Do politicians ask the right questions?

Just occasionally news from elsewhere permeates the party conference bubble.

The spending of £10,000 of public money training members of the Welsh assembly how to ask questions has predictably been criticised at a time of austerity.

It is possibly too soon to notice whether the investigative techniques of AMs have improved but concern about the ability of politicians to question witnesses goes beyond Cardiff Bay.

It is relatively easy to ask the hapless representatives of companies such as G4S whether they agree with criticism of their record: finding the hidden truth is more difficult.

The appearances of Rupert and James Murdoch before Westminster's culture select committee made gripping television but did they add much to the sum of human knowledge? Would a more forensic approach akin to the Leveson inquiry into media standards have yielded more?

The Newport West MP Paul Flynn wrote in his book How To Be An MP: "The performance of the committee as a team flopped and invited questions on the unequal contest between MPs and extensively trained witnesses.

"There was little evidence of a forensic team approach by the committee that would have drawn the truth from the witnesses. As usual there was competition from the MPs to chase personal hares. Few capitalised on the weaknesses in the Murdoch's answers."

He added: "The Murdochs were trained and rehearsed in their carefully manicured replies by expensive legal experts. This is an uneven contest.

"There is a strong case for calling in wise QCs to train MPs and committee clerks in the art of cross-examination."