I've often read about bribery in public life - but for some reason I've never been offered one. Until today! An 8 year old young lad from Merthyr offered me a little cuddly toy. I was lucky that my eagle-eyed PA, Phill stepped in to prevent me from committing the crime. Let me recount the circumstances.
A group of people from Merthyr who are fiercely opposed to open cast mining wanted to present a petition to the National Assembly. I accepted it on behalf of and as Chair of the Environment,Planning and Countryside Committee - for onwards transmission to the Petitions Clerk in the Table Office.
The problem for me was that I had to receive the petition and give absolutely no indication whether I supported the petitioners or not - or even whether I had any sympathy with the cause. I am, and for legal reasons I have to remain totally impartial about open cast applications. I was doing OK until the young lad asked me a tough question along the lines of whether I am in favour of protecting the children of Wales. Well, I could hardly say No to that. I think I squirmed my way out of one tricky situation - only to be completely floored when a cute little bag was produced containing a little cuddly toy. We politicians are programmed not to offend people if we can help it. I was searching around for the words when my trusty butler stepped in with "You are not allowed to receive this gift" he snarled. So I had to return the cuddly toy. I remain uncorrupted.
PS A bribe? Don't be daft. It was just my little joke.