The constitutional future of Wales and Scotland is now a major issue. Little wonder: Wales is sick to death of rejecting selfish Tory values, election after election, yet still being forced to suffer right-wing policies imposed upon us by virtue of the Tory's London-veto. For it is not Wales which determines the policies that are administered by the Welsh Office and by the plethora of quangos which govern our country. Their remit is decided by London, and they are answerable to a Tory MP from Yorkshire who masquerades as a Secretary of State.
We need an elected Parliament in order to ensure policies implemented on the all-Wales level which corresponds to the needs of Wales, not London. We need priorities established in line with the values of the Welsh people. Simply, we need democracy.
Such an elected Welsh Parliament would take over full responsibility for education, housing, health care, jobs, agriculture, transport and environmental policy in Wales. We could then determine for ourselves what should be public policy in these areas, instead of having them thrust upon us by Tories in London. This Manifesto highlights the precise policies Plaid Cymru wants implemented in these and in other policy areas.
But in order to make a difference, a Welsh Parliament must have adequate powers. It must be able to make laws in these matters, laws appropriate 10 securing a socially just community in Wales. It must have adequate resources - the taxes raised in Wales must be channelled through a Welsh Treasury Department for this purpose. And it must be allowed to develop its own direct link with the European Union, where so many decisions are taken today which affect the vital interests of Welsh industry and agriculture. Not least it must secure from the EU as fair a deal for Wales as the Irish Government have succeeded in getting for Ireland. The Tories offer Wales nothing by way of national democracy. The Liberal Democrats (who used to support a proper Parliament for Wales) have sold out and back Labour's plans. The Labour Party, while offering Scotland a law-making Parliament, tax-varying powers and their own Prime Minister, offer Wales only a very limited Assembly. Such a body would be incapable of protecting Wales from the privatisation of education or the NHS by a future right-wing Tory Government in London.
Plaid Cymru is the only party which stands for a law-making Parliament for Wales with a voice in Europe. Plaid Cymru is the only party which insists that Wales shall not be treated as a second class nation compared to Scotland.
And if there is to be a referendum on constitutional reform. Plaid Cymru insists that the people of Wales be given a real choice, not a "Yes/No" option on an inadequate Assembly proposal. The options must include full self-government in Europe and an elected Parliament with full law-making powers. Opinion polls have shown consistently that the option most favoured by the Welsh electors is a law-making Parliament, as is in fact being offered to Scotland in their Referendum. It would be outrageous if the Referendum in Wales does not even have that most popular option on the ballot paper.
Plaid Cymru wants real powers for a Welsh Parliament in order to break free from the demoralising Tory policies propagated at Westminster. Our programme, described in this Manifesto, provides for:
A commitment to full employment: a fair level of income tax to pay for properly funded health and education: a rejection of nuclear weapons and the massive armaments budget: a re-linking of pensions with average earnings: a commitment to sustainable environmental policies: a programme to rejuvenate Welsh agriculture.
This is a radical political agenda in line with the values of the Welsh nation. Plaid Cymru is now the only party in Wales which offers such priorities. We invite the people of Wales to transform these aspirations into reality and build a fairer Wales for all its people.
This vision arises from our belief in the inherent sovereignty of the people of Wales. It is not the Crown nor Parliament that holds the inalienable right to govern Wales, but the people of Wales themselves. Our political philosophy is rooted in this fundamental challenge to the British state, our political programme of action is rooted in the needs of the people of Wales for social justice and a sustainable future.
To attain social justice and a sustainable economy, Wales needs self-government. We have set out a two stage constitutional process to secure this, which is set out in our paper 'A Democratic Wales in a United Europe'. There is an immediate necessity for an elected Parliament of Wales with legislative and fiscal powers - to take over those functions of government currently carried out by the Welsh Office and government quangos in Wales, together with those of the Home Office, Treasury, Department of National Heritage and aspects of industrial policy. Those matters not within the remit of this Phase I Parliament of Wales, would remain for the time being with the government at Westminster.
This Parliament would play an essential role in democratising Wales after years of abuse and Tory patronage of the political system. For the first time, the people of Wales would be able to make their own decisions regarding expenditure and priorities, rather than having alien policies foisted on us by unfriendly governments. Our central political programme of social justice and sustainability could start to be enacted. For example, Plaid Cymru's Parliament of Wales could:
Full self-government could follow this Phase I Parliament after a minimum period of five years. Plaid Cymru foresees the Parliament debating and deciding upon self-government. A constitution, including a Charter of Rights, would then be put for approval by all the people of Wales. A self-governing Wales could then take its place among the nations of Europe and the world with an independent place in the European Union, Commonwealth and United Nations.
This manifesto explains how Plaid Cymru would act in a Parliament of Wales. In it, we set out our programme of action for both our Phase I Parliament, as well as our aims for a fully self-governing Wales.
As a party whose aim is self-government we have inevitably developed policies for that government to implement. This does not mean, however, that we have not been concerned with the current system of Westminster government or local government. The appalling lack of regard given to Welsh needs in that system, and the failure in particular of the British Labour Party in Wales to formulate policies to address those needs, has meant that Plaid Cymru has become the foremost campaigning party in Wales.
Our record in Welsh local government and the stature of our Members of Parliament speaks for itself. This manifesto contains much that our MPs will continue to fight for at Westminster, as well as practical ideas that our members, councillors and MPs will seek to realise here in Wales.
The principles of Plaid Cymru
Our principles do not arise from a history of imperialist exploitation of other nations, nor from any Welsh tradition of conquest and domination of other peoples. Rather our civic nationalism is rooted in a deep respect for the rights of peoples to self-determination, in a love of our heritage and environment, and in a profound appreciation of the fragile planet on which we live.
The twentieth century has seen many horrors perpetrated in the name of political creeds. Soviet Russia killed many and blighted the lives of generations in the name of socialism and we have experienced many conflicts in the name of nationalism. Our current crisis of environmental degradation is similarly the fruit of unbridled capitalism. Plaid Cymru's civic nationalism rejects all such perversions of political belief. We gain our inspiration from the experiences of the communities of Wales, which survived long years of oppression, neglect and scorn.
Once, our nation was a seed bed for radical and socialist thought in response to the cruel social consequences of the industrial revolution. Now, Wales faces severe social and environmental challenges and is once more a home to radical ideas. Our civic nationalism welcomes all those living in Wales to join us in finding the solutions to those challenges and in restoring the equilibrium of social justice and environmental sustainability in Wales and Europe.
We do not seek to impose our views on other nations, nor to control their economic futures. We simply assert, peacefully and by democratic means, the right of the people in Wales to shape their own destiny. We do this in the full knowledge that the peoples of Europe must live in co-operation and peace. We, foremost among all the political parties in Wales, welcome the European Union as an opportunity to create such a Europe.
