Wales politics

E-cigarette law fails after 'cheap date' jibe at Plaid Cymru

Media captionLeighton Andrews made the 'cheap date' remark when talking about an earlier deal made between Labour and Plaid Cymru

A public health bill which included a ban on e-cigarette use in some public places has been rejected by AMs after a row between Labour and Plaid Cymru.

Plaid voted against the bill in a last-minute move, meaning the assembly was tied 26-26 and the bill failed to pass.

It comes after Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews said a previous deal with the party was a "cheap date".

Health Minister Mark Drakeford said he was "deeply disappointed" the bill would not become law.

But Plaid AM Simon Thomas said Labour needed a "lesson".

The bill failed to pass after the presiding officer was required, because of the tie, to also vote against the law, bringing the vote to 27 AMs against, 26 for.

As well as the e-cigarette measure, it aimed to create a compulsory licensing system for tattooists, prohibit intimate piercing of children under 16 and require councils to produce a local toilets strategy.

Plaid originally planned a free vote and some of its AMs were expected to support the bill on Wednesday evening.

But a spokeswoman for the party said Mr Andrews' comments - made about a deal over a bill on local government with Plaid - were disrespectful.

She said Mr Andrews "chose to belittle cooperation and put his own government's legislation in jeopardy.

"This afternoon, Plaid Cymru proposed to the Welsh Government that the bill should be withdrawn before the vote and that the assembly should be reconvened immediately after Easter to vote on a bill with all sections on e-cigarettes removed.

"Plaid Cymru would have supported that legislation."

Mr Drakeford said there would be "widespread anger" at the opposition parties.

"It puts to waste five years of careful preparation and constructive work with a very wide range of stakeholders and supporters," he added.

Plaid joined the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives in voting against the law because of the e-cigarette ban.

Elin Jones, one of the Plaid AMs who was expected to vote for the ban, tweeted: "I worked with Labour on a fair compromise on e-cigs, but my party is not their 'cheap date'."

Mr Thomas told BBC Wales: "Certain things were said today that made people feel that they weren't being taken seriously".

Labour "perhaps needed a lesson in how they should be working with all parties in the assembly to get the legislation through," he added.

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said: "While that is utterly bizarre and somewhat farcical, I of course welcome their U-turn."

Darran Millar, Tory shadow health minister, said there was no evidence to support the e-cigarette plans.

The vote came despite AMs previously backing revised e-cigarette plans.

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