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News, Politics

Outdoor play, St David’s Day, Referendum’s on its way

I’ve spent the day in Westminster where there’s been plenty to occupy Welsh politics watchers.

Wales was the focus of a number of debates today

First up, the unusual sight of a Welsh Conservative MP urging his government to follow the example of the Labour-Plaid Cymru Welsh Assembly Government.

Simon Hart, the MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, led a Westminster Hall debate on the subject of outdoor play.

As a former Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, Mr Hart is well-known as a fan of the great outdoors. But the purpose of his debate was to urge the UK Government to build outdoors learning into the National Curriculum in England.

And to that end he praised the Assembly Government’s Foundation Phase for the youngest children which encourages teaching outside the classroom.

Mr Hart told MPs – and the Education Minister who was on hand to reply for the Government – that his own children had benefitted from the foundation phase and “if it’s good enough for the Welsh Assembly then surely it’s good enough for the UK as a whole.”

Later in the day it was another Conservative MP, this time Stratford-upon-Avon’s Nadhim Zahawi who was pushing the case for Wales.

He introduced a Ten Minute Rule bill calling for the introduction of bank holidays in Wales and England to mark St David’s Day and St George’s Day.

Mr Zahawi’s bill says that next year’s one-off Royal Wedding Bank Holiday should be turned into national Saints’ Days holidays from 2012.

It would promote national integration, he said; it would celebrate the best of English and Welsh culture and it would reclaim patriotic symbols from extremist nationalist parties like the BNP.

Unfortunately it’s unlikely to become law despite repeated appearances in Conservative manifestos past. As a government source put it to me today, “It’s not in the coalition agreement.”

The third and final bit of Welsh Westminster action takes place behind closed doors in this afternoon’s meeting of the Privy Council.

Amongst the orders the Queen has on her list to approve are those which make it possible for next year’s referendum on strengthening the powers of the National Assembly to take place.

Assuming she approves it (and you’ll be hearing a lot more about it if she doesn’t), that’ll be it for the parliamentary jiggery-pokery needed to make the referendum happen. Tomorrow marks the official beginning of the referendum period.

March 3rd will be here before you know it.

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About Adrian Masters

By day, Political Editor at ITV Wales. By night, obsessed with music and books.

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