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Welsh Liberal Democrats endorse Progressive Agreement

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Special Conference in Newtown has overwhelmingly endorsed the Progressive Agreement reached between Kirsty Williams AM and Welsh Labour, and the invitation to Kirsty Williams AM to take up the position of Cabinet Secretary for Education.

Speaking after the vote, Kirsty Williams AM for Brecon & Radnorshire and Education Secretary, said:

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats will now play our part in delivering real change in the way government works for the people of Wales.

“I will be in government as a Welsh Liberal Democrat, guided by our values and commitments.

“It is those values – of democracy, of commitment to education, of equality – that were at the heart of today’s conference. It was essential that the membership of the party got the opportunity to debate and vote on delivering our manifesto commitments.

“We have proved ourselves up to the challenge of finding common ground with others, and the confidence and ambition to work together for the good of Wales.

“I look forward to working with the First Minister, with cabinet colleagues, and with other progressives to reduce class sizes, deliver more nurses, be ambitious in our approach to housing, ending mental health discrimination, and supporting teachers and our young people to achieve the highest standards.

“I also aim to ensure that our universities and further education colleges are at the beating heart of innovation in our economy and core to the promotion of social mobility.”

Mark Williams MP, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

“I am delighted that our members have endorsed the Progressive Agreement. We practice what we preach, the value of democracy through one member, one vote.

“Education is in our DNA as Welsh Liberal Democrats. We will now see that approach, and our ideas, pursued at the heart of Government.

“As Kirsty made clear today, this approach is not without risks. But my clear view, and that of the party today, is that the greater risk is to allow this opportunity for real change to pass us, and education in Wales, by.

“This chance to embrace and lead a new politics, a new approach to government, and help our students, teachers, parents and pupils achieve their potential is an opportunity that the Welsh Liberal Democrats will meet with passion, conviction and ambition.”

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Progressive Agreement reached between Welsh Labour and Kirsty Williams AM

Kirsty Williams and the First Minister have reached a Progressive Agreement between the two parties to work together in Government. The First Minister has invited Kirsty Williams to serve as Cabinet Secretary for Education and subject to ratification by the Welsh Liberal Democrats this weekend, she has accepted.

The agreement enables the implementation of key Welsh Liberal Democrat policy priorities that the party campaigned on during the recent election, ensuring that:

• Infant class sizes are reduced to a maximum of 25;
• There are more nurses, in more settings, through an extended nurse staffing levels law;
• 20,000 extra affordable homes are funded;
• A new ‘Rent to Own’ housing model is introduced;
• Mental health discrimination is ended.

Commenting on the invitation to be Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams AM said: “Government in Wales has entered a new era. Where there is common ground, we must have the confidence and ambition to work together for the good of its people.

“The test of our new approach is not the warmth of our words, but our commitment to get things done.

“It is in this spirit, subject to the support of my party, that I am accepting the First Minister’s invitation to serve as Cabinet Secretary for Education.

“I will work with others in Government, across the Assembly and with parents, students, employers and teachers in our shared ambitions for the highest standards and opportunity for all. I will be open to ideas and innovation from all quarters – here at home and beyond.

“I agree with the First Minister that no one party has a monopoly on good ideas. Working together we have reached agreement on a range of issue that enables us to work together in government for the good of Wales.

“I’ve been fortunate to receive the support of friends, family and fellow Welsh Liberal Democrat members across the country in the last week. We stood on a manifesto that was ambitious and optimistic, with plans and ideas for education at its heart. I am honoured to have the opportunity to take forward those commitments.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, Mark Williams, said “I fully endorse the Progressive Agreement between Kirsty Williams and the Welsh Labour Party. It is right, now, that this matter is put forward to the membership of the Welsh Liberal Democrats at this weekend’s special Conference. We practice what we preach, the value of democracy through one member, one vote.

“Having campaigned for so many facets of the document in the last Assembly elections, it is heartening to see these issues pursued at the heart of Government. Kirsty Williams has always been an excellent standard bearer for liberal democracy and the needs of education, and will continue to do so within and outside Government.”

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Vote for the party that gets things done

Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only party to consistently work to achieve results and put narrow party-political interest aside.

Despite being the smallest group in the National Assembly, we have achieved more than all of the other opposition parties put together. Over the last five years, the party has used their influence to secure:

• Safe nurse staffing levels on hospital wards;
• More than £280 million extra investment in schools via the Pupil Premium;
• 5,000 extra apprenticeships;
• Youth Concessionary Fare Scheme;
• Stopping work on the £1bn+ M4 relief road;
• Better access to innovative NHS treatments via the Health Technology Fund.
• Additional funding for rural councils

Today’s vote is your chance to make a difference for your community. Before you cast it, I want you to ask yourself: who has delivered the most for you and your family?

