Friday, May 20, 2005

Two weeks gone

Two weeks an MP and I have survived the "maiden speech" ordeal.

MPs are not allowed to take part in debates, ask questions, intervene, raise points of order and probably much else besides until this has been done.

By tradition the maiden speech contains little of relevance to the subject being debated. (Although this could be said of many speeches) Instead praise is heaped on previous MPs, a description of the constituency follows with perhaps a few moderate comments in support/criticism of government policy. In return those sitting on the benches opposite refrain from heckling or intervening.

As one MP said: "Enjoy it because it's the easiest speech you will ever make."

I was fairly relaxed about the whole thing until, with about a minute to go, a whip came up to me. "Brace yourself" he said grabbing my arm excitedly, in the manner of a parachute jump master, "because you are next!" At this point I will confess to a mild bout of nerves.

Fortunately things seemed to go reasonably well.

I celebrated by seeking out the Table Office and exercising my right to table, or register, a question for Gordon Brown. Which, if I am lucky I will get to ask him in the Chamber next week.

There followed a long explanation of the types of questions which may be asked of Ministers, along with a timetable showing the daily deadlines for allowable questions to the specific Ministers, and the day they will be answered. I came out in need of coffee.

Shortly afterwards my phone went: "Whips office. Get into the Chamber immediately. You must be there for the wind up speeches if you have spoken in a debate."

The fact that this was happening an hours earlier than expected was no excuse. It is going to take quite some time to understand Parliament.

I took my place on the backbenches which was just behind Ian Paisley. "I remember my maiden speech." he said cheerfully. "It was a bit controversial. In fact it was so controversial that the Speaker ruled me out of order."

Now that would have been a maiden speech worth seeing.


Blogger Mark said...

Good to hear you raising the subject of Council Tax in your "maiden speech". Monmouthshire has been hit harder than anybody by annual increases and revaluations. With all of the revaluation revenue going directly to the Assembly, we are being forced to fund it through the back door.

A suggestion for a future speech:

"The total waste of money on bilingual publications in Wales."

Firstly, I defend a person's right to speak and be spoken to in their national language.

In Monmouthshire, however, only 9.3% of the population admit to having SOME SKILLS in Welsh (2001 census). This does not mean that Welsh is their first language, nor that they are even proficient in it. Yet we are flooded with bilingual publications on a regular basis, which obviously cost more to publish.

Why can't organisations ask people which language they prefer and then only write to them in that? This would save printing and postage costs in one swoop.

A simple solution to an age old problem.

Good luck for the future..

3:48 AM  
Blogger David Davies AM said...

I couldn't agree more. In fact I very much doubt that 9% figure. I meet very few people in Monmouthshire who can hold a conversation in Welsh.

People should be able to choose to have documents in Welsh or English. Publishing everything in both languages is a waste of money and bad for the environment.

We should also look at the practicalities of bilingual road signs and compulsory Welsh lessons for 14-16 year olds.

Anyone who wants to should be able to learn and speak Welsh but it should not be forced onto people.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Glyn Wintle said...

Text of the speach. Glad you survived the maiden speach. :)

2:34 PM  
Blogger Anthropax said...

Did you attend the Uni fees debate on Tuesday?

12:25 AM  
Blogger David Davies AM said...

Of course! A majority in the Assembly voted to scrap tuition fees. I wonder if the Assembly Govt will take any notice?

11:29 AM  

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