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Thursday, January 15, 2004

A second new building?

So how exactly did this happen? The House Committee agree to bid a reported £750,000 for land so as to prevent a development that will overshadow their new Chamber Building. I vote against. Somehow this gets into the press and a massive outcry ensues. The original decision to landscape the land gets lost in the attempt to justify the indefensible. First of all we are told that the intention was to sell the land on at a profit and in this way control the nature of the development on it. This is despite the fact that such a proposition was never even mentioned in House Committee. Then, we are told that perhaps we are going to use the land to provide extra accomodation for members and staff.

This was mentioned in passing in the Committee as an attempt to answer the criticism I was making of the proposal to buy the land. It never formed part of the report nor was it ever used as a central argument in the discussion. There is no budget for such a development, there has been no meaningful discussion of such a proposition and no decision has ever been taken to even consider it. Furthemore, the rationale for such offices, that the Assembly may increase in size to 80 members, is so far away with the fairies at the moment that only a fanatic devolutionist would take its possibility seriously enough to commit a large sum of public money to a project that will accommodate it.

The Richard Commission has not yet reported. We do not know what it will say. If it recommends primary law-making powers and extra members, then this will be violently resisted by Welsh MPs and it seems, by the Secretary of State for Wales, who has already launched a pre-emptive strike against it. If despite all these obstacles these recommendations are made and are implemented then they will only come into effect after a General Election and possibly another Assembly Election. That is, at best, we will first elect 80 AMs in 2011. It could be argued that John Marek is being far-sighted therefore. I would say he is being defensive and desperate.

And yet it is now becoming accepted wisdom in the media that we are going to erect a second new building. It is not true! This second project exists only the minds and ambitions of those few individuals with an agenda for this Assembly, that agenda is not shared by the majority of its members. I don't suppose that will stop us being slagged off for it though, will it?

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