Wales politics

Welsh Conservatives 'can only guarantee NHS spending'

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Media captionAndrew RT Davies says he want as much money as possible going into public services

The NHS is the only department the Welsh Conservatives can guarantee they could protect if they were in power, the party leader has said.

Andrew RT Davies said spending on health would be protected if the party wins the assembly election in May.

He told the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales programme he could not give the same guarantee for other budgets.

At the Welsh Tory conference in Llangollen, he said the party wanted to see money going to frontline services.

Under the formula that sets its budget, the Welsh Government will get more money as a result of UK ministers' pledge to spend more on the NHS in England.

Mr Davies said under the Conservatives that extra money, known as a consequential, would go into the Welsh NHS.

"But it would be wrong of me at this stage to say that I could guarantee x, y or z other than the health budget, because ultimately we know that the Westminster government has given the protection of the health budget in England with an extra £8bn going into it, so there will be a direct consequential coming over from that budget," Mr Davies said.

"And we can guarantee that the near £500m that we will receive over the five years of the assembly will go into the Welsh NHS. The only party to do that."

Mr Davies said the education budget would have "more money freed up" under the Tories by funding schools directly from the Welsh Government, instead of through local education authorities.

"We will be making sure that money hits the classroom, rather than it stays in county halls and central bureaucracy," he said.

Image caption Angela Burns says head teachers should take charge of improving their schools

On Saturday, Shadow Education Minister Angela Burns said the Conservatives would abolish the bodies tasked with raising school standards.

The four regional consortia were set up under Labour.

"We will scrap the costly and indifferently performing regional consortia and expect head teachers to be responsible for their school improvement," she said.

Meanwhile, Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has insisted the party is united behind its Welsh leader, despite divisions in the party over the EU.

Mr Davies is backing a Leave vote in June's EU referendum but Mr Crabb and Prime Minister David Cameron are supporting the Remain vote.

Both used speeches at conference on Friday to call for a Remain vote, which prompted a row within the party.

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Image caption Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb (l) visited Tyfos Farm in Denbighshire with David Cameron before the conference on Friday

But Mr Crabb said the UK government had a clear view on remaining in the EU.

He said: "Of course he [the prime minister] is going to use today's opportunity to explain that view and he took a lot of time in his speech to explain in detail the specific arguments around the single market, trading rules, why it really, really matters for Welsh farmers - for their lamb and beef exports - that we stay inside the European union."

He denied the speech was aimed at Mr Davies, who is a farmer, saying the party did not play "those kind of silly games".

He said it was "ridiculous" Labour had been in office in the Welsh Government for 17 years.

"We think Wales needs a break from that and that's why we are going to be working with Andrew RT Davies to make Andrew the first minister of Wales on 5 May," he said.

  • Sunday Politics, BBC One Wales, 11:00 GMT on 13 March

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