I would like to thank colleagues for their support, and begin by congratulating you, Presiding Officer, on your election to your new job. You have had a baptism of fire, I think it is fair to say, and you have already shown the calmness and control which that job demands. To Ann Jones too, congratulations, we will miss you as our Labour Group Chair, but Welsh Labour’s loss will be the National Assembly’s gain.
Also, a word of praise for the other candidates, Dafydd Elis Thomas and John Griffiths, people who cherish this institution and will always put the Assembly, and Wales, before their own interests. Thank you.
My family, like all our families, have had to put up with a great deal over recent weeks and I thank Lisa, Seren and Ruairi for their patience and support. And I pay tribute to all our families, election widows and widowers who allow us all to do what we love, and to fight elections in the hope of changing Wales for the better.
For the fifth time in a row, the Welsh people have asked Welsh Labour to form the next Government. And for the fifth time in a row they have said – proceed, but with caution and humility. Because we have no majority. Of that we are acutely we aware, and as I have made clear since the election we have no doubt about the responsibilities on us, and the responsibility upon me in particular, to work with others, where we can, for the good of Wales. No one party has a monopoly on good ideas, and I want this Assembly to be more open and more confident than the last.
First 100 days
In this spirit, I set out my priorities for the first 100 days of the next Welsh Government, which will reflect those areas where I believe this Assembly can find some immediate common ground. These priorities also clearly reflect the successful result for Welsh Labour in the May election, and subsequent discussions with the main opposition party, Plaid Cymru.
There will be a relentless focus on securing a successful and sustainable future for our steel industry.
The Welsh Government will maintain a firmly pro-European standpoint, and will campaign vociferously for a “Remain” vote.
We will not bring forward any new legislation in the first 100 days, giving political groups in the Assembly some time to help establish a new way of doing law-making in Wales. This will allow all parties to jointly develop a scrutiny and committee procedure that is better suited to this institution’s Parliamentary responsibilities.
- Once the Assembly is in a position to better scrutinise legislation we will look to bring forward a new Public Health Bill, an Additional Learning Needs Bill, and we will take forward, on a cross-party basis, legislation that will remove the defence of reasonable chastisement. We will also seek to amend the current Welsh language measure.
- We will seek to end the Wales Bill deadlock, in order to establish a lasting legislative framework for Wales.
- We will seek to establish a Parliamentary Review into the long-term future of Health & Social Care in Wales.
- In order to drive policy and delivery from the heart of Government, we will establish a new Cabinet Office. The first priority of the new office will be to establish delivery plans for the top six pledges from the Welsh Labour manifesto.
Welsh Labour Government & Plaid Cymru
The arithmetic of this Assembly is clear. For us to deliver for the people of Wales, we must seek to work together where possible. To this end, Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru have made a Compact to Move Wales Forward.
With your permission, Presiding Officer, and in the interests of transparency, I believe it is important to put on the record exactly what we mean by this.
The basis of this agreement will be the establishment of three Liaison Committees on Finance, Legislation and the Constitution. These will comprise a Labour Minister, a Plaid Cymru representative and will be staffed by the civil service.
We have committed to working together on the European referendum campaign in a spirit of co-operation.
We recognise that there are many areas where are not going to agree, but we will also begin discussions on joint policy priorities where there is common ground. Common ground indeed, which stretches beyond just our two parties. These will include:
Childcare – we recognise this is one of the biggest challenges facing families in Wales, and we will prioritise work to deliver 30 hours free childcare for working parents. Key to our work in developing and rolling out this offer will be quality of provision and equity of access - both in terms of geographical reach and language.
Apprenticeships and skills – a skilled workforce is the lifeblood of our economy, and we will honour our commitments to bring forward at least 100,000 new all-age apprentices in this term.
Infrastructure & business finance – we will establish a new National Infrastructure Commission, and a new Welsh development bank.
Health – we will prioritise the establishment of a New Treatment Fund, and will commit to end the post-code lottery for new drugs and treatments. We will set in place plans for the recruitment and training of additional GPs and other primary healthcare professionals.
Discussion on other shared policy priorities will continue once Ministers are in place.
Wales does not want for ambition. Wales does not want for brilliance. And if the last few days are anything to go by, Wales does not want for excitement either. It is our job, collectively, to make real that ambition. To turn that brilliance into sustainable success and growing prosperity for all. And where we have excitement, let’s make sure it comes with results.
We have given the media, the Welsh historians, and the commentariat plenty of what they want – theatre and intrigue.
It is time now to give the Welsh people what they want, and expect. Good governance, delivery and respect.