Rhodri Pledges to Fight against Poverty and Inequality

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Byline: Kirsty Buchanan

RHODRI Morgan set out his plans for the next Assembly term yesterday, promising to turn his vision of a ``healthier, wealthier, smarter'' Wales into a reality. The First Minister said the central aim of his Labour administration over the next four years would be to tackle poverty and inequality.

In a ``state of the nation'' debate, the first full debate of the Assembly's second term, Mr Morgan promised to serve all corners of Wales.

``The election is now over,'' he said. ``The issue now is implementation. Regardless of whether or how people voted we will be serving them, regardless of where they live or what their political affiliation is.

``Over the next four years we are going to have to turn our vision of a healthier, wealthier, smarter Wales into a reality. The foundations were laid in the last term and now we are going to carry the work forward with the endorsement of the people of Wales. ``There is much work to do.''

Mr Morgan promised ``unprecedented economic progress with unparalleled investment in public services'' as well as reforms ``which fit the grain of Welsh society'' and ``an active engagement with the Welsh public on a scale unimaginable prior to devolution''.

Plaid Cymru president Ieuan Wyn Jones said the main issue for the next Assembly term was securing the same powers as the Scottish Parliament as a ``matter of urgency''.

Plaid has long called for a more powerful Assembly. But many in the party feel its disappointing performance in the Assembly election was partly due to the issue not being pushed hard enough.

Plaid's campaign focused on public services but senior figures have since said it was a mistake to underplay the con-stitutional card, which they see as the party's defining policy.

Mr Wyn Jones said all parties were now beginning to see the failings of the current settlement and the Assembly could not afford to ``muddle through indefinitely with constant confusion'' over its powers. …