Just watched the honourable member for Chesham and Amersham’s first Welsh questions on the BBC’s excellent Democracy Live. Here are some highlights:
Cheryl Gillan announced that she has sent a preamble and question to the electoral commission – who will now road test them for 10 weeks. Mrs Gillan claimed that she’s done more in her short time in office on the issue than Peter Hain ever did.
Peter Hain took exception to her account of his work and wasted a question trying to vindicate his legacy. It’s nice to see such unpartisan politics on this issue.
Mrs Gillan again announced that she would be staying impartial during the referendum campaign – to which she was roundly jeered by the opposition benches . It appears than neither she or her junior minister have an opinion on the matter.
Alun Cairns, half in Cardiff Bay - half in Westminster, opened his Welsh questions account - jumping to the defence of the St Athans and calling for progress.
David Jones said that the treasury had more pressing matters to worry about at the moment, when quizzed on Barnett reform. He said the Government would wait until Holtham reported again in the summer before making any decisions.
John Bercow, the speaker, got stuck in a few times – keeping the MPs (especially Huw Irranca Davies) in check. Perhaps most notable was his impression of a primary school teacher. He made a point of telling Mrs Gillan to face the front when answering questions - just like teaching an Eisteddfod recital.
Hopefully the standard will improve as people get used to their new roles. The opposition will feel like they missed an opportunity today – they didn’t take advantage of a nervy Gillan and Jones.
The Labour frontbench wasted questions. Hasn’t Wayne David got anything better to ask other than “How many times have you been in Wales since your appointment?”. I understand the point he’s trying to make – but surely there’s a better way to make it? Plus Susan Jones had just asked a similar question minutes before.
But it was quite feisty at times, giving me hope of some Welsh questions gold in future.