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Thursday, February 03, 2005

In denial?

The fall-out from the new Health Minister's meeting with Welsh Labour MPs hit the Assembly yesterday, as he took questions for the first time. The most memorable phrase to come out of this meeting was that spoken by an anonymous Labour MP who declared that Brian Gibbons was less in denial about the state of the Welsh Health Service than his predecessor. This was alluded to by Mike German. Brian showed that he could see the funny side:

The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat Group (Michael German): To explore this area where you are no longer in as much denial as perhaps others in your party are, could you tell us, if the second offer scheme could be implemented better, what do you intend to do to make it better in order that more can be included in it?

Brian Gibbons: I do not deny that I am not in denial.

The Leader of Plaid Cymru took up the cudgels a few minutes later but soon met his match:

Ieuan Wyn Jones: During a meeting with Welsh Labour MPs on Monday, you told them that you would be spending one day a week on cutting waiting lists in Wales. What will you do with the rest of your time?

Brian Gibbons: I anticipated that that question would arise. Given that this was reported in the press, it must be true. Therefore, I checked my diary to ensure that today was one of those days on which I could deal with waiting lists, and I am glad to confirm that I am free from my work commitments to do that. You should not believe everything you read in the newspapers, Ieuan. Although the meeting with the parliamentary Labour Party was a private one, it is my attention to give a considerable amount of my time to addressing waiting times and lists, and to protect time for tackling this challenge, so that it is given the amount of time it needs.

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