Wales politics

Welsh Secretary David Jones' Labour good relations hope

New Conservative Welsh Secretary David Jones says he wants a "good business-like relationship" with the Labour Welsh government.

He spoke after being promoted from Wales Office junior minister by David Cameron in place of Cheryl Gillan, who returns to the back benches.

The Clwyd West MP has spoken to First Minister Carwyn Jones and said there was no need for them to be competitive.

But there are potential areas of friction between the two governments.

They include a Supreme Court challenge by the UK government to legislation passed in the assembly about local byelaws.

The Welsh government also objects to a Wales Office consultation on changing the boundaries of assembly constituencies, saying the matter should be decided in Cardiff Bay, not Westminster.

Mr Jones said he made clear to Carwyn Jones that "we in the Wales Office want to have a very good business-like working relationship with him".

"There's no need really for the Wales Office and the Welsh government to be in any sense competitive and I'm glad to say that he agreed fully with me," he told BBC Radio Wales.

The Welsh secretary said both he and Carwyn Jones were lawyers who understood that "legal action doesn't necessarily mean that you need to have personal animosity".

Carwyn Jones urged the new Welsh secretary to make good on the prime minister's promise that relations between the two administration would be characterised by respect.

'Serious business'

"We are in the serious business of delivering for the people of Wales during these extremely difficult economic times," the Welsh Labour leader said.

"Nothing should deflect either government from this important task."

David Jones's appointment appears to be a victory for Welsh Tories, who made clear they wanted the next incumbent to have a Welsh seat.

Mrs Gillan's constituency is in Buckinghamshire and she had previously threatened to resign over the proposed route of the High Speed 2 railway through her Chesham and Amersham constituency.

Asked if his Welsh seat had helped him get the appointment, Mr Jones said: "I would hope it did.

"I think it's important that Wales should be represented by people from Wales."

As a former member of the Welsh assembly and the MP for Clwyd West since 2005 he said he knew the political landscape in Wales.

He paid tribute to the "tremendous" job Mrs Gillan had done, citing a UK government commitment to electrify railways in south Wales.

'No better person'

Mrs Gillan in return gave a warm welcome to Mr Jones' appointment, saying he was "an excellent constituency MP" who had been "a great support" during her time in office and while in opposition.

"I can think of no better person to take on the mantle of Wales in the Cabinet and I wish him well," said Mrs Gillan.

"I am confident he will carry out his new responsibilities and be a strong voice for Wales, challenging the decisions made in the assembly and standing up for the people of Wales in Westminster and elsewhere."

Mr Jones' deputy at the Wales Office has not been appointed but an announcement is expected on Wednesday.

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb, a Conservative whip, is among those thought likely to get the job.

Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams said he always argued for his party to have a presence in the department, but "from what I hear there will be no changes in the number of ministerial posts for the Liberal Democrats and so I'm not hopeful."

Baroness Randerson

However, Mr Williams wrote on Twitter later that there was a rumour that the former Cardiff Central Lib Dem AM Jenny - now Baroness - Randerson could be appointed to the Wales Office.

He tweeted: "Hearing rumours that Baroness Jenny Randerson might be minister of state in the Wales Office. Wonderful news if true!"

The leader of the Conservatives in the assembly, Andrew RT Davies, will meet David Jones in London on Wednesday.

Meanwhile the Wales Office special adviser to Cheryl Gillan, Richard Hazlewood, has confirmed he is also leaving his post.

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