Within Wales we work on the principle of co-operation, drawing up our policies on the basis that many organisations, voluntary, statutory and private, may have similar ideals to ours. We welcome such co-operation as being in the tradition of Welsh community self-help and as one way of enabling our communities to gain the tools to set about solving their own problems.
Our self-governing Wales will be an open, democratic, just and equal society, drawing upon our radical and socialist traditions. The citizenship of such a nation will be open, extended to all either born or living in Wales. Plaid Cymru will therefore always be in the vanguard of the fight against racism, oppression, injustice and discrimination wherever it may occur.
Only Plaid Cymru has the record of consistently challenging the historical forgery that is the British state and of projecting a vision that reunites Wales with its European destiny. The constitutional imbalance in the United Kingdom and the democratic deficit in Wales is one of the core reasons for the relative failure of Wales, in comparison with similar European nations or regions, to deal with the transformation from a heavily industrialised economy to one which is more diverse and skills-based.
This fact was brought home in 1995 by the Republic of Ireland's success in achieving a greater income per head than Wales for the first time. Now that nation has overtaken the UK. Our constitutional relationship with Europe, via a Westminster government which is skewed towards the priorities of the south-east of England, has thwarted a full transformation of our economy. In particular, it has stood between Welsh needs and the structural and regional funds of the EU. As when, for example, parts of north Wales lost Objective 2 status in order that areas of the south-east of England would gain.
The constitution of the UK, once regarded by the London-based media as a field of esoteric academic debate, has now become the subject of intense argument. Plaid Cymru's standpoint has been vindicated. The expanding role and membership of the European Union: the demands of a peace process in Northern Ireland, and trenchant campaigning by Plaid Cymru, and the SNP in Scotland, have guaranteed that constitutional change will be at the forefront of political debate. For the first time, the people of England are also realising that many of the Government's failures stem from constitutional inadequacies. Sleaze and corruption thrive in an atmosphere of political patronage. A parlous Tory government forces through unacceptable policies which feed off xenophobia and social alienation because its power base cannot represent the whole of the UK. New Labour may recognise the problems but offers different solutions to different electorates in a fudge between principle and a craven desperation for those same Tory votes.
In fact, the demands of political and monetary union in the EU force a decision between the small union - the UK - and the larger union - the EU. Most of the larger member states of the EU, but not the UK, have federal structures. Plaid Cymru's vision of a Europe of the regions has won the intellectual argument. The choice is between a united Europe based one quality of opportunity and sustainable development or isolation within an English isolationist state.
The reality of this choice is highlighted by the success of regions within economic unions such as the EU, South China, South East Asia, the Pacific Rim and California. Some of these successful economies, with highly educated work forces but poor social protection, offer threats and lessons for the European Union. They suggest that the future will belong to strong economic unions based on regional democracies.
Constitutional change is in the wind, but Plaid Cymru rejects tinkering with the present system. In this manifesto, we are proud to draw on the radical and socialist traditions that have characterised Welsh political thought and development for a century. We offer a set of wholly practical proposals that would rebuild our nation and reaffirm our national and international aspirations.
Upon the establishment of a Parliament of Wales, Plaid Cymru would campaign to become the majority party. The proposals in this manifesto are those we would wish to see such a Parliament carry out for the benefit of Wales and its people. It is on the basis of such a programme that we feel confident the people of Wales would resolve to move forward to full self-government, and we here describe our vision of how such a Wales would relate to Europe and the world.
Our commitment to local democracy and empowerment of local communities means that many of the proposals in this manifesto will be delivered by local authorities. Others will be the remit of a Parliament of Wales. The following section sets out how the partnership between the Parliament of Wales and local government will work in practice. References hereafter to the Parliament of Wales are to Plaid Cymru's Phase I Parliament. References to a self-governing Wales are to the Phase II Parliament and Constitution which would follow a referendum on self government. The processes are set out in our policy document 'A Democratic Wales in a United Europe.'
At every level and for every aspect of Welsh life, Plaid Cymru believes that the principle of subsidiarity should prevail. This means that decisions affecting the lives of citizens should be taken whenever possible by the citizens through their nearest democratic body. Indeed, in our view sovereignty rests with the citizens and is only vested with local, national and international government in so far as is necessary to achieve effective government at every level. We therefore foresee a greatly enhanced role for community councils and want to restore to local authorities responsibility and fiscal control for their area.
Plaid Cymru's plans are for a two-chamber Parliament of Wales, the lower chamber (House of Representatives) to be the legislative house directly elected by the electorate by proportional representation and the upper chamber (Congress of Wales) to be chosen by the local authorities of Wales. Both chambers would have equal numbers of men and women members. We will develop innovative ways of ensuring that the Parliament is open, accessible and fully accountable. These include:
A fully self-governing Wales would, in addition, have a written constitution and a Bill of Rights. It would seek direct membership of the European Council of Ministers and its own European Commissioner.
Citizenship and a Bill of Rights
To secure the rights of all our citizens, we propose a comprehensive Bill of Rights to give effect to our belief that sovereignty and power rests with the people and is only given up to allow effective government. Among the provisions of our Bill of Rights, are:
Plaid Cymru has long advocated unitary local authorities for Wales. Though the decision on the size and location of such authorities should have been left to a Parliament of Wales, the imposition of unitary authorities by the Welsh Office does not in itself undermine their intrinsic value. Our task will be to make local government work for the people and our communities. To achieve this, it is essential that local government is genuinely local and fully accountable.
Local government must be delivered in partnership with the Parliament of Wales. Subsidiarity means that both will become equal partners in the governing of our nation. The most important area in which they should have equality is the annual financial settlement. Instead of the present imposition without explanation by the Welsh Office, a consensus would be reached on the settlement, with the reasoning for it made public. This measure would give both rights and responsibilities to both arms of government and make them more accountable.
We will work within a Parliament to establish community councils in every area of Wales. These councils will have a greater consultative role as of right; will act as local watchdogs for a wide range of local services, for example by having the right to cross-examine local public servants on their decisions, and the right to initiate and run services and facilities for their area. Community councils already have a greater role in consultation on planning matters due to Plaid Cymru pressure at Westminster.
Unitary authorities would have a general competence in statute. They would work under the strategic guidance of the Parliament but would have considerable freedom to set their own objectives and seek innovative ways of working to benefit their local communities.
For example, local government and the Parliament of Wales would:
Local authority funding
Local democracy means little without local financial responsibility. Plaid Cymru is committed to restoring local control over council revenue and expenditure. The plethora of legislative changes in this area under Conservative government has done nothing to make local government more accountable and has only led to less local decision-making and more central government control.
