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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Travels abroad

The most original contribution to yesterday's Assembly budget debate came from Labour's Newport East Assembly Member, John Griffiths. He advocated the possibility of the Welsh Assembly having an International Development budget. He said:

Undoubtedly, a budget would be an important step forward. It could do many things—facilitate the exchange of skills and experience between Wales and the developing world, consider the content of the school curriculum, fair trade, procurement policy, corporate responsibility, co-ordination of emergency appeal responses in Wales, and look at how we can help non-governmental organisation capacity. Therefore, much can be done. We could also re-brand some existing budgetary provision, such as that for Dolen Cymru, which has been operating since 1985. It organises teacher exchanges and inputs into school curricula. We could also prioritise one or two countries. Lesotho would be a prime example.

There are some who would argue that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which sends AMs to conferences all around the world, is our equivalent to an international development organisation. The problem is I am not sure who benefits the most from it.

John also revealed that Gareth Thomas, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, had visited the Norwegian Church in Cardiff bay. Some of us were unsure whether this was because he had been confused by the name and had thought that he was in fact going to Norway instead. To be fair as Gareth is a Welsh MP I think we can be certain that he knew exactly where he was visiting and why.

Update: An e-mail has arrived from a very alert Assembly Researcher to ask whether John Griffiths may have been referring to Gareth Thomas, the MP for Harrow West. Well the answer is that I do not know. If he was then this changes the whole tone of my mitigation.

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