Wednesday, 30 April 2008

No Dignity at Work: procedures were reasonable under the circumstance

The latest twist in the tale of how the Welsh Assembly Government deals with internal matters takes a turn into the predictable. This post now brings to a conclusion past posts on this blog.


A sexual harassment case investigation has recommended that the Welsh Assembly Government's "Dignity at Work" policy is scrapped.
The inquiry began when a manager was found in county court to have harassed a female colleague, after he had been cleared by an assembly investigation.

It emerged last month that Mr Evans had resigned from his job. The legal review concluded there was no evidence that any assembly government officials tried to cover up the allegations by Mrs Davies.
.
It also concluded the decision they came to on the basis of evidence was reasonable.
But it recommended the Dignity at Work procedures should be suspended or even scrapped, and disciplinary or grievance procedures employed instead.
.
Sir Jon Shortridge, the outgoing top civil servant in the assembly and who commissioned the investigation said:

It identifies certain deficiencies in the process we followed but concludes robustly that the conclusions reached through our Dignity at Work procedures were reasonable under the circumstance.

The main conclusion I take from the report is that it is essential for staff working for the assembly government to conduct themselves properly at all times and treat their colleagues appropriately.

This case has shown that where members of staff fall below this standard they create problems for themselves, their colleagues and for the organisation.

Instead of passing the blame solely on to certain undesirable members of staff, Sir Jon, as the outgoing Permanent Secretary responsible for nearly 7000 staff, should accept such responsibility at the top.
.
What he should be doing, is apologising for having such inefficient procedures, on behalf of his management of the organisation and that of its Human Resources Department. Top-level civil servants need to show a little humility and accept blame, not shirking responsibility when faced with difficult issues. Pretending there is no problem with current policies, or simply leaving it for a successor to deal with does no good in the long run.
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It comes to no surprise how little the world changes.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Senedd Circular: Sex and the City – Access all areas

This article appears in The Wardman Wire:

This week, Miss Wagstaff has been unwell and unable to write a column. Before you’re able to type her email address and send in a ‘Get Well Soon’ card with concern, she has managed to raise a smile at the thought of certain progression in the Senedd.

It seems that not content with Doctor Who being filmed at the Senedd, the Assembly Commission has allowed a popular television programme, Caerdydd [Cardiff] to film there. This has produced unexpected [expected by viewers] results*. At this rate, Pippa is blushing and quaking at the knees at the thought of what may be broadcasted on Senedd tv.

* In the scene, a young employee of an unnamed political party - who had just been asked to stand as an assembly candidate - is seen enticing her older lover into a toilet and baby-making-changing room in the Senedd.

There then follows an explicit encounter between the two.

"However the National Assembly was told that this scene was a conversation scene and was not aware of its full content," said a spokesperson.

"The company was allowed to film in good faith."

Miss Wagstaff had wondered what the Assembly Security Guards could have been up to at this point. Were they guarding the entrance? Were they guarding the rear? Whatever they were doing, they certainly weren’t keeping an eye on the film crew, actors, and the situation that arose. Her memory was jogged.

From Dr Who, to turning blue - Live debate from the chamber is coming soon to a box near you.

Quote of the Week (21 April)

My quote of the week comes from an article by David Williamson in the Western Mail concerning Ministers’ car bill accelerating to £¼m.

ASSEMBLY Government ministers have been accused of enjoying a “limousine lifestyle” after new figures showed a four-fold increase in spending on official cars.

Figures obtained by Conservative Shadow Environment Minister Darren Millar show that in the last five years total expenditure on Assembly vehicles has risen by 352%.

In 2007-08, £240,016 was spent, up from £53,063 in 2003-04. In the last financial year £159,750 was spent on new cars. The ministerial fleet is made up of Volvo S80 2.4 diesel automatics.

The full article can be read here and if you scroll down to the bottom you can read:

The fleet consists of seven ministerial cars, plus two for use in emergencies. The basic models were purchased. They lack optional extras such as sunroofs.

U-turn on NHS violence law

The Ministry of Justice has reversed a decision to exclude Wales from a new law offering hospital workers extra legal protection against violence.

Welsh Assembly Government ministers had initially said there was no need for the law in Wales. The assembly government had told the Ministry of Justice it would set up its own policies to protect staff, although it does not have the power to change criminal law. But this prompted an outcry from Labour MPs and crossbench peer Baroness Finlay of Llandaff.

