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Meeting half way?

Betsan Powys | 23:50 UK time, Monday, 21 April 2008

It has to be said that the Rural Affairs Minister doesn't look much like an ambitious politician but don't let the knitted cardigans, turtle neck jumpers and extraordinarily sensible shoes deceive you.

Last month Elin Jones told Plaid Cymru's conference that at times, her new job in government had only served to remind her that independence is the way forward for Wales. It came at an unexpected point in her speech, just after a quick run-through of the ingredients of chicken and mushroom pie. But there it was: a Plaid Minister using the 'i' word and meaning it.

Last week she announced the Assembly Government's decision to cull badgers in a targetted area. The Plaid Minister then watched as one Labour backbencher after another voted against the government's line. In fact just one - Alun Davies - voted with the government. Even the stick-of-rock-loyal-through-and-through Jeff Cuthbert abstained.

The Minister shrugged, as if to suggest if that was the worst they could do - bring it on.

Tomorrow she'll be making another announcement, that the Assembly Government wants fisheries powers over all the seas around Wales, bolstering the area for which she'll be responsible from 12 nautical miles around the coast to "the median lines between Wales and Northern Ireland, England, Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland". In other words she's prepared to meet them half way - literally.

Ok, so it's not quite the 2.5 million square miles the Australians have got hold of down under and no-one's counting on a bonanza thanks to new-found oil and gas reserves somewhere to the North of Cantre'r Gwaelod.

All the same Elin Jones is out to persuade DEFRA to extend the zone where the Assembly Government will have responsibility for fisheries.

Why? "Our decisions on fisheries will have more of an impact" says the Minister and it makes sense as far as the management of fisheries legislation goes.

The aim? "Clarity of control".

First step then: devolving the high seas. The girl has got to start somewhere.


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