Welsh Questions: St David's Day comes early

St David's Day may be 48 hours away but MPs have never let a mere calendar get in the way of an excuse for a national celebration.

Welsh Questions in the Commons today offered an opportunity for backbenchers to question Wales Office ministers David Jones and Stephen Crabb - and a chance for Welsh MPs to display a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils - mostly on the lapels of Labour members.

David Jones began his first answer, in Welsh, by wishing everyone a happy St David's Day, although the spirit of goodwill didn't last long. Mr Jones suggested that the Welsh government should "align" its policies on the economy and housing with those of his government, the closest he has come to trying to tell ministers in Cardiff what to do.

The secretary of state highlighted comments by Steve Morgan of Redrow that Welsh government regulations would add thousands to the cost of a home in Wales.

Labour MPs concentrated on the imminent arrival of what they call the "bedroom tax" and David Cameron calls the under-occupancy penalty for tenants in social housing.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith warned that Wales would be hit harder than any other part of the UK by "unfair, unworkable" plans to dock the benefits of those who are deemed to have a spare room.

Plaid Cymru's Elfyn Llwyd urged the UK government to adopt Plaid Cymru policy and establish a Welsh legal jurisdiction - a policy Tory David TC Davies suggested would be "disastrous". David Jones congratulated him on putting the question in his "customary restrained manner".

David Jones wouldn't be drawn on the UK government's policy on the issue (although I think we can guess it's closer to that of the MP for Monmouth than the MP for Meirionnydd).

He did let slip that the Wales Office would shortly reveal its views on which powers should be devolved from Westminster to Wales. The UK government's submission to the Silk commission, which is considering these things, will be made this week and published next week.

This was the first question time since David Jones raised his profile with that journey by Jaguar across Whitehall and his views on same-sex marriage. Surprisingly, perhaps, no-one mentioned either event - perhaps the spirit of St David triumphed after all.

The Welsh theme continued during Prime Minister's Questions, with Labour's Albert Owen managing to slip a reference to next month's Wales versus England Six Nations match into a question about Britain losing its "triple A" economic rating.

David Cameron decided to stay out of the rugby conflict but did confirm the Welsh flag will be flying above 10 Downing Street on Friday.