The assembly government will have a say in how the new law works in Welsh hospitals. Full story HERE.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Senedd Circular: Tea and Crumpet with the First Minister

This article appears in The Wardman Wire:


This week, Miss Wagstaff is both delighted and appalled by her seeming to have lost a week. We can blame Parliamentary Recess, Pippa’s time keeping, or the rumour that the Welsh Assembly Government has banned her blog internally.

Either way, although always partial to a bit of mother-son bonding during recess, it has been a sight for sore eyes to see the Head Boy [Rhodri Morgan] back in school this last week and laying out his plans for all to see. Eagerly assisted by the School Prefects [Cabinet] - after nine months in coalition government - ‘One Wales’ Delivery Plan has been announced, listing pledges made by the coalition government and complete with a detailed easy-to-follow timetable for Jo public. The downside is that some have experienced difficulty in making up their minds as to how many commitments have been made.

This aside, while Pippa was away, another historic occasion has occurred [no connection] as the Queen approved the transfer of new powers to the Welsh assembly in a ceremony at Windsor Castle. The order allows the assembly to draw up Welsh laws to help people with additional learning needs. A further nine orders are in the Assembly-Parliament pipeline, on issues ranging from mental health services to fire safety, however, the process still receives a large amount of criticism from the Welsh Conservatives as being too complicated and should be simplified. Meanwhile, Plaid’s trio are chomping at the bit to help the process along, but seem to have fallen at the first fence. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t think long-term in politics, and are left grazing instead of experiencing pastures new.

Senedd Snippets:

  • When to cull and when to kill.
  • Welsh Assembly Delivers to your doorstep.
  • Tea and Crumpet with the First Minister.

When to cull and when to kill

One look at this headline and you’d be forgiven for thinking it referred to the bold attempt at making ‘difficult decisions’ by the One Wales Government over its pilot badger cull [braver than the pilot a free laptop plan for school children]. It was expectedly welcomed by farmers, but faces fierce opposition from conservationists, and many are also expecting heated debates over the issue from within the Assembly, though the government is confident of winning the vote otherwise it would have reserved its judgement.

A former cull has come back to haunt the government this week in the form of the merger of Quangos with the Welsh Assembly Government. The Welsh Development Agency, Wales Tourist Board and Elwa [education] were abolished two years ago. It was estimated that the changes would save the assembly government £10m a year from 2009. Regarded as a "bonfire of the quangos", this action brought responsibility of the quangos under direct ministerial control.

Questions were raised pre-merger, and former executive chair of the largest quango in terms of its turnover [ELWa], has recently spoken out, saying that she was not surprised with the report's findings, "I think at the time you couldn't predict all of the implications and the outcomes, so it doesn't surprise me that some of the predicted cost savings haven't materialised,"

The assembly's Audit Committee have said the savings seemed to be financial cuts rather than efficiency gains, and reports that there are still ongoing issues – an issue that is likely to outlive Morgan’s administration.

Welsh Assembly delivers to your doorstep

The much awaited Delivery Plan of the coalition government has now been announced, and nearly one year into the Assembly’s four year term.

Following on from this week’s introductory paragraph, Rhodri Morgan [Labour] and Ieuan Wyn Jones [Plaid Cymru] insisted their coalition government was on track. Returning from Easter recess, they both read out their “It’s a coalition but it’s one administration” government’s list of priorities for the remainder of the term. Another bold step to take this week, and one for the Welsh Conservatives and Welsh Liberal Democrats to get their teeth into, after the Conservative leader of the Opposition in the Assembly’s response of, “Yet more glossy propaganda at our expense…”

Tea and Crumpet with the First Minister

A Welsh Labour local government election broadcast has been made on television. This focussed on Rhodri Morgan reaching out to the public from text messages sent to him by members of the public suggesting what policies the Assembly Government should pursue. The broadcast showed the First Minister [man of the people] meeting with three of the texters to discuss their ideas...

Rhodri's Text Life

The First Minister received 237 text replies from an earlier political broadcast in February. Among the topics covered were tackling graffiti, curbing youth drinking, addressing general youth anti-social behaviour, council tax rates, cleaner streets, more cycle routes and better recycling.

Assuring us that their words have not fallen on deaf ears, Rhodri Morgan goes on to comment, “I heard their views loud and clear and will do my very best to see how we can meet their aspirations.”

