Grand plans come to nothing in tale of two committees

Bad news for North Wales fans of the Welsh Grand Committee. "The Grand" won't now be coming to a town near you anytime soon.

The committee, which consists of all 40 Welsh MPs and the Secretary of State for Wales, was due to meet in Wrexham next Thursday, its first meeting outside Westminster for years.

That meeting has now been postponed due to, depending on who you believe, a row between the Secretary of State and the chair of the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs or a desire on the part of the former not to compromise her political opponents on a day when public service workers will be out on strike.

Labour (and Plaid Cymru MPs) have crossed picket lines during previous public service disputes at Westminster but the Wales Office insist Cheryl Gillan didn't want to embarrass them this time.

Let's look at the other possible explanation - a row between Cheryl Gillan and committee chair David Davies. Mr Davies and his committee will be in Wrexham next Thursday as part of an inquiry into inward investment.

The MPs will also be visiting the Airbus factory in Broughton (a visit is compulsory for any travelling politician in the vicinity of North Wales) in a long-planned trip organised in blissful ignorance of the Secretary of State's plans for a Welsh Grand.

She, it appears, was operating in equal ignorance about the select committee's plans. If only they weren't in the same party they might tell each other what they're planning.

One committee member says he didn't know there was going to be a Welsh Grand meeting until Mrs Gillan's parliamentary aide told Tory MPs there was a problem. If only they read my twitter feed, where the grand plans were announced on May 24.

David Davies was reluctant, to say the least, to re-organise a long-planned schedule for his committee and it appears he has won the battle with the postponement of the grand committee.

It does mean political anoraks in North Wales won't be entirely bereft of a committee of MPs as the select committee follows its original plans.

Those MPs who don't sit on that committee will now be free to support the striking public service workers. If you see "Comrade Cheryl" on a picket line, do get in touch.