Wales politics

Do not drink, eat or take pictures in Senedd, AMs told

Soft drink bottles in the Senedd and Elin Jones Image copyright BBC/Plaid Cymru
Image caption Pop goes the assembly: Elin Jones asks AMs not to bring fizzy drinks into the chamber

Assembly members have been asked not to eat, drink or take photographs in the Senedd chamber by Presiding Officer Elin Jones.

UKIP's Nathan Gill has been tweeting images from the floor of the chamber, while two of his party colleagues have been spotted with soft drinks bottles.

Mr Gill said he did not see the harm of taking photos during Senedd debates, but promised not to do it again.

UKIP said the drinks were an "innocent mistake".

According to the minutes of the assembly business committee on 25 May, Ms Jones urged party business managers to ask their members "not to take photos in the chamber during proceedings".

She also asked that they "reminded them that no food and drink are allowed in the chamber, except for the glasses of water provided for members".

Image copyright Nathan Gill
Image caption One of Mr Gill's photos within the chamber, posted to Twitter

Mr Gill, an AM for North Wales and UKIP Wales leader, has posted pictures from within the chamber on several occasions since proceedings in the fifth term began.

He said: "I'm not that rebellious. I will abide by that rule."

"It's completely normal in Strasbourg," he added, referring to one of the bases of the European Parliament where he serves as an MEP.

"People do Periscope and all kinds of stuff," Mr Gill said, referring to a live video app.

"I don't see the harm in it, I think it would be a good way to engage more people on social media.

"But if that's the rule, that's the rule."

Image copyright Nathan Gill
Image caption Mr Gill tweeted a photo of Kirsty Williams speaking for the first time in the Senedd as education secretary

Michelle Brown, also a UKIP AM for North Wales, and South Wales Central UKIP AM Gareth Bennett were seen with soft drinks bottles in the Senedd chamber on 24 May.

A UKIP group spokesman said: "Neither Michelle nor Gareth realised that the rules prevented taking anything other than water into the chamber.

"As soon as they were told that fizzy drinks were not permitted, they got rid of them.

"It was an innocent mistake and we don't see this as a major issue.

"So far, UKIP has created its own fizz inside the chamber and will continue to do so."

An assembly commission spokeswoman said: "The presiding officer is responsible for keeping order in the chamber and for ensuring members behave with courtesy and decorum, and don't detract from the dignity of the assembly."

She added that Ms Jones had not considered sanctions against those involved and "doesn't expect to need to".

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