Our Parliament would:
Compulsory Competitive Tendering(CCT)
Plaid Cymru believes strongly that many local services benefit from being put out to competitive tendering. Service which are both better in quality and more efficient can be achieved in this way. However, we reject compulsory competitive tendering as a dogma which takes no account of local circumstances nor the local economy.
Compulsory competitive tendering has tended to remove local services from local control and benefit. This means profits are often retained by a private company and not returned to the local tax payer. Any losses in the service tendered, however, are still met by the local tax payer. The small savings in costs sometimes achieved have not been shown to outweigh the loss of local accountability.
Plaid Cymru will restore to local government the ability to decide upon the best way to deliver their local services, whether by direct provision or tendering. Tendering, if it does take place, will be open and in line with European directives. The best judge of whether a local authority is effective and efficient in its services is the local ballot box, and not a remote minister who has no interest in the area.
For almost an entire generation, Wales has been governed by a British Conservative government that has given scant regard to the social havoc its policies have wreaked. Plaid Cymru views the social alienation and injustice resulting from these policies with concern mixed with an admiration for the way many communities have continued to endure, to meet and beat the challenges of socio-economic change, and to strive to build a better future.
Though our communities have been fragmented, and many people excluded from working life, Plaid Cymru believes that Welsh communities still wish to have the tools to tackle their problems themselves. Our social policies will seek to achieve this, and to give an opportunity for those alienated from the political process to contribute to the future of Wales and shape it. There is no place in our vision for prejudice, discrimination, oppression or grinding poverty.
Plaid Cymru's policies in government would be aimed at combating directly discrimination and prejudice and the oppression and poverty that follow in their wake.
We would combat discrimination and prejudice by:
Our Parliament would introduce the following legislation to support these aims.
We would combat oppression and poverty by:
Our Parliament of Wales would:
Plaid Cymru in a self-governing Wales will:
For many years, Wales has been the test bed for some of the British Tories' wackier social housing ideas. Attacks by Ministers on single mothers in Wales led to the Government attacking the right of single parent families to secure accommodation. Now, local councils are being forced to cope with putting the management of their housing stock to competitive tender just a few months after being completely reorganised.
The worst aspect of the UK Government's housing policies in Wales has been the way ideology has directly taken resources away from need and towards favoured groups. The failure to establish any national housing strategy led to outside market forces distorting the Welsh housing market, placing homes out of the reach of local people. The late 1980s housing price boom encouraged inward and outward migration motivated by financial gain rather than social or economic need. This has left a trail of individual despair as boom turned to bust and investment in bricks and mortar turned to negative equity. The boom highlighted the current ineffective way that public money is directed to housing need.
An over-reliance on housing as a tool of economic regeneration has created new estates of private housing, far removed from traditional community amenities and dependent totally on private transport for communication. The effect on these estates of the recession, negative equity and an ageing population is to render them remote from community life. This isolates the rising generation from sharing community activity and benefiting from it. The result is increased boredom, crime and anti-social behaviour, fed by unemployment to a certain extent, but in particular by this exclusion.
At the same time, traditional communities have seen their housing stock deteriorate. Though large amounts of home renovation grants have been made available, they have been inadequate and have not been allied to a national housing strategy based on a continual survey of housing needs. The result is that the system has been open to both corruption and also exploitation by individuals.
Plaid Cymru will introduce a national housing strategy aimed at making effective use of land and designed to preserve town and village life. This means reinvigorating our communities through a new balance between housing and social priorities, including community facilities such as transport, shopping and amenities.
We will continue to support home renovation grants, but will call for a review to:
Council-owned housing still constitutes 17 per cent of Wales housing stock. On the other hand, we have a higher proportion of home-owners than England. Our policies focus on encouraging permanent housing for families and individuals and on decreasing the threat of homelessness for home owners and private tenants.
We continue to see a valuable role for both directly provided council housing and homes built and managed in partnership with housing associations. Our philosophy is to allow local authorities to act with the greatest possible competence within their areas. We reject compulsory competitive tendering for housing management and would instead encourage local authorities to involve tenants in management of their homes and enter into voluntary management agreements with tenants, housing associations and non-profit making concerns as they see fit.
Changes in work and family patterns and the growth of homelessness, in particular amongst young, single people mean that Wales needs a wider choice of accommodation. Plaid Cymru rejects the unhealthy obsession with home ownership as a social ideal which UK Governments have fostered, whilst recognising its appeal for many individuals and families. We believe that the private rented sector has an important role, but with proper controls regarding health and safety. Local authorities will be empowered to form local housing strategies and encouraged to inspect all rented properties in their area.
We would extend the use of Care and Repair schemes to maintain decent quality housing and healthy communities in our existing towns and villages. We would give priority to making public money available to housing associations and local authorities to buy and improve older stock for rent. This would also reduce the need for greenmailed sites.
Our Parliament would:
A self-governing Wales could furthermore:
A Learning Society
The economic and social changes wrought during Tory rule in Wales have been imposed entirely without either thought to the social injustice engendered nor to providing the tools to enable individuals to deal with those changes. One of the major means of dealing with injustice will be an education system for Wales, with Welsh priorities and our own sense of values.
In order to cope with a society that is constantly changing, we need an education system which creates a learning society based on strong cultural and social roots and citizenship. Its aim should be to educate for life, thus producing a skilled and adaptable workforce which would create a climate of social solidarity, encourage equal opportunities and maximise the opportunities to use skills for work.
Plaid Cymru has set out its plans for a distinctive comprehensive education system for Wales. Such a system would be national and have a pragmatic implementation plan for every level of education. Our aims are to:
Our Parliament would fulfil these aims by:
To ensure the education system can achieve these aims, we recognise that it will need greater support. In particular Plaid Cymru will
One of the most damaging effects of many of the Conservatives policies has been the way they have undermined respect for teachers in general. A series of deliberately engineered disputes over pay, testing and extra-curricular working has led to a decline in respect for teachers in society. This has been exacerbated by a lack of support for teachers assaulted at school and poor back-up for teachers dealing with difficult pupils. We would restore a proper level of respect and sufficient funding: better co-ordination with social work departments on problem pupils and by tackling poor teachers where they exist.
Wales has a proud record in education and respect for education. In particular, local authorities have supported nursery education whenever possible.
There is no reason to take schools out of local authority control in Wales. Plaid Cymru opposes schools opting out of the national system but rather supports a continuing role for governors and local management within that national system.
The tremendous formative importance of early years education should be recognised. This means that nursery education must be available to all 3-5 year olds in Wales. This would have to be phased in. The voluntary sector in Wales has played an important role in the growth of nursery education, notably in the Welsh language. It is not Plaid Cymru's aim to see that work usurped by statutory bodies. Rather, voluntary and public bodies need to work in tandem to achieve universal nursery education in accordance with an implementation plan set down by a Parliament of Wales. Voluntary organisations would be part of the planning process to formulate that plan.
