Drama in the Welsh assembly
The big news in south Wales this month has been the announcement of the electrification of the Swansea and Valleys lines. We all know the importance of good transport infrastructure to connect to new labour and export markets, as well as making communities more attractive to outside investment. As the debate on the future of British railways has been dominated by the cost and impact of HS2, in Wales we were worried that we would be left behind.
Those of us who have been campaigning for electrification know that is it still a long way down the track, and we will be working hard to make sure it doesn’t hit the buffers. As well as the long-term benefits of infrastructure projects like this the work will hopefully provide a spark for the Welsh economy that it so desperately needs, as we hear about Britain sinking further into recession.
We saw drama in the Welsh assembly as the Tory, nationalist and Liberal opposition tabled a joint motion of no confidence in health minister Lesley Griffiths. After last year’s election Labour decided to govern alone with 30 of the 60 seats in the assembly. With no majority it was always likely that Labour would face votes like this.
Labour won the vote 29-28, with former Plaid Cymru leader Lord Elis-Thomas not attending the ballot. Lord Elis-Thomas, the assembly member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, was taking part in the graduation ceremony at Bangor University where he is the chancellor, and had previously accused his own party of ‘putting prejudice before evidence’ and acting like ‘poodles and second fiddle to the Conservatives’ in calling for the vote. Plaid’s leadership has suspended him from the assembly group.
Elsewhere in the assembly, first minister Carwyn Jones set out Labour’s legislative agenda for our second year in government. This includes measures to increase transparency around local elections and the work of elected representatives, the radical human transplant bill, which requires people to opt out of organ donation rather than opting in, and two bills to reform the way education is delivered in Wales.
Nick Smith MP is a member of the public accounts committee. He tweets @BlaenauGwentMP
Carwyn Jones, Labour, Nick Smith, Plaid Cymru, rail, Wales