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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Demob happy

There are two trends that signal that a recess is coming up. Firstly, the diaries fill up and we are all incredibly busy as organisations and individuals seek to talk to us about their issues before we disappear off for a few weeks. Secondly, members get a bit demob happy.

It was a bit like that in the Assembly yesterday. First off was the First Minister with a nod to the pressure that he personally has been under regarding the performance of the Welsh NHS compared with its counterpart in England:

Glyn Davies: Will the First Minister make a statement about increases in non-domestic rates following revaluation? OAQ0293(FM)

The First Minister: I am glad that you are asking this question because it is one of those areas where things are worse in England than in Wales.

The Labour AM for Caerphilly, Jeff Cuthbert, contributed to the atmosphere with a thoughtful speech on CAFCASS:

Jeff Cuthbert: I originally thought that I would have only a short time to speak, so I can either speak slowly or speak briefly; I will speak briefly.

and I could not resist the opportunity to join in:

Peter Black: Unlike Jeff Cuthbert, I am not capable of speaking slowly, so I will just be brief.

The one dampener on the whole proceedings however was the failure of the Chamber computers (again). The Presiding Officer explained:

The Presiding Officer: Before I call the urgent question, I have received messages from a number of Members, including frontbench Members, regarding a defect in the information technology system. This follows the difficulty that we experienced last week when we lost the link to the agenda. I understand that Members are unable to receive messages from their support staff, which means that the Chamber’s work cannot proceed effectively.

I consider this to be a matter of great concern, and I can assure Members that Alun Cairns, as Chair of the House Committee’s information technology sub-group, and I, will pursue this matter with vigour. An appropriate service for what is an electronic Assembly is not being provided at present, and it is important that this is established for the future. I am grateful for the support that I received in the House Committee during recent dicussions on this matter, and I will not let this matter drop until it has been resolved.

Maybe they will have fixed it by the time we come back from the Easter break. More likely we will most probably have to wait for the new chamber in September.
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