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Talks on budget deal are said to be going well.

NEGOTIATIONS over the Welsh Government's budget were progressing well, the administration insisted yesterday, a day after it suffered a bruising defeat in the National Assembly.

A government source said "constructive" discussions were ongoing with both Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats and denied they had been limited to how to spend an extra pounds 38.9m handed to Wales as a consequence of the UK Government freezing council tax in England. But any further discussions with the Conservatives have been ruled out following one short meeting between Carwyn Jones and Andrew RT Davies.

A motion to note the Government's draft Budget was defeated in the Senedd on Tuesday after the three opposition parties came together to table a joint amendment against it.

It means Carwyn Jones' government now has less than two weeks to form some kind of deal with one of the opposition parties or face a disastrous defeat next month. A full budget has to be laid in the Assembly by November 29 with the final vote taking place on December 6. With 30 of the 60 seats in the Assembly, Labour needs at least one opposition AM to vote for its budget for it to pass. Following the vote on Tuesday the First Minister met with both Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones and Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams, the fourth one-on-one meetings he has held with each. Yesterday a government source told the Western Mail: "The discussions with both Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats have been constructive and positive.

We've found it hard to recognise what's been described in some of the media. They've been calm and constructive throughout.

"The idea they've been about the pounds 38.9m was never the case. It was not the only thing we were negotiating on. What we've negotiated has actually progressed well."

On Tuesday's joint amendment, which accused the Government of producing a budget not fit for purpose, the source said: "That's the nature of the game we're in. We've progressed quite well and we believe there's a real desire on behalf of both parties to come to an agreement on what we would call mutually acceptable terms." The Government could do a deal with either of the parties or one which was acceptable to both, the source said.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 17, 2011
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