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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 16:41 GMT
Wales@Westminster weblog

It's Wales@Westminster weblog, BBC Wales' Parliamentary correspondent David Cornock's diary on political life. It's a two-way process though, so add your comments too.

Tuesday 16 December

Hot topic
posted by David | 1145 GMT |

Almost three weeks after the state opening of Parliament, Welsh MPs have finally got around to discussing the Queen's Speech.

The Welsh Grand Committee convened this morning to debate the Government's legislative programme for the coming year.

Many MPs question the point of the committee, the megastore of political talking shops, in these post-devolution days.

Little more than an hour into this morning's debate, a fire alarm cleared the committee room of MPs for half an hour. Lembit Opik, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, was half way through his speech.

He suspected a plot. "Any excuse..." complained the Montgomeryshire MP.

Personal politics
posted by David | 1509 GMT |

Can you imagine the prime minister announcing a policy decision on behalf of his party only for it to be dismissed as a personal view?

Ieuan Wyn Jones announced recently that Plaid Cymru would only support the transfer of student funding powers from Westminster to Wales if it was accompanied by more money.

Mr Jones did this without consulting his party's MPs, the only Plaid Cymru members who will get a vote on the legislation in the Commons.

Parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd was furious. Mr Jones may be the party's assembly leader, but he was only expressing a personal view (albeit in a press release issued on behalf of Plaid Cymru).

"Party policy is it should be devolved," said Mr Llwyd, "and party policy will be followed."

That's cleared that one up then.

My husband and I...
posted by David | 1638 GMT |

The Welsh Grand Committee was brought to life, briefly, by allegations of sexism.

Julie Morgan, Labour MP for Cardiff North, made the charge after the shadow Welsh Secretary Bill Wiggin suggested her marriage to First Minister Rhodri Morgan gave her extra political clout.

Mr Wiggin suggested she was better positioned than other MPs to put pressure on the assembly government to improve its record on health.

Mrs Morgan was swiftly on her feet. "I would like to register my protest at his earlier comments, which I regard as sexist and offensive".

Mr Wiggin said he was happy to apologise if he was guilty of sexism, but was he?

If Julie Morgan were first minister and her husband a Labour backbencher at Westminster, would it be sexist to make the same charge?

It might be below the belt, and show questionable judgement, but it probably would not be sexism.

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