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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Double Top

I am feeling a bit apprehensive at the moment because I have just won the ballot for private member's legislation. However, it is not just a measure I am tasked with producing but a Legislative Competence Order as well. It seems that I have won both ballots!

My LCO will seek to take powers for the Assembly to change the electoral arrangements of local Councils. This would enable a future Government to bring in proportional representation for local elections.

My Measure will put a duty on local government to provide facilities for young people. It seems to me that we spend enough time criticising a minority of youngsters for anti-social behaviour but we do not ever provide a place for them to go and work off their energy constructively at night.

We will see if I am able to convince other Assembly Members to support me in these proposals.
good luck, I always got the feeling that maybe if the Welsh had a Braveheartesque film made then they would get more legislative powers... but chances are I am completely wrong. Do let us know how it goes.
I get it. It's OK for you to promote a fundamental change in the local government voting system (in your capacity as an AM) but its "shuffling deckchairs" when someone else makes a suggestion that there might be too many councils in the first place.
Hello Peter. Two great ideas, can I recommend you look into the idea of 'Midnight Training', if you haven't already? In parts of the UK (including, I think, Cardiff), rugby and football clubs open for training between midnight and the early hours, to create an alternative running in parallel to when gang operate. Those who feel compelled to join gangs (out of fear of recurcussions if they don't) have a legitimate excuse to be off somewhere else; it also offers the bonds and relationships that can make gangs attractive, but more constructively & under supervision.

Might we have seen history happening when the Electoral Reform Society launched in Wales this week. Their top full-timer in Cardiff is none other than Rhodri Morgan's former Assembly office manager; and wife Julie, the recently-retired MP for Cardiff North (she retired so that a Tory wouldn't have the pleasure of kicking her out !) was prominent among those present. Labourites present wouldn't say which form of PR they favour - but I'm pretty sure from the past that Rhodri is pro-STV; he told me once that it might not be acceptable in Wales because constituencies wouldn't understand it (and some used to say the Irish were thick! Although they have never had any trouble filling in the ballot sheets we imposed on them in the devolution exercise of 1914, which went slight wrong - in that it was supposed to be devolution but ended up as independence).
Shambo, it is one thing to change the electoral process to make the outcome fairer, quite another to impose another reorganisation on Councils so soon after the last one, disrupting services and distracting them from doing the job they are meant to be doing of service delivery for at least five years whilst they shuffle the chairs around again and then settle into the new structures, not to mention the uncertainty for staff. Ask anybody who went through the 1995 reorganisation and you will find out what I mean.
Y not try and do something for the Welsh economy - like legislating for more patent protection of important discoveries made in Wales? Without patent protection there is no push for private investment in R&D and Wales is CRYING OUT for more investment in R&D.
Because patent protection is not a devolved matter and there is little chance of the Government agreeing to a transfer of powers on it because it is clearly a UK issue.
Congratulations Peter. Don't envy the task facing you and your staff now though - it's going to be an awful lot of work!
Peter, Peter > you are not 'understanding'. Something comes before 'patenting', it's called RESEARCH. There's lots of "that going on" in Wales. What I am saying is: the Welsh authority (and yes there is one) that provides funding for research in WELSH universities is forced by WAG to allocate a percentage of each grant to paying for patent filing costs, and if there isn't one, then that portion of the money MUST be returned. This does not mean the scientists must file for patent protection, but if they want to, then money/cost shouldn't be a barrier to doing so.

I.E. I am not even suggesting that patent laws are amended - but to the extent that funding of research in Welsh universities is under Welsh control, then WAG should legislate to make the funding more patent friendly. Right now Welsh research in Welsh universities is largely GIVEN AWAY without any form of patent protection - Cardiff University has a famous Nobel Prize winner in a biotech art, did this scientist file a meaningful patent? Nope - I checked the patent with his name on it, and the subject matter claimed was curtailed because previous publications by the same scientist were 'given away' for failure to file a patent application.

MABs (monoclonal antibodies) was a British invention, but an American company filed patents on applications of MABs technology and created hundreds if not thousands of high paying jobs and generated hundreds of millions of dollars profit - and guess what, the NHS had to pay a premium price for kits based on MABs technology, e.g., HIV testing kits. British technology not protected by meaningful patents can be exploited by any Tom, Dick or Harry in any country and patents can be filed on applications of such technology creating a monopoly for a limited time in guess where: back in the UK.

We need to make it clear to Welsh scientists that if they discover something the grant funding their work will immediately make available money to cover the costs of filing a patent application. That is all I am saying.

It is amazing to me that AMs at WAG don't even understand that research comes before discovery, but without money to hand to cover the cost of a simple patent application; the technology is GIVEN AWAY to our competitors around the world.
I understand what you are saying but this cannot be rectified by legislation. It needs a WAG strategy backed up by funding and sympathetic and proactive administration.
Peter> what part of “creating jobs for Welsh people and collecting tax revenues to pay for education, transport, NHS” don’t you, or the Lib-Dems, not understand?

When we give away Welsh intellectual property we are giving away jobs, future tax revenues, the money to finance strong vibrant communities, job satisfaction for future Welsh graduates.

But I’m not the least bit surprised at your lack of understanding on this critical (for Wales and its people) issue.
Sorry did you read my last comment? I entirely agree and understand your point but it cannot be done with legislation. You may understand patents but you do not understand how government works.
And you think you know how government works Peter? Then explain the appalling GAV, R&D, and education/OECD stats for Wales? Eight years of Welsh Assembly Government and Wales is cycling backwards in education, is at the bottom of the prosperity leagues.
I would suggest that is an example of the Labour-led Government NOT working!
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