Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 12:12 UK

What do Welsh MPs do these days?

By David Cornock
BBC Wales parliamentary correspondent

The Houses of Parliament
Welsh MPs say they work hard at Westminster, despite a reduced role

It was shortly after nine o'clock in the morning. Empty wine bottles stood on wooden tables alongside discarded glasses containing only dregs of house red.

Perhaps that should be House red.

The terrace bar of the House of Commons is never at its best the morning after the late night before, although the view - stretching from Lambeth Palace to the London Eye - is worth getting out of bed for.

Where better to start an investigation into what Welsh MPs do in this post-devolution era?

Jenny Willott sipped a cup of (subsidised) tea as she explained why a pro-devolution Liberal Democrat would nevertheless choose the Westminster career path.

"I am really interested in the issues decided that are decided in Westminster. I have a particular interest in work and pensions issues and for me Parliament just has more interesting subjects for me to get my teeth into," said the Cardiff Central MP.

Jenny Willott
Jenny Willott said Westminster has more interesting issues for her

As political power has moved westwards along the M4, some Assembly Members have made the reverse political journey. David Jones, now Conservative MP for Clwyd West, says he works far harder as an MP than he did during his time as an AM.

"It's considerably busier. I'm away from home four nights a week now whereas I was only one or two nights away when I was an AM.

"It's a much harder working life, for example I usually arrive here at eight o'clock in the morning and on a Monday or Tuesday I'm here until 11 o'clock at night.

"The assembly is a normal working day, effectively, nine to 5.30. This place is more demanding both in terms of time and the sort of work that we do."

Ten years ago the political decisions that affect the daily lives of Welsh voters were taken in Gwydyr House, a grand building in Whitehall. Today, it's home to two ministers.

The Wales Office is unusual in that it has no executive powers, but does play an important role smoothing relations between Westminster and Cardiff Bay.

Elfyn Llwyd MP
If turkeys vote for Christmas and end up with a decent Christmas for everybody in Wales, then it's okay by me
Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru MP, on his support for Welsh independence

Junior minister Wayne David told me: "Devolution is essentially a partnership... between London and Cardiff and in that sense we are the intermediaries, the go-betweens, the people who make the system work, so we have a very crucial diplomatic role and representational role there but also a very critical role as far as negotiating resources is concerned."

One of the ironies of devolution is that Welsh MPs now have more say over schools and hospitals in England than they do in their own constituencies.

The answer to that West Lothian - or should that be West Clwyd? - question is simple, says Plaid Cymru's parliamentary leader, Elfyn Llwyd: independence.

Rarely among Welsh MPs, Mr Llwyd is prepared for the number of Welsh seats at Westminster to be cut as the powers of the assembly are increased.

"When we do acquire greater powers, there will have to be a reconsideration of the numbers of Westminster seats," he said.

"I'd be the first to sign up to that. It's not special pleading at all, but at this moment in time we're still very busy."

Is Elfyn Llwyd the first turkey to vote for Christmas?

"If turkeys vote for Christmas and end up with a decent Christmas for everybody in Wales, then it's okay by me."



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