Minister draws line, but not between life and and death

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Media captionStephen Crabb addressed MPs on his first day as Welsh secretary

Yesterday, there was the "walk of fame" along Downing Street in front of the world's cameras.

Today, it was the Welsh grand committee in front of the parliamentary TV cameras, two journalists and a dozen or so empty public seats.

Stephen Crabb is mostly spending his first full day as secretary of state for Wales debating the laws outlined in last month's Queen's speech.

He is already signalling a fresh start at the Wales Office. His predecessor's special adviser has left the building and his principal private secretary is no longer employed in that role.

All of us in committee room 10 were looking for more signs of how he would do things differently. The slogans were familiar - "long-term economic plan" and "hard-working families" got a mention. But is the "war on Wales" over?

Mr Crabb's Labour shadow, Owen Smith asked him to distance himself from the prime minister's suggestion that Offa's Dyke has become the line between life and death because of the Welsh Labour government's running of the NHS in Wales.

Mr Crabb sidestepped the direct challenge but did say : "Let's use this opportunity to draw a line a line under all of this and restore a much more constructive tone in our dialogue and work towards achieving positive things for people and businesses in Wales because that's what they're looking for."

When politicians talk of drawing a line it's often more in hope than expectation - and next year's general election campaign will challenge Mr Crabb's good intentions.

Owen Smith tried again - on devolution: "I think there will now be challenges to the Secretary of State as to what his real views are on devolution. It was only a few years ago in opposition that he wrote: 'I remain a devosceptic'."

Mr Crabb told Mr Smith he had argued for fiscal devolution years ago and was "open-minded" about the possible transfer of more powers to Wales.

There was the expected debate about beards. Mr Crabb's decision to grow one (without damaging his political prospects) already appears to have got him more coverage in Fleet Street newspapers than most Welsh MPs get in a year.

The Welsh grand resumes in an hour. You could fill the gap in your life by watching this video of the new secretary of state throwing himself off a cliff.