THE leaders of Wales’ five main political parties went head-to-head over issues including the economy, the ongoing crisis in the steel industry, schools and health in a live radio debate on Sunday.

First Minister Carwyn Jones appeared on BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement programme yesterday morning alongside his Conservative rival Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Kirsty Williams, her Plaid Cymru counterpart Leanne Wood and UKIP Wales boss Nathan Gill.

On the economy, the Labour First Minister said he recognised financial conditions across the world were “bumpy”, but was optimistic about Wales’ prospects.

“We’ve just had the best results for inward investment for 30 years,” he said. “That hasn’t come about by accident – we’ve gone out and fought hard to get investment.”

But Ms Wood accused him of being “complacent”, pointing to statistics showing average salaries was up to 15 per cent lower in Wales than the rest of the UK.

Ms Williams agreed, saying: “We have to acknowledge the deep problems within the Welsh economy.”

Meanwhile Mr Gill called for greater investment and focus on jobs, particularly for young people.

The leaders also discussed the ongoing crisis in the steel industry, with Ms Wood reiterating her party’s call made last week for the Welsh Government to take a partial stake in the sector in an effort to protect jobs.

But the First Minister said this was out of the question, saying the costs involved would be “huge”.

Health was also on the agenda, with Mr Davies saying he and his Conservative colleagues were committed to not reorganising the NHS within the next Assembly term if they win a majority in May’s election.

“It is vital the people who run and work in the health service know two things,” he said.

“One – they not going to face any major reorganisation of that health service, and two – they will have the resource to provide the service.”

Ms Williams backed his pledge, saying: “The NHS needs a reorganisation like it needs a hole in the head”.

Mr Gill said he recognised there was no ‘silver bullet’ which would solve the NHS’ problems, but that instead many small changes would need to be made to make a real difference.

Although Ms Wood said only a revamp of the structure of services would change things for the better, Mr Jones said he too believed reorganising the NHS was not the way forward.

The third topic of discussion was schools, with Mr Gill calling for a closer link between technical colleges and universities, while reiterating UKIP’s pledge to bring back grammar schools.

Mr Davies also said more focus needed to be placed on further education colleges and technical qualifications would help people find jobs while Ms Williams said cutting class sizes in Welsh schools would benefit both teachers and pupils.

The programme is still available to listen to on the BBC iPlayer service.