Wales politics

Carwyn Jones rejects criticism over rural affairs role

First Minister Carwyn Jones has defended his decision not to include a rural affairs minister in the Welsh Government cabinet.

Opposition parties have been critical, but Mr Jones said farming would now be represented by two cabinet ministers.

He said he ensured farming was under economic development, and a deputy minister had agriculture in his title.

He also told the BBC's Politics Show Wales that governing would be difficult with no clear assembly majority.

Agriculture and food will fall under Business, Enterprise and Technology Minister Edwina Hart, a member of the cabinet, and some areas, such as animal health, will also fall under the portfolio of Environment and Sustainable Development Minister John Griffiths.

Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies is the deputy minister who also has responsibility for agriculture.

"The economy of rural Wales is bound up with the economy of urban Wales - they don't exist separately," said Mr Jones.

"Farming is an important part of Welsh life, which is why I have made sure there is a deputy minister with agriculture in the title as well who will be responsible for representing farming, fisheries and food development."

Labour won 30 of the 60 seats at this month's election, one short of an absolute majority.

Mr Jones announced after the election that the party would go it alone, after four years in coalition with Plaid Cymru from 2007.

Image caption Carwyn Jones made Alun Davies - behind his left shoulder - a deputy minister with agriculture in his title

He rejected suggestions that a smaller cabinet was a hint that there could be a coalition between now and the end of this assembly.

"The reason why the government is smaller is because we don't need as many ministers," said Mr Jones.

'Vitamin pills'

"In a coalition situation you quite often need more ministers, we didn't need that.

"I want the government to be a little bit smaller than it's been and there's no point appointing a full squad of ministers and deputy ministers when there was no need to do so."

Lord Elis-Thomas has joined the contest to replace Ieuan Wyn Jones after the Plaid Cymru leader announced he would step down some time in the next two-and-a-half years.

Asked about Lord Elis-Thomas's claim that he expected Plaid to be back in government soon, the first minister said he had "noted" those comments.

"I cannot comment on what's happening within Plaid. It's quite clear now that within Plaid there are different views on what their future should be, that's a matter for them," he said.

Otherwise, he accepted that it would be hard ruling without a clear majority.

He joked that Labour AMs were being given vitamin pills, but added: "If people are ill that makes it difficult, no one will be able to not be in plenary when it sits and it's right to say there will need to be discipline in the Labour group".

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites