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Brave new world

Betsan Powys | 10:57 UK time, Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The allocation of chairmanships of Select Committees will be discussed in Westminster this morning and in one respect - and one only you suspect - Peter Hain, the former Welsh Secretary, is going to have to accept that David Cameron has not forgotten about Wales.

Divvying up who chairs which comittee now happens in a brave, new democratic world thanks to reforms announced back in March. Stitch-ups are out and a secret ballot of all MPs are in as a way of electing new committee chairs.

One thing we now know: the Welsh Affairs Select Committee will in future be chaired by a Conservative - the first ever Tory to sit in that particular chair. An unbroken chain of Labour chairmen that goes from Leo Abse in 1979 to Donald Anderson, Gareth Wardell who held the position uninterrupted for 14 years, Martyn Jones and Hywel Francis comes to and end.

Not even in 1983, when the Conservatives won their largest ever haul of seats in Wales - 14 - did one of them chair the Welsh Affairs Select Committee. But now they clearly do want it - I'm open to suggestions as to why - and given they're in charge, they get it.

The Scottish Affairs Select Committee chair? That remains in Labour hands.

Who'll get the job and the extra kudos/cash? Cue horse-trading.

Nominations open once the debate is done and dusted and a ballot will be held in fourteen days' time. Nominees need the signatures of fifteen supporting members from the same party and can also include the signatures of five elected members from other parties if they wish.

David Davies MP? As a member who was in the past offered "better gigs" than the Welsh Affairs Committee as a colleague puts it, that seems unlikely.

Stephen Crabb MP? He's a whip so he couldn't throw his hat into the ring, even if he wanted to.

Jonathan Evans MP? Doesn't an experienced 'retread' - that awful word - beat a new boy to the job - or is there a brave, new boy in a brave, new world who fancies making a name for himself?

UPDATE 14.00

My colleague, David Cornock, tells me Jonathan Evans has ruled himself out of the race, perhaps with his eye out for other opportunities to make a mark.

So doesn't that put David Davies firmly in the race after all? Perhaps the "gig" will appeal if there's a chairmanship involved?

Or will there be a push for what I'll call a more 'centrist' chair, even if that means a brand- new boy on the block climbing straight into the chairman's job?


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  • 1. At 12:31pm on 26 May 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    May I first appologise and be allowed to repeat this comment because of its importance to the chronically ill and disabled people of Wales.

    As important as this item is to the political anoraks in Wales.

    Another more important political firebomb is lying dormant waiting to explode.

    It is especially important for the thousands of chronically ill and disabled people in Wales for whom it affects far more than higher education

    BBC Scotland are in the forefront in seeing the importance of this.

    Perhaps BBC Wales and the people of Wales should start taking some notice of it.

    There is a program relating to the following websites on BBC Scotland tonight, 26/05 at 10.45,

    If these following right wing newspapers are also speaking out against the new benefits system there must be something wrong.

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  • 2. At 10:42am on 27 May 2010, Crossroads wrote:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Alfsplace. His topic is far, far more pressing than yet more political shenanigans which let's face it, mean little to probably 99% of the population.
    The TV this morning was full of failed Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smitht putting on his (somewhat creepy) friendly face, trying hard to look human.In words that could only have been written by a speechwriter on speed,and copied straight from a certain newspaper, he ever so politely informed us all that the government is proposing a cull of all those poor sods on the dole (or whatever it's called nowadays) With an even worse fate awaiting those who have the temerity to be ill and on Incapacity Benefit.

    The fact that in April (latest figures) the govt. announced there were 470,000 UK vacancies. A number incidently which many find laughable, after many Jobcentres admitted inflating the job vacancy numbers for reasons known only to themselves. This compares to there being well over 5,000,000 receiving the dole and I.B.

    With unemployment expected to rise alarmingly,I would be delighted if Mr Iain Duncan Smith could tell us what would happen if his planned wondrous scheme to get all those claimants into employment was a roaring success and those 470,000 vacancies were filled...lets say...overnight! This would still leave us with over 4,450,000 still without work, and on the Government's own figures,ZERO vacancies. And I haven't even allowed for the fact that many hundreds of thousands of current workers are going to (one way or another) find themselves out of work because of the imminent economic situation.Neither have I included the 1.5 million "NEETS" nor the 1.1 million part time workers who (bless 'em) are busy looking for full time work.

    Quite frankly, there just isn't the economic activity in the UK to provide enough work for the population. To 'screw' those who make up the poorest in the land, then 'hide' all the figures, (which really are treated as though they are state secrets)is the work of sly, scheming bully-boys.

    Worse than that though is the hiring of a private company..Atos Origin who, with unqualified staff, will carry out all this nonsense, with a large bonus being handed out for every person they take off I.B. This in spite of the fact that their own GPs and NHS consultants have deemed they qualified for said benefit.

    Where else in this world can you find a system whereby the opinion of someone with no medical qualifications whatsoever,(and on some kind of productivity bonus!!!!!) can overturn that of NHS medical doctors?

    This country (UK) really has, both economically and morally, gone right down the pan!

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  • 3. At 11:07am on 27 May 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    2. Noah_sembly

    Thank you Noah-sembly I was beginning to think that no one cared about this immoral situation that is going to blow up in every ones faces in the near future.

    It not only affects those who have chronic mental or physical illnesses and the disabled, but their invisible, to society, carers as well.

    It is sadly I fear going to end up in some tragic situations for a lot of people.

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  • 4. At 2:44pm on 27 May 2010, John Henry wrote:

    David Davies the MP for Monmouth, that would be an entertaining appointment, if nothing else; I have a problem with an image of the First Minister as supplicant kneeling before an audience at the court of David (I love Nationalists) Davies.

    The prospect of a new boy, I assume you meant Glyn Davies, nice fellow but not brave enough for the "brave new world" as envisioned by coalition champions, my guess is he will keep his head well down until after the difficult choices are made .....

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  • 5. At 3:59pm on 27 May 2010, FoDafydd wrote:

    Re 4


    "The prospect of a new boy, I assume you meant Glyn Davies, nice fellow but not brave enough for the "brave new world" as envisioned by coalition champions..."

    Too Welsh, you mean...?

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  • 6. At 4:34pm on 27 May 2010, Edmund0Dantes wrote:

    I am really sorry, but we cannot allow people who have been "on the dole" for 18 years to keep claiming they cannot, in any way get a job.

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  • 7. At 5:16pm on 27 May 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    4. Stonemason

    Seems like you want to go back to the trivialities then.

    Is that a 'brave new world' without chronicaly ill and disabled people I wonder.

    Hmm seems I have heard that somewhere before.

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  • 8. At 6:18pm on 27 May 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    6. Edmund0Dantes

    With the greatest respect if you are classing chronically ill people and disabled people as being in your words 'on the dole'. If you are not then I apologise

    I am afraid you are totally, excuse the word, ignorant of the facts. Please read my comment above and all the relevant website additions, then come to that conclusion.

    I can even give you this if you want extra reading.

    These people have already gone through exceptionally stringent and very stressful assessment tests for DLA and Incapacity benefit and you can be sure they wouldn't be getting the benefits if they were not entitled to them.

    Now they are expected to go through far more stringent tests performed by a foreign private company ATOS on behalf of the DWP. these are firstly computer tick boxes for which practically everyone fails you then have to go for work assessment tests performed by people who have no medical qualifications or knowledge of the person being interviewed. They do not even take into consideration the medical evidence you supply.

    They are then failing them which then means they have to go to appeal and so far 60% of the appeals are ending up in favour of the claimant.
    This process can take months and months and the claimants have no money during this period. Is that fair in your eyes.

    Oh, and one more thing, don't go 'on the sick' because you won't get a sick note from your GP. The Government has changed the system, the GP now gives you a 'fit for work' note.

    Which means you may not be fit or well enough to do your regular job, but are able to do another job within your workplace. Great that if your working for a building company or perhaps a Stonemason.

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  • 9. At 8:20pm on 27 May 2010, Crossroads wrote:

    6. At 4:34pm on 27 May 2010, Edmund0Dantes wrote:
    I am really sorry, but we cannot allow people who have been "on the dole" for 18 years to keep claiming they cannot, in any way get a job
    Well I've got news for you sunshine. In the period you mention unemployment has rarely been less than 1.5million and often considerably more.
    Here in Wales, jobs always seem to be rarer than rocking-horse s**t. Booms pass us by on the other side of the road.

    Us Welsh seem to be in a constant state of hope and cheerfulness, when a more logical and realistic race would be kneeling down crying with one hand clutching their will, and the other on the gas stove door.

    Of course there is abuse of the system, of course there are lazy, weak-willed sods who, immune from the real world on a bizarre diet of Whisky at £6.99 a bottle, skunk and chips, with a Sunday treat of crack, will surely never work again.I fear that they, sadly are a lost cause.

    But we must never forget that there is still poverty, illiteracy, and a kind of candy-floss hope here in Wales among ordinary unemployed men and women who really would give anything for a job paying even minimum wages. The simple fact which is never discussed, (OK the elephant in the room if you like) is that quite simply there are just nowhere near enough jobs.A fact that successive governments seem keen to overlook.

    Went back to Ely yesterday to see some old friends (all of us in our early 60s) from the Windsor Clive days. We got to chatting about the 'old days' and the economic climate. I was amazed to discover that all three of them had had so many jobs that they had difficulty remembering them all.One joked that he had no idea how much his pension would be,and he doubted that the pensions people would be able to dig out the large number of jobs he'd had in his working life. All of them were now 'on the dole' and surviving by making withdrawals from their precious savings. All paid lip service to the system but knew that at their age, living in Ely, they had no chance whatsoever of obtaining any more employment....Oh yes, by the way, all four of us had passed our 11+ and gone on to do quite well in both 'O' and 'A' levels.Only one of us had gone on to university, and none of us had ever been in trouble with the law.
    Those 'boyos' although living barely above the poverty threshold are now to be pulled through the 'new' system. They will be threatened with cuts in their dole, and forced to partake in the charade of job-seeking. They will fill in questionaire after questionaire in an attempt to maintain their pathetic standard of will cost a bloody fortune.

    The message I got was that they just wanted to be left alone for the 3/4 years left before their OAP becomes due. They said it couldn't come soon enough for them.

    Is that really what this country wants? For three men who had done their best and taken any work they could get, to now, when in their 60s be wishing their lives away so they didn't have to play expensive,damn silly games with the government over a few pounds a week.

    Bloody scroungers !

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  • 10. At 10:13pm on 27 May 2010, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Noah and Alfspace, glad to agree with you. I know people who have mental health problems who will be forced back to work, work that they can't cope with, that will end with them spending time in a psychiatric unit. Why? Because of their lack of self confidence and their mental health problems they can be easily bullied into taking jobs that will wreck their health. And all to get the statistics right. Its a mark of a civilised society that we take care of those least able to take care of themselves.

    Now there probably are a hard core of people with low expectations who have come to regard surviving on the dole as their allotted role in life, but this really is a small minority. For all the press may go on about people being better off on the dole this is rarely right. If we are going to make any reforms a combination of the tax and benefit system might be a way forward, so that it can clearly be demonstrated that people with needs are looked after.

    We need quality training, using low cost providers will only produce low cost training. Why not resurrect the old training board and levy schemes? Where industry provided a network of training providers funded by an industry wide levy and run by the industry its self. Those companies that provided accredited training drew funds down to pay for it. Those companies that benefited from access to skilled staff paid for it through the industry wide and industry decided levy.

    There is a need for basic skills education, that is the preserve of the state, and to do it right you need to have skilled people, not a cheap option. This is part of rebuilding people's confidence and helping to make them employable.

    There are a third group of people who have been unemployed for some time and may lack many of the skills needed for a regular job. In the early years of the last Tory administration there was a scheme where by people retained benefit eligibility and got a premium of about 50% above basic benefit level. In return they worked 3 days a week on socially useful jobs (and no I don't mean digging ditches and litter picking). It was known as the Community Program, I see no reason why such a scheme could not be resurrected. No need for coercion, most people would welcome it, and it would provide what many needed - namely a reference.

    Of course this is all predicated on the existence of jobs for people to go to.. and that is a big if at the moment.

    Back to the main issue on this blog subject. The MP for Monmouth is not highly regarded elsewhere in politics and he has enough critics within the Welsh Conservative Party to rule him out. I wonder who has the ability to chair a cross party committee in these new coalition times?

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  • 11. At 07:29am on 28 May 2010, John Henry wrote:

    #4, Fo, you missed the end where I wrote ...

    ... coalition champions, my guess is he will keep his head well down until after the difficult choices are made .....

    ... he writes a warm and fluffy blog, nice guy, but not someone who would make a difficult choice where there would be a possibility of nationalists attaching the "anti-" label to him, politics needs Mr and Mrs Awkward not a Mr playdough.

    LDT at #10 offers a partial roadmap that the majority would agree with.

    I would add, there are British jobs for British people, millions of them, sufficient for every person wishing to work, unfortunately politics of the last 30 years have allowed them to become relocated. I wrote many months ago that a green tax applied to goods on arrival in the UK, from countries with no wish to control carbon emissions, should be applied. This coupled with a carbon transport tax would go a long way to repatriating economic activity back to the UK, the government slogan should be "if you want to sell it here, then make it here".

    Unfortunately our politicians of the last few decades are unable to create framework legislation, preferring the soviet model of government sponsored industry, small government coupled with smart legislation is to be preferred.

    Myself, I bank with an International bank, it has call centres in India, I insist on doing business in the UK so am directed to Scotland, if everyone did the same how soon before the call centres re-located back to the UK; how many of our banks are owned by the government, how soon before people write asking for the call centres to come home, how soon would a coalition take to react if it received a million letters, not long ...

    I notice the European Union have shown an interest in the carbon tax method of re-repatriation of employment.

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  • 12. At 12:11pm on 28 May 2010, FoDafydd wrote:

    Re 10

    I think we've seen quite clearly over the past few days where the crooks and the scroungers are to be found - within the ranks over the over-subsidised monstrosity that is the royal family. As well as, of course, all those Tory voting bankers.

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  • 13. At 3:04pm on 28 May 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    Why don't we get things in perspective.

    Which of these are a greater drain on the countries, meaning our finances and which ones get away with it.

    Actually that should be £1.7 billion pounds not 17

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  • 14. At 4:17pm on 28 May 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    Here's another one

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