Vouchers for nursery education would have no part in our national strategy. They take resources away from local authorities who already provide nursery places and dissipate them between statutory, voluntary and private facilities. The costs of administration and fraud must also be considered. This means that local authorities cannot plan future provision as demand is based on individual decisions that can vary from term to term.
Primary and Secondary Education
Primary and secondary education would be delivered within a new independent educational framework under a Parliament of Wales. That framework would set out to achieve:
Plaid Cymru would not insist on publishing test results, believing that the best tests are those that address an individual child's needs and not a school's image. Our vision of an independent education system for Wales excludes the competition between schools which feeds upon tests.
Special Educational Needs
Despite the changes which took place in the wake of the new Code of Practice (part of the Education Act 1994) parents of children with special educational needs are far too often obliged to fight for sufficient provision.
Some local authorities seek to avoid their responsibilities in order to save money by delaying the process of issuing Statements of Special Needs, forcing parents to go to appeal, and sometimes ending provision without the parents' agreement.
Plaid Cymru wishes to see the terms of the Code of Practice tightened to prevent this, and further calls for statements to define the extent of provision required for individual children.
We also call for:
Around 20 per cent of pupils have special needs, and ensuring provision for them is a sensible investment as well as a moral imperative.
The status of those teachers and units which care for emotionally and behaviourally disturbed (EBD) children must be enhanced. Curricular requirements should be implemented in a flexible way in order to meet the therapeutic needs of these pupils. Sufficient resources should be allocated to this task and special schools or units provided as well as enabling emotionally and behaviourally disturbed children to be reintegrated into the main educational stream.
Tertiary and Higher Education
There needs to be greater co-ordination between the tertiary and higher education sectors. This would include an integrated system of examination which combined academic and vocational qualifications on a modular basis. For the present, the role of the Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) in Wales needs to be supported in the face of an increasing use of English examination boards to examine Welsh pupils.
Welsh research needs are grossly underfunded at present. There is a clear lack of strategy and planning which leaves Wales behind when compared with England. This would have to be addressed by a Parliament. Research and teaching need to be more clearly integrated so that each can benefit more clearly from the other.
Plaid Cymru rejects the present system of student loans as a farcical attempt to transfer public sector expenditure into private debt. The desperate attempts to privatise the loans service underlines this. There is currently a discrepancy in the grant system between further and higher education institutions which our examination proposals would render invalid. Plaid Cymru continues to believe in full public financing of further education.
A Healthier Society
As both the Labour and Conservative parties question the need for a universal health service and look towards cutting health provision to deliver tax cuts for middle class, middle income England. Plaid Cymru is proud to restate its commitment to a National Health Service in line with Aneurin Bevan's original vision. Our aim is a high quality, community-centred, community-driven and adequately funded health service which would be free at the point of need. This would build upon the traditional strengths of the natural social justice of the people of Wales.
We have set out detailed proposals as to how this can be achieved in our White Paper on Health. We will in the interim work for the democratisation of the health service. The present obsession with introducing the exchange and mart of the market into health care does nothing to increase patients' care and only serves to dissuade the less well off from making full use of preventative health care, such as dental and eye treatment.
For several years now, many parts of Wales have been suffering from a crisis in dental care as the Government's policies have driven dentists out of the NHS and left patients without access to NHS dental treatment. Plaid Cymru gained a commitment from the Welsh Office for nearly £3 million of extra resources to attract new NHS dentists into Wales. This was a victory for Plaid Cymru and an admission by the Welsh Office of the failure of the market in the NHS.
At the heart of our vision of a universal health service is the community GP, backed up by a network of extended community hospitals. The service would be fully salaried and free of the bureaucratic millstone of the market and its trade offs. A salaried health service means that GPs, Consultants, Dentists, Pharmacists and Opticians would all be directly employed by the NHS. The community hospitals would house a broad range of community services, day surgery and emergency primary care treatment centres (for out-of-hours GP work). These provisions would mean the abolition of both NHS Trusts and GP fundholding, in order to create a service of equal availability.
We also envisage free dental and eye treatment and the abolition of prescription charges. Drugs would be prescribed from a community formulary of 500 - 600 drugs which would remove the interminable duplication in the present system. Plaid Cymru is the only party to stand for the abolition of prescription charges and our proposals for a community formulary show how it could be accomplished.
Our health service would work with schools and communities to promote a healthier lifestyle, such as good diet and exercise. Alternative therapies would be respected, as would other cultures' treatment regimes. Other proposals in this manifesto for a more efficient public transport system and better pollution controls will also benefit public health.
The present Government allows its paymasters in the drinks industry to influence its health promotion targets. In contrast, Plaid Cymru calls for the banning of all tobacco and alcohol advertising.
Our Parliament would:
All too often, governments introduce environmental policies to dean up the mess of inadequate or badly managed industrial policies, and likewise social and criminal justice policies to mop up the social mess that economic policies have wreaked. Thus support is given to non fossil fuel energy generation, to control the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, while at the same time finance for insulation grants is cut and privatised energy utilities make their huge profits on the back of unthinking energy use.
Plaid Cymru believes that the environmental and social degradation that we see in our communities at present are inextricably linked, and that the key to future solutions is to develop both our economy and our society on sustainable grounds. Our proposals for job creation, training, agriculture, transport, the environment, criminal justice and our quality of life are all based on this premise. Our aim is to move towards a more sustainable economy that integrates both environmental and social concerns. This would entail the use of alternative economic indicators that measure according to social and environmental criteria as well as financial ones.
Only a self-governing Wales can achieve this, in co-operation with our European partners and world wide strategies, such as Agenda 21. But much can be done before we secure our goal of self government. Our proposals are pragmatic and realistic and will find great support among the people of Wales. They include:
We need to restore pride, citizenship and a sense of purpose to our communities. We can only do this by providing jobs, a clean environment and a purposeful way of life for all our citizens.
Wales has painfully shed its reliance on heavy industry over the past generation. Just as painful has been the loss of agricultural jobs. Though continued dependence on heavy industry could not be sustained, the social and economic costs for Wales have been enormous. Just 30% of the population over 16 years of age is in full-time work and 56,900 people are registered unemployed. To this can be added probably another 60,000 people who have "dropped off" the official register in the course of its scores of adjustments.
Any Parliament of Wales would want to tackle this social misery and should have the tools to do so. Indeed, the ability to attack the root causes of unemployment in Wales will be one of the touchstones by which to judge the British Labour Party's proposals for a Welsh Assembly. A target of creating 100,000 jobs should be the primary policy of a Welsh government. It is certainly Plaid Cymru's.
