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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Just business

In the end the Welsh Assembly Government got this week's Business Statement through largely unamended at the second attempt by the simple method of bringing it back to the chamber on the Wednesday when the MPs had gone back to Westminster for Prime Minister's Question Time. They will not find it so easy next time.

It took Conservative AM, David Melding, to drive home to them the reality of their position and the fact that even though they may have entered the second Assembly with half the seats, they certainly did not have the support of half of the electorate:

David Melding: Minister, your party seems incapable of grasping the fact that it is in a minority here. It is a great honour to form a Government, and my party would dearly wish to do so at some point, but I dare say that we will have to do a lot of work before we are in that position. However, it is a great honour. When you are in a minority position, you are in a potentially fragile situation and your business can be denied. It is appropriate for you to respond with more generosity than you have done on this occasion. It is pointless to pretend, like Gerhard Schröder did in Germany, that you somehow won the election. You had 40 per cent of the vote, and you are now down to 29—[Interruption.] No, including the constituency vote, you polled 40 per cent at the last Assembly elections. You are already in a minority position as far as the electorate is concerned, and you are now in a minority in terms of your seats as well.

The Presiding Officer: Order. David Melding, we are discussing the business statement, not the results of elections in the Ukraine or Germany.

David Melding: I am most grateful for that guidance, but I was coming to the fact that we want a debate on what the Electoral Commission has said about the Labour Party’s partisan, flawed and peculiar policies on voting reform. What arrogance for a minority party to come up with trash like that. The people of Wales expect it to be debated, and debated soon. We will not support a business statement until there is movement on this crucial issue.
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