Friday, 25 January 2008

One humdinger

"One humdinger of a day" - Paul Murphy's verdict on the departure of Peter Hain and his return to the Wales Office.

The new Secretary of State says to say that he was surprised by the 4pm call from Gordon Brown was a major understatement.

Asked, inevitably, about the prospect of an early referendum to give the Welsh Assembly more power, he played a straight bat: "I don't think it is something that exercises the daily brain cells of my constituents but it is an issue we have to address."

That will be a revelation to those people in Torfaen who devote their waking hours to the legislative process, the Barnett formula and legislative competence orders.

Like his predecessor, he doesn't believe that referendum will be held before the next general election, which has to be held by June 2010.

"I think that constitutional issues are very important but I think we need to concentrate on what people think out there in Wales are important and that is talking about public services and how we can give them the best deal.

"There is a tendency among politicians of all parties to think about constitutional issues as being important as they live with them all the time and of course I'm not underestimating that.

But we mustn't keep our eye off the ball and forget that people in Wales do want us to see their lives improved with the responsibilities we currently have."

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