Our proposals for sustainable full employment, together with the costings for the programme, have been set out in a 1995 Plaid Cymru policy paper. '100,000 answers ... to conquer unemployment in Wales'. Plaid Cymru favours supporting the enterprise and business sector of the economy to maximise employment opportunities. However where the private sector fails, the Government must be prepared to fill the gap, not only by compensating people for being jobless, but by providing the means to create employment.
The basic principle underpinning this approach is a willingness to increase public expenditure, partly by increasing the level of taxation and partly by borrowing in order to create the capital projects that will encourage private investment. Plaid Cymru is not afraid to advocate this approach, nor to contend that the social costs of unemployment, especially when undertaken as part of the restructuring of our economy, should be borne by the whole community and not just the already victimised unemployed.
This new thinking reflects a need to make our tax system more environmentally beneficial, with a shift to taxes raised from pollution and the use of non renewable natural resources. Indeed, such approaches are essential to move our economy away from the present concern for short-term investment and towards more long-term planning and investment both by public and private organisations.
This is particularly true when it is remembered that there is work to be done in our communities: safeguarding and improving the environment: improving public transport: better community care: combating crime and vandalism: investment in new technology such as a national fibre-optic cable network. These are all crying needs for which the present Government's solution is let the market deal with it. It's an attitude that has signally failed Wales and its people. In comparison, Plaid Cymru advocates reintegrating the industrially and socially disenfranchised and promoting non-inflationary and sustainable growth.
Our Parliament would create 80,000 jobs directly, which with their spin-off effect will lead to 100,00 new job opportunities through:
This ambitious, but practical, programme could only be undertaken by a Parliament of Wales with legislative and fiscal powers. To ensure its success Plaid Cymru envisages:
This programme has wide-ranging implications for all our social, economic and environmental proposals, which is why we are pleased to give it pride of place on our agenda for a Parliament of Wales.
Central to our vision of a new sustainable economy is an attractive and cost-effective public transport system, backed up by an integrated transport infrastructure. Only when such an infrastructure is working effectively can the necessary steps be taken to wean us off dependence on private car use for many journeys. This is particularly true for rural areas, where - for better and for worse - the car has become a social adhesive that allows communities to survive.
Our Parliament would:
Agriculture is the most important of all industries, not just for Wales but for the increasing world population. We believe that a thriving agricultural industry is essential both for Welsh needs and in order for Wales to contribute its share to the world's needs. Plaid Cymru's policies for agriculture are therefore based on the themes of prosperity, sustainability and responsibility.
During the last twelve months, Welsh agriculture has faced one of the biggest threats to its survival in recent times. The BSE crisis has led to a lack of confidence in the beef sector, plummeting prices and caused damage to the rural economy. Plaid Cymru MPs fought hard to defend the interests of the agricultural community, but the need for a strong direct voice in Brussels became clearer than ever before. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was inept at handling the negotiations in Europe, and the Secretary of State for Wales was notable by his absence in meetings of the Council of Ministers.
A Welsh Parliament would give us a direct voice and influence where it really matters.
We recognise that agriculture and its allied industries form the backbone of the rural economy. A profitable agricultural sector provides the security that allows rural communities to flourish. It is the family farm that Plaid Cymru sees as maintaining this vital link between agriculture and the rural community. To this end, we must develop an industry that is vibrant and fresh and allows youngsters the opportunity to enter farming. Plaid Cymru proposes an Initiative for New Farmers, including:
Agriculture is not the sole income generator in the rural economy. Many farmers diversify, working as contractors, supplying tourist facilities or holding down other jobs. This needs to be integrated in a holistic rural policy.
Agricultural policy is now almost wholly dealt with at a European level with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Each and every time that policy is debated or open to change, it is the Minister for Agriculture who bears no responsibility for agriculture in Wales, who is presumed to argue the case for Welsh farmers. The choice for rural areas could not be starker: to continue to be marginalised by the CAP because Welsh needs are never debated, or to campaign for a self-governing Wales which could forge direct alliances within the CAP with other regions and governments to benefit Welsh farmers.
A Parliament of Wales would:
A self-governing Wales could:
Plaid Cymru believes that the farmers of Wales are in a prime position to take advantage of the increasing move towards sustainability in world agricultural policy. It is essential that the voice of Wales is heard during the ongoing reforms of the CAP. In particular, agricultural support should be decoupled from production and geared towards agri-environmental schemes as part of CAP reform. This is a long term process which carries a short term cost. It can only be achieved by direct payments which maintain a consistent income level for farmers
A new deal for rural responsibility is required to unite in common purpose the traditions of the countryside communities and the aspirations of the urban population. Many urban citizens, alienated by a money-dominated and valueless culture are turning to rural areas for new certainties. These rural areas, however, are under precisely the same dehumanising pressures as the urban areas. The result is a clash of expectations, fears and hopes.
All of us have a responsibility towards the care and welfare of the animals bred to produce the food we eat. Plaid Cymru advocates that animals shun Id be slaughtered as near as possible to the area of production. This would also encourage local processing industries which would both substantially reduce the need to export livestock for food and create local employment.
The countryside is a resource to be shared by all. Responsible access to it should be encouraged for the benefit of all.
Our Parliament of Wales would:
Protection of wild species
Cur Parliament would furthermore:
Energy use and the environment
Our belief in a sustainable economy and in encouraging local communities to set their own agenda for the future is a powerful tool for a better and cleaner environment. Though environmental sustainability underpins all our policies, we must address particular needs, some of which arise from our industrial and less environmentally-conscious past, and some of which are future threats.
A root cause of both present and potential threats is our over-use of energy. We live in energy-profligate homes, heated to excess, and ride in cubes of steel to fetch a pint of milk from the corner shop. Is it any wonder our planet is groaning under the weight of our detritus and giving up its last resources at even greater social and environmental cost?
The latest report from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms that greenhouse warming is indeed occurring and a substantial cut in the burning of fossil fuels - coal, oil, gas - is urgent. Nuclear energy is now a broken dream. The only safe way forward is to reduce the demand for energy and develop the use of renewables.
Plaid Cymru has challenged the UK Government to cut existing use of electricity by 33% by 2005. This is a realistic target if:
Energy use will be further reduced by developing a fibre-optic network in Wales, increasing access points within communities to the Internet, videolinks and other new communication tools, and our plans for an integrated public transport system. These measures should reduce private car use.
Dependence on fossil fuel burning for energy generation will diminish as more alternative energy schemes come on stream. Plaid Cymru's commitment to wind energy, sometimes in the teeth of fierce opposition, has been fully vindicated by the IPCC's findings. Wales is now developing its wind resources at about the level we advocated and is on line to produce about 10% of our energy needs from this source. Our task is now to ensure local benefits from wind generation in the form of a state-of-the-art export industry. We also need a national strategy for wind energy which clearly identifies those environmentally sensitive locations for which current wind farms would not be suitable.
