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Mr Kawczynski v Mr d'Hondt

Betsan Powys | 16:17 UK time, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

65968.jpgDaniel Kawczynski MP is renowned for, how shall I put it, keeping a close eye on what goes on this side of Offa's Dyke.

Well he might. He represents Shrewsbury and Atcham, a constituency that's bang on the Welsh border. For Mr Kawczynski and his constituents "cross-border issues" isn't a heading in a Welsh Affairs Select Committee report. It's day to day life.

Now to be clear he likes Wales. It's a great place. It's just that every day when he wakes up he doesn't exactly thank the Lord that he's next door to the Welsh. He has a long list of "issues" with Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Assembly itself. In one debate last year he managed to question Wales's role in health services in Shropshire, flooding, tuberculosis in cattle, and "unfair and uncompetitive" grants to businesses handed out by the Assembly Government.

The upshot? "The Welsh Assembly creates huge difficulties for English border towns," in Mr Kawzcynski's view.

Does he tend to run his thoughts past Welsh Conservatives before voicing them? Probably not. In fact the Welsh Lib Dems reckon the answer is certainly not. Why? Because yesterday the Shrewsbury MP laid an amendment to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill that would wave bye-bye to Mr d'Hondt and his semi-proportional system and therefore change the way 20 of Wales' 60 AMs are elected. Regional lists would be abolished and constituency borders redrawn to create 60 first-past-the-post seats.

Why do the Lib Dems suspect a lack of cross-border debate on this one? Because not only would the Welsh Conservative leader lose his seat under these plans. So would half the Conservative group in the Assembly who freely they admit they have Mr d'Hondt to thank for giving such impetus to the Tory comeback in Wales.

So Mr Bourne - fancy waving goodbye to him?


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