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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 10:11 GMT
Wales@Westminster newslog

The Wales@Westminster weblog, BBC Wales' Parliamentary correspondent David Cornock's diary on political life

Tuesday, 21 November

Billy Goats Bluff

posted by David | 0950 BST |

This may be what some would describe as a snub to Wales or even a slap in the face.

The Welsh Assembly Government may be disappointed to learn that it failed to win the top prize for the "most absurd regulation" in British politics.

The prestigious Savile Club in London's Mayfair hosted a glittering awards ceremony (aren't awards ceremonies always glittering?) to mark the launch of a new book named after assembly bureaucracy.

How to Label a Goat was inspired by the 45-page Sheep and Goats (Records, Identification and Movement) (Wales) Order 2006. Author Ross Clark points out that the Bible (St Matthew 26:33) says: "And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left."

Ross Clark writes in his book: "In just 16 words the Lord separated the sheep from the goats. If only the National Assembly of Wales could be so succinct. But sadly not."

The 45 pages were not enough to win the top award. That went to the Chancellor Gordon Brown for his "simplification" of pensions, which ran to 1,369 pages.

But the assembly didn't go home empty-handed. The judges awarded it third prize, influenced by one sentence that begins: "If an animal is already marked with three ear tags....."

Ross Clark writes: "One pictures herds of these poor beasts lumbering about the Welsh hills, dragging their ears along the ground behind them, beladen with multi-coloured tags - just to please the bureaucrats in Cardiff."

Mr Clark told me he had contacted the assembly government for its reaction, only to be told that the regulations prevented a response. I think he was joking.

How to Label a Goat - the silly rules and regulations that are strangling Britain by Ross Clark, published by Harriman House, 9.99.

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