Some of the policies of the new Conservative-Liberal coalition government have been broadly outlined in the press today.
Whilst waiting for further details, a number of these could have a significant impact on Wales
Substantial rise in income tax thresholds for lowest paid from April 2011 – as Wales has a higher proportion of lower paid workers than any other region of the UK, this will have a major effect on take-home pay with hopefully knock on effect for the economy.
Departmental spending review this autumn – will the Welsh budget be ‘protected’ from any reductions in expenditure?
Investment to reduce class sizes for children from poorer backgrounds – whilst this will be an Assembly decision on implementation, there will be pressure on the Labour-Plaid coalition to use the additional funding passed down for this purpose
New independent schools in state sector - "free schools" - to be set up – unlikely that the Labour-Plaid coalition will follow this lead but given the pressures to establish Welsh language schools across Wales, this could be a popular vote winner if included in the next manifesto for the Conservatives and/or Liberal Democrats in 2011
Referendum of devolution of further powers to Welsh Assembly – this will silence those critics who have believed that a Conservative led administration would never do this
Cut in number of MPs and equal size constituencies – this will probably reduce the number of Welsh MPs to 30 if implemented by the next election, especially given the likely further transfer of powers to Wales
Review of Scottish MPs voting on England-only legislation – I assume this will apply to Welsh MPs as well in areas of devolved responsibility.
NHS spending to rise in real terms every year of the Parliament – as 40 per cent of WAG’s budget goes on health, this will mean an increase of around £190 million in April 2011 in this area of the Welsh budget
New nuclear power plants (Lib Dems able to abstain on issue) – Good news for Anglesey if this development is passed (and Labour unlikely to vote against this)
High-speed rail network to be built – the timing of the link to Cardiff could be accelerated under this option
Increased target for share of energy from renewable sources – Wales could be at the forefront of this development if WAG manages to get the business department to focus some of these developments in Wales.
All in all, there is potentially some good news for Wales in this initial list of policies but the devil, as they say, is in the detail, so more comment soon.