Elfyn Llwyd, smartphones and the Speaker's "silly man"

 

They think it's all over. It is now. The last Welsh Question Time in this parliamentary session (which ends this week) has taken place.

So what did we learn? Elfyn Llwyd doesn't have an iPhone (least surprising news of the day). Southend East MP David Amess has Welsh relatives (arguably slightly surprising). And the Speaker called a Conservative MP a "silly man" for "chuntering from a sedentary position" (again, quite low on the shock factor).

Welsh Secretary David Jones managed to slip the Tories' "long term economic plan" slogan into his first answer (to Mr Amess).

For some reason, perhaps the recent Eurovision song contest, Europe dominated many of the exchanges. Labour's Owen Smith tried to get David Jones to praise the EU. Mr Jones talked about the benefits of "a free trade area" and criticised the EU for "top-down meddlesome interference".

Mr Smith accused Mr Jones of being out of touch with the views of Welsh business on membership of the European Union. Mr Jones said he spoke to Welsh business more than Mr Smith. Mr Smith said one in seven jobs in Wales depended on membership of the EU. Mr Jones said the Conservatives would offer a referendum on EU membership.

Mr Jones also resisted the temptation, unusually, to fan the flames of the row between the Welsh and UK governments over who pays to electrify the South Wales valleys lines. He talked instead of hoping that negotiations between the two governments would be fruitful.

The Speaker's first reprimanded of the day was given to Ogmore's Labour MP Huw Irranca-Davies, for fiddling with his iPhone and not paying attention when called to ask his question.

But it was Elfyn Llwyd's "revelation" that he doesn't have an iPhone that prompted a barely audible (to my ears) contribution from the Conservative side that wasn't appreciated by the Speaker. He accused Michael Fabricant (whose Welsh relatives are better known than Mr Amess's) of "chuntering from a sedentary position".

That didn't have the desired effect so John Bercow continued: "Order! Order! The intervention was of no value. Order!! Order!! Be quiet. Silly man". Hair-raising stuff - or it would be, if Mr Fabricant possessed hair that could be raised.

Along with other MPs, Plaid Cymru's parliamentary leader was concerned about cross-border movements. In particular, the travels of the Welsh Black cattle, who are on the native breeds endangered list in Wales, but not in England. Mr Llwyd explained that meant pedigree Welsh cattle had less value east of Offa's Dyke. "This is a restraint of trade against Wales," said Mr Llwyd, who wanted a change of policy in England. "It's unfair, it could be actionable."

Wales Office Minister Stephen Crabb was sympathetic to what he called "an entirely fair and sensible point". The Welsh black was a fine example of Welsh quality produce, said Mr Crabb, who promised to look into the issue with his English colleagues.

That prompted Montgomeryshire Tory Glyn Davies to promote his constituency's own produce through a question to Minister Crabb."Are you aware," asked Mr Davies, "that on June 11th some of the best produce possible from Wales will be on display and available for MPs to sample in the Jubilee Room when we'll be holding Montgomeryshire Day."

Mr Crabb was indeed aware of the day - and the date - and encouraged MPs from both sides to head along to the Jubilee Room "to sample some of Montgomeryshire's finest produce". If Welsh MPs are absent from Prime Minister's Question Time that day, you'll know where to find them.

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

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