Plaid Cymru will support pilot schemes for hydro-electric generation on both watercourses and tidal barrages, where ever environmentally sustainable.
The final closure of Trawsfynydd nuclear power station make seven more urgent the task of developing an environmentally safe method of fully dismantling this, and other, stations. This desperate need should be used positively to provide an indigenous, high-tech research project in Wales which could lead the world. There are hundreds of nuclear plants worldwide in dire need of safe decommissioning.
New opencast coal-mining schemes should be resisted on both local and global environmental grounds and the burning of a filthy fossil fuel - orimulsion - has no role to play in our energy generation plans.
Our Parliament of Wales would:
The local environment
Any action by a Parliament of Wales must be supported at a local level. Plaid Cymru-led council's have been at the forefront of good environmental practices and will continue to lead the way. Local Agenda 21 provides a framework to promote good practice and create local partnerships. Our objectives for local action include:
A self-governing Wales would take responsibility for water quality in our rivers, streams, seas and that which comes out of our taps. Plaid Cymru restates its intention to renationalise the water industry in Wales. Cleaning-up our beaches and coastlines, improving our sewerage systems, and ensuring the best quality water to our houses, with minimum waste, can only be deferred as long as water remains a resource to be exploited for directors' remuneration and share-holders' profits.
Improving the quality of life for our communities
We are fortunate in Wales to be the proud inheritors of two linguistic traditions, Welsh and English, and two cultural experiences, the urban and rural. These have formed a matrix that has enriched our national life. This process continues as other communities become established in Wales and take an increasing role in our national life. They also place us at the centre of European experience, which is mostly bi- or multi-lingual.
Plaid Cymru's policies for heritage, tourism, arts, leisure and children's play are all designed to build upon these experiences and to enable local communities and individuals to express themselves through their chosen medium.
The Welsh Language
Plaid Cymru believes the present Welsh Language Act to be inadequate.
Our Parliament would pass a new Act that:
Broadcasting and communication
Plaid Cymru will defend strongly the principle of public service broadcasting. Our Bill of Rights demands that broadcasting should portray positive images and give a right of reply to individuals. We will also seek to reduce the glamorisation of violence and crime on television. The present system of bidding for independent television franchises can only be seen to have driven standards down. Bidding for independent radio in Wales should take account of community needs, including the Welsh language, as well as financial and broadcasting standards.
Plaid Cymru resisted the threat to downgrade S4C and fought for a proper provision of digital strands in Wales. We will ensure in a Parliament of Wales that high quality Welsh language programmes continue to be broadcast during peak hours. We will also establish a similar comprehensive service in English originating in Wales and produced for Wales and an independent broadcasting infrastructure for the country as a whole.
As stated in our job creation and environmental policies, we see great social potential for Wales to take advantage of the most modern methods of communication, such as fibre-optics. A Parliament of Wales would ensure that rural areas did not miss out on these developments. We foresee community facilities, such as schools, libraries and surgeries, as providing a focus for such communications and would encourage their use by the community as a whole.
Leisure and children's play
With the complex changes in family life, working patterns and enforced recreation, whether by unemployment, ill health or early retirement, our needs are very different from a generation ago. We have also come to learn of the value of providing safe, interactive play areas for children which allow them to develop social skills and begin an active and healthy life.
Access to purposeful and fulfilling leisure, including both sports and arts activities, is an important weapon in combating youth crime and stress in society.
Plaid Cymru will advocate the following principles:
Our Parliament of Wales would:
Plaid Cymru believes that access and involvement in arts activities by a wide range of the population is an essential characteristic of a civilised society. This means that any arts policy should be directed towards making the arts physically and financially accessible. We see local authorities playing the crucial role in delivering such an arts policy, under the strategic direction of a revamped Arts Council of Wales, which would be answerable to, but independent of, the Parliament of Wales.
Each local authority would be required to prepare an arts strategy for its area. This should include arts promotion in schools and public life, arts sponsorship, for local arts groups and individuals, and equality of opportunity. As well as overseeing a national strategy for arts venues, activities and artists of national or regional importance, the Arts Council would be charged with the promotion and sponsorship of pioneering and innovative arts initiatives and international links.
The Welsh Books Council would be enabled to take a more active role in the promotion of English language books of Wales and its relationship with local authorities and the Arts Council made inure transparent in order to avoid any possible duplication.
As well as its cultural inheritance, Wales is fortunate to have a built environment of international renown. Prehistoric remains, Iron Age forts and settlements, Roman remains, native and Edwardian castles, mediaeval monasteries, early industrial development and more modern buildings have all been preserved for the present generation. While the tourist potential of much of this heritage has been realised, the interpretation and promotion of these sites to those living and working in Wales has not been as well achieved. In particular, the heritage of Wales needs to be better incorporated into our National Curriculum.
Wales also has a number of private and public museums, whose origins vary from those established for public education and those established as tourist attractions. Increasingly the once clear boundary between the two is becoming blurred. Visiting museums and heritage sites is now a leisure activity for those seeking new experiences and sensations as well as having a traditional educational role for those wishing to experience a sense of Welsh history. Many new establishments combine the two successfully.
Plaid Cymru does not believe that publicly-funded or nationally-owned museums or heritage sites should be subject to an admission charge. Such a charge is a tax on our national heritage. Our Parliament would freeze such charges in the first instance and draw up a financial strategy for abolishing all such charges in time.
The need for co-ordination between tourism, education and heritage means that Plaid Cymru's Parliament will include a Minister for Heritage.
Tourism makes a significant contribution to the economy of Wales, constituting around 9% of all jobs. Plaid Cymru believes that tourism will continue to be an important generator of economic activity, but tourist development must be sustainable. This means development which meets the needs of present tourists whilst protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future. To attain this goal, we must ensure tourism in Wales develops hand in hand with natural and community assets. This will entail the protection and promotion of both our built and natural environment, and developing local facilities in tune with local community needs.
Tourism in Wales must be maintained and developed under a national strategic umbrella, such as that provided by the Wales Tourist Board. Such a strategy must recognise, however, that the delivery of individual tourist facilities and ventures is in the hands of a myriad of agencies, local authorities and private operations. There is a clear need for more regional tourist planning following local government reorganisation, and community interests should be brought into the planning process of the Wales Tourist Board.
Wales has received considerable European funding for tourism projects, as well as associated environmental and infrastructure funding which has assisted tourism as an economic activity. There is room for improvement at the European level, however, to enable a better use of regional funds to promote tourism within the wider aim of a Europe of cultural diversity, environmental sustainability and community-controlled development.