This reminded me of an anonymous email I received a month ago about a former initiative within the civil service, whereby the Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Assembly Government would invite selected staff to a ‘Tea and Biscuits Session’ in order to discuss issues of the day e.g. Admin grades invited to discuss what problems they face while conducting their daily duties. Much seen as an internal public relations exercise at best, it’s comforting to know that initiatives are regenerated, and an opportunity not wasted.

On the other hand of the coalition [to be determined whether it’s a left or right hand], Plaid Cymru followed up these broadcasts with their own ‘man of the people’ image for their leader - Ieuan Wyn Jones was seen comfortably handling members of the public as they interrupt his making of a Plaid-rousing speech to those on the other side of the box.

And finally…

With the run up to the local government election and expected ‘Column Special’, the Welsh public will be stunned into silence (surely not!) by the recent statement that, “Councillors are not getting younger” [average age of councillors is still 61 in the 10 local authorities surveyed four years ago. Across Wales it is 40, while 40% of councillors are over 65]; and possibly even less so by Wales having just elected its first Communist councillor since the 1970s.

Something seems to have stirred the Liberal Democrats into accusing Labour of trying to manipulate the electoral system as the party was worried about doing badly in the council elections on May 1. That particular stirrer was Minister Brian Gibbons, provoking a debate on the future of Wales’ 22 unitary authorities by threatening to cut their number if they don’t perform.

Only at election time. Only in Wales!!??

Raking over the bones of blame and Peter Hain's career

The former Work and Pensions, and Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has spoken of his “surreal nightmare”.

It seems that extraordinary evidence has emerged of a dirty tricks campaign to discredit his failed Labour deputy leadership campaign further. Mr Hain resigned from Gordon Brown’s Cabinet in January, when police were called in to investigate his failure to declare donations totalling more than £100,000 to his campaign. But in recent weeks, the text of damaging e-mails purporting to have been sent by members of Mr Hain’s campaign team have been circulated.

Some have been sent to the Western Mail while others have gone to the political blogger Guido Fawkes, who was credited with claiming the first blogging scalp.

It now appears that many of the e-mails have been faked. Mr Hain told the Western Mail yesterday: "Something extremely sinister has been going on here. All sorts of things happened during the campaign which I can’t explain." The RSPCA has this week investigated the content of some of the e-mails which falsely suggests that one of its employees in Wales was using its premises to campaign for Mr Hain.

You can read the full story here. Miss Wagstaff is wondering when our nightmare will end and how long do we have to put up with raking over the old bones of Peter's political career before the facts are fully disclosed.

The Big Fight: We're behind you Joe Calzaghe

I'm disappointed by the leaders of the Welsh Assembly Government due to their lack of support for Joe Calzaghe this weekend.

Not that I condone two men beating the living daylights out of each other, which I suspect may have been taken into account as demonstrated by their hesitation. However, after jumping on the sporting success bandwagon by openly supporting Wales' success on the rugby and football field, the very least they could do is send Joe and the team their best wishes.

This aside, I always find it odd when athletes in their prime play down their opponent's achievements and abilities. I guess boxing is different in this respect, with the need to psyche out the opponent, but surely there is more glory in beating an excellent and much regarded opponent than a poor one.

This fight is generally regarded as not an easy one. Best wishes to you Joe - we're behind you!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Joined up Government, Part I

Number of specific commitments in the One Wales Delivery Plan, according to a WAG press release on the morning of April 8: 228.

Number of specific commitments in the One Wales Delivery Plan, according to Rhodri Morgan in the Chamber on April 8 at 4:40pm: 225.

Number of specific commitments in the One Wales Delivery Plan, according to Rhodri Morgan in the Chamber on April 8 at 5:10pm: 229.

Joined up Rhodri Morgan at work. Now, how about abolishing Wales' internal political market and merging 4 political parties into 3?

Quote of the Week (April 7)


Alun Ffred Jones, responding to the announcement of a badger cull in Wales:


“This is not a simple matter, nor a black and white one.”

One Wales is a dream and not a reality

While clearing up newspapers that have been piling up for weeks, I came across a letter in the South Wales Echo by a Mr. D Hughes, London.

He writes with regard to a recent regular visit to Wales and his surprise at the naming of the coalition government, 'One Wales'. Thought readers may like to read his take on it all.


I have been visiting family here in Wales for the past month, due to a family illness and was surprised that the AMs down the Bay are calling the coalition government the One Wales.

