As mentioned in a previous blog I exercised my right to table a question to Gordon Brown following the maiden speech. As luck would have it the question was selected and I duly stood up, looked Mr Brown in the eye from a distance of a few feet, and called on him to rule out an increase in National Insurance. Disdaining to answer a junior Minister sitting next to him arose and made a non-committal reply refusing to rule out a tax hike.
Firing questions at the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the floor of the House of Commons is certainly more challenging than quizzing his opposite number in the Welsh Assembly. The atmosphere is tense and confrontational. There is also the knowledge that if either the questioner or the Minister fouls up then it will be endlessly replayed the next day on various radio stations.
Is this good for democracy? Some say not but my gut feeling is that it is. Ministers and their opposite numbers on the Conservative and Liberal front benches go to the dispatch box knowing that they if they have not done their homework, it will quickly become apparent to all.