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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Llygad Preifat

Private Eye appear to have got themselves a source in the Welsh Assembly if the current edition's HP sauce is anything to go by. They report that the £278,000 tank trap designed to stop suicide bombers getting anywhere near the new building has a fatal flaw. No one seems to have noticed the flat, wide pavement to the side of the road - plenty of space for most vehicles, which would have no difficulty mounting the kerb, to nip around the trap.

This is the problem with commenting on work-in-progress, as you never know what else is planned for the area. The article also misses the real flaw. The intention is to block off the wide expanse of pavement at the side of the tank trap with very heavy planters, designed to delay a tank. What this means however, is that any terrorist intent on sacrificing his or her life to strike a blow against Welsh democracy would then be forced to let off the bomb at the tank trap itself. This would inevitably lead to the near destruction of the present Assembly building containing all the offices of Assembly Members and staff.

As Assembly Members will stay in these offices once the new building is opened then this has caused some considerable concern amongst a number of them. It is understood that contingency measures are being put in place to prevent this scenario being played out as well.

Private Eye's second article is on the seating plan for the new chamber. I have to admit that I have only glanced at this and not had time to study it in some detail. Everybody is intent however on avoiding the fiasco that occurred over the rearrangement of seating in the present chamber back in October 2003. According to Private Eye, when Peter Hain attends the official opening of the new building on 1 March he will be seated not with the ruling Labour group but at the end of the Plaid Cymru front bench. This will presumably be his place whenever he sits in on Plenary, currently once a year for the Queen's speech.

I suspect Mr. Hain will be very unhappy at this prospect but the issue may be out of his hands. As before, the seating arrangements are being decided by a small sub-committee and I doubt if even Labour will risk another 700 amendments by forcing the issue to a vote so as to save the Secretary of State's blushes. Who the unfortunate Plaid AM is who has to sit next to Mr. Hain has yet to be revealed but we will all be watching closely for any signs of small talk.

N.B. If Private Eye are thinking of launching a Welsh edition then they should not adopt the title of this posting. I am informed that it is not a meaningful translation although it is good enough for my purposes.

Update: I was told yesterday (Tuesday 29 November) that there is in fact no place allocated for the Secretary of State for Wales in the new chamber. He will apparently have to use a seat earmarked for the Counsel General. If the Assembly's law officer is present then Mr. Hain will be asked to snuggle up at the front with the Presiding Officer. Now, that will be entertaining.

I hope the tank traps do work ok how else will a future Plaid /Lib Dem government see off Tony Blair?
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