"Quiet inward celebration" for ministerial anniversary


President Kennedy's assassination; Thatcher's fall; Elvis's death: we often remember what we were doing when big news events occurred.

One year ago today, David Jones became secretary of state for Wales . Since you ask, as the reshuffle unfurled I was at the Olympic stadium watching the athletics during the Paralympic Games (there's a reshuffle most years but only one chance to experience London 2012).

"It's gone very quickly," the secretary of state said today, "and I think overall it's been an interesting year, and in many respects I think it's been a successful year. When you're sitting at the cabinet table, time does move very quickly."

In 12 months, Mr Jones has made headlines beyond Wales twice - for his choice of transport for the short hop between the Wales Office and Downing Street, and for the reasons he gave to oppose his government's move to legalise same sex marriage.

Within nine months of taking the job, he also found himself tipped for the sack in a September reshuffle.

Behind the headlines, he's been beavering away on the UK government's response to a report suggesting the Welsh government should get some tax-varying powers and has been instrumental in delaying that response until business and industry have been consulted on the merits of devolving stamp duty land tax to Wales.

"The Silk commission is something that's really dominated the first 12 months of my period as secretary of state, but there will be an announcement shortly," he said. (Ministers have given up tying announcements to the seasons - the Silk response was promised by the spring, then "in the reasonably near future", "in due course", "very soon" and now "shortly".)

For those who wonder how they'll fill their time once that response is delivered, Mr Jones is already looking forward to the next Silk commission report on which further powers, if any, should be devolved to Wales. "Of course next year we've got the Silk 2 recommendations on the other elements in its remit so of course there will be another period of Silk consideration next year." Put it in your diary now.

Mr Jones also highlight his role in pressing for a new prison to come to north Wales, a push for rail electrification in north Wales and working with the Treasury on proposals to upgrade the M4 in south Wales (the Welsh government might claim to be pivotal to this too).

"I think that it demonstrates that the Wales Office can make a substantial difference by ensuring Wales's voice is heard here in Westminster and that Wales is not overlooked when it comes to government spending."

And how will he celebrate the anniversary? "Until you walked into the office I didn't realise it was 12 months since I'd been appointed, so, no, I don't think celebration, I think for any politician to survive 12 months in the same job must be regarded as an achievement so that extent I think I'll celebrate but I'll have a quiet inward celebration rather than anything else."

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

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  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    #18 What is your point?

    In the UK elections no party gained a majority. So we ended up with a coalition. Are you suggesting that labour would have done away with the post of SSfW or that Wales should not have a voice at Westminster?
    Democracy does not always work in your favour - that's life

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Full tax raising powers now. End of the block grant and lets get on with hiking those taxes to bridge the gap. Now, where will we start. I know the huge number of super rich people living in Wales. Oh hang on there aren't any. tell you what, lets try the 89,000 people who pay 40P in the £. Oh hang on that isnt enough, Dear Mrs Merkel..........

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    "I know lets keep the wealth in London and don't redistribute to the rest of the UK". So you admit that London (England) subsidies Wales? At long last you get the point. Thing is you want self government and hand outs. Westminster has rumbled that one and hence they are trying to force the hand of the Dear Leader. Wales cannot and never will be able to exist financially without Westmnster. QED.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    18 Clonakilty

    I didn't vote for the Tories or PC either.

    I have voted in 2 Referenda I cannot recall any debate during campaigning saying that the post of SSfW should be abolished. So the Gov of the day appoint the SSfW - that's democracy and just because you don't like it does not change the facts

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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