To further these aims, Plaid Cymru advocates that:
Plaid Cymru recognises that the voluntary sector in Wales forms an essential third sector of our economy, equivalent to 6% of GDP, and that it has a great potential to enrich the quality of many lives, both volunteers and those who use their services.
Our Parliament of Wales would:
Crime and the community
Plaid Cymru's proposals for a self-governing Wales include an independent judiciary for Wales, together with a written Constitution and a Bill of Rights.
There are two approaches to crime prevention. One is to make crimes more difficult to commit or get away with. Measures may include camera surveillance, property marking or security guards. The other is to target potential offenders by reducing the risk factors known to be associated with crime, such as poor parenting and schooling. Those factors which need to be reduced include the depiction of violence and crime on the broadcast media.
Plaid Cymru believes that both approaches should be used in a combination of measures in our Parliament of Wales:
Plaid Cymru has supported a total ban on handguns and advocates fair compensation for both owners and businesses. International action needs to be taken, co-ordinated by the EU, to control the flow of illegal arms from eastern Europe in particular. The public needs to be ensured that there are adequate safety procedures for those guns permitted to be kept at a private location (e.g. shotguns at farms).
The reasons for the abuse of both legal and illegal drugs are complex, but they are certainly related to those factors that create social alienation and disenfranchisement. Plaid Cymru is concerned that left unchecked these factors - and the abuse that comes in their wake - could fragment many of our communities, making our task of building the new Wales even more difficult.
The current problem is one of misuse of all types of drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. Plaid Cymru is concerned that there should be an open and constructive debate about drug abuse and in particular advocates:
Most young offenders will leave their criminal past behind. To facilitate this, most are best dealt with by sentences of supervision within their own communities. It is of particular importance that young offenders in Wales receive their education and rehabilitation in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner. Ringfenced funding must be made available to enable local authorities to provide such accommodation to allow the young person to keep in contact with her or his community. It is essential that real effort is put into rehabilitation and giving them a purposeful role in the community. The aim should be to support young offenders in their efforts to reintegrate.
Ultimately, our proposals for job creation, education and training, together with efforts to include young people in real decision-making, will prove the most effective method of reducing crime in the long term.
Plaid Cymru would wish to see the expansion of community service orders, and other community sentences, as long as they are fully served. Frequently, non-custodial sentences can be effective and serve to keep first-time offenders, at least, away from hardened criminals.
The probation service will need extra resources to meet this challenge and to get involved at an earlier stage with the process of rehabilitation. The service is an expert branch of the criminal justice system who need to be more central to some parts of it. The service should be independent and separate from the political process, run by Probation Committees comprised of local JP's and local authority representatives. Probation officers need to be professionally trained social workers in order to effectively steer offenders away from re-offending.
Victims of crime
As well as the distressing aspects of the crime itself victims often complain of being isolated from the process of investigation and prosecution. Plaid Cymru would like to see a number of steps implemented to redress the balance.
Plaid Cymru has advocated proposals to create a better system:
Plaid Cymru believes that the most effective police forces for Wales would be those directed by a Welsh Parliament. In the meantime, Wales suffers in comparison with England as decisions on funding and police levels are taken by the Home Office and not within Wales. Thus police forces covering the south Wales valleys are judged by English criteria as 'rural', although their traditions, experiences and sadly their crime rates, demand urban policing. After criminals have been apprehended and sentenced it is essential that they are able to serve their sentences in Wales. To achieve this would require an additional prison facility in north/mid Wales and provision for female prisoners to serve sentences in Wales.
As a party committed to social justice and peaceful democracy. Plaid Cymru has forged links with oppressed minorities, emerging new nations and independence movements throughout the world. Our vision is of a real partnership between the nations of Europe, among whom a self-governing Wales will eventually take its place, and the countries of the developing world in a United Nations equally committed to justice and self-determination.
In recent years, we have witnessed significant developments in Europe, particularly with regard to the growth of national and regional identities both within the European Union and the emerging democracies of central and eastern Europe. We wish to see Wales participating in these developments and taking part in the events that will shape the Europe of the 21st century.
A Europe of the peoples
The political construction of Europe must be built on the diversity of the European experience and tradition, on the principles of subsidiarity, plurality and the active participation of the citizen. Plans to both deepen and widen the European Union mean that a new constitutional settlement is essential.
In keeping with our commitment to social justice and equality in the workplace, we fully support the Social Chapter, and will campaign to end the present government's opt-out of the social protocol as set out in the Maastricht Treaty.
Plaid Cymru recognises that our relationship with the other nations and regions of Europe will require a pooling of sovereignty on certain macro economic, environmental and social issues. All decisions, however, must be taken at the most appropriate level and the principle of subsidiarity extended to embrace decision making at the regional and local level. We start from the premise that all decisions should be taken locally whenever practicable and then at the regional, national and EU level as appropriate. We accept that further integration is necessary to underpin the future peace and social stability of our continent, but reject out of hand any notion that this must mean a centralised superstate. To this end, the Inter-Governmental Conference (Maastricht II) gives us an opportunity to state our case for:
In time, we wish to see a bicameral European Parliamentary system, with a second Chamber (Senate) representing the nations and regions of the EU; a confederal written Constitution, and a Bill of Rights for Europe. In time, we wish to see the power of the Council of Ministers transferred to the European Parliament and Senate, which would be solely responsible for making law. This is essential if the support and mandate of the peoples of Europe is to be given to a deeper and wider union.
One of the reasons for reforming the Union's institutions is to accommodate enlargement. Plaid Cymru believes in an open and democratic Europe, working together to promote peace, stability and economic progress. We feel enlargement is essential to further these aims and would be a unique opportunity to create the conditions by which Wales would gain greater economic and political autonomy within the EU. Nevertheless, we recognise the considerable economic problems associated with enlargement which will necessitate a period of transition before entry into the Union.
Europe's linguistic diversity is being recognised increasingly as a rich inheritance to cherish in a world of growing uniformity. The demands of recent new members and enlargement mean, however, that the EU could soon have an unworkable number of official languages resulting in an intolerable bureaucracy. The situation is already changing in practice, as a few languages become the working languages' of the Union in which much of the legislative work is done.
At the same time, the position of regional and lesser used languages, including Welsh, is officially protected only by a Charter which the UK government has refused to sign, while the languages of immigrant groups are given no acknowledgement whatsoever. Plaid Cymru would like to see a new linguistic model for an expanded European Union, based on the concept of working languages' for the Union's institutions and full status for all other indigenous languages within their geographical domain.
We would wish to see the status and rights of the speakers of all these languages acknowledged in European statute, with the language policy for each being dealt with by the Parliaments of each nation or region as appropriate. The EU would, however, continue to have a promotional and supporting role in assisting the speakers of non-working languages in sharing experiences and developments.
