Six-figure 'golden goodbye' for Wales Office official

Stephen Hillcoat
Former Wales Office civil servant Stephen Hillcoat - who received £133,000 in redundancy pay.

A Wales Office civil servant received £133,00 in redundancy pay after Stephen Crabb replaced David Jones as secretary of state.

The department's newly-published annual report and accounts reveals that Stephen Hillcoat was replaced as "deputy director, private office and communications" within 24 hours of Mr Crabb's appointment in July last year after the new man restructured his private office.

But Mr Hillcoat, who was paid £75-80,000 in 2013/14, didn't leave the civil service "under voluntary exit terms" until March 31 this year - after the Conservatives announced plans to cap public sector redundancy payouts at £95,000.

The figure was revealed days after Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies criticised six-figure pay-outs to senior civil servants in the Welsh government.

A Wales Office spokesperson said: "Along with other government departments, the Wales Office operated a voluntary early departure scheme in January and February 2015 which three employees took advantage of. Payments were set by the civil service compensation scheme, not the Wales Office, and were worked out according to a formula based on length of service."

Read full article Six-figure 'golden goodbye' for Wales Office official

Labour leadership hopeful under fire over Welsh funding

Andy Burnham MP
"That was the government line at the time" - Andy Burnham explaining why he refused to review the Barnett formula.

I've been talking to the candidates for the labour leadership as they prepare for Welsh hustings in Cardiff on July 5.

You can get a flavour of the interviews here. Andy Burnham's comments on the way Wales is funded from Westminster were the most likely to raise eyebrows.

Read full article Labour leadership hopeful under fire over Welsh funding

Swansea rail scheme 'top priority' but no delivery date

An artist's impression of the new trains for the Swansea route
Coming not very soon to a station near you: the fast train to Swansea

When will the first train arrive on an electrified line in Swansea?

The Network Rail website (download the FAQs) says: "Cardiff to be electrified by May 2017, Swansea to be electrified by May 2018".

Read full article Swansea rail scheme 'top priority' but no delivery date

'Prayer cards at dawn' in Plaid Cymru/Lib Dem seat row

Jonathan Edwards MP
Spot the Lib Dem: Plaid Cymru parliamentary leader Jonathan Edwards speaks from the disputed bench

Seat wars, round two. Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats are at odds over who gets to sit where in the House of Commons.

Peace may have broken out in a similar row between the SNP and Labour veteran Dennis Skinner but Plaid's three MPs and the Lib Dems' eight are in daily battle over the right to perch on the end of the bench three rows behind Mr Skinner's preferred seat.

Read full article 'Prayer cards at dawn' in Plaid Cymru/Lib Dem seat row

FM Jones: dealing with '17 years and time for change'

Carwyn Jones and Yvette Cooper
First Minister Carwyn Jones meets Labour leadership candidate Yvette Cooper

Another of the Labour leadership candidates has visited Wales today. But what Yvette Cooper had to say may be slightly less interesting than what her host - First Minister Carwyn Jones - said during her visit to Cardiff Bay.

Our cameras filmed the two politicians, as Mr Jones briefed Ms Cooper on the challenges facing Welsh Labour in next year's assembly elections.

Read full article FM Jones: dealing with '17 years and time for change'

Minister: Nobody on doorstep talks of Barnett formula

Wales Office Minister Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth
Lord Bourne: "Nobody on the doorsteps talks about reserved powers or the Barnett formula....they certainly talk about funding for Wales."

You wait months for a House of Lords debate on Welsh devolution - and then two come along at once.

Hot on the heels of last Thursday's debate led by Lord Wigley, Liberal Democrat former Wales Office Minister Lady Randerson led last night's debate on the National Assembly for Wales elections 2016.

Read full article Minister: Nobody on doorstep talks of Barnett formula

MP warns of 'museum/playground' risk in rural Wales

Liz Saville Roberts MP
Liz Saville Roberts MP making her maiden speech- as seen on BBC Parliament, watched by Plaid parliamentary leader Jonathan Edwards

Plaid Cymru's newest MP has made her maiden speech in the House of Commons - in a debate on English education.

Liz Saville Roberts used her 22 years' work "as a teacher, college director and local authority education leader" to highlight the importance of education.

Read full article MP warns of 'museum/playground' risk in rural Wales

New roles for Welsh MPs after Labour reshuffle

Wayne David MP
Wayne David - Labour's spokesman on the constitution, justice and Scotland. He's also Harriet Harman's parliamentary private secretary.

Harriet Harman has reshuffled Labour's top team to fill gaps left by last week's elections for the chairs of select committees.

There are new roles for three Welsh MPs. Jessica Morden (Newport East) joins the opposition whips' office. Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) will shadow Business, Innovation and Skills.

Read full article New roles for Welsh MPs after Labour reshuffle

Barnett consequentials, money and another referendum

Stephen Crabb MP
Under question: Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb

The cast may have changed but the first Welsh questions of the new parliament brought with it some familiar friends.

Where would we be without "Barnett consequentials" or a "fair funding floor"? It was almost as if we hadn't been away.

Read full article Barnett consequentials, money and another referendum

Andy Burnham: Wales 'short-changed' by spending formula

Andy Burnham MP
Andy Burnham says the formula that decides changes in the Welsh government budget gives "a rough deal to Wales"

Andy Burnham, frontrunner for the Labour leadership, has been campaigning in Wales today.

As is traditional every time senior politicians cross Offa's Dyke, he was asked about the [Barnett] formula that decides changes in the Welsh government's budget.

Read full article Andy Burnham: Wales 'short-changed' by spending formula