My parents bought me my first bicycle for doing well at school. I was not able to ride a bike at the time, and I contented myself with cleaning it and lavishing love and pride upon it. It was a long, long time until I stopped being afraid to ride it. You may ask why this random thought has flitted across my mind today. I think I know why. Its because of Sir Emyr Jones Parry and Sir George Reid.
In a recent most undiplomatic speech, Sir Emyr, the usually urbane ex-diplomat spoke most uncharacteristic about how Wales is governed. You could see written between the lines, in huge bold lettering, the words "WAS IT WORTH IT". He was reflecting on how the Assembly Government is using the law making powers that the voters of Wales decided should be granted to it last March. He asks whether the needs of Wales, which he sees as about skills, the economy and education "are going to be strengthened by an obligation to have cycle lanes in a joined up network across Wales". He also points out that when seeking suggestions from all four parties in the Assembly about how law making powers would be used as taking evidence for the report which carries his name, he says at the time of the referendum, "I asked all 4 parties (what they wanted to do with the new powers) and got half an answer from one". I've always regarded Sir Emyr as a wise and patient man. He must be very frustrated to offer an opinion so undiplomatic. As an aside, what bothers me is that one significant law that the current Assembly Government does want to pass (introducing presumed consent for organ donation) is in my opinion deeply flawed, and unlikely to reach the statute book.
And now we have Sir George Reid (Second Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament) questioning whether the current Assembly Members are up to the job of exercising law making powers. I'm not with him on this. Individuals who have been elected deserve a bit more respect than that. But his point should not be ignored. Being an AM is a changed job. Its no longer just being a good constituency AM. Sir George is suggesting that staff allowancs shouls only be available non-constituency work. Just as I've found it difficult to adjust to accepting that my main role must be as a legislator in the House of Commons, AMs will have to accept the same. These outside voices (of great wisdom) are only pointing out what they think the people of Wales deserve