Welsh assembly: Presiding Officer rejects 'cosy' claim

Rosemary Butler says she has a "very strong working relationship with all the parties".

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Welsh assembly Presiding Officer Rosemary Butler says any suggestion that she has a cosy relationship with the Welsh government is "laughable".

She told the BBC's Sunday Politics that she has a "very strong working relationship with all the parties".

The Labour AM was responding to comments by Andrew RT Davies, leader of the assembly Conservatives.

Mr Davies complained that the atmosphere in the weekly First Minister's Questions was "too cosy".

Start Quote

I'm not responsible for what the first minister or the ministers say, I'm responsible for making sure the system is there for the other members of the assembly to actually question them”

End Quote Rosemary Butler AM Presiding Office

"Well, it's laughable - I think you ought to ask the first minister about my cosy relationship with him and I think you'll find it's anything but cosy," said Mrs Butler, the Newport West AM.

"It's a very strong working relationship with all the parties, and I must be doing something right because they all criticise me at some time so I suppose that I'm equally unfair to everybody," she added.

On Tuesday she announced plans to make First Minister's Questions more topical.

"I am very pleased to say that this week the business committee have agreed that we will change the timing for submitting questions," Mrs Butler said.

"At the moment questions have to be submitted to the ministers two weeks in advance.

Now after the half-term break it will be five days for ministers and three days for the first minister, which means that questions will be more topical and members can then ask much more concise questions to scrutinise the government," she said.

On whether said she thought the Welsh government was being sufficiently scrutinised by her fellow AMs, Mrs Butler said: "I could say I can't possibly comment on that but I think that the opportunity is there, it's up to the members to ask concise questions and if they are not getting the answers, keep asking the questions.

"I'm not responsible for what the first minister or the ministers say, I'm responsible for making sure the system is there for the other members of the assembly to actually question them," said Mrs Butler.

She replaced Plaid Cymru's Dafydd Elis Thomas in the role in 2011.

Rosemary Butler can be seen on the Sunday Politics Wales from 11:00 GMT on BBC1 Wales on Sunday.

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