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Wednesday, November 30, 2005


One of the issues that has provoked much debate within the Assembly's House Committee is the building's fire alarm system. The House Committee is responsible for administering the affairs of the Parliamentary side of the Assembly including its buildings and estates. As such when a rather confusing fire drill took place a few months ago they asked for a report.

The system that operates here is a two stage one. When an alarm sounds the area closest to the possible fire hears a continuous wailing indicating that staff should evacuate. The rest of the building hears an intermittent sound telling them to stay put and stand-by for further instructions. This is all very well but familiarity with the fire drill has not been a high priority for many employees here and so what tends to happen is that the whole building evacuates regardless.

It was suggested at the House Committee that there needed to be better education and possibly tannoy announcements to instruct staff as to the situation and the action they should take. This appeared to settle the matter until yesterday when, just as the Education Minister was about to launch into a speech on childcare, the fire alarm went off.

As it was an intermittent alarm on the ground floor most of us stayed put, whilst a large number of members looked to the Deputy Presiding Officer for instructions. At this point some Labour members took matters into their own hands and led the evacuation of the chamber. The sitting was suspended.

The alarm originated on the ground floor and in theory we should have been able to continue with the debate until contrary instructions were received. The problem was that although blue flashing lights in the chamber went off as expected to indicate an alert, we could also hear the alarm and as such it was impossible to proceed with the debate, even if we had wanted to. As somebody said to me on the way back into the chamber, I am sure that the House Committee will want to discuss this as well.
Cymrumark has posted a comment to this entry which i have not put up. If he removes the defamatory remark from the last sentence then I will happily post it and answer it. E-mail me if you want to discuss.

Apologies but I have not kept a copy of my comments...I honestly doubt the last sentance was defamatory but am happy for you to edit it out...its your blog after all and its a controversial issue....
Blogger does not seem to allow me to edit comments just to accept or reject them. If it had allowed me I would have done it. Anyway the amended comment is:

"Sorry this is off topic but do not see anywhere else to raise the issue on your blog.

Some time ago in response to my comments about the Lib Dems and their questionable donation from a Swiss based multi millionaire you stated that you stood by your party spokesman's comments that Ceredigion Lib Dems had not received any money from this source. At the time I cannot recall if you responded to the point that the money was spent on advertising hoardings and newspaper advertisements and so would be counted as "national expenditure" rather than constituency expenditure.

It has now emerged that flights taken by Charles kennedy were paid for by the same donor directly from his swiss company which is in breach of the Electoral Commissions rules. Do you know if any of these flights were to Wales?

Given that the Electoral Commission is now investigating the "5th Avenue Partnership" the company established a few weeks before the main donations were made to see if it was established primarily for the purpose of making the donation would it not make sense for the lib dems to negotiate a method of repayment?"

As you know there is a difference between money spent by the local party on an election and that spent nationally. They each require a separate return. As I understand it all of the money from 5th Avenue was spent nationally, thus the comments were correct. Whether that money then paid for items that impacted on Ceredigion such as billboards, PPBs, mailshots etc I do not know. The chances are that it did, but so what.

I took part in a lengthy discussion on this issue at the last Federal Executive meeting of the Liberal Democrats, which involved our compliance officer. We are satisfied that on the evidence so far presented to us that this money is above board. The Electoral Commission are investigating because they have been asked to but they are so far content that things are OK as well. I suspect that situation will remain and that the only thing that can change it is the publication of the 5th Avenue accounts for 2005. We are being guided by the Electoral Commission on this not by our political opponents.

I do not think that there are ethical considerations here either. The one thing we were very clear on was that the donor would gain no benefit from his offering. It would have been nice if Labour and the Tories followed suit!
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