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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tories lost in Wales

Is it just me or does the Welsh Conservative's solution for improved transparency and accountability for the First Minister seem just a bit odd?

According to the BBC, the Welsh Conservative Leader wants to move the weekly First Minster's Question Time session to later in the afternoon so as to boost TV and web audiences. Yet it is already later in the day than Prime Minister's Questions, it is available on the web at any time of day and night and highlights (when there are some) are shown on TV anyway.

And let us face it, having the session later in the day is hardly going to improve Andrew R.T, Davies' lacklustre performances in question time or even make the session more interesting. It is hardly riveting viewing anyway.

One is left with the impression that perhaps the Welsh Tory Leader wants to move question time so that he has time to finish his lunch before taking part in it.

As for an annual scrutiny session for the First Minister in front of MPs, well which part of devolution do the Welsh Tories not understand?

The First Minister is accountable to AMs, not MPs. It is appropriate that Assembly Members scrutinise him, not members of a Westminster Parliament that has no responsibility for devolved matters.

By all means ask Welsh Ministers to give evidence on specific and relevant inquiries, but a regular and general scrutiny session is a backwards step and is not appropriate.

What is nost bizarre about this intervention is that the Assembly's Business Committee has just completed a review of procedures in the Assembly. To the best of my knowledge neither of these ideas were submitted to that review by the Welsh Tories.

But then the Tories have form on this. Previously Andrew R.T. Davies has called for shorter recesses for AMs, and yet I am told that behind closed doors his representatives were opposing precisely that.
This also misses the point that most people find two large, red-faced men blustering their way through a series of "questions" and "answers" to be totally off-putting.

(I do think Leanne Wood and Kirsty Williams try to ask decent questions about the government's record, to be fair to them.)

In my view if you want to turn people off to the work of the Assembly, the best thing you could do would be to get more of them to watch FMQs.
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