Since parliamentary debates have been televised, when people think of parliament, they to think of the Chamber, and, in particular the most cutting comments at Prime Minister’s questions – because that’s what the media’s political commentators like best – the controversy, pitting one politician against another. But there is a lot that goes on outside the Chamber, away from the limelight and it is not always cut and thrust. Yes, certainly it is our job in opposition to hold the government to account and demand answers to searching questions, but sometimes we are broadly working together for the best – one such debate this week in which I had to take the lead for my party was on how government can best be prepared for emergencies, such as a swine flu epidemic, volcanic ash or a potential cyber attack. Another committee I had to speak in this week was dealing with the obscure – sounding Weights and Measures (Specified Quantities) (Unwrapped Bread and Intoxicating Liquor) Order 2011 – who would guess that this order which comes into force on 1st October will free up pubs, if they so wish, to serve beer in quantities of two thirds of a pint.
Add to that speaking up for Swansea Coastguard station, taking a 100,000 signature petition to the Coastguard Minister, quizzing post office chiefs on the future of our post offices, meeting pupils on a visit to parliament from MaesyMorfa Primary School, speaking up for the watchdog Consumer Focus Wales, adding my voice to those calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state, and discussing provision for dementia sufferers – all in the last couple of days, and that will give you an idea of some of the many things that go on outside the main chamber in parliament.