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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Debating the Queen

Other bloggers from amongst the Assembly Members have already commented on the Queen's Speech debate in yesterday's Plenary so I will not go on at length. It is worth noting though that it was a lively debate with a lot of good contributions from the backbenches.

Inevitably, in such a politically charged debate some of the point scoring was unsubtle, not least that from Lynne Neagle, who is rapidly getting herself a reputation as Rhodri's hit-woman:

Lynne Neagle: I welcome the Secretary of State to the National Assembly and join colleagues in wishing his wife a speedy recovery.

Time is short in this debate as we are duty-bound to discuss the barmy raft of amendments tabled by this intriguing coalition of libertarians, reactionaries, Thatcherites and Cameron clones.

Most of us were unsure what to find most objectionable in this statement, the idea that just to table an amendment to a Labour Government motion should be a hanging offence or the terms in which she described an imaginary coalition of opposition parties, a concept Labour are keen to play up so as to motivate their core support.

My immediate reaction was to question who the Cameron clones were on the Tory benches. It had certainly become clear just before Lynne spoke that David Davies was not amongst them:

Jenny Randerson: Welsh Liberal Democrats wish to concentrate on what could have been if we had had a more imaginative Government. I shared some of the optimism on that May morning in 1997, and for the first year the Labour Government lived up to that optimism—we had a devolution referendum and proportional representation for the European Parliament, and so on. However, we now have a Government that will be remembered for the invasion of Iraq, the Daily-Mail-approach to law and order and mental health problems, and the half-baked concessions on devolution issues.

David Davies rose

Jenny Randerson: I will give way.

David Davies: I am grateful to the Member for giving way, but is she not paying the Labour Government a compliment by talking about a Daily-Mail-approach to law and order? That is exactly what we want and is exactly what is lacking from this Government. [Laughter.]

What was intriquing was the way that the opposition parties failed to get so many of their amendments passed. A quick count had established that there were 29 opposition members present and 28 Labour AMs. Yet the first three amendments were tied at 28 each, with the Presiding Officer casting his vote against in accordance with protocol.

A look at the record this morning reveals that Eleanor Burnham failed to record a vote on the first two amendments, whilst Owen John Thomas from Plaid Cymru did not vote on the third. It is on such failures of the digit finger that Government's survive or fall.
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