Twiddles, slogans and Welsh grand-standing


Parliament operates its own calendar. The chancellor delivered his autumn statement on December 5. Today, January 22, almost seven weeks later, MPs got around to discussing its impact on Wales.

The forum was the Welsh grand committee, a chance for MPs from Wales to discuss the big economic issues in depth while trading statistics and exchanging slogans. So Welsh Secretary David "year of hard truths" Jones came up against his shadow Owen "one nation Labour" Smith.

David Jones said wages in Wales had risen by more than four per cent last year, ahead of inflation. Owen Smith said real terms wages in Wales had fallen by an average of £1,600 since the coalition came to power.

Mr Smith had his own suggestion for increasing wages - the hope that the Low Pay Commission will raise the minimum wage of £6.31 an hour to the living wage of £7.65: "I hope they will at least conclude it should be £7, in fact I hope they might think we should go for a living wage."

The Pontypridd MP suggested a rebalancing of the economy (with growth currently concentrated in the south of England) could be achieved by macro-economic policy "not the twiddles that the assembly may be able to do".

David Jones praised the Welsh government for "doing remarkably well" in spreading broadband but criticised it over education. The recent PISA results in Wales were a huge disappointment. Children in school in Wales today will be the workforce of our future and the standards identified by PISA were simply too low, shamefully low.

"However, the PISA results in Wales do not show this, and only give reason for investors to look at our competitors. Simply put, Wales risks being left behind in the global race if young people do not have access to an education system that provides them with the qualifications and skills training they need to compete for the jobs of the future. Wales must make that link."

He said education qualifications in Wales were increasingly "unportable" and not recognised anywhere else.

As if to test the qualifications in modern history of those watching, Mr Jones began his speech "when this Government came to office in 2005....."

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

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  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    "the mass exodus of Welsh speakers to engerland - check figures in NHS"
    So perhaps the fervent desire to 'Lead your Life in Welsh' is less strong than various noisy nats would have us believe. Presumably they will have to speak the execrated Anglo-Saxon in Hammersmith.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    #36 We aren't interested in whether BBC(W) employs more WM cleaners. What we note is that the top jobs get shared out amongst the same old Y Fro Taffia gang. Look at the career of MM, our WL commissioner. Shunted into a job at 100K.
    BTW if you can't spell 'England' try Google or a spell-check app.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    n.b. The percentage of Welsh speakers in public services is always less than representative in the population - that's why the mass exodus of Welsh speakers to engerland - check figures in NHS, LA's for yourself.

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Only figures for Key stage 3 are available for Geography and history for whole schools. WM schools do poorly in both.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Thank you. I expect many are saying 'Of course'
    The most worrying thing is perhaps that Maths is a subject where what the teacher says has least influence. You can follow the maths on the board (black or white @ age). The results for history - if everyone potentially sat for it - would be of interest. Subtle arguments are difficult in another language to your home language.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Entitled to Free School Meals....the main determinant of school attainment on average. There are no WM schools with higher than 18.4% of pupils entitled to FSMs. There are 88 EM schools with higher than 18.4% of pupils entitled to FSMs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    #30 Having a second senior moment: FSM ??

    First senior moment: I managed to delete most of post #27 whilst sending it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    I've just been amusing myself comparing the 2013 GCSE ststistics for WM and EM schools. Maths GCSE A*-C:
    Schools with 0-9% FSMs WM 72.1 EM 77.3.
    Schools 9-12% FSM WM 66.1 EM 71.3
    Schools 12-15% FSM WM 64.6 EM 67.9
    Schools 15-18% FSM WM 60.4 EM 62.2.

    The WLB spent 30 years misleading us about WM school's superiority and now an ex member is head of Education in Wales. It doesn't add up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    It's all part of the Welsh mythology Boxer; it goes like this. Bilingualism is PROVEN to enhance intellectual powers, in Wales we have many bilinguals, we must employ bilinguals to guarantee superior intellectual capacity. We have made laws to make Wales bilingual therefore we must comply with our objective by employing Welsh speakers. There is no way out of this circularity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    "Raised in Aberystwyth and a fluent Welsh Speaker, Owen is a former board member of the Welsh Language Board......"


  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    #26 Iam just guessing, Sedwot, but wanna bet that the previous incumbent of the post was also a 'fluent Welsh speaker' ?
    Given that the % of FWSs in Wales is

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    No need to fear for Welsh education Glasnost:-

    "Mr Evans, who is a fluent Welsh speaker........"

    So that's OK then, after an exhaustive advertising and selection process the best candidate was actually a Welsh speaker. More WM schools anyone??

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Welsh people are constantly being duped by WAG we have Welsh Language Schemes soon Standards upon statutory provisions to have them but application of the said measure is not statutory but conveniently left vague Then we have a Welsh Language Commissioner an unelected person on 100K salary from the public purse and no one to protect English speakers We must get a balance and freedom of choice

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    In Northern Ireland it is compulsory to take a second language to GCSE level in the higher streams. This is even the case in schools teaching Irish. Which means that well over 50% of children learn a MFL. And this is from a country which fears it's education system has been dumbed down, what does that mean for the Welsh education system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Fell off my chair when I read the WAG's response to equiping our children to flourish in the modern world.

    The Welsh government said it recognised the importance of studying languages.

    A spokesperson said: "Learning a modern foreign language is not compulsory in primary schools in Wales but it should be noted that all children in primary schools in Wales are taught Welsh.


  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    17 By coincident this just appeared on BBC W website: - Moral: Welsh has to be compulsory including the declining social and academic well being of English speaking children in Welsh education (Most English speaking kids are damaged for life in Welsh education socially and academically)!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    ~19 - to continue

    If Welsh language speakers are under-represented for their region - then they have every right to feel short-changed by the system. It should work both ways with a slight bias in favour of the bilingual candidate, but not a complete bias.

    This analysis would put an end to speculation which may otherwise damage the need to safeguard the language in the workplace

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    12 In cash strapped NHS Welsh Language Officers are paid 40K pa and there are lots of them throughout Welsh NHS There is no longer a myth that Welsh Language worship is damaging Wales Damage is real present and unacceptable With minor exception one would be hard pushed to live ones life through Welsh even in the Y Fro World - Bangor but WAG is determined to destroy Wales Can we trust WLS in WAG?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Interesting to know how many public sector jobs are filled by Welsh language speakers?

    If significantly higher than the %age of welsh language speakers of working age in each region of Wales, it might indicate that we are not getting the best people for the jobs - but getting the best Welsh language speaking people for the jobs:- not the same thing at all.

    Bilingualism yes, mediocrity no


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