Welsh Questions: Is it a bird? Is it a new minister?

David Cornock
Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

Image caption,
Wales Office Minister Stuart Andrew making his debut at the despatch box.

You can take the boy out of Anglesey but you can't take Anglesey out of the boy.

Yorkshire MP Stuart Andrew made his despatch box debut as a Wales Office minister and tried to disarm critics with a quick blast of his native tongue.

"Diolch yn fawr, Mr Llefarydd," said the minister. "Rwy'n ddiolchgar i'm cydweithwyr am y croeso cynnes." ["I'm grateful to my colleagues for the warm welcome"]

The welcome from Shadow Welsh Secretary Christina Rees was slightly cooler. "I'd like to welcome the new minister to his place. They say the first time is always the worst. I understand that you were born on Ynys Môn and that you were a member of the Labour party. We'd like to welcome you back, but we might be full."

Ms Rees also risked incurring the Speaker's wrath (he's an Arsenal fan) with a reference to Swansea City's win on Tuesday night. Her focus was on Swansea and on the proposed tidal lagoon. She said the Welsh Government had offered "millions" to help fund it.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said he wanted the lagoon to happen but it must be value for money. He was sceptical about her suggestion that "thousands of jobs" were at risk because the UK government cannot make up its mind on the project. He suggested it would create rather fewer jobs - 40.

Monmouth Tory MP David Davies, who chairs the Welsh affairs committee, revealed that First Minister Carwyn Jones had been invited to give evidence to his committee "to spell out exactly what this offer is". Mr Jones had told him in a letter he'd be happy to appear - but only after the UK government had given its support.

Mr Davies said: "If there's a serious offer from Welsh Labour to support tidal lagoons the Welsh first minister should reconsider, come before the committee and tells us exactly what it is that he is offering.

'The Robins'

Then a robin flew into the chamber. It was seen in the ceiling before flying down and landing on a camera. MPs watched transfixed as it flew from the opposition to government side during a question from Plaid Cymru's parliamentary leader, Liz Saville Roberts.

Some offered a running (flying?) commentary - "coming in, coming in" while others cooed at the bird. I'm no expert but the MPs appeared to expect the robin to respond to pigeon-like noises.

Speaker John Bercow intervened on Ms Saville Roberts: "She shouldn't be disquieted in any way. I think the robin is keenly attending to her words."

Stuart Andrew had his own idea: "I know that Bristol City have a robin as their emblem, so maybe they're trying to interfere with Welsh questions."

As a former councillor in Wrexham, he should also know that 'The Robins' was once a widely-used nickname for the town's football club.

Veteran Labour MP Ann Clwyd later tweeted: "Phoned Serjeant at Arms [official responsible for Commons security] re welfare of robin. They have opened all the windows. When all MPs have pushed off the robin will be helped out safely, with crumbs to eat!"