From the Senedd


By Elin Jones, AM for Ceredigion.

It’s been a strange week for Plaid Cymru Leadership candidates. I feel as if I am living in at least 2 parallel universes. In one I am an AM doing my day-to-day job in the Assembly and in Ceredigion. In the other I am switching to Leadership election mode and going to meet party members and run press stories as a Leadership candidate. I’m sure Simon, Leanne and Dafydd are leading similar parallel lives.

Plaid Cymru’s Debate in Wednesday’s Assembly Plenary was to propose that the Welsh Government should be fully involved in the various networks and global discussions on climate change. We recognise fully the danger of a warming climate and we warned that a reduction in political focus on climate change due to the economic crisis could have chaotic long-term effects on our planet.

As usual at First Minister’s Questions, Carwyn Jones was at his most animated whilst criticising the actions of another Government and at his most lethargic when outlining the lack of action by his own Government.

Mohammad Ashgar must have thought that the First Minister was in such need of support that he offered to attend overseas trade delegations with him. The Tories usually criticise any overseas work done by the Welsh Government, but this week they wanted to join in. Perhaps the Most Cheeky AM of the Week Award goes to Alun Ffred Jones who managed to get a Follow-Up Question to the First Minister. It’s never been done before and we all thought it was a late Leadership bid!

Simon Thomas proposed his Individual Member debate this week on the proliferation of pay day loan companies in Wales and the dangers of easy credit at exorbitant cost. He called on Welsh Government and local authorities to provide alternative solutions and to promote the dangers of easy credit. He received cross-party and Government support for his debate.

The Health Minister was scrutinised by the Health Committee on Wednesday. Most of the questions turned on the financial pressures in the NHS and the implications for services. Lindsay Whittle challenged the Minister to accept responsibility for the Local Health Boards if they failed to deliver a balanced budget by the end of the financial year. I was keen to challenge the Minister on the lack of transparency and engagement with local people on decisions taken by Local Health Boards throughout Wales to close or centralise services. She highlighted the DVDs sent to every home in Dyfed by Hywel Dda Health Board as an example of innovative consultation practice. For me, a DVD through the post can in no-way be described as a good way to ensure interactive consultation with the local population. As Rhodri Glyn Thomas said in a recent Plaid debate on the NHS, there is a culture within some Health Boards of hiding away from local people. That is no way to win the confidence of people in the NHS. We deserve better.