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Twisting pipelines

Betsan Powys | 12:07 UK time, Tuesday, 14 July 2009

This afternoon we find out - though not with any particular fanfare - what the government's legislative plans are for the coming year. You'd have thought by now that the Presiding Officer would have come up with an idea along the lines of nailing to the doors of the chamber the list of Legislative Competence Orders that will soon be sent on their way through the long, legislative pipeline.

(By the way I'm just thinking of the spectacle here, not making any comparisons with Luther's "95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences" ... just before you start).

No, the doors survive intact. The government will simply spell out in the chamber which areas of legislative responsibility it's seeking and spell out at the same time what its priorities are.

Meanwhile in London the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, whose members have played their own part in scrutinising what pops out of the pipeline at the other end of the M4, seems intent on reviewing their own role in the process. We know because the Chair, Hywel Francis, has told us clearly that this is the plan:

"My Committee's scrutiny of proposed Orders has been focused, thorough, and always with the intention to provide constructive contributions to the wider process.

It is within this spirit that my Committee plans to undertake a short review of our role in the LCO process".

Members of the committee are having an informal and private chat with the Counsel General and Leader of the House Carwyn Jones today to "discuss aspects of the scrutiny process and the role of the Welsh Affairs Committee".

Their most recent contribution has still got Ministers scratching their heads.

The report on the Welsh language LCO kicked off in exactly the way they'd expected. There was a recommendation to tighten the wording here, aim for more clarity in the scope there. So far, so as per the LCO process we've come to know, if not always love.

And then came the googlie. Ah yes, we're all into cricket in Cardiff now. Suddenly a delivery from Westminster that had looked familiar had turned into something quite unexpected that moved away from the bats waiting in Cardiff.

The committee seemed to say that in an effort to be comprehensive and legally water-tight the experts who'd toiled over the LCO had written themselves into a corner. They may have tried to cross every t and dot every i but there would inevitably be challenges in the courts from companies and bodies questioning why they - or their sector - were included in legislation in future but others were not.

Instead, they said, the Assembly Government should think in terms of broader principles. Having asked for more clarity in scope the recommendation was to move away from detailed lists and go back to basics.

It's not hard to get your committee united, all sides in the debate on board, muttered one senior source in Westminster, when your recommendations face both ways.

And hang on a minute, say emminent lawyers who've spent a decade or two getting to grips with legislation on the language. Broad principles and words like "reasonableness" and "proportionality" have 'legal challenge' written all over them. Try another few words for size: wrong call.

Whatever your views of this particular LCO and the right way forward, the Welsh Affairs Select Committee's role is now centre stage and there is an irony worth raising here.

We come to the end of the year with the very MPs who were so determined that bids for legislative responsibility were properly drafted and tied down tightly that they were accused by the Presiding Officer of "acting contrary to the spirit of devolution" ... now seemingly pointing the Assembly Government in the direction of broad principle.

A twist in the pipeline?


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  • 1. At 1:58pm on 14 Jul 2009, Neocromwellian wrote:

    A twist in the pipeline?

    No I think its being given the run around which does nobody any good what so ever.

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  • 2. At 2:07pm on 14 Jul 2009, mapexx wrote:

    Sorry Betsan... As in the pipeline? No, more a twist in the hawser holding the ship to the quay.

    Have you ever tried to REALLY comprehend what they say, mean, or imply, in all of this rhetoric, emanating like the wind, from Cardiff Bay? And like the wind, extremely hard, if not impossible, to get to grips with.

    Try to think of that hawser ...start with just the one thread in it, and see how far up the rope you get before losing track of where it has led you, for sure as eggs are eggs, you will never travel from quay to ship, without losing track of where you are, or for that matter, where you are attempting to go.

    So it is with Cardiff Bay, a hiding to nothing, no matter how hard you try to follow along.

    It is all over complicated, deliberately so in my view, in the hopes the normal person will simply give up and turn away, and in truth, so he should, for fear of becominmg like those already in the swim of things.

    That is how we see the tripe being perpetually spouted by the variety of spokespersons from the locality of the Assembly/WAG.

    A long thick and twisted rope, with whatever it is being tried on, hidden by the many plaits, twists, warps, and wefts contained therein.

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  • 3. At 5:15pm on 14 Jul 2009, Crossroads wrote:

    Just why is government, both in Westminster and in Cardiff, so damn complicated?

    Now on a good day,I pride myself on reaching almost average intelligence. So why is it that whenever Betsan comments on the goings on in the assembly, in a matter of seconds, I have that glazed look on my face and find myself wondering if I should cut the grass, clean the car, or don my 'Lone Ranger' outfit and chase Mrs. Sembly around the house?

    What with the jargon and 'government' language,(using 30 words when 6 will do) I bet few ordinary folk know what the hell is going on.

    In spite of my admitted dislike of the assembly, I did initially hope that we could at least show Westminster just how to operate using language that the ordinary Joe (from Canton) could appreciate and understand.

    I'm afraid it looks like they've blown it.

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  • 4. At 5:27pm on 14 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 3

    You have a point. But as long as WAG and the civil servants in Cardiff have to pass everything through the olde worlde corridors of Westminster and Whitehall for permission from our masters, then change will be slow.

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  • 5. At 6:18pm on 14 Jul 2009, Crossroads wrote:

    To sleep perchance to dream, aye there's the rub, FiDafydd.

    I assume you are referring to LCOs which I know means 'Legislative Competence Orders', but we like to know them as 'Language Control Orders'. This is because without them the rabid nationalist element down the bay would go crazy with power and have us all learning Welsh so we could qualify for a public sector job. We have already been told in no uncertain terms (by gloating Plaid members on these fora) that in the near future not being able to speak Welsh will mean we will not be able to apply for any worthwhile employment in Wales.... This (and some other distasteful racial reasons)we firmly believe to be behind the (temporary) increase in demand for Welsh medium education.

    Can you now understand the anger and bitterness now being displayed by many English speaking Welsh folk?

    Quite frankly we don't trust this assembly to behave in a democratic manner, and thank God for the ponderous LCO system.

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  • 6. At 6:23pm on 14 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:

    Betsan, the Welsh nationalist contributors to your bog have often claimed the Welsh language to be culture.

    Culture, from the Latin "cultura" stemming from "colere", meaning "to cultivate", no mention of legal coercion, just cultivation. Wiki.

    For Plaid, the sprint for power seems to be over ..... as it suddenly turned into the hurdles, and true to form the nationalists lost their wind. Slow is good for legislation.

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  • 7. At 6:58pm on 14 Jul 2009, puredrivelagain wrote:


    The twists and turns are put in place by the rope maker, in this case your beloved London with it, open your eyes, put on your glasses and stop blaming the Assembly for everything. I'd like to see you perform an overhead barbell shoulder press with one hand tied behind your back....

    As for Noah-banged my head getting out of my ark-ssembly, please expand on the many distasteful reasons people might have (besides employment) to learn school their children through the welsh medium?

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  • 8. At 8:14pm on 14 Jul 2009, Crossroads wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 9. At 9:07pm on 14 Jul 2009, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:

    Hang on! Puredrivelagain, in a rather clumsy witless fashion, tried to call Noah a head banger! Noah responded in kind, and got zapped, is that how you nats want to play it? You insult, but mustn't be insulted back?....Life isn't like that.

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  • 10. At 9:46pm on 14 Jul 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 8...

    How ignorant can you get...fool.

    I was referring entirely to the verbal machinations of ALL politicians and their sycophants. But wait a mo', no wonder you are so quick to respond in such a negative fashion, and completely off track... you are one of them are you not? Either a politician or a sycophant.

    Takes a lot of hard work to clean that brown off the nose, eh?

    And being so, look to seek criticism whenever someone submits a message that can be taken, even in the most extreme manner, to criticise your beloved heap of dung in Cardiff Bay.

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  • 11. At 9:47pm on 14 Jul 2009, Neocromwellian wrote:

    #4 permission from our masters

    With your constant reference to the film Mississippi Burning you are beginning to sound like an Uncle Tom.

    I have every sympathy for the dire situation the Welsh Assembly is in regarding LCOs until you use this blog to knock the culture and heritage of people who support the right of the Welsh people to self determination with such a high and mighty attitude.

    Then I can only assume that you want to swap English Crown Immunity for a Welsh version to keep the little people in their place.

    You are the first to complain about anybody who knocks anything Welsh but frankly you deserve all you get, for stirring it up and then playing the victim.

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  • 12. At 10:43pm on 14 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    No 11 and others

    The Brit nats have been in a foul mood all day. I hope you all have a better time of it tomorrow.

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  • 13. At 11:35pm on 14 Jul 2009, Ian wrote:

    There does appear to be a bit of a scatter-gun approach to this debate. Far be it for me to call our Assembly perfect, but I suspect that the usual anti-devolution folk here are struggling a little to hold up Westminster as the perfect model.

    I wonder why?

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  • 14. At 10:52am on 15 Jul 2009, Cilmyn wrote:

    #10 - do we need comments such as......

    'How ignorant can you get...fool'

    '.... you are one of them are you not? Either a politician or a sycophant.'

    'Takes a lot of hard work to clean that brown off the nose, eh?'

    '.... your beloved heap of dung....'

    Surely this website deserves better than this bitter, defensive and petty nastiness? These comments all in the 10th post of this thread and off-topic. This is shameful behaviour. This blog should have better posters than this?......

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  • 15. At 11:59am on 15 Jul 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 14...

    Very snide, pal, support your local 'Drivel' is it?.

    Try reading, as I did, message 7. Without the blinkers of your nationalist spectacles in front of your eyes.

    The responding message was deserved.

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  • 16. At 12:31pm on 15 Jul 2009, Cilmyn wrote:

    15 - Do you think your language is appropriate here? I think you are a WUM and here to cause dissent only - why else use such phrases as you do? Of course I read the message at #7 - it has no insulting words or phrases like you use, its tone is not spiteful and mean like yours. Why respond as you do - it will only inflame the messages and send us even more off-topic. Why do it pal? Why do it at all?

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  • 17. At 12:52pm on 15 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Even with the imperfect settlement that we are presently saddled with, and the nonsense of the LCO's, there is even more encouraging news today on the unemployment front. There's been a record rise throughout the UK, but bucking that trend, Wales is the only nation or region within the UK to see a fall. As I said last time, there are still tough times ahead of us, but there is an encouraging pattern here. And also as I said last time, I hope the Brit nats will welcome the good news.

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  • 18. At 1:16pm on 15 Jul 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 16....

    In response to all who promote the idea that Wales should be hived off into never never land, that is why, not because I intend to wind you up.

    It may have not become apparent to you, although it should be crystal clear, that anyone who opposes that mess in Cardiff Bay, or the vast expenditure on all sorts of non essential matters, such as language, embassies, LCO's et al, are subjected to diatribe diabolical from the likes of Drivel, Fi Fi, and now you it seems.

    I for one, will not stand there and take it, I will, and stridently, respond to slimy and snide side-sniping with any sort of rhetoric permitted by the moderators, or otherwise I, and those who think along the same lines, will be simply rinsed out of public comment altogether,

    That will not happen.

    So, if you are nmot able to accept that, then take a hike to somewhere where your ever so gentle nature will not be offended, ...Chapel maybe.

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  • 19. At 2:11pm on 15 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 20. At 4:03pm on 15 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 18


    "So, if you are nmot able to accept that, then take a hike to somewhere where your ever so gentle nature will not be offended, ...Chapel maybe."

    And yet my no.19 has vanished! Could it be a matter of preaching one
    thing .....?

    It's so very interesting and enlightening that no one has responded to the good news regarding unemployment in Wales.

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  • 21. At 6:58pm on 15 Jul 2009, christiancitizen wrote:

    Re. comment 5 by Noah_sembly. The "gloating Plaid members" you refer to might like to remember that making the MAJORITY learn the language of the MINORITY in order to gain worthwhile employment was one of the first acts of the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

    It is also worthwhile remembering another recent example of language coercion-i.e the French language policy in Quebec. This was so draconian that it caused a brain-drain of English speaking professionals from the province and left it with a serious skills shortage.

    Welsh language rights have come a long way in the last 40 years and, quite frankly I feel that they have gone far enough. Welsh now has equal treatment in all official business and is encouraged by many large private concerns. Wales has been polarised by this issue and it's high time a line was drawn under it. Any further compulsion is going to push us in the direction of a language Apartheid with all the bitterness and disunity that it will cause.

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  • 22. At 9:09pm on 15 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 21


    Can I ask you where your paranoia comes from? If you are Christian, why do you put one group's rights above another? Where is that taught?

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  • 23. At 9:18pm on 15 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 17

    ...and still not one comment about the unemployment figures! It shows what some people really care about - not the people of Wales, but having a platform to spout all their petty and ridiculous prejudices.

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  • 24. At 9:47pm on 15 Jul 2009, christiancitizen wrote:


    I have no problem with the Welsh language or anybody that speaks it. Believe it or not I've tried to learn it myself. Unfortunately the instructor was rushing between so many groups that she hardly had time to say hello let alone teach us anything. As for one groups rights above another I think that is a charge best laid against certain sections of the language lobby, not me. I hold the view that anyone born in Wales is Welsh and should have the same rights as their fellow Welshmen and women, no matter what language they speak. I have no problem with ensuring adequate bilingual provision in the public sector; Welsh-speakers are tax-payers as well. It is no secret, however that many in the language lobby do wish to see a situation in Wales where Welsh speakers can expect to be delt with in Welsh wherever they do business. Inevitably this will lead to English speakers being at a disadvantage in employment rights. THAT is one group's rights being put above another.

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  • 25. At 9:48pm on 15 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:

    FiDafydd, is paranoia a new word in your vocabulary .....

    christiancitizen offered observations from history, Apartheid regime in South Africa and the French language policy in Quebec, both valid observations in a non-confrontational way. Within the comment we were reminded of four conditions that might be expected if consensus cannot be discovered, they were polarised, compulsion, bitterness, and disunity. Your criticism is unwarranted.

    ..... I'm afraid your obsession with language borders on obsessive, with such a narrow view of the options available, is there to be a war I wonder?

    I haven't heard the news today but I am sure such news will be welcome by the unemployed of Swansea.

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  • 26. At 9:50pm on 15 Jul 2009, christiancitizen wrote:


    By the way, in my book having the same rights includes the right to free speech. I see that you've had a few comments taken off recently. Seems a bit over the top to me.

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  • 27. At 10:18pm on 15 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 25

    Paranoia is a word for me, not a condition.

    I've used the word 'extraordinary' to describe one of your comments today already, and here we go again! Look back at all the wild messages on here from the Brit nats, and that is where you'll find an obsession with language. If Betsan were to blog about a moon-landing, then your good self, or Neo or mappy would find reason to attack the Welsh language.

    It's stifling this blog.

    I repeat, we had positive news about Welsh unemployment today, but for some good news here in Wales seems to be a problem.

    Re 26

    Thank you.

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  • 28. At 11:07pm on 15 Jul 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 27....

    Mappy certainly would find just cause, should the reason be there for the using of.

    However to comment on your remarks re unemployment... what difference does it really make if there is a growing number out of work in Wales, whilst the jobless are reducing across the Dyke?

    Wales has been subjected to a mass decamping of heavy industry, and whatever job opportunities have come in to take up the slack, have hardly been worthwhile jobs in all honesty.

    However, that said, it is quite often the case that when an upswing does occur in a deprived area, it usually means far better jobs coming in than went out.

    For Wales, unfortunately, and this is what seems impossible for some to comprehend, it is the matter of distance, and the associated transport difficulties attached, that reduces Wales' viability.

    It's not just the matter of bridge tolls, though they do not help, but the fact that two way traffic is the hurdle to get over. One way with the raw materials to bend and bash into saleable items, and the other, to transport them, to distant market places. All the while having competition, from less distant manufacturing bases, to contend with.

    Wales has had this problem for years, centuries even, and unless we can get someone to invent that fabled 'beam me up Scotty' device, so that we can dispatch our goods, at virtually no cost, to any place on earth, we are stuck with the barrier of distance to contend with.

    Small amounts can be dealt with, as can massive amounts such as when coal and steel were on the up, but it is im[possible to make money from the amounts required to compete in the open market place due as I say to the added cost of transport.

    Lower wages may take up a bit of slack, but what business would want to be scratching about on a permanent hand to mouth basis, even the Welsh entrepreneurial contingent balk at such a prospect.

