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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A dragon roars

Could it be the environmental purity of the new chamber that is getting members excited or is it just the closeness of Christmas? Either way, the debate on the Business Statement get quite passionate yesterday and no more so than the Business Minister herself. She had obviously been enthused by the First Minister's performance in questions earlier:

The Business Minister (Jane Hutt): It is interesting, Ieuan, Lisa and Kirsty, to see how excited you get about political speeches. I get most excited by the First Minister’s political speeches; not only did the First Minister, a few weeks ago, make a ‘Wales can do it’ speech, but at the weekend he made a ‘the Welsh dragon is roaring’ speech. The Welsh dragon is roaring because we have gone from a situation—and I do not mind repeating what he said—of having over 120,000 people on the dole under the Tories to 44,000 being in that situation now. There are 131,000 more jobs in Wales now than when the Assembly came into being. There has been an 11 per cent increase, while it is 7 per cent in the rest of the UK. We are top of the league in the UK for increasing employment, with a 12 per cent rise in jobs in west Wales and the Valleys, but only 7 per cent in the UK. On every front, the Welsh dragon is roaring—that is what we should be discussing.

Search as we might we could not find any proposal on the three week forward look of a Government motion on the nature of a dragon's roar. However, the Minister was ready with further clarification:

I was pleased to hear the confidence of Carl Sargeant, who is so proud— [Assembly Members: ‘Oh.’] He is so proud of his local authority—Flintshire County Council—and he is proud of his constituency’s construction industry and companies. That is what we need: recognition that the Welsh dragon is roaring, that Wales can do it, and that the Committee on Standing Orders will take us through to deliver on the Government of Wales 2006 with people elected to the Assembly.

Carl Sargeant and the dragon, now there is a tale to scare the kids with. One person who is unlikely to be daunted by the wrath of the dragon is North Wales Conservative AM, Brynle Williams. He was more concerned with getting mountain bikes off forestry roads:

However, the issue of rights of way concerns me. Significant damage is being done to a number of bridleways and mountain paths. I would like to see councils and private businesses helping to provide facilities for off-road motorcyclists, and even those who ride mountain bikes. We are now seeing problems on Offa’s Dyke with damage being done by mountain cyclists. Can we please get them on to forestry roads? I see the Minister shaking his head in disagreement, but as someone who lives and farms on the Clwydian range, I can say that the evidence is there. All I ask is that we provide facilities for enthusiasts. All too often, we speak in the Chamber about trying to make the nation healthier. As far as cycling goes, I am not much of an advert, but that is beside the point. There are a number of issues and this Act will help this situation.

Sponsoring Brynle Williams to ride a bicycle would be well worth the money.
I can't recall seeing Jane Hutt being passionate. It must be a strange sight.

- Frank Little
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