Friday, 6 March 2015

Daffodils. despoliation and pensions

There was a mostly enjoyable Welsh Affairs debate in the House yesterday. There was a good opening speech by Glyn Davies and amid the more party political point-scoring which followed, there were enjoyable contributions from Paul Murphy, Paul Flynn and Elfyn Lllwyd, who are all retiring at the general election. (I'd like to think that Jane Dodds in Montgomery would force Glyn Davies to complete the quartet.) Highlights for me were the deserved tributes to the outgoing members, David TC Davies agreeing that the Severn crossings should be in public ownership and Alun Cairns criticising Owen Smith's Welsh pronunciation. I am surprised that the "St David's Day" debate is no longer a regular fixture and agree with those members who called for it to be reinstated in the parliamentary calendar.

The only jarring note - and I do not blame her taking the opportunity to raise the matter again - was Madeleine Moon's detailing the business activities which have led to three unrestituted worked-out open-cast sites. (Once again, the other MPs affected, those for Aberavon and Neath, were conspicuous by their absence.) She was able to place on the record the legal rulings about the money-shuffling via offshore accounts which have left the citizens of three constituencies with dangerous eyesores. Black mark to those MPs who were noisily holding a private conversation rather than paying attention to a very serious subject.

There was a contrast in the adjournment debate which followed. Nadine Dorries was rightly concerned about two pension funds for companies which the Barclay Twins are responsible for and one of which is said to be in financial difficulties. The Barclays have proved adept at financial manipulation in the past, and it was reassuring to hear Steve Webb confirm that it was possible to repatriate pension funds even if trustees shifted them offshore. If it's right for pension funds, why not for money set aside for restitution?

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