Today, led by Kirsty Williams, we proved that we can be responsible in opposition here in Wales just as we are being responsible in Government in London.
Welsh Assembly Budget
Last week, Labour lost a vote on its budget in Cardiff Bay. Back in May they missed out by a matter of only a few thousand votes on gaining an overall majority in the Assembly and instead came eye-wateringly short on 30 out of an Assembly of 60. So last week, the Welsh Conservatives, the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru joined together to tie the vote at 29-29 (Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer don't vote). With the tie, the Presiding Officer cast her vote for the status quo and the Labour budget fell by 29-30.
With this paralysis and the threat of another defeat against the Labour Government next week, there have been background discussions between all parties but particularly between Labour and the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru.
Welsh Pupil Premium
This afternoon, Kirsty Williams announced that an agreement has been made between Carwyn Jones' ruling group and the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
Kirsty says here on the Freedom Central website, she will lead her group of 5 to support the budget on December 6th having secured £32.04 million, of which £20 million is new money, for a Welsh pupil premium to reduce the impact of poverty on educational attainment. In addition, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have been able to agree an Economic Stimulus Package of £38.9 million to be spent on a range of measures to stimulate the economy and protect jobs.
The Pupil Premium was one of the Liberal Democrats' main election pledges in the 2010 General Election and it has been since rolled out across England. Now, thanks to the Welsh Liberal Democrats, it will be rolled out in Wales as well. More funding shall also support an economic stimulus package that will help boost the economy and protect jobs in what are extremely difficult times.
As Kirsty concludes:
A responsible opposition? Ed Milliband could well take a leaf out of Kirsty's book.
"The Welsh Liberal Democrats are a small group in the National Assembly, but our influence in the budget negotiations will have a big influence on children’s lives and will help give our economy a helping boost.
"It would have been easier politically to walk away, but the Welsh Liberal Democrats have instead worked with our political opponents to agree a budget for the good of Wales. We are proud that our influence will make a difference to children in Wales and provide a welcome boost to the economic recovery".