Miliband pledges to 'look at' Welsh funding concerns

Ed Miliband said the NHS in Wales was being used as a "whipping boy" by David Cameron

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Labour leader Ed Miliband has promised to "look at" the funding "difficulties" the Welsh government faces, if he wins power in next May's general election.

First Minister Carwyn Jones says Wales is short-changed by £300m a year, under the Barnett formula that distributes cash to the UK's devolved governments.

Mr Miliband said the formula would stay but a spending review would consider the "specific issues" of Wales.

He also said the devolution of policing to Wales should be considered.

Mr Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all pledged to keep the Barnett formula, which is more generous to Scotland, if there was a no vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

On Wednesday, at the Labour conference in Manchester, Mr Miliband told BBC Wales "the Barnett formula has served us well".

"I understand the particular issues Wales has and we'll definitely look at those issues," he said.

"So the Barnett formula stays but we absolutely will look at the specific issues that Wales faces."

Responding to Mr Miliband's comments, First Minister Carwyn Jones said the funding issue had to be resolved.

"Let's face it, people in Wales have contributed by working in coal, in steel, in slate, in tinplate - all those things have contributed to the wealth of the UK in years gone by, " he argued.

"It's not unreasonable for us to say now we want a fair share of the pot. I will be holding a future UK Labour government to that promise."

'Whipping boy'

On the question of further powers for Wales, Ed Miliband repeated a pledge he made at the Welsh Labour conference in March to legislate so that powers are assumed to be devolved "unless specifically reserved".

He added: "It's definitely right to look at the issue of policing and there are other issues around borrowing powers.

"So look I'm open to this and the most important thing is we're going to have a constitutional convention to look at all of these issues, across the United Kingdom."

On the health service, the Labour leader stated that under the last Conservative government, waiting lists in Wales hit two years long.

"Let's not use the Welsh health service as somehow a whipping boy which is what David Cameron tries to do," he added, quoting the Nuffield Trust study that concluded there was no evidence Wales was "lagging behind" any other part of the UK.

But he conceded there were "big challenges in Wales and we're determined we confront those challenges and Carwyn Jones is determined we confront those challenges".

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