How can this be when we have a nation divided by lack of public transport, language and regional finances?

Rugby is only played along the M4 corridor and our three major football teams play in the English system.

Rugby unites us when we are doing well, even if we are coached by a New Zealander and an Englishman.

I found to my dismay that it is not possible to visit the National Library in a day by public transport, even though it is only 120 miles away from Cardiff!

What is the Transport Minister in the Assembly being paid to do?

I have never come across so many people who are anti-English, blaming anyone but themselves when anything goes wrong.

Thankfully the English are not so petty with their feelings towards the Welsh.

In this the 21st Century, it's time we learnt to stand by ourselves proving we can govern ourselves efficiently and not blame everyone else for our shortcomings.

Before anyone who replies gets on the language bandwagon, I can speak and write Welsh fluently, and have done so since the age of 15.

Although this is only one man's opinion, some elements do ring true with the general public and thought it worth a mention.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Zimbabwe: What crisis?

While on leave... "There is no crisis in Zimbabwe"...So says the deluded South African President Thabo Mbeki today. Am I the only person that thinks it seems so staged?

Could he perhaps explain why the presidential election results haven't been released, even though they were counted nearly two weeks ago? The people are starving? The people expect a change. Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe isn't going to attend the African the summit - he said he had other business to attend to.

For a leader like Mbeki to condone Mugabe's actions is incredible. Why doesn't South Africa force Mugabe to release the election results? We all know they have the power to do, being a prominent country with influence. African countries say that Mbeki ought to be using the factual results instead of creeping round a failed long-term dictator. If a decisive decision isn't made soon, the world will not accept a bad result, and more importantly, neither will Zimbabwe.

A mild form of state control

Interesting comment made today by an anonymous person. Pippa is away for a few days, so I'm sure she wouldn't mind me bringing it to the forefront of the blog on her behalf.

Did you know that your blog has been banned in the Welsh Assembly Government? When staff there try to access your site the Internet security software automatically denies access! What are they afraid of?
If Wales was a state, would this be state control?

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Miss Wagstaff on Recess (for a few days)

No Senedd Circular this week, as Pippa is on recess.

This is such as waste when there was a tough decision made regarding badgers, and the Welsh Assembly Government announcing a Delivery Plan. Let's hope that next week is a quiet one in the Assembly, so that I can recap.

Rumours of disturbances in nightclubs in Patagonia are not (in ANY way) connected with my being away.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Senedd Circular: Does there happen to be an election in May?

This article appears in The Wardman Wire:

This week, Miss Wagstaff has learnt that while the Assembly is away, the politicians will play. It may still be Assembly Recess (until 8 April 2008), but the build-up to local elections in May have got Labour and Plaid Cymru in a constant state of flux.

Going off tangent for a minute, the website of the National Assembly for Wales states that ‘recess’ is between 17th March to 7th April 2008, inferring that Members are back at work from Tuesday, 8th April 2008. A different set of recess dates was announced earlier in this third term. Shock, horror! Surely this gives AMs an extra day off when they should be back on Monday, 7th April to conduct constituency work [Mondays and Fridays have been allocated for AMs to conduct work in their constituencies]. Just a small matter, but important all the same. Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to why they don’t like this particular Monday.

Back to this week’s column, which is primarily concerned with political parties kicking off with the run up to the local government elections in May. Surprise, surprise, we’ll see the gloves coming off – some being eagerly ripped off - as apparently local government politics is different from National politics. Let me explain… Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru may be partners in the Assembly, however, Plaid have a way around insulting Labour without it interfering with the coalition. ‘Labour in London’ or ‘Unionist Labour’ is seen as a good description for the ‘old enemy’, and the blame is placed on their weary shoulders when things go wrong, without damaging the friendly image of the handholding red/green coalition in the Bay.

Miss Wagstaff has a solution to Plaid’s problems of potentially upsetting their partner at government and unwelcome mistress at the upcoming local election. Perhaps Welsh Labour in local government will also see themselves tagged by Plaid in a particular way. Not beating around the bush - and it’s not going to cost them much – I offer ‘Local Labour’ or ‘Locality Labour’. I’ll get on to the Patient Office before anyone has any similar ideas. £1 for every mention could make me a very rich woman indeed.

