Wales politics

Carwyn Jones attacks Plaid leader's French holiday

The First Minister has rounded on Plaid Cymru for attacks on him for inaction while its own leader is away on holiday in France.

During exchanges at First Minister's Questions, Carwyn Jones said Plaid's accusation "takes the biscuit".

He said Ieuan Wyn Jones' absence gave the impression attending the assembly was "optional".

Plaid's Jocelyn Davies, standing in for Mr Jones, said Labour's Welsh Government lacked a clear programme.

Other parties have also criticised the Plaid leader's absence.

During the First Minister's Questions since May's election Ms Davies said there was a danger the public would believe the new Welsh Government were "doing nothing" due to a lack of a clear programme.

But Mr Jones responded by saying: "Where's your leader? Where's your leader?

"You accuse us of not having any any kind of programme and your leader's not even in the chamber. I mean, I wasn't going to mention it, but really, that is taking the biscuit."

He said his government would put forward a package of legislative and financial measures before the people of Wales in the coming weeks.

Ms Davies referred to Labour's lack of a majority in the assembly.

"Thirty seats, five years, none of your members can ever be away - ever. You're the government, you have to be here, the opposition are not bound by that same reality," she said.

To jeers from the Labour back-benches, Mr Jones replied, "You go on holiday. The opposition can go on holiday. Well that's all right then.

"Government back-benchers and members of the Labour Party have to be here, everyone else can go on holiday in the course of the assembly term. That's not the message we want to get across - I'm fed up of it.

"I've had people come to me in the course of the past day and say 'you assembly members, you're not even there when the Assembly's in session' so it has affected all of us.

"I'm sorry, but Labour assembly members will be here to take part, will be here to vote, and I'm sorry to hear that as far as Plaid Cymru is concerned, attendance in this chamber appears to be optional."

The Plaid Cymru leader was criticised by other parties for being on holiday for Tuesday's royal opening of the assembly.

Time to recover

The Welsh Conservatives said it was "extremely disappointing" he was away during term time when he was being paid to represent his constituents.

But speaking on BBC Wales' AMPM programme, Ceredigion AM Elin Jones defended her leader.

She said he needed time to recover after working so hard during the election.

She insisted that he "deserves that break" and added: "I'm not going to sit here and criticise him for that."

Speaking from France, Mr Jones also defended his holiday.

"I had already made arrangements to be away before the date for the official opening had been made and I had taken steps to inform the representatives of the royal family that I would be away during this week," he added.

More on this story