In an attempt to be less dry – I can only work with the material at hand – I’ve decided to make things a little more theatrical.
Each of the questions/contributions will now be given a score of “Hit” (forced the First Minister onto the backfoot or to give an answer they wouldn’t have liked), “Block” (caused difficulties for the First Minister but they got through it) or “Miss” (the First Minister comes out stronger or is unaffected).
FMQs, 3rd October 2017
Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda): Rough sleepers
Has the First Minister noticed the number of rough sleepers increasing? Many homelessness organisations have registered increases in homelessness and Leanne was in no doubt it was down to austerity. Why haven’t the Welsh Government sought the powers to properly address it?
The First Minister said there were 141 recorded rough sleepers in Wales as of November 2016. There will be measures in this year’s budget to tackle homelessness and the Welsh Government have already done a lot, including a new law. It didn’t make sense to devolve additional welfare powers while Wales is a net-recipient from the pot.
Verdict: Miss – Batted away far too easily.
Leader of the Opposition, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central): School Science
Estyn highlighted difficulties in teaching science in some schools, with the Education Secretary recently revealing some schools didn’t enter any pupils for science GCSEs. Wales recently went backwards in the recent PISA test scores for science, so it has to be a key area of improvement. You can’t defend a system that hasn’t entered pupils for the sciences.
The First Minister told the chamber it was partly down to schools entering pupils for vocational science BTECs, as the Welsh Government have long worked for parity of esteem between vocational and academic courses. The Welsh Government are confident in what they’re doing by changing the syllabus and changing GCSEs.
Verdict: Block – Managed to rile Carwyn, forcing him to resort to his tried and tested ‘Argumentum ad Westminster Torium’.
Neil Hamilton AM (UKIP, Mid & West Wales): UK Labour’s spending plans
Jeremy Corbyn’s spending plans were “one of the most expensive speeches in history” with policy pledges totalling £312billion with the UK national debt at £2trillion. Such plans would bankrupt the UK and are nothing more than Corbyn “dipping into a bottomless bag of presents to dish out to gullible children”.
Carwyn said it’s “never been cheaper to borrow” and the economy could do with a Keynesian injection of cash. Calling voters “gullible children” isn’t very smart. The UK was at its most equal in 1976 and since then the Conservatives have made it more and more unequal.
Verdict: Miss – An entertaining contribution, but it didn’t work.
David Rowlands AM (UKIP, South Wales East): Will the First Minister outline how the Welsh Government measures the success of its wealth creation policies?
It was important to consider the economic performance of Wales using a range of statistics and not one single one. Wales hasn’t necessarily gone backwards as economic growth has remained in pace with the UK, but if we want to improve our performance the focus has to be on skills and attracting skilled employment.
Verdict: Miss – Nothing we haven’t heard before.
Hefin David AM (Lab, Caerphilly): Will the First Minister make a statement on the implementation of the new National Curriculum?
The First Minister and Prof. Donaldson (who recently said the process shouldn’t lose momentum) agree that phasing-in the curriculum is the right approach as it means all schools will have the time to engage with the process. If there were any major concerns teaching unions wouldn’t have supported it; it’s hugely important the curriculum isn’t introduced until the profession is ready.
Verdict: Miss – A straightforward answer to a straightforward question.