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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 15:42 GMT
Elis-Thomas angry at budget vote
Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas
Lord Elis-Thomas wants 'proper parliamentary' behaviour
The Welsh assembly's presiding officer has accused opposition parties of "playing government" by refusing to back Labour's spending plans.

Dafydd Elis-Thomas told the BBC he would prefer the opposition to try to bring down the government rather than pick off parts of its proposals.

He was speaking after parties united to try to impose changes on the draft 14bn budget by voting against it.

All-party talks to hammer out a deal could see changes amounting to 150m.

Speaking on the BBC's Politics Show programme, Lord Elis-Thomas said the talks meant the full budget was being left unscrutinised.

He denied "cosying up to Labour", adding that it was his job to make sure the government gets its business through.

We've got to behave like a proper parliamentary body
Dafydd Elis Thomas

He said: "This is no way to scrutinise a budget. In my book a budget is never scrutinised on the floor of an assembly.

"We had a short discussion about some items that sought to be amended, but a budget should be looked at throughout the year by a finance committee, and that will happen after 2007 [following the introduction of the Government of Wales Act].

"It's a bit strange when the opposition decides to be the government for 10 minutes then goes back to being the opposition.

"No local government in Wales would run their budget the way they did in the assembly.

"This is not the way to do it, taking things up to the wire. There must be a sensible way over a period of time in proper budgetary scrutiny like every council in Wales."

Changes

According to Lord Elis-Thomas, the correct way to oppose the government was to put forward censure or no confidence motions.

"If the opposition wants to oppose, then the sanction is to vote the government down. That's the kind of democracy I'm used to.

Dr John Marek
Dr Marek took part in the draft budget debate and vote

"We've got to behave like a proper parliamentary body," he added.

Lord Elis-Thomas also touched on the stand-off with his deputy presiding officer, Dr John Marek, over who would chair the debate and a long-running disagreement over constitutional changes to the assembly next year.

Lord Elis-Thomas agreed to chair the debate in the end after first asking his deputy.

If Wrexham AM Dr Marek had chaired, he would have been unable to vote with the opposition against the draft budget and it could have been passed.

"I will not let anything disrupt the workings of the assembly and I wish that this would stop," Lord Elis-Thomas said.

"What I care about is the future of devolution in Wales. That's what I have committed my political life to and I intend to make sure we have the best possible system for the people of Wales.

"When the deputy presiding officer doesn't conform to the rules of the job, I can't do anything about it. He's elected by the assembly members, it's in their hands."

Mr Marek denied Lord Elis-Thomas' claims he had refused to sit in for him during the budget vote.

Mr Marek said: "If he'd instructed me to sit, I would sit. I have always stated that view. I have told him that on more than one occasion."

He claimed he told Lord Elis-Thomas on the morning of the debate that he would chair it if he was instructed to, but was told the presiding officer would sit instead.


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