Westminster five limber up for campaign trail

MPs running
MPs - including Alun Cairns (second left) - who are running this year's Virgin Money London marathon

It's a marathon, not a sprint - and that's just the general election.

Five MPs from the current parliament who are running next month's London marathon got their kit on this morning for the benefit of the cameras at Westminster.

Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns is one of the five and still basking in his "fastest MP" title from last year.

"It's a great way to keep fit when you're walking door-to-door. It's obviously a great way to take your mind off the stress of an election but most importantly there are two great charities, Macmillan Cancer Support, supporting patients and families of people suffering from cancer and the PDSA, supporting sick and injured animals."

With parliament dissolving on Monday, the five won't be MPs when they toe the line on April 26, although ministers do stay in office until after the election so Mr Cairns and Children's Minister Edward Timpson will be flying the ministerial flag around the streets of London.

Read full article Westminster five limber up for campaign trail

Coalition tensions over Welsh funding deal

Nick Clegg and Kirsty Williams
Nick Clegg and Kirsty Williams

Who blocked an attempt by the coalition to tie a new funding deal for the Welsh government with a commitment to hold a referendum on income tax powers?

The leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams, says it was she - and that it was the Lib Dems' coalition partners who insisted on the explicit link.

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Wales advised: find way forward apart from complaining

Gerry Holtham
Economist Gerry Holtham

He is Wales's most quoted economist, his name often called in aid by those who think the country is under-funded from Westminster.

Gerry Holtham was commissioned by the Welsh government to look at the pros and cons of the way that government gets its budget.

Read full article Wales advised: find way forward apart from complaining

Labour MPs pay unlikely tributes to Tory Hague

image shows head and shoulders black and white image of Margaret Thatcher and William Hague
A teenage William Hague with his hero Margaret Thatcher

With only a few days before MPs are released into the community - one uses the term "paroled" - some are decidedly demob-happy.

William Hague has embarked on a week of farewell appearances at the despatch box, giving friend and foe alike the chance to pay tribute to his 26-year parliamentary career.

Read full article Labour MPs pay unlikely tributes to Tory Hague

A Budget deal for White Van Man: how did that happen?

The Severn Bridge
Under construction: the original Severn Bridge in 1966

It wasn't in the St David's Day agreement but there has been a cross-party consensus in favour of the Welsh government getting control of the Severn bridges.

It used to be Welsh Conservative policy to devolve the bridges to Cardiff, even if the original is wholly in England (it's the Wye bridge that crosses the border). Plaid Cymru and First Minister Carwyn Jones agree.

Read full article A Budget deal for White Van Man: how did that happen?

Coalition clash over Budget tidal power credit

George Osborne has yet to deliver his Budget but both coalition parties are already trying to claim the credit for the inclusion of the Swansea Bay lagoon in it.

The Liberal Democrats say it's "a triumph" for the Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey. Conservative sources say Tory Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb was the first to promote the scheme and had written to Mr Osborne about it ahead of the Budget.

Read full article Coalition clash over Budget tidal power credit

Crabb: Wales not under-funded but subsidised

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb
Stephen Crabb: "I don't accept the premise that Wales is under-funded"

In a world where most political parties think Wales is under-funded, it's a question mainstream politicians tend to shy away from.

Is Wales subsidised by England?

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MPs discover pre-election consensus in health debate

NHS Wales logo

It's provoked some of the angriest exchanges the House of Commons has seen in recent times. The prime minister has described Offa's Dyke as "a line between life and death".

So you might expect a parliamentary inquiry into cross-border health arrangements between Wales and England to be particularly controversial.

Read full article MPs discover pre-election consensus in health debate

End of an era as Lords loses Lloyd George link

Viscount Tenby speaking in the House of Lords
Viscount Tenby has announced his retirement from the House of Lords

There will be something missing when the new parliament meets in May. The imminent retirement of crossbench peer Viscount Tenby will remove a direct link with David Lloyd George.

The third Viscount Tenby, who is 87, is taking advantage of a new law that allows members of the House of Lords to retire and will formally leave on May 1.

Read full article End of an era as Lords loses Lloyd George link

Backbones and prudence; fiscal envelopes and cuts

Plaid Cymru's Eurfyl ap Gwilym, Lord Wigley and Jonathan Edwards
Plaid Cymru's Eurfyl ap Gwilym, Lord Wigley and Jonathan Edwards at Westminster

There's a new trend in this election campaign. Political parties have started offering more detailed analysis of their opponents' spending plans than their own.

Yesterday, shadow Chancellor Ed Balls highlighted "extreme" spending cuts he said the Conservatives would introduce while choosing not to go into detail on Labour's own plans to cut the deficit.

Read full article Backbones and prudence; fiscal envelopes and cuts