    That is why we have little to offer, and the constant whinge about 'our' water and 'our' electricity does not amount to a hill of beans in practical and realistic terms, where business and wealth are concerned.

    I think sticking with the guy mentioned over on Talk Wales, Paul Child, I believe, would be a far better idea than worrying about where the new tranche of jobs are coming from.

    At least you will be pleasantly entertained, as I hear it.

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  • 29. At 00:45am on 16 Jul 2009, Ian wrote:

    I agree with your criticism about the few cretins who believe that speaking Welsh makes you more Welsh than if you don't. However, you then disappointed me by making an outrageous and pointless analogy with South Africa and then a irrelevant comparison with Quebec.

    On the job argument that you and so many other use to put down the Welsh language, I note that you didn't look at the example of Gwynedd Council, where employees in many areas are expected to speak Welsh and so are offered courses, to meet a certain standard within a fixed period. When they apply for these jobs, they need not speak a word.

    Wht can't you just for a moment take off your blinkers and look at the rest of Europe, where speaking your native tongue along with other languages is seen as an advantage.

    I am absolutely dire at languages but am learning Welsh. It will never get me a job in what I do but it means that I can enjoy using two languages with my children as they grow up.

    Fi Dafydd,
    I suspect that this months job figures were a bit of the blip, I'm afraid. The WAG policies have been far more pro-active than the UK or Scotland, but we are still due some more big hits in terms of losses. What will shock many will be the public sector cuts, to pay for bailing out the banks. We are talking here cuts never seen before in Wales on such a scale and occurring over several years.

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  • 30. At 06:09am on 16 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:

    #29 Analogies are only pointless in this blog when they do not support the Nationalist argument.

    #27 There is no attack on Wales or the Welsh, why would I offend my own, Plaid Cymru are another matter, snakes in a lucky dip comes to mind.

    The Welsh language is as relevant to the modern world as ancient Sumerian, I don't know why you keep bringing it up, the majority, and more importantly business, are not interested.

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  • 31. At 10:11am on 16 Jul 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Back to the topic. The convoluted process that the Constitution of Wales demands that we follow to enable us to legislate on any matter. Clearly the Welsh Affairs Select Committee is having it both ways, by instruction the Assembly to be precise and tighten definitions and then to say that the approach is wrong and that broad general principles are better they are effectively creating barriers to the transfer of powers. This is the best way they have to give the impression of cooperating with the LCO process while at the same time effectively obstructing it.

    For me its either a very clever way of ensuring that people vote yes in the forthcoming referendum or a last ditch attempt to cling onto power at any cost. I can't make up my mind...

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  • 32. At 10:12am on 16 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 30

    Let's get this clear. It is 'you' that is constantly bringing in the language, not 'us'.

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  • 33. At 5:23pm on 16 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 29


    I'm sure you're right, and I've been careful with this and other months' figures not to make unreasonable claims. I'm just glad that we have a Welsh government dedicated to the specifically Welsh situation. And I trust that even the Brit nats deep down wish them luck.

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  • 34. At 6:20pm on 16 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:


    Much better to have a government dedicated to the people of the whole country, not just to a particular region.

    I notice the chair of Plaid now refers to his members as Nationalists, the others are referred to as Unionists.

    So FiDafydd where you refer to "Brit nats" in a disparaging way, we are to assume you have crossed the floor to where the future is blue.

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  • 35. At 7:21pm on 16 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 34

    Ah, but we do have a government for the whole nation - it's called the Welsh Assembly Government. That's the beauty of it!

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  • 36. At 9:05pm on 16 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:


    You are mistaken, the government exists at Westminster, what you describe is a play acting, a parody of good governance, an allusive imitation.

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  • 37. At 9:44pm on 16 Jul 2009, christiancitizen wrote:


    re. 29

    The comparisons with South Africa and Quebec did not relate to the current situation in Wales. They concerned the direction we are heading and the possible consequences. NB. This is my last post on this particular blogging strand. See you all in another story on Betsan's Blog.

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  • 38. At 10:48pm on 16 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 36

    No, Stonemason, and you can claim that the moon isn't there as well if you like, but the Welsh government sits in Cardiff and is known as the Welsh Assembly Government.

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  • 39. At 05:57am on 17 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:



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