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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
Wales: Traveller tales
Carl Roberts
Carl Roberts
Politics Show Wales

David Davies
David Davies made the comments on his own website

When is a traveller not a traveller? That is the heated debate which has been sparked in Wales by the decision of Welsh Tory MP, David Davies to register himself a traveller.

Never shy of controversy, David Davies has already caused a stir by criticising a lottery award for a film project on travellers.

The Heritage Lottery Fund award of 48,800 was made to the project called "Living Album-Gypsy Heritage" which aims to produce a DVD, touring exhibition and website for schools and aims to "raise awareness ... of the gypsy community and culture".

AM critical

In his letter to the lottery fund, Mr Davies said: "Following the 48,000 you gave for the production of a video aimed at giving schoolchildren a greater understanding of the culture and traditions of 'gypsy travellers', I am very keen to commission an equally 'useful' and 'informative' piece of film that will serve to educate said 'gypsy travellers' on some of the ancient traditions and communal practices of another group of people, who we might called 'settled folk'.

"I use the term to describe that large group of people in Britain who opt to live their lives in houses or flats.

"I should like my film to focus on such issues as the importance which the 'settled community' place on property rights, their rigid adherence to an ancient code which they refer to as 'planning regulations', and the time honoured custom of clearing up one's rubbish."

Public debate over Travellers caravan sites

Much to learn

A Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) spokesperson said it was not prejudiced in its allocation of grants.

The spokesperson said: "Of more than 16,000 projects supported by the HLF in the last 11 years, so far we have funded some 11 which focus on the heritage and history of traveller communities - often working with local organisations to bring communities together.

"It is a nonsense to suggest that there is any kind of prejudice against settled communities in our grant giving - we simply reflect the vast range of heritage in the UK."

Now David Davies has gone one further. Having learnt, he claims, that any one can register as a traveller, he plans to do exactly that so that he can say what he wants about the travelling community without any fear.

Critic quit

Mr Davies sees this as being of a piece with his long running campaign against political correctness.

The member for Monmouth quit the Assembly's equal opportunities committee, describing it as a "total waste of time".

David Davies also incurred the wrath of many in his party when he described the Commission for Racial Equality as a "recruiting sergeant" for the far-right British National Party.

On Politics Show Wales, Adrian Masters and the team examine David Davies' latest outburst and the possible repercussions for himself and Welsh Conservatism.

This and the latest on the budget gridlock at the Welsh Assembly.

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