Friday, 26 April 2013

Stalinism on Children and Young People Committee.?

All to often the public so not pay enough attention to the various Committees at Westminster and Cardiff Bay. Because this often where the nitty gritty of government take place and committee members often are less servile to the party Leadership preparing to be more independent when it comes to Amending Bill etc i.

There may be occasional changes in the committees as people are promoted or demoted by the parties and it would make sense to include some one on a committee especially if he or she have a particular expertise in a forth coming bill

Still its a bit of a shock when yesterday  when clearly under the orders of Carwyn Jones the Chief Whip Janice Gregory has summarily removed three Labour members, including its chair Christine Chapman, from the   Children and Young People Committee.

A motion in plenary yesterday afternoon replaced Christine Chapman, Julie Morgan and Jenny Rathbone with Ann Jones, David Rees and Keith Davies as members of the committee, including  installing Ann Jones as the new chair, moved over from the chair of the Communities Committee, which, in a swift swap, is now chaired by Christine Chapman.

Since the changes take place  with immediate effect.  it could be argued that it was necessary because today the committee is starting a day of evidence taking on the long and complex Social Services Bill, including evidence from the Children's Commissioner.

Still the three moved members must have been spending the last months preparing and being being on the forthcoming sessions.

Bethan Powys suggest that it this evidence which  may be the  raison d'être behind the changes .

She points out that.:

The pressure group Children Are Unbeatable are among several groups who are pushing for the Social Services Bill to be amended in order to make it a legislative vehicle for a ban on smacking children.
Last week, during the Health committee's scrutiny of the Bill, Plaid Cymru's Lindsay Whittle said he would move amendments to write a ban on to the face of the Bill. He was urged against his by the Deputy Minister Gwenda Thomas during her evidence. (I've corrected this paragraph, by the way, to get my committees straight.)
In 2011 Julie Morgan and Christine Chapman co-sponsored a motion in the Assembly calling for a smacking ban. Another sponsor was Lindsay Whittle.
Were the Government worried that the three Labour members would side with Mr Whittle rather than Mrs.Thomas when their committee comes to lay amendments? That's what the opposition parties think and its difficult to think of another explanation for a wholesale change of personnel at such short notice. We've had a quick chat in this office and reckon it's the first time we've seen it happen.
With the three Labour votes, the smacking ban amendment would have been carried by the committee, which would have left the Welsh Government being forced to re-amend it at stage three in full plenary to remove it.

As Noted Labour AM Christine Chapman, was one of four members to have tabled a motion to be debated in the Senedd, 
Back in October 2011 she said she hoped Wales could become the first of the UK countries to ban smacking 

She said: at the time:

The UK is completely out of step. Thirty other countries across the world have banned smacking." Chapman does not believe the justification that smacking is an acceptable way of disciplining a child stands up to scrutiny.
"Parents who hit children tend to do it when they are angry. It is rarely done in a cool, calculated way. We don't condone hitting adults and it is nonsensical to say that children can be hit."

Is the leadership acting to prevent this because they are opposed to a smacking ban or because they are worried about negative Tabloid headlines?

You Know.


Bethan Adds:
The question is this: if the Government gives a Bill to an Assembly committee to scrutinise and amend, and they decide they want to amend it in a way that the Government doesn't like, is it really democratic simply to change the members of the committee instead.

The problem here is with no second chamber it is up to the committee members to scrutinise an amend Welsh Bills.

It is not helpful if members need to be asking thier leadership what position they should take.

1 comment:

  1. It would be interesting to know if this decision was made in Cardiff or London...