The depressing thing is that there is no way I can recover the four hours that I lost through attending the Welsh Grand Committee in Parliament yesterday. In my opinion, it was one of the worst meetings that I have ever attended. It began with half an hour of unbearably childish and boorish behaviour by MPs who really should know better. It was a performance which diminished them. The debate ended with an utterly pointless vote, where the Queen's Speech and the Emergency Budget were voted down by 21 votes to 7 - at least I think that's what happened. What can those who watched the spectacle have thought. I hope Mr Speaker wasn't watching. He's making a valiant effort to make the proceedings of the House of Commons more understandable and worthy in the eyes of observers. Yesterday he would have been in despair.
I should make honourable exception of some of the contributors. Plaid Cymru's Elfyn Llwyd was constructive, as was Labour's Albert Owen and David Davies and Jonathon Evans from my side. But the way in which some Labour MPs treated the Chair of the meeting, Graham Brady was a disgrace. I suppose my background as a rugby player has given me absolute respect for the referee. Without acceptance that the ref. is right (even when he's wrong) chaos reigns. And yesterday chaos reigned. I hope no primary school children were watching. It was an appalling example of uncivil behaviour.
The source of the trouble seemed to be that the Secretary of State for Wales had invited the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander to address the meeting, and answer questions - but had not given Labour MPs sufficient notice that she had done so. Don't know what the protocols are, but the response was utterly pathetic. Shadow Secretary of State, Peter Hain decided not to engage at all - bit like a child who won't play ball because she hadn't been told beforehand what colour it was. His no 2, Wayne David then insulted the Sec. of State within the hearing of Mr Brady, but refused to withdraw the 'offensive' remark when asked to do so. Personally, I'd have thrown him out.
Tonight, I attended the AGM of the Montgomeryshire YFC, where the behaviour was impeccable - as always. I spent many years competing in YFC competitions, and over recent years have often served as a judge of public speaking competitions. Never in my experience, has behaviour anything like that used by Labour MPs in yesterday's Welsh Grand Committee been used by any YFC member. The YFC movement remains Europe's best young people's movement. Yesterday's experience at Westminster has only increased my pride in my association with YFC'S.
I was really struck by one comment made by the mellowing David Davies, MP for Monmouth. He condemned the ridiculous parliamentary practice whereby the House meets from 2.30 until 10.00, and sometimes after 11.00. In the National Assembly for Wales, we carried the idea of family friendly hours too far I thought, but the House of Commons seems to be set up in a way specifically designed to break families. The House should sit from 10.00 til 2.00 rather than from 2.00 until 10.00. I totally agree with David about this.