FMQs: Trainees, Tolls & Mocking A 9-Year-Old’s Lack Of Patriotic Fervour

The final FMQs before Easter recess was held a bit later than usual as AMs undertook more detailed scrutiny of the Continuity Bill, which is due for final amendments and vote tomorrow – full coverage from me on Thursday.

FMQs, 20th March 2018

Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda): Trainee Doctors

When could AMs expect a long-overdue announcement on trainee doctor places? We need it sooner rather than later, with five new medical schools announced in England and progress “painfully slow” on medical education at Bangor University. Training rates are lower than both England and Scotland and we can’t rely on other countries to train our doctors seeing as we “lose enough talent as it is”. Claims from the Welsh Government about record NHS staff figures include administrators and alike.

The First Minister believed it was important that medical training provides students with enough breadth of experience they need to qualify, with training places provided around Wales. You can’t look at doctors in isolation, you have to look at the range of healthcare and social care staff. It’s never been the case in any health service in Europe that they entirely train their own doctors.

Verdict: Hit – Even if Carwyn had a point about looking at the wider picture, the question was clearly about doctors and medical students.

Leader of the Opposition, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central): Newport M4 Toll Proposal

Were the Welsh Government actively considering tolling any future Newport bypass? If not, how was the Welsh Government going to ensure that the budget is balanced and leaves enough cash for the Metro? Could he provide clarity on sources of that funding?

Carwyn categorically said “No” to the toll idea. To the second question, he said the money came from two different post – bypass money will be borrowed, the Metro comes from the annual budget. They’re not in competition for the same funding.

Verdict: Block – To Carwyn’s credit he gave straight answers, but the proof is in the pudding.

Neil Hamilton AM (UKIP, Mid & West Wales): Consulting children on Brexit

Neil was incredulous that the Welsh Government were to consult children aged 7-11 on Brexit, saying it showed the maturity of the government’s position on the issue. He mocked a contribution from a 9-year-old who suggested that a friend who lives abroad wouldn’t be able to travel “because we left breakfast”. It was politicising children, while the education establishment is biased in favour of Remain. Furthermore, Carthage should be destroyed.

Carwyn wondered why Neil had to use a 9-year-old to fight his battles? If that was the level of debate he was bringing to the chamber, then he’d choose the 9-year-old over Neil any time.

Verdict: Miss – Children should be seen and not heard, eh? Oh, and there were children watching on in the gallery.


Lee Waters AM (Lab, Llanelli): Following his recent trip to the USA, what plans does the First Minister have to further engage the Welsh diaspora?

When travelling abroad, the First Minister regularly meets with people of Welsh heritage who contribute to their adopted countries, many of whom work in high-tech companies. The government have part-funded an initiative (GlobalWelsh) and research with the private sector to determine how other countries make the most of their diaspora.

Verdict: Miss – An interesting topic – that might be worth returning to another time – but a straightforward answer.

Hefin David AM (Lab, Caerphilly): Will the First Minister make a statement on Welsh Government support for adult part-time learning?

The Welsh Government want to instil a passion for learning to tackle poverty. That means making sure adult learning courses are available in the community where appropriate (as opposed to formal college settings, which might be intimidating). A consultation on the future of adult learning will be launched soon.

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.

Neil Hamilton AM: Will the First Minister make a statement on upgrades to the road networks in Mid and West Wales?

The Welsh Government are addressing pinch points through its trunk road programme. The First Minister said a suggestion from Neil that key roadworks be undertaken overnight wouldn’t work in the case of Neil’s cited problem (signal/junction upgrades in Pembroke) because ferries to Ireland leave at 2:30 am.

Verdict: Miss – A more sensible question than earlier from Neil, but Carwyn answered it with a disturbingly detailed knowledge of ferry timetables.

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