Wales politics

Welsh Questions, PMQs - and a welcome in the hillsides

It's engaged the pundits, gripped television viewers and provided many a talking point in the nation's living rooms.

So how will we cope without it? Yes, today was the last Welsh Questions in the House of Commons until October. It will be at least three months before we again get the chance to see MPs grill David Jones and Stephen Crabb (assuming they survive next week's expected reshuffle).

Today's exchanges were fairly routine. Labour's shadow Welsh Secretary, Owen Smith, challenged Mr Jones over today's Supreme Court ruling in favour of the Welsh government. Mr Jones said he would study it but rejected a request to apologise for wasting money.

Anyone playing Welsh Questions bingo will have noticed that Mr Jones managed only the one obligatory reference to the Tory "long term economic plan" - his deputy managed two.

But for the last 24 hours all of us in the Welsh political bubble have been talking about one story more than any other. So, as you might expect, Conservative MPs were preparing to raise the issue during Welsh Questions.

Monmouth's David Davies succeeded, trying to keep within parliamentary rules by framing his question to Mr Crabb to fit in with another on disposable incomes: "Would you care to comment on the recent dramatic fall in the household disposal income of the former Welsh assembly minister for agriculture and would you agree with me in this particular incidence that fall in household income was absolutely justified given the disgraceful dirty tricks he was employing against other members of the Welsh assembly?"

Before Mr Crabb had a chance to reply, Speaker John Bercow intervened: "The minister has no responsibility for that matter. You have put your thoughts on the record with your usual assertiveness."

A disappointed Mr Davies told me afterwards: "I think my question was worded in a way that kept it in order, but of course I defer to the Speaker."

Later, the prime minister thought he had (possibly) been asked about the Davies sacking by another Tory MP, Mark Reckless, who said: "Should taxpayer money be used to gather information on MPs which is then retained by a chief whip or shredded?"

I thought that may have been a reference to recent reports about whips allegedly keeping Westminster scandals secret, but Mr Cameron replied: "If you are referring to the situation that took place in the Welsh assembly, which I was reading about overnight, that does seem to be a very worrying development. If you're referring to something else you might have to be a little less Delphic about it and perhaps write to me and I'll get back to you."

There was a Welsh flavour to PMQs, with Plaid Cymru's Jonathan Edwards supporting the public sector workers on strike tomorrow - Mr Cameron said they should go to work and shouldn't be able to rely on two-year-old strike ballots with low turn-outs.

Labour's Albert Owen challenged the prime minister to support the Welsh government's "jobs growth Wales" policy. "And in doing so you could end your agenda of attacking Wales at every opportunity. Who knows you might even get a welcome in the hillsides?"

David Cameron replied: "I want to do everything I can to support economic recovery in Wales and that is why, for instance, I think that in September when the NATO conference comes to Wales, which is entirely an initiative launched by me, there will be a very strong welcome in the valleys.

"And I'm pleased that this will be the first time that a serving American president has ever been to Wales so I'm looking forward to that. We're doing everything we can to help business in Wales to employ more people and to grow the economy."