a result. More staff nurses means health boards won’t have to fork out for expensive agency nurses, saving our NHS money in the long run.

If this Bill is passed by the Assembly, the Welsh NHS will finally have the good news story it’s been looking for – and it will have been delivered by Welsh Liberal Democrats. This is a clear sign that we can be trusted to put patients first within our health service.

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Welsh Lib Dems deliver for higher education and rural councils

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have today secured agreement from the Welsh Government that cuts to universities and rural councils will be mitigated.

Last year the Welsh Liberal Democrats agreed a two year deal to allow the Welsh Government’s budget to pass in exchange for the implementation of key policies such as extra investment in schools and 5,000 new apprenticeships.

However, the party had made clear that it could not support unfair cuts to rural communities or such severe cuts to the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales as proposed by the Welsh Government in the Draft Budget 2016-17.

Following numerous meetings with the Welsh Liberal Democrats, the Finance Minister announced today that Powys will benefit from an additional £1.93m of funding, Ceredigion will receive an extra £439k, as well as £109k extra for Monmouthshire.

The Minister also confirmed that cuts to higher educated will be mitigated with an increase of £21.1m to the HEFCW grant and an additional £10m for part time studies and scientific research.

I am delighted that we have secured this agreement.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been clear from the very beginning that there was absolutely no way we could support these unfair cuts to rural councils. We were also clear that the severe cuts to higher education were completely unacceptable.

We have worked with the Finance Minister, Local Government and the Higher Education sector to put right issues from the Draft Budget and we have succeeded.

Instead of bleating from the side-lines like the Tories and Plaid, we have used our influence to secure a fairer funding deal for rural areas and for higher education. Once again, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have delivered for our communities, despite not being in government.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats continue to punch above our weight and today’s budget, which invests in children and young people to help ensure they have the best opportunities and a fair start in life, is evidence of that.

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We will support people to fulfil their dream of buying their own home

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only party willing to support people’s aspiration of buying their own home.

Unlike Labour’s almost sneering attitude to the idea of supporting aspiration, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are offering real solutions and ideas so people can fulfil their dream of buying their own home.

Prices have simply got too far out of reach for too many young families, with some first-time buyers saving for 15 years to get onto the housing ladder at all.

Under our ‘Rent to Buy’ policy, young people in Wales would be able to buy their own home without a deposit

For too long Wales hasn’t been seen enough as a place for young people where they can fulfil their dreams and ambitions: we will change that.

Wales can reach its potential. We will support people’s ambitions so that if you live in Wales, were born in Wales, have moved to Wales, work in Wales – then you are part of our project to revitalise our great nation.”

Wales needs a government that will invest in a house building programme so everyone can have a roof over their heads.

Social housing will be a priority for the Welsh Liberal Democrats. We will ensure that there is quality, affordable housing for those who need it.

Today I am making clear that we will double the current Social Housing Grant budget of £35million per year to £70million per year and set a target of 20,000 new affordable homes over the same period.

This would be double the Labour Government’s unambitious target.

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No excuse for failing to act over steel industry

There is no excuse for the Labour Government’s continued failure to support Wales’ steel industry.

Wales needs to see an end to the “kind of chocolate box politics which offers a shiny new name for the same hackneyed old ideas”, which is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for a “new direction, a long term, internationalist economy plan.”

17 years since the Welsh Assembly was founded is the Welsh economy in a better place? No. There’s been 17 years of managed inertia. In the good years whilst the rest of the UK economy grew, Wales was left behind. In the bad years, Wales has been hit hardest by recession.

It makes me furious to watch a government that has at times just scratched around for someone else to blame.

On Steel I have watched the warning signs of this industry in trouble not for months but for years. I have stood up in the chamber and asked the minister to do something about it; to cut business rates on heavy machinery, to demand the highest standards in our procurement policy, to make sure that no grey market imports are ever used in our government’s contracts.

This isn’t abstract – this is to protect livelihoods and communities, and I’ve heard back time after time is, ‘we’ll think about it’. And no, I know that the Labour Government can’t do everything. But since when was that an excuse to do nothing?

To properly close that wealth gap, and close it for good, we need a plan. To build sustainable growth through resolving our structural problems.

We need to end the kind of chocolate box politics which offers a shiny new name for the same hackneyed old ideas.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats call for a new direction: a long term, internationalist, economic plan which fixes the foundations, brings balanced growth to our economy, and allows our deeply rooted industries and enterprises to grow and develop.

There is only one party that is on the side of small businesses. One party on the side of entrepreneurs. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only party that have the policies which will build sustainable growth, across Wales. Our communities cannot afford 5 more years of Labour inertia.

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Discarding the Tidal Lagoon is “utter madness” from Cameron

The Conservative UK Government must give its full backing to the £1 billion Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and allay fears about its future.

Prime Minister David Cameron told a committee of MPs recently that his “enthusiasm” towards the scheme had been “reduced” by concerns over the electricity strike price. Farron will say that the project is a key test for the government’s commitment to the green energy sector.

The building of a £1bn tidal energy lagoon in Swansea Bay has been delayed by around a year as negotiations over the level of UK government funding for the project continue.

Former Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey gave the initial go-ahead to the scheme. Since the Conservatives gained majority control in Westminster, enthusiasm has cooled towards the project, with new Energy Secretary Amber Rudd completely omitting the scheme from a recent key speech on energy infrastructure.

The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon must go ahead. It will provide hundreds of jobs and supply energy for 120 years – over three times as long as a nuclear plant.

It would be utter madness for the Government to pull further investment from the renewable sector which generates economic growth and jobs. We have been a world leader in this field and maintaining that status is now in jeopardy. The Tidal Lagoon is a litmus test for the Government. Do you care about this agenda? Or was it all for show?

For five years we fought sceptical Tories to ensure the Coalition was the greenest Government ever. In the last six months this progress has been unravelled at an alarming pace.

The huskies, shot by Cameron ages ago when their usefulness to him had run its course, will be turning in their graves. I also feel sorry for Amber Rudd who was told by the Prime Minister that they‘d gone to live on a farm in Devon.

It is shameful that the work we began in Coalition to deliver this is being unpicked. Britain should be leading the world in the green economy and setting an example to other nations after the UN talks in Paris.

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We’ll be relentlessly focussed on getting public services right

This Labour Government is tired and bankrupt of ideas. It’s lost touch with what people need and want.

People don’t expect much from a government, yet Labour has failed to even get the basics right and is failing to provide decent public services.

In the forthcoming election, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will show that we have listened to people’s concerns. Our vision for a future Welsh parliament is one that finally gives people what they want – good schools, good hospitals and a vibrant economy. We will be relentlessly focussed on getting public services right.

People want NHS staff to have the time to properly support their loved ones, which is why we will deliver safe staffing levels, ensuring more nurses on hospital wards.

People want teachers to have the time to properly teach their children, which is why we will deliver smaller class sizes.

People want a vibrant Welsh economy with good job opportunities, which is why we’ll tear down the barriers that stop businesses from expanding.

Our priorities are the same as those of people across Wales. A vote for the Welsh Liberal Democrats will be a vote that puts people first.

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