No quarter given: Cheryl Gillan's Commons question time
- 25 April 2012
- From the section Wales politics
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.