Welsh Secretary denies being lukewarm on devolution

Welcome to another busy week in the story factory that is the Palace of Westminster.

The parliamentary week will be dominated by what the chancellor has to say in his autumn statement on Thursday and the continuing debate over energy prices should keep us busy.

In other news, the House of Lords will be devoting its dinner break to a discussion of "the impact of the current cost of living and changes to the welfare system on the people and economy of Wales".

More on that story later, as we say, but first a look back at last week's "devolution in the continuing Union" speech by Welsh Secretary David Jones.

The arguments will be familiar to those who heard his "Wales in the continuing Union" speech last June. Indeed, some sections of the text appear to be identical, although presumably few will have been in the audience in both Durham and Cardiff.

News coverage of last week's speech is here. Besides the headlines, it was also interesting for what David Jones said about himself:

"I have on occasions been accused from certain nationalist quarters in Wales of being lukewarm about devolution - a "devo-sceptic" as it is termed in the lexicon of post-devolution political journalism.

"That is an accusation I flatly reject. On the contrary, I am a strong believer in the devolution of decision-making to the most appropriate level; and I also believe in government at all levels that is accountable to the people who elect it."

The first half of that sentence suggests there is more to devolution than the Welsh government (the Tories talk localism in England); the second half explains his recent enthusiasm for the devolution of income tax powers to Cardiff Bay. It's fair to say it's not just "nationalists" who've questioned his commitment to devolution - I've heard that argument from Welsh Conservatives and Liberal Democrats too.

So is David Jones a "devo-sceptic" or a "devo-realist"? Earlier this year, he compared his approach to that of one of his Labour predecessors, Paul Murphy, telling the Welsh grand committee: "I share the same faith as the right hon. Member for Torfaen, who described his progress from being a devo-sceptic to a devo-realist. In terms of realism, what we now have is a system of government of devolution within this country."

In his Durham speech, Mr Jones talked about the Scottish government's attempt to re-assure voters that after independence they would still be able to watch BBC programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing.

"What," he asked, "could be more British than Bruce Forsyth?"

Disappointingly, the secretary of state resisted the temptation to end his second devolution speech with a Brucie catchphrase along the lines of : "You're such a lovely audience, so much better than last week's."