Five weeks on, Welsh MPs debate the Queen's speech


We may live in a world of rolling news and 24/7 media but some events are slow-burners.

It's now five weeks since the Queen opened parliament and unveiled the government's plans for new laws for the new parliamentary year.

Today, MPs on the Welsh grand committee (catch it while you can here) are holding a four-hour debate on the contents of the Queen's speech and their likely impact on Wales.

Welsh Secretary David Jones opened the debate this morning, focusing initially on a bill that wasn't in the speech - one to hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.

He talked about the economy, telling the committee: "It is not governments who create jobs; it is business people". (Remember that next time the government claims the credit for jobs created).

Mr Jones's wider defence of government energy policy was dismissed very audibly as "absolute cobblers" by Labour's Huw Irranca-Davies but the language was not ruled unparlaimentary.

The Queen's speech mentioned one draft bill that would affect Wales alone - one that lifts the ban on assembly candidates standing in both a constituency and on a regional list. The draft Wales bill would move the assembly from four to five year fixed terms and ban "double-jobbing" in Wales and Westminster.

That bill, when it arrives, will also include any changes that result from the UK government's response to the Silk commission's suggest that the assembly be given responsibility for raising some of the money it spends.

We have been promised that response by "the end of spring". David Jones said the summer solstice takes place at 0645 on June 21 (nine days away), but he couldn't guarantee that his government would deliver the response by then.

Liberal Democrat Mark Williams tried to push Mr Jones for a date but the nearest he got to one was a promise it would be revealed "in very early course".

Mr Jones's Labour shadow, Owen Smith announced that a future Labour government would re-introduce the ban on dual candidacy.

Plaid Cymru's Hywel Williams tried a new approach. "The traditional response from Plaid Cymru to successive Queen's speeches has been 'not a lot in it for Wales'," he said. "Commentators such as the venerable Mr Cornock at the BBC have delighted in pointing out to us our predictability."

Mr Williams said he wanted to confound the commentators by asking more positively what was in the speech for Wales. "The answer thunders back to me immediately - not a lot."

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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