Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A long time in politics

What were you doing in November 2006? It seems so long ago.

Tony Blair was Prime Minister. Charlton Athletic were in the Premiership.

Peter Hain was running Northern Ireland. The Spice Girls were preparing for their comeback tour.

In November 2006, the credit crunch was a granola bar. Vera Duckworth was hoping to retire to Blackpool.

Parliament's Welsh affairs select committee announced its inquiry into globalisation on November 17, 2006. The FTSE-100 index closed that day at 6,192.

Two years and several international flights later, the committee's report is apparently being written although there is no date for publication as yet.

During what was a major inquiry, the MPs spent £28,000 visiting China and £15,260.99 on a trip to Poland and the Czech Republic. They also went to Spain.

The inquiry has even lasted longer than one political career. The committee took evidence from Digby Jones before he became a Government Minister. He stepped down last week after 15 months as a Trade Minister.

It took evidence from Trade Minister Ian McCartney, who left government more than a year ago, and Welfare Reform Minister Caroline Flint, who has changed jobs twice since then.

The MPs heard from ITV Wales, who have since announced cuts in programming and jobs.

Since the inquiry began, the FTSE-100 index has fallen by 25 per cent. House prices have fallen by more than 10 per cent in the past year. Energy prices have soared. Vera never made it to Blackpool.

You could argue that this is a globalisation inquiry that has been slightly overtaken by events and that much of the evidence gathered is now rather out-of-date.

You could also argue that the global financial crisis makes a globalisation inquiry all the more urgent.

But you'd still have to wait for the report.

So why the delay? Committee members point out that their workload has increased dramatically since they acquired the role of scrutinising requests to legislate from the Welsh Assembly.

Two years on one inquiry still sounds like rather a long time but I guess it's important not to rush things.

At this rate, the Tories' Roberts Review on devolution will be in the bookshops before the globalisation report is finished (although I wouldn't bet on it)


Michael McManus said...

Oooh you cheeky monkey! It takes time to produce an unalloyed masterpiece you know, even for old hands such as Wyn and me. Bookshops though? Now there's a thought. Do you think it could become a bestseller? Shall we do a signing?!?!? I should ask Tom Baker to provide another foreword!

David Cornock said...

You at least can blame your publisher, not an option open to the select committee.....