The linguistic rights of speakers of the languages of immigrant groups must be protected as part of a comprehensive EU anti-discrimination policy.
Economic and monetary union
The Maastricht Treaty set out a timetable to achieve economic and monetary union (EMU). This should be seen as the culmination of a process which began with the publication of the Werner report in 1970, the establishment of the European Monetary System (EMS), the workings of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) and the passing of the Single European Act.
The timetable set out in the Treaty envisages that entry into the third stage of EMU will be triggered automatically on the 1st January 1999. Only those member states who qualify under the convergence criteria will enter the third stage which sets up the single currency. Two member states have an opt out from entry into the third stage, namely the UK and Denmark. The number of member states which enter the third stage will be agreed during the early part of 1998.
Plaid Cymru recognises that the introduction of a single currency will bring significant benefits to industry and competitiveness. However, Europe is just beginning to come out of a long and deep recession. The timing of the third stage could not have come at a worse time, with many member states forced into painful economic decisions in order to comply with the convergence criteria. Supporting entry into a single currency at this stage is a finely balanced judgement. Nevertheless, we recognise that there is strong political will for the process to go ahead on time amongst a clear majority of member states.
One of the difficulties facing Wales is that we did not benefit from the substantial increase in structural funds following Maastricht, which was aimed at creating social and economic cohesion in the run up to a single currency. We must make sure that we do not lose out so badly in the next round of negotiations, and will campaign for parts of Wales to be accorded Objective 1 status. A strong regional policy is essential to ensure that the Welsh economy is robust enough to meet the challenges of EMU and to compensate for the loss of other economic instruments which are currently available.
Plaid Cymru supports the inclusion of an employment chapter in the revised treaty following the conclusion of the present Inter-Governmental Conference. This will make job creation a specific policy goal. Unemployment is a major problem in many European countries, and EMU must not be forced through at the expense of massive job losses. With a clear treaty commitment, such a prospect will be substantially reduced. Plaid Cymru also supports the incorporation of environmental sustainability into all aspects of economic policy.
The European Central Bank, as established by the Maastricht Treaty is independent of political control. While we recognise the advantages of having an arms-length relationship between the Bank and the Executive, we believe that ultimate accountability should rest with a democratically elected institution. We will support moves aimed at achieving this.
There is a very strong likelihood that a single currency will go ahead on time. Whilst the support for entry is currently finely balanced, we in Wales have to recognise the very real dangers which we will face if EMU goes ahead and the UK exercises its opt out and stays outside. We will then have the worst of both worlds with none of the advantages of entry, but with the pound probably shadowing the Euro and maintaining the same economic policies as our European partners to keep open the option of joining at a later stage.
If EMU does go ahead, then we believe Wales should be in at the very beginning (although this may be very unlikely given the dilatoriness of the Conservative Government) provided that we have a strong regional policy and a treaty commitment to employment.
Peace and security
Despite its lack of a Parliament and seat at the tables of power. Wales has made its strong and independent voice heard on international issues through international links and determined principle.
We need a self-governing Wales not only to protect Welsh interests but also to give us an active role in European and world affairs. As a party, Plaid Cymru has always rejected the idea that international peace, prosperity or justice can be brought about by force of arms.
With the demise of the Warsaw Pact, NATO's reliance on nuclear weapons and on the concept of collective security is now even less relevant to our future security needs. We reaffirm our demand that a common security system, based on democratic and non-nuclear co-operation, be created in Europe. We recognise that there needs to be a more coherent and unified approach to defence and security within the European Union than that presently achieved under the Maastricht Treaty.
We would therefore advocate the merger of the Western European
Union into the EU on the following conditions:
i) that a self-governing Wales would only commit itself to European defence for the purposes set out in the St Petersburg tasks, namely the provision of humanitarian aid and peacekeeping and crisis management operations sanctioned by the EU, and
ii) that member states, including a self-governing Wales, would not be forced against their will to provide troops for any EU operation.
A self-governing Wales would have a seat at the United Nations which we argue should become a far more effective, and equal handed, peacekeeping agent in world affairs. Plaid Cymru will continue in its advocacy for measures to combat the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials.
Development and solidarity
Plaid Cymru recognises that the root causes of world poverty are political and economic being linked to trade between the rich north and underdeveloped south. The rich north's arms trade with the despotic tyrants of the south, and the UK Government's attempts to link it with development aid, is but one example of the perverse relationship.
It is a disgrace that the UK Government has never reached the United Nations' target of 0.7% of GDP to be given in overseas aid, and reached its highest level, at a paltry 0.38%, when it thought arms deals were in the offing. The Government's past insistence on bilateral, rather than multilateral aid, has further distorted the way aid is targeted. The concentration on huge infrastructure schemes, opposed by local people, which then make profits for non-local companies, is a further desecration of the spirit of the UN's target.
Overseas aid must not only reach the UN target, it must also be directed to those projects which achieve self-sufficiency and genuine, preferably sustainable, development. At least 20% of aid should go to key areas such as basic health, primary education, water and sanitation. These projects are often likely to be fairly small-scale and run in partnership with local people. Overseas agencies are often the best deliverers of such aid. Governments tend to get confused about the exact nature of aid and favour projects that give benefit to 'friendly' regimes rather than impoverished communities.
Such a programme of aid and development entails cutting arms spending and redirecting our technological skills, now employed in devising ever more fiendish ways to kill each other, into designing low-tech projects for developing countries. This is the only acceptable link between trade and overseas aid.
2000: Time to change direction
The approaching millennium gives rise to hope around the world that governments will start planning and working in a new way, with more long-term and holistic planning than UK politics has traditionally encompassed.
The key global challenge of the next century has been explored by numerous UN summits and conferences through this last decade. The underlying theme has been one of sustainable development. It is now time for all political parties to explain how their policies can help not only Wales, but the world, change direction.
Our plans for the part Wales could play in this shift to sustainable development are set out in the earlier chapters of this manifesto. Here we set out some of the global issues which arise.
The United Nations must be revitalised, with adequate financial and political resources which are guaranteed and not withdrawn at the political whim of governments. Support is vital for: building and maintaining peace in areas of conflict, organising international negotiations designed to limit climate change, and bringing clean water, adequate nutrition and choice over family size to a greater proportion of the world's population.
For the work of the UN to expand and become even more effective, it needs to have a real role in the world's economy. Control of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank should be transferred to the UN, so that the management of the world economy can be democratised and made more accountable to the interests of the world's majority, those who live in the 'South' or 'Third World'.
A self-governing Wales would argue for the use of such a strengthened UN in order to:
Within Wales, Plaid Cymru will seek to support this change of perspective for the world by: