No quarter given: Cheryl Gillan's Commons question time


The UK is in recession again, the culture secretary's under pressure to resign, and the world's leading media tycoon is giving evidence to an inquiry into media standards.

I'm no expert but it's just possible that questions to the secretary of state for Wales may not be leading tomorrow's newspapers.

Cheryl Gillan and her deputy, David Jones, spent just over 25 minutes answering questions from MPs, nominally on their ministerial responsibilities although as ministers with few executive powers this doesn't necessarily fill the entire question time.

With elections looming, Mrs Gillan used a question about the economy to criticise the refusal of the Welsh business minister to co-operate with a parliamentary inquiry into inward investment.

Mrs Gillan suggested Edwina Hart - who works "down in Cardiff Bay" as Mrs G put it - should show a "more mature attitude".

Question Time also offered the Welsh secretary the irresisitible opportunity to mix jargon and acronyms. So we had FDI and UKTI, although mercifully this month none of her favoured bilaterals or Barnett consequentials.

David Jones did chip in with some detail on "megabits per second" and "wifi connectivity" but I think he got away with it as most MPs had stopped listening by then. The speaker got to issue his monthly warning that "far too many private conversations are taking place".

Plaid Cymru's parliamentary leader, Elfyn Llwyd, risked "snub to Wales" headlines by deciding to miss Welsh questions to join a committee visit to Denmark and Sweden.

Mrs Gillan's Labour shadow, Peter Hain, recorded the first known use of "omnishambles" during Welsh questions and complained that the Budget would see millionaires each paying £40,000 a year less in tax. You could query the maths - not all millionaires earn a million a year - but his point was made.

With the prime minister and chancellor both accused by a Tory MP of not knowing the price of a pint of milk, ministers are wary of appearing out of touch.

David Jones was able to answer Labour's David Hanson's question about the price of fuel today, and promised to write to him about the price a year ago.

The recession cropped up - "disappointing but not unexpected" according to the secretary of state. She said 12,000 more people found work between what she called"quarter three, 2010 and quarter three, 2011".

Several MPs asked about the prospects of electrifying the railways in the south Wales valleys. David Jones promised a decision by the summer, or "between quarter two and quarter three" as his boss would doubtless have put it.

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I can't put it on Betsans Blog so. Anyone want to know where your money is really going in Wales. If I am allowed to put it up.

    Just type in your post code.
    Thank ytou Boxer

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    #10 'the comments always seem to become abusive and bullying. Especially towards those who believe Wales is worth fighting and standing up for. '
    Alf, whilst those of us who think differently have always found you a gentleman, you must admit dear Mab - who hasn't appeared here - is both a Welsh Nat and the record holder for yellow cards for abuse and attempted bullying on BP's site.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Perhaps we are our own worse enemies as the comments always seem to become abusive and bullying. Especially towards those who believe Wales is worth fighting and standing up for and having a belief in itself. Which we are entitled to do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    As above - will the BBC explain to us "few" why this and Betsan's blog is being run down?. One article a week or month is a sad inditement of the corporations commitment to covering issues that do not evolve from the bars of Westminster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    @05 'Boxer_the_Horse'.

    Yes, the BBC do appear to be running down forums, such as this, for Wales and Scotland. I live in England, and am dismayed that those living in Wales and Scotland are not afforded equal treatment for their licence fee on freedom to comment on their journalist's blogs.

    My 1st post alluding to this is still awaiting moderation. Perhaps this one will get past the mods?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    David Cornock, parliamentary correspondent for Wales. Where have you been? Well, at least this debate is open. Apparently, BBC Scotland still continue their correspondent's blogs - yet none open for debate?

    Make of that what you will. What is clear, is that in certain areas of Britain, the BBC is either repressed or people are not allowed to comment on journalist's blogs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Peter Hain the man who started the Welfare cuts that are hitting the most vulnerable in the country. He has no shame. So shame on him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Welcome back to Mr Cornock: only 40 days!
    #1 'Peter Hain's comment? How exactly does this affect the people of Wales? ' It affects the people of Wales that, at a time that public spending is being slashed and services cut, the priority of the Chancellor and the Coalition is to cut their income by giving a tax rebate to the wealthiest.
    We are all in this together. Right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    3. Come on you are streching it a bit, that happened in July 2008.
    Clutching at straws comes to mind. I am sure we can all find something against all of the MPs of all Parties if we are mean and small minded enough. I am sure 99.99% of drivers on the road have broken the speed limit at some time. Most are lucky enough not to get caught. Though It is still breaking the law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Noticed that Plaid Cymru's parliamentary leader, Elfyn Llwyd got a mention. Apparently 'snubbing Wales' by ignoring Welsh questions and deciding to visit Denmark and Sweden instead...(Nice work Elfy)

    Surely that couldn't be this Elfyn Llwyd...or could it?

    Did he go by ferry and take his nice shiny Mercedes with him ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    You might want to ask PH how much tax will the The Haywood Hain LLP saved as a result of the reduction in 50 p tax next yea,r as it has not reduced yet.

    Wales Labours slogan is watch out for the Westminster bogeyman, not putting the case for their miserable performance across a large swathe of Wales who have just been given the EU begging bowl again, never mind more projects for friends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Peter Hain's comment? How exactly does this affect the people of Wales? Mind you his oppo down the Bay Carwyn Jones makes similar broad brush statements, 'Send a message to Westminster' is his local election strategy. No, if your local council's rubbish, like here in Cardiff, you can boot them out. They should have put those Olympic rings in front of that eyesore building site at Cardiff Central.



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