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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 March 2007, 12:38 GMT
Wales@Westminster newslog

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

Wednesday, 14 March

"Agonising" for aide

posted by David | 1215 GMT |

Another first for New Labour today. Support for the Government is now optional among its most junior members.

How else are we to explain the intervention into the Trident debate of Peter Hain's parliamentary aide, Chris Ruane?

Chris Ruane MP
'Weighing up his options' - Chris Ruane MP

Mr Ruane has signed an amendment to the government motion in the name of his boss, Mr Hain, and Mr Hain's boss, Tony Blair. Their names, supporting contradictory positions, appear on the same House of Commons order paper today.

Mr Ruane argues that the Government should delay the decision to replace the Trident missile system.

But as I write, he is still in a job. He is said to be "weighing his options" ahead of tonight's vote on the issue and is not short of advice from colleagues.

Parliamentary private secretaries, who act as ministers' "eyes and ears" around the Commons, are technically not members of the government although they are expected to toe the party line.

Others have resigned to vote with their conscience in tonight's vote. Others will suddenly discover pressing constituency engagements that the government whips are unusually happy for them to attend.

The Conservatives say Chris Ruane's position is untenable as he has voiced opposition to government policy publicly. A friend says Mr Ruane is still "agonising". I'll let you know when the agonising is over.

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