Wales politics

Labour AM Lee Waters warns of 'pork barrel' budget deals

Lee Waters
Image caption Lee Waters said it is a mark of American budgets "that hardly a budget is passed without a museum or a bridge or a bypass"

A Labour backbench AM has warned against "pork barrel politics" where museums, bridges or bypass projects are offered to win support for budgets.

AMs passed the Welsh Labour-led government's final budget for the next financial year on Tuesday evening, with the support of Plaid Cymru.

The budget includes £50m for a bypass at Llandeilo.

Llanelli AM Lee Waters warned against offering schemes "for political parties to show they have exerted influence".

"It is not my preference that we make annual deals like this," said Mr Waters, in a debate on the final budget in the Senedd on Tuesday.

"But if that is to be the way then inevitably we are going to be tempted towards the lowest common denominator."

'Mark of American budget system'

"I'd hate to see us go the way of other democracies, most notably the American political system, where we descend towards pork barrel politics," he said.

"It's a mark of the American budget system that hardly a budget is passed without a museum or a bridge or a bypass being awarded in the name of the chair of various committees."

Accepting commitments to planning for the long term and taking into account carbon emissions "do have policy and spending implications that we need to build into our thinking, and not simply revert to the practices of the past, and not simply to revert to projects to win support for political parties to show they have exerted influence."

Mr Waters otherwise welcomed "moves in the budget to implement some of the key pledges in the Welsh Labour manifesto from last year".

Adam Price of Plaid Cymru said his party "has been able to have an influence for the benefit of the lives of the people of Wales".

"I would encourage other parties to have this more constructive attitude towards politics, to put forward ideas and if they disagree to be part of the dialogue".

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