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David Davies: Labour need a reality check in Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales

"Is it not extraordinary that when the Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside was asked a perfectly legitimate question about hunting, he sought to avoid answering it on the basis that it is not a devolved issue, and when the relevant Deputy Minister is given an opportunity to defend the Government's record on health, he starts talking about hunting?

"You do not have to read far into this document to see how detached from reality this Government has become when it talks about the health service that it has delivered.

"Rhodri Morgan yesterday asked for proof from the nay-sayers, those who suggest that the health service in Wales is poorer than that in England.

Here is the proof: a letter from Herefordshire Primary Care Trust. I will not read the whole letter, but one paragraph sums it all up. It says that English trusts are familiar with the requirements, but that significant difficulties continue to be experienced at some Welsh trusts, where the targets are 'different' and 'less conducive to timeous patient care'.

That is the civil service way of saying that patient waiting times in Wales are much longer than they are in Herefordshire. This letter is addressed to general practitioners, and it advises them not to allow their patients to have anything to do with Welsh hospitals because of the waiting list times.

Just in case the message has not got through, on the back is a waiver that you have to sign if you want to go skydiving or on zip line, as Helen Mary will do on Friday.

It states that the patient accepts that the waiting time for treatment may be longer than at a comparable English trust but that he or she wishes to be referred.

GPs and patients have to sign it, and it shows that the people suitable for treatment in the Welsh health service at present are high-risk adrenalin addicts rather than high-risk patients.

It is extraordinary that the Deputy Minister did not take the opportunity to try to defend his record.

We heard a slightly more sensible speech from Lorraine Barrett. I closed my eyes for a moment and imagined that she was a Conservative as she talked about the problems caused by out-of-control youths and the lack of any proper will within the justice system to deal with them.

She reminded us about the hypocrisy of the Liberal Democrats. We did not need to be reminded of their propensity to condemn things one minute and take credit for them when they work the next. That is run of the mill. However, she forgot to mention that these anti-social problems are common right across Wales.

I am currently dealing with a similar issue in Abergavenny. I met the police to discuss why it was so difficult to get evidence against the perpetrators of the misery that is keeping people awake until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. in Abergavenny town, and they told me that one of the biggest problems is that the Human Rights Act 1998, signed by your Government, makes it virtually impossible for the police to collect covert evidence against the wrongdoers in this case.

Therefore, yes, anti-social behaviour orders are a small step in the right direction, but the Human Rights Act 1998 that your Government signed puts more value on the human rights of the perpetrators of crime than on those of the victims.

This report did not mention the disgusting rates of council tax that have been directly imposed by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Each year, as we get eye-watering increases in council taxes, the Assembly Ministers and Government cast their nets of blame wider and wider like some sort of Spanish trawlerman, looking for someone else to blame.

They blame the local authorities, even though they are entirely dependent on the money that comes from the National Assembly in terms of setting their tax.

They blamed the Tories, and, even though the Conservative Government left office six years ago, they are starting to blame the Tories again in Monmouthshire on the basis that they introduced the council tax. Using this logic, they will be blaming David Lloyd George next for the pension deficit.

We all know that the Welsh Assembly Government has been responsible for imposing council tax rises of 135 per cent in Monmouthshire over the last five or six years, and it is outrageous.

I am grateful for the single piece of good news in this report, namely that this is the last report that we will see before a general election and before the people of Wales have the chance to cast their verdict on this overspending, high-taxing, bureaucratic, wasteful, anti-libertarian Government."

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