Minister gets his excuses in early ahead of 26-mile run

MPs Alistair Burt, Alun Cairns and Graham Evans
Image caption Full stretch: MPs Alistair Burt (left), Alun Cairns and Graham Evans limbering up for Sunday's run

We are so fond of the word 'historic' in Welsh politics that it is increasingly used to describe something vaguely interesting that hasn't happened before.

So when I suggest that new Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns will make history on Sunday, I'm not comparing his task to walking on the moon or finding a cure for the common cold.

Mr Cairns will become the first serving cabinet minister to run the London Marathon. Others have run it but either before or after their cabinet career.

Indeed, his recent promotion to the cabinet has had a major impact on his training for the 26.2 mile event, where the Vale of Glamorgan MP, the fastest in MP in last year's race, initially hoped to break 3 hours and 30 minutes.

"There's been a bit of a diversion over the last few weeks as well as an injury," he admitted. "So I'm not sure I'll become the champion again of the MPs. And there is serious competition from Dan Jarvis, an ex-para, so I'm getting my excuses in early."

Read full article Minister gets his excuses in early ahead of 26-mile run

Steel jobs, ministerial debuts, tolls and royal regalia

Alun Cairns and Guto Bebb
Image caption The new Wales Office team of Alun Cairns (left) and Guto Bebb answered MPs' questions for the first time.

So what did we learn from Alun Cairns's Commons debut as secretary of state for Wales?

As expected, the half-hour question time was dominated by the crisis in the steel industry. And as expected, Mr Cairns defended the UK government's handling of that crisis.

Read full article Steel jobs, ministerial debuts, tolls and royal regalia

Cameron challenged by Welsh student over steel industry

Peter Gillibrand
Image caption 'I'm the president of the Welsh society and I'm sure you're aware where this is going....' - Peter Gillibrand to David Cameron

It has been a constant refrain since Tata Steel announced plans to sell off its UK operations: if the banks can be bailed out, why can't the steel industry?

It's a question Peter Gillibrand put directly to the prime minister today. Peter is president of the Welsh society at Exeter University, which David Cameron was visiting on Thursday.

Read full article Cameron challenged by Welsh student over steel industry

PM 'not ruling anything out' (except nationalisation)

Port Talbot steelworks
Image caption 'The situation at Port Talbot is of deep concern' - David Cameron on the steel industry.

David Cameron has chaired a short meeting of ministers to discuss the steel industry. Among those present in Downing Street were the Business Minister Anna Soubry (whose boss has yet to arrive back from Australia), Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns.

The prime minister gave a short interview afterwards. This is what he said: "The situation at Port Talbot is of deep concern. I know how important those jobs are; those jobs are vital to workers' families, vital to those communities, and the government will do everything it can, working with the company to try and secure the future of steel-making in Port Talbot and across the country. It's a vital industry.

Read full article PM 'not ruling anything out' (except nationalisation)

Cairns: 'I want to be a pragmatic secretary of state'

New Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb speaks to DWP ministers and staff. Image copyright DWP
Image caption New Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb speaks to DWP ministers and staff.

I'm told it's a question that's been gripping some of the brightest ministerial brains at Westminster: when, if ever, were there last two MPs with Welsh constituencies sitting in a Conservative cabinet?

Nobody seems to have come up with a definitive answer, which confirms that we do indeed live in unusual times.

Read full article Cairns: 'I want to be a pragmatic secretary of state'

Budget 2016: A chef, a sugar tax, city deals & a museum

Leanne Wood and Jamie Oliver
Image caption Two sugar tax supporters bump into each other at Westminster: what are the chances of that happening?

How was it for you? The main headlines from George Osborne's eighth Budget (to judge from London's Evening Standard) surround the introduction of a tax on the manufacturers of sugary drinks.

Chef Jamie Oliver told BBC Radio Wales listeners he welcomed the news, and at the end of his interview was greeted by a waiting Plaid Cymru leader who asked him: "Can I get a quick picture with you?"

Read full article Budget 2016: A chef, a sugar tax, city deals & a museum

Tidal review 'won't include anyone from Wales'

Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom
Image caption Ministerial correction: Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom

As ministerial corrections go, it was definitely in the "reverse ferret" category rather than the replacement of the odd word or figure.

Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom has published an intriguing official correction to her speech during a debate on plans for a tidal lagoon in Swansea.

Read full article Tidal review 'won't include anyone from Wales'

London's Crossrail built with 'Welsh expertise'

  • 10 March 2016
  • From the section Wales
Media captionCrossrail, the £15bn railway which will run beneath London from 2018, is being built with Welsh expertise from about 40 firms

What is 35 metres underground, will be used by 200 million passengers a year and costs almost £15bn?

The answer is London's newest railway system, Crossrail or the Elizabeth Line as it will be known.

Read full article London's Crossrail built with 'Welsh expertise'

Sunday trading: where does your MP stand?

Hywel Williams MP
Image caption Hywel Williams: "As far as Plaid is concerned, that is a matter for the Welsh government."

The debate over Sunday trading hours is proving rather fractious with plenty of "blue-on-blue" action as Conservative MPs wonder publicly why it wasn't in their manifesto for last year's general election.

A government compromise (pilot schemes) designed to stave off defeat was not tabled in time for MPs to vote on it, but Communities Minister Brandon Lewis said the government would amend its own Enterprise Bill later in the House of Lords.

Read full article Sunday trading: where does your MP stand?

Minister apologises for 'inadvertently misleading' MPs

Wayne David MP
Image caption Long lunch: Caerphilly MP Wayne David brandished a photograph of Stephen Crabb's engagement in south London to make a point in the House of Commons.

St David's Day may now be a fading memory but the consequences of Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb's absence from Thursday's House of Commons debate on Welsh affairs linger on.

His deputy, Alun Cairns, returned to the dispatch box on Tuesday to apologise for suggesting Mr Crabb was absent due to "parliamentary business elsewhere". It emerged that the secretary of state was, in fact, speaking to a Conservative Women's lunch in Bexley, south London - which isn't most people's definition of parliamentary business.

Read full article Minister apologises for 'inadvertently misleading' MPs