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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2007, 15:20 GMT
'Nanny' row over political blogs
Screengrab of Blogger homepage, Google
The committee chair insists he does not want to restrict free speech
Plans to examine if politicians' blogs could break their code of conduct have led to claims of "nanny state culture".

The accusation was made by one of the Welsh assembly's keenest bloggers, Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black.

It came as the assembly's standards committee looks at the implications of the growing use by AMs of their online diaries to air their views.

But Labour committee chair Jeff Cuthbert said there was no intention to restrict freedom of expression.

Committee members will be asked to "consider the issue of members publishing to blog sites and the potential for this to result in breaches of the code of conduct, and consider whether to issue a note to members regarding the use of blogs".

However, South West Wales AM Mr Black said the committee showed it was "struggling" to find topics to discuss.

Peter Black AM
What will they seek to issue guidance on next, press releases, pamphlets, how to frame an attack on your own party leader, lectures to the Institute of Welsh Politics?
Peter Black AM, Liberal Democrat

Writing on his blog, Mr Black advised the committee to accept that AMs were "grown ups and capable of taking responsibility for their own actions".

He wrote: "People often complain about the creation of a nanny state. It seems that the nanny state culture is alive and well within the National Assembly for Wales itself.

"What will they seek to issue guidance on next, press releases, pamphlets, how to frame an attack on your own party leader, lectures to the Institute of Welsh Politics?"

Another South West Wales AM and blogger, Conservative Alun Cairns, said he would be "very cautious" about any attempt to limit freedom to express views.

Public domain

"It's the opportunity to put something in the public domain, possibly in the form of a press release that might have gone before now," said Mr Cairns.

"It's the opportunity to express thoughts, maybe in a bit more of a personal nature, and therefore the laws as they are provide people with the right to redress."

But Caerphilly AM Mr Cuthbert said issues such as what responsibility AMs had for remarks posted on their blogs would be considered.

He said the last three cases referred to the committee all involved AMs' blogs, although they had all been resolved.

In July more than 180 complaints against Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne's criticism of the British National Party (BNP) on a blog were rejected by the committee.

Mr Cuthbert said: "Who takes responsibility for the remarks that are posted on a blogsite?

"Regardless of who is actually the author of it, what responsibility, legal or otherwise, rests on the Assembly Member? It's issues like that."

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