Wales politics

We shouldn't be afraid of debt, says Jeremy Corbyn

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn: Clement Attlee didn't say let's park those grand ideas because of debt

We should not be afraid of debt or borrowing, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has told his Welsh party conference.

Speaking in Llandudno, he said debt did not stop Clement Attlee's post-war Labour government from reforms, including creating the National Health Service and building council homes.

Mr Corbyn - whose party has been riven with rows since his election - also made a plea for Labour unity.

"United we stand, divided we fall," he said.

Following Mr Corbyn's speech First Minister Carwyn Jones told conference Labour will scrap child burial fees in Wales.

Mr Corbyn, whose appearance at conference was delayed by an hour, said: "As any homeowner who has ever had a mortgage knows, taking on a huge debt can save you money in the long run.

"We should not be afraid of debt or borrowing.

"At the end of the Second World War the Labour government of Clement Attlee didn't say, oh dear, debt is 250% of GDP, let's park those grand ideas about public ownership, a national health service, building council homes, or creating the protection of social security.

"No, they built a country to be proud of. They established the institutions that made out country fairer, more equal, and stopped people being held back, because of the poverty of where they were born."

He urged the Conservatives to "stop dithering" and start investing.

Image caption Carwyn Jones and Jeremy Corbyn after Mr Corbyn's speech

The Labour Party leader said what Labour had achieved in Wales "stands as a beacon... that shines a light on the Tories abject failure, socially, economically and morally".

He reeled off a list of devolved policies for praise, telling delegates that Wales the only country in the UK to show an improvement in ambulance response times.

Mr Corbyn said Labour would build homes, make the minimum wage £10 an hour by 2020 and repeal the UK government Trade Union Act.

At the end of his speech, Mr Corbyn said: "It's quite simple - united we stand divided we fall.

"And united I believe this great party can do things together to achieve for the people that need Labour councils and, above all, need a Labour government and a society based on social justice and equality, not greed and inequality."

Mr Corbyn, however, slipped up by referring to Llandudno as being in Denbighshire when it is in the county of Conwy.

Image caption Carwyn Jones and the rest of the conference hall stood in silence at the start of the party conference

The conference opened on Saturday with a minute's silence following Wednesday's terror attack in Westminster.

Welsh Labour chair Donna Hutton said: "I know that all our thoughts are with the victims, their families, their friends and their colleagues."

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