Senedd Snippets:

  • Labour suffering from underexposure.
  • Labour’s campaign calls for last orders.
  • Plaid Conference at New port of call.
  • Hardly Queensberry Rules.

Labour suffering from under exposure

The contest to be the leader of the biggest gang in the building [Welsh Labour] is not exactly boiling over with excitement in the Welsh media. The Western Mail reports that the likely leading contenders for Rhodri Morgan’s Triple Crown [Leader of Welsh Labour, First Minister, and only Privy Counsellor in the Cabinet] are being left trailing by Plaid Cymru in the TV exposure stakes.

The Plaid Cymru party machine has recently released statistical details of TV appearances made by the seven Labour and three Plaid Cabinet members since last May’s election. Unsurprisingly, the First Minister has appeared most frequently – 211 times in total, however, the next three leading positions were taken by Plaid Ministers – Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones (188), Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones (73) and Heritage Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas (59). This reflects the Deputy First Minister’s more prominent position in Welsh politics and the new-found attention brought upon his two acolytes having been in the public eye due to the respective fallout from their roles, namely blue-tongue, foot-and-mouth, and the financial difficulties of the Wales Millennium Centre, and Welsh Language newspaper.

Labour’s Cabinet Ministers come in behind: Leadership hopefuls Counsel General and Leader of the House Carwyn Jones (24), and Finance Minister Andrew Davies (16), which doesn’t look good. Not that this bears any reflection on the future leadership contest and there’s one consolation in that the general public won’t be voting. Rhodri’s successor as Welsh Labour leader will be chosen by a party ballot. Whoever wins the contest will automatically lead the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition, and gain their place as First Minister. Don’t hold your breath though, or even attempt to count the number of future appearances yourself, as our beloved leader isn’t standing down until next year. No doubt their visibility will increase in the run-up to that date.

Labour’s campaign calls for last orders

You may have got the impression by now that there’s an election on the horizon, and to no surprise, you’d be right, with 1260 seats up for the taking in Wales' 22 unitary authorities on 1st May. Labour has launched the beginning of its campaign for the local government elections with a pledge to fight antisocial behaviour throughout Wales, and believes that this early promise to the electorate that future Labour-run councils will be prepared to shut down shops and pubs that persistently sold alcohol to under-18s, will aid those major towns and cities to tackle low-level crime. Labour believes that can oust the Liberal Democrats from Bridgend, Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham councils. Hold on one second. Hasn’t Labour been in power in the Assembly since 1999 in one shape or form? Hasn’t Labour been in a major position to influence councils in Wales? And hasn’t antisocial behaviour been a problem since 1999?

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats propose to “end the Labour era”, who’s own launch was in Newport to the rallying cry (which just happens to sound like a supermarket slogan) of Lib-Dem led authorities being "safer, greener" and "better value". Ah well. It’s an election campaign - fair enough. Needs must and all that, and Labour need to desperately hang on to those seats they’ve already got, and the Lib-Dems need to convince the public of their record. Labour will be fighting hard in Newport after the number of Lib-Dem votes at the last Assembly election. Losing Newport would be embarrassing for the party, which leads me nicely into my next story…

Plaid Conference at New port of call

In the run up to Plaid Cymru’s Summer Conference the party launched the first of its policies for the May council elections. Collectively they are known as Innov8 (you see what they’ve done there with the letters and number), and the party intends to focus on new policies in the fields of public health and the environment. As the party puts it, “We are determined not to fall into the trap that other governing parties have suffered, by becoming more concerned about preserving power rather than delivering change.”

In one sentence this means ‘introducing bike sharing schemes in urban areas’ and ‘publicly owned land to be converted to community gardens and allotments’. The remaining Innov8 ideas will be launched over the coming weeks. Let’s hope they get better. Enough said.

Something seems to have stirred inside the Plaid party machine this year by their decision to hold their conference in Newport. The originality of this lies with Plaid wanting (and needing) to broaden their appeal. As Plaid Leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones puts it, “Plaid has gone to Newport to show that it is a party for the whole of Wales”. Meaning that if the North West and West Wales is the heartland and home of Plaid, then Newport must be the opposite. Charming thought if you’re from that area.

Ieuan, a man once described by a colleague and friend [Adam Price MP] as a ‘good country solicitor’ placed himself as preacher, preaching to the converted, but it remains to be seen as to whether they now believe.

