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Posts Tagged ‘Privy Council’

I’ve spent the day in Westminster where there’s been plenty to occupy Welsh politics watchers.

First up, the unusual sight of a Welsh Conservative MP urging his government to follow the example of the Labour-Plaid Cymru Welsh Assembly Government.

Simon Hart, the MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, led a Westminster Hall debate on the subject of outdoor play.

As a former Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, Mr Hart is well-known as a fan of the great outdoors. But the purpose of his debate was to urge the UK Government to build outdoors learning into the National Curriculum in England.

And to that end he praised the Assembly Government’s Foundation Phase for the youngest children which encourages teaching outside the classroom.

Mr Hart told MPs – and the Education Minister who was on hand to reply for the Government – that his own children had benefitted from the foundation phase and “if it’s good enough for the Welsh Assembly then surely it’s good enough for the UK as a whole.”

Later in the day it was another Conservative MP, this time Stratford-upon-Avon’s Nadhim Zahawi who was pushing the case for Wales.

He introduced a Ten Minute Rule bill calling for the introduction of bank holidays in Wales and England to mark St David’s Day and St George’s Day.

Mr Zahawi’s bill says that next year’s one-off Royal Wedding Bank Holiday should be turned into national Saints’ Days holidays from 2012.

It would promote national integration, he said; it would celebrate the best of English and Welsh culture and it would reclaim patriotic symbols from extremist nationalist parties like the BNP.

Unfortunately it’s unlikely to become law despite repeated appearances in Conservative manifestos past. As a government source put it to me today, “It’s not in the coalition agreement.”

The third and final bit of Welsh Westminster action takes place behind closed doors in this afternoon’s meeting of the Privy Council.

Amongst the orders the Queen has on her list to approve are those which make it possible for next year’s referendum on strengthening the powers of the National Assembly to take place.

Assuming she approves it (and you’ll be hearing a lot more about it if she doesn’t), that’ll be it for the parliamentary jiggery-pokery needed to make the referendum happen. Tomorrow marks the official beginning of the referendum period.

March 3rd will be here before you know it.

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This year’s final historic moment for Welsh politics (famous last words) is due to take place later this week.

The Queen is due to hold a meeting of the Privy Council on Wednesday in which she’s expected to approve the order needed to hold next year’s referendum on strengthening the powers of the Assembly.

The council is the oldest bit of government although in its full form rarely meets. Most monthly sessions are attended by not many more than three ministers and the Queen. And they don’t last very long either which is supposedly the main reason that those attending remain standing throughout.

The Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan, who as a cabinet minister is also a member of the Privy council and therefore entitled to be amongst those present, is not attending this meeting at Buckingham Palace.

What happens is not very dramatic. A list of orders (amongst them the referendum order) is read out and the Queen says ‘approved.’

But that simple word will kick start a period of intense activity here in Wales.

From Thursday those interested in forming the official Yes and No campaigns have five weeks to put their cases to the Electoral Commission. That takes us to 20th January,  from when the Commission has two weeks to consult and consider.

That ends on 3rd February which leaves exactly four weeks until the vote is held on 3rd March.

And you thought Christmas was coming quickly.

 

UPDATE 1555 Regarding the Secretary of State’s expected absence at this week’s Privy Council meeting, a spokesman for the former Secretary of State, Peter Hain has emailed to say this: “If Peter was Secretary of State for Wales, he would be attending Wednesday’s Privy Council meeting.”

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