Wales politics

Plaid Cymru's Lord Wigley condemns 'chronic underfunding'

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Media captionLord Wigley told the Plaid conference there should be full parity of power and of financial resources

Successive UK governments are responsible for the "deliberate" and "chronic underfunding" of Welsh public services, former Plaid Cymru leader Lord Wigley has said.

He told the Plaid conference Wales needed "parity of power" and "parity of financial resources" with Scotland.

Lord Wigley called the level of funding Wales receives from the UK Treasury a "scandal".

The peer is co-ordinating Plaid's campaign for May's general election.

Closing the second and final day of the conference in Llangollen, he said the issue must "dominate" political discussion over the six months to polling day.

"We have, for 15 years since the opening of our national assembly, suffered from the chronic underfunding of public services in Wales," he said.

"This is not an academic matter, nor one just of national pride - or rather national humiliation: it is an intensely practical matter.

"It is the deliberate underfunding of public services in Wales by successive governments at Westminster, Labour and Tory/Lib Dem alike, that leads to our hospitals being underfunded, our nurses and doctors [being] worked off their feet and our citizens having to wait inordinate lengths of time for treatment."

He told the conference that if Wales "got as much pro-rata as Scotland gets in comparison to England, then our national assembly would be getting £1.2bn more each year".

Lord Wigley called on voters to make a "positive protest" against Wales being treated as a "poor relative" by voting Plaid to achieve a new deal for Wales.

"Plaid Cymru will use the next six months to demand for Wales full parity with Scotland - parity in funding, parity in our national assembly's powers, parity in our place within the UK as it evolves and parity also with other small nations within the EU," he said.

Earlier, contributing to a debate on disadvantage and educational attainment, Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas said that if Plaid Cymru ministers are in power after the 2016 assembly election they would need to focus on improving education standards.

"The greatest single drag on our economy is that we have let a whole generation of young people down in the standards in education, in terms of literacy and numeracy, but also in their ability to fulfil their potential," he said.

Mr Thomas, Plaid's education spokesman in Cardiff Bay, said the issue offered the "single greatest opportunity, as well, for us to genuinely build an independent state".

'In the balance'

Image caption Elfyn Llwyd said there has been "considerable" Welsh devolution progress

Also during the morning session, Plaid's outgoing parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd looked back on his 22 years in the House of Commons, and considered how Wales' position has changed politically.

Mr Llwyd, who is stepping down as MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd at the general election, told the conference that since he started at Westminster there had been "considerable progress" on Welsh devolution.

And now, he said, after the Scottish independence referendum, everything is "in the balance".

On Friday, party leader Leanne Wood told the conference Plaid MPs could help decide who takes power after the election.

She said they could work with Scottish nationalists and Greens to "rebalance wealth and power" in the UK.

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