Cairns slays the dragon as peers scrutinise Wales Bill

Wales Office and UK Government logos Image copyright UK Government
Image caption Exit the dragon? The Wales Office has re-branded.

For many, it's been the pressing issue of 2016, its every twist and turn followed with increasing fascination by politicos up and down Wales.

It's been the dominant topic of conversation whenever political anoraks have gathered together, its implications for Wales's future pored over at length.

It's been the subject of several academic studies, highlighting its failings, and many hours of parliamentary debate.

Apocalyptic warnings have been issued about its potential impact on life in Wales.

'House of Lords'

Yes, the Wales Bill is still with us. As I write, peers are debating proposed amendments on the first day (of two) of its report stage in the House of Lords.

Familiar arguments over legal jurisdictions are still with us, with peers arguing over, among other things, whether a new justice commission should be statutory or non-statutory.

You can watch it live here.

A second day is scheduled for January 10, with Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns "optimistic" AMs will give it their consent a week later before it completes its parliamentary journey.

In other news, MPs have been debating the impact of Brexit on businesses in Wales.

The Brexit secretary says the UK government's plan won't be published before February.

'Dragon'

And Alun Cairns has been accused of slaying the dragon in the Wales Office logo. The dragon, with its motto - "y ddraig goch ddyry cychwyn" - has been replaced by a UK government logo as the Wales Office now styles itself "UK Government Wales" on social media.

The Wales Office said it made the change because too many people in Wales don't know which government is responsible for what.

But Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens said: "When Brexit presents Wales with its biggest challenge since the Second World War, it's pretty unbelievable that Alun Cairns is wasting time and taxpayers money trying and failing to make his stationery look nicer.

"The minister can't give a straight answer on whether businesses in Wales will get a decent deal from Brexit, and astonishingly he's now killed the Wales office dragon from the logo - the public will be absolutely baffled by his behaviour and rightly wonder if his priorities lie with Wales at all."

'Accountable'

A Wales Office spokesperson said: "The reason for the change in branding is that in Wales, too many people still don't know precisely which government is responsible for what, and can be confused when receiving communications from a number of different departments...so we believe it is important that we demonstrate a unified UK government voice so people are aware of what services that the UK government provides in Wales, and what it is accountable for."

But enough for now. This is my last post of the year as I'm stepping off the 2016 news treadmill for a few weeks. I'll be "open for business" (as the politicians say) on January 9.

But if you've read this far, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.