Thursday, 28 February 2008

No more freebies?

Almost three hours in to the Welsh day debate (I've remained conscious throughout) and so far the most interesting contribution has come from an MP who recently left Government.

Peter Hain suggested the Welsh Assembly Government should perhaps use its budget to prioritise what he called "sharp" bits of public spending, such as skills and technology, rather than "soft" aspects such as free schemes.

He didn't mention some of the free schemes introduced by WAG - e.g. prescriptions, swimming and school breakfasts but you get an idea of where he's coming from.

The Neath MP, rarely perhaps for a Labour MP, acknowledged that the public sector in Wales is too high a proportion of our economy, and warned that the private sector had to grow dramatically if Wales is to narrow the wealth gap with the rest of Britain.

He said Wales needed to replace its "risk-averse, can't do culture" with a dynamic "can-do culture".

He added: "The culture of cautious conservatism that is so rife in Welsh public services, from the civil services to local councils, needs radical reform."

There's more on the Hain website and he's promising an online pamphlet on

The man who took Peter Hain's cabinet job, Paul Murphy, may have raised some chattering class eyebrows with a rather bold suggestion that despite the importance of constitutional matters the issues that matter to most voters are schools, hospitals, transport and jobs.

Some MPs believe that today's debate is a tokenistic anachronism, but it was mildly refreshing to watch Welsh issues, from the economy to public services, being debated without the disproportionate obsession with constitutional navel-gazing that can make even the eyes of even the most devoted political anorak glaze over.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

just a shame Peter Hain didn't do something about our over reliance on the Public Sector while he was Secretary of State rather than spouting the party line.

Are Labour waking up to this at last, i wont hold my breath?