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He names the date...

Betsan Powys | 16:03 UK time, Tuesday, 25 May 2010

I picked the right day to come up to Westminster...

During the Queen's Speech debate in the Commons, David Cameron has just told MPs the referendum on Assembly law-making powers should be held next year.

"What we're going to do is allow the referendum to go ahead that was actually rather held up by the last government, so yes, a date will be named for that referendum and I believe it should be held next year and I believe there should be a free and open debate in Wales for that to happen."

On my way to see the Welsh Secretary, more to follow.


Making things add up is rarely as simple as it looks.

When Cheryl Gillan arrived in Portcullis House, delayed either by the long walk from one bit of Westminster to the other, or by trying to work out how exactly she should respond to the Prime Minister's openess in the chamber - her favourite turn of phrase turned out to be "do the maths."

"I agree with my Prime Minister".

So the referendum should be held next year. That means it won't be held in the Autumn?

"Do the maths."

We invited her to do it on our behalf.

The ten week period "needed and required" by the Electoral Commission to road-test the question, said the Welsh Secretary, "cannot reasonably be truncated" without inviting legal challenges later down the line. "It's looking increasingly difficult" therfore to hold an Autumn referendum.

Impossible even?

"You can do the maths". In fact "It's the First Minister who hasn't fully appreciated the maths".

The First Minister - via a government spokesman - has fully appreciated the opportunity to get angry over the lack of consulation with him before this afternoon's maths lesson.

"We are also dismayed to have been told of this announcement via the media and not through the formal channels of government.

"Indeed, we are surprised this announcement was made before we had received any communication from the Secretary of State.

"When we correspond with the Secretary of State, we ensure she has received the letter before Assembly Members are made aware of its contents."

And then, as now happens in double-coalition land, it goes a bit like this:

Plaid Cymru point a finger at the Lib Dems and the Tories.
The Lib Dems have a go at Labour.
Labour turn back on the Tories.

In fact Alun Michael accuses Cheryl Gillan of "lying" when she says it's the lack of preparatory work by her predecessor, Peter Hain, that's made today's lesson - "do the maths" - inevitable.


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