Wednesday, 26 May 2010


I took the opportunity yesterday during First Minister’s questions to ask Carwyn about the Assembly Government’s plans to refurbish its offices in Cathays Park at a cost of £42 million. A massive spend at the best of times but clearly crazy in these difficult economic times.

Plans for the refit were revealed in March 2009 with a project team being set up at a cost of £100,000.

Imagine my surprise when Carwyn confirmed the plans had been ditched and there would be no refurbishment of Cathays Park.

I find it extraordinary that the Assembly Government has ditched these plans, having set up a project team to implement them, without making a statement to the Assembly.

We were told a refit was necessary because the existing accommodation was inflexible, unable to respond to changing business needs and there were health and safety issues.

Either those problems have been resolved or they are no longer considered important enough to justify the spending of £42 million of taxpayers money.

Although I welcome the decision, it is a disgrace that the Labour/Plaid coalition has attempted to quietly drop these plans without any public announcement.

It reminds us all of the arrogance of promoting such a crazy scheme in the first place but at least it is dropped now—not before time.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


A year ago, I raised the issue of people using National Park land in the Brecon Beacons for illegal motor bike scrambling.

This followed complaints I received from visitors whose enjoyment of the National Park was ruined by these bikers.

Unfortunately, a complaint I recently received clearly shows that scrambling remains a problem.

People come from a long way to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the Brecon Beacons and it is unacceptable that bikers should ignore the signs prohibiting this activity and wreck other people’s enjoyment.

I will be meeting John Cook, Chief Executive of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, on Thursday and I intend to raise this issue.

Friday, 21 May 2010

‘Yes’ campaign

I have today written to Paul Davies AM and thought I would share my thoughts with you:

"I am writing to update you on what seems to be the position in relation to the forthcoming referendum on full powers.

As you know, two years ago I suggested to you that you should be the nominee from our Group for a ‘Yes’ campaign organisation and you kindly agreed to this. I discussed the need for such a group with Rhodri Morgan, and subsequently with Carwyn Jones.

I have now written to the First Minister once again to take action on this front. There is already a campaigning ‘No’ organisation up and running and, alas, there is no balancing ‘Yes’ organisation.

As you know our Group has discussed the timing of the referendum and this has also been discussed by the Party. I have repeatedly pressed Carwyn Jones to rule out a referendum on the same day as the Assembly elections. Until yesterday he had failed to do that but I am very pleased that he now seems to have come round to this view. Kirsty Williams, in fairness, had also argued strongly that the Assembly election day should be ruled out.

Alas it seems obvious from Cheryl’s public statement and the evidence that little work has been done on this matter by Peter Hain since the request for a referendum went in from the Assembly. Our firm preference would still be of an October referendum as I think this would ensure that the issue did not get inextricably linked with the Assembly election campaign. The lack of action from the government parties in the Assembly, and from Peter Hain, seems to make this unlikely to say the least.

I am copying this letter to Catrin Edwards as Chairman of the Party in Wales, and to Cheryl Gillan.

As soon as I have a response from Carwyn Jones and the other Leaders about a campaigning group for a ‘Yes’ vote I will inform you and the Group in the Assembly and the wider party. "

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Referendum

At last a Secretary of State who is open about the process on the upcoming referendum. We have learnt far more on the referendum and progress on it from Cheryl Gillan in a week that we have learnt from Peter Hain in a period of years. I think this is to be welcomed and it is clearly now very much on the agenda.

Some time ago I urged the setting up of a ‘Yes’ campaign group with representatives from each of the four parties here to Rhodri Morgan, and subsequently to Carwyn Jones. The response from Carwyn Jones was that he didn’t want anything to happen before the General Election. I can understand this but now that is out of the way it would be sensible to get a ‘Yes’ campaign group up and running. If it is to be a level playing field this surely needs to happen.

People like Daran Hill have put this very much on the agenda, and Daran had a meeting on this last night. It was my loss that I didn’t get to this partly because of business in Plenary over-running and partly because of a pile of work on my desk, but I understand that out there people are expecting and hoping for a lead on the campaigning front from a ‘Yes’ organisation to counter the organisation that is already up and running campaigning for a ‘No’ vote.

This cuts across political parties, it cuts across the Welsh public, and it is important that there is a proper debate on this issue before a vote is taken.

I look forward to this happening. In the meantime, I am dropping a note once again to the First Minister, the Deputy First Minister and to Kirsty Williams to urge action.

Monday, 17 May 2010


Like many people, I was shocked by news of the vandalism of the slogan “Cofiwch Dryweryn.”

This rock and the slogan have iconic and historic significance for us in Wales and I was concerned that the rock had been daubed and the slogan defaced.

However, prompt action has meant that it has now been repainted and the slogan restored.

I very much welcome the restoration of this important part of our cultural history to its previous state.

I know too that the community of Llanrhystud, together with the National Trust, is raising funds to protect this iconic symbol. This should help to protect this monument in the long term and that is very good news.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


I am delighted a deal has been struck between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats in the national interest and that David Cameron is now Prime Minister.

I recognise the statesman-like response of both parties to this agreement which addresses the needs of the time, and acknowledges the verdict of the electorate.

This agreement will bring much needed stability to government and I look forward to working with the new Westminster team which I am sure will be sensitive to the needs and aspirations of Wales. Certainly, this has been David Cameron’s approach to Wales throughout his leadership.

We all want to develop a positive working relationship between Westminster and the Assembly to deliver the best possible outcomes for Wales.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


Seventy years ago, on May 10th 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of a coalition government.

Today, we await the outcome of the current negotiations to see who will become Britain’s next Prime Minister.

The challenge any incoming government faces in 2010 is different from 1940, but in many ways no less daunting. How do we deal with Labour’s massive deficit to get our economy back on track.

What is clear is the nation needs a stable government that can command a majority in Parliament to take the difficult decisions necessary to achieve this.

It remains to be seen whether the national interest will take precedence over Party advantage.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


In February this year, Ieuan Wyn Jones claimed on a Plaid Cymru website that the number of pensioners living in poverty had risen sharply to almost 160,000.

This means a quarter of Welsh pensioners living below 60 per cent of national average wage.

When I asked Carwyn Jones about this he replied that he was not responsible for the contents of a Plaid Cymru website.

Older people deserve dignity and respect in their old age, not a First Minister who, when faced with official statistics, treats them both with contempt.