He had a lot to defend: the party moving into coalition; Plaid’s performance while in government for the first time; the delivery of Welsh Assembly Government [One Wales] policies - “Wherever you look, in health, education, housing, the environment, childcare, the economy, transport, agriculture, culture, the Welsh language – the fact that Plaid is part of the Government in the Assembly makes a difference and helps improve the quality of life of the people in Wales”. There may have been moves in the right direction in terms of rural affairs, but it must have been hard for the party to stomach his defence of other areas such as transport, heritage, and the referendum to name but a few. Apparently, both he and Rhodri Morgan still intend to honour the agreement and have a referendum before 2011, but now with the added explanation of, “That’s provided, of course, that we’re satisfied that we can win it”.

Ieuan will have to hope that loyal voters understand his new catchphrase, “as a party of government, Plaid now had to make some tough decisions”. Or as a mother might put it – having to say NO to your children for the first time in your relationship.

Good luck to him rallying current supporters and saying the right things to the swinging voters watching the highlights on the Welsh news (Plaid currently has 173 councillors). He’s going to need it. If all else fails the party could predictably copy Labour and warn of a Tory government in Westminster. Looks like they have.

Hardly Queensberry Rules

Whoever said, “All is fair in love and war”, did they forget to include politics?

Plaid Cymru and Labour have this week found themselves embroiled in a row over which party can lay claim to one of Welsh history’s most potent political movements – The Chartist Rising in Newport.

Meanwhile, in the Rhondda, a Plaid Cymru council candidate has been accused by her local Labour MP, Chris Bryant of hating the community she comes from. Bryant’s allegation is based on his reading of an article written by Treorchy Plaid candidate Sera Evans, when she was an Oxford University student six-and-a-half years ago.

Mr Bryant said, “I am amazed that someone who clearly hates the Rhondda so much wants to stand for the council in the Rhondda. Ms Evans defends herself well in the Western Mail, but also leaves the door open for Plaid Cymru AM Leanne Wood to retaliate further, “I’m not surprised that Chris Bryant is unable to identify with Sera’s account of her experiences in the Rhondda. Maybe he should share his recollections of his private education and his journey to Oxford where he became an active member of the university’s Conservative Association.” OUCH! Play fair ladies and gentlemen.

And finally…

The NHS has always been one to stir-up passion in Wales. Last week the Assembly Government rejected the idea of following England to offer staff working in Welsh hospitals extra legal protection from violence and abuse. The decision not to get Wales covered seems like a bit of a public and staff relations cock-up, as it cannot be right that NHS workers in Wales have any less protection than those in England, just because there may be a ‘Welsh’ option on the agenda. This appears to represent devolution at its worst.

In a week that has brought in the start of free parking at Welsh hospitals, it does seem to have taken the public’s mind off the once controversial story [on 1st April] of three new NHS Trusts becoming operational after the merger of seven Trusts, and the newly proposed health map of Wales.

Makes you want to take a deep breath in the world of NHS management and wait for the world to stop spinning.

Church in Wales Governing Body rejects women bishops

The Church in Wales have rejected a controversial Bill which would have allowed women to be ordained as bishops.

Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan had urged the governing body to back the Bill warning: "The issue will not go away if you vote against it. It will return again and again.''

The 140-strong Governing Body narrowly rejected the Bill which would have seen the creation of female bishops in the principality for the first time. *

The same governing body passed a bill in September 1996 to allow women to be ordained as priests in the Church in Wales.

The first woman was ordained in January 1997 and there are now a total of 160 female priests out of a total of 696 Church in Wales clerics.

I remember attending church with my mother and grandmother at this time. She is a lifelong church goer and found it so odd to be attending a service presided over by a woman priest. In society we can get so used to seeing the same faces in certain professions that any change is taken as a shock to the system - but not for long. Seeing my cousin in a policewoman's uniform was just as much a surprise for my grandmother in recent years. Times have changed and this is now seen as commonplace.

* The decision today is in contrast to other parts of the world where the Anglican Church has passed legislation allowing women to be ordained as bishops. These include Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada and the United States - but not England.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Holiday time

Here's the new front page of the Welsh Assembly Government website. A fortnight ago there was an image of some grappling rugby players, a pictorial representation of Labour and Plaid Cymru, no doubt. The new picture's subtext is 'we're all still on holiday, suckers!'

BBC UK Politics

BBC Welsh Politics

WalesOnline

Welsh Political News

UK News from Times Online

Telegraph Politics

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