Morgan faces battle with Treasury for extra funds

17 Feb 00
Rhodri Morgan, the new First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales, is already facing pressure from nationalists to secure European funding and stem central government interference.

18 February 2000

Assembly members confirmed Morgan as the permanent first secretary on February 15, following the resignation of Alun Michael in advance of a no-confidence vote he was certain to lose.

Nationalist party Plaid Cymru has pledged to give Morgan 'time to deliver', but has outlined a series of additional demands that he may have to accept if he is to avoid the same fate as Michael.

Morgan now faces an uphill struggle to stabilise an Assembly split by political infighting, and improve the flagging popularity of Labour in Wales. But, most pressing, he must secure Treasury 'matched' funds to release £1.2bn in European Union Objective One grants, the issue that led to the downfall of his predecessor.

The First Secretary has already broken with Labour policy by promising to 'bust a gut' to secure the Treasury funds. 'There is a very strong case in Wales, I reckon that I could be a tough negotiator,' he said. But the Treasury has ruled out any additional finance this year and has rejected claims that it is under-funding Wales.

In a letter, Plaid Cymru said it was willing to co-operate with Morgan if he addressed the 'interference of the Labour government in London' and established a cross-party committee to examine constitutional issues.


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