More often than not, the people I talk to across Wales aren’t interested in the cheap party-political point-scoring. What they always ask me is, ‘What have you done to make my life better?’ As a Welsh Liberal Democrat, I always have a long list of things to tell them about.

When Labour wanted to cut the numbers of apprenticeships in Wales, we used our influence to stop them. When rural councils were getting a raw funding deal, it was us who secured more money. When our poorest pupils were consistently underachieving in our schools, it was us who stepped in and gave them that extra support.

Unlike the other parties, we’re not content with whinging from the sidelines. Welsh Liberal Democrats always roll up our sleeves and get things done for our communities, and for the people of Wales.

If our record over the last five years shows anything, it’s that a vote for the Welsh Liberal Democrats is a vote for our policies being put into action. Tomorrow will be no different – your vote could help make our ideas a reality.

If you support smaller class sizes, if you want more nurses on hospital wards, if you want an Opportunity Economy that enables people to get on life, then you have to vote for it – you have to vote Welsh Liberal Democrat. Only then can we begin to deliver a Wales that works for you.

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Vote for dignified care

A vote for the Welsh Liberal Democrats is a vote for dignified care. My More Nurses Bill made Wales the first part of Europe with safe staffing levels on hospital wards. We have pledged to extend the bill to include mental health wards, maternity wards and community nurses.

The More Nurses Bill ensured that there is a legal duty to have sufficient nurse staffing levels on acute hospital wards.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will ensure Wales is a world leader for patient care.

People don’t expect miracles from our NHS, but they do expect staff to have the time to treat patients with the dignity they deserve. 17 years of Labour has meant nurses in Wales have more patients each to care for than in any other part of the UK. That must change – a vote for the Welsh Liberal Democrats is a vote for dignified care.

Through our More Nurses Bill, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have made a big difference to patient care. We are ambitious and determined to go further by putting more nurses on hospital wards and in our communities.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have listened to people’s concerns. We all want NHS staff to have the time to care for our loved ones, which is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats will deliver safe staffing levels across the NHS. We’ll put more nurses in our hospitals and in our communities to deliver an NHS that works for you.

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Don’t let Labour leave another generation behind

Labour Ministers have acknowledged that they took their “eye off the ball” with regards to the basics in education, literacy and numeracy. Due to this, Wales has fallen in international rankings and schools in Wales are rated as being the worst in the UK for maths, science and reading.

Ahead of the Assembly election this week, we have made three key education pledges. The Welsh Liberal Democrats will:

• protect the education budget;
• deliver smaller class sizes across Wales;
• tackle the attainment gap between the most disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

17 years of Labour has failed our children. Ministers say they took their eye off the ball, casually accepting that a generation of young people have been let down due to Labour complacency. They should be ashamed.

Never again can people trust Labour with our children’s future. Wales needs a party that will be relentlessly focused on improving our education system.

The last five years have shown that the Welsh Liberal Democrats are the party of education. We were the only party to prioritise education in budget negotiations, delivering over £282m for our schools through our Pupil Premium. This has been the most successful education policy of the last five years and has helped close the attainment gap.

My party has listened to concerns from teachers and parents. That’s why our top priority is cutting class sizes. We’ll ensure every teacher has the time to properly teach our children.

A good education system is the foundation of opportunity and the guarantee that everyone has a fair start in life. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, Wales must be a nation of equal opportunity. Under Labour, that simply hasn’t been the case.

Voting Labour risks another generation of people being left behind. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only party that has said we will protect education spending. If you value the importance of education, then we are the party for you.

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Welsh Lib Dems unveil Opportunity Economy package

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will create an Opportunity Economy that helps businesses grow and supports people to get on in life.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will:

• More than double the number of apprenticeship starts
• Deliver a unique offer of universal childcare from 9 months to help people back to work
• Support first time buyers through the party’s ‘Rent to Own’ scheme
• Establish a Small Business Administration to bring independent advice and finance together to support small businesses and entrepreneurs

Everyone wants a secure job and a home to build a better life. That’s why we will create an Opportunity Economy that helps businesses grow and supports people to buy their own home.

Labour has a reputation of being anti-business and anti-ambition and this has only been exacerbated by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader. In contrast, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will help empower business to thrive, creating the high-value jobs that will finally get our economy moving.

Our vision of an Opportunity Economy means that everyone has the chance to get on in life. 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.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have listened to people’s concerns. Our priorities are your priorities: more nurses on hospital wards, smaller class sizes for our children, and an Opportunity Economy to deliver a Wales that works for you.

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