Face to Face with Cheryl Gillan

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan being interviewed for tonight's edition of Face to Face
Cheryl Gillan appearing on tonight's edition of Face to Face Photo: ITV News Wales

Cheryl Gillan says she'd never intended to pursue a political career and that politics had been a kind of hobby for her until by chance, at a dinner, she met Margaret Thatcher who asked her if she planned to stand for election. When Cheryl Gillan said no, the former Prime Minister told her, 'We need more women like you in politics.' That was 'the seed of an idea' which led to election success, government jobs and eventually to the Wales Office.

It's one of the things I've learned about the Welsh Secretary during the course of tonight's Face to Face programme. Over the course of a half-hour interview she tells me about growing up in a crowded Cardiff house, about the 'traumatic' move from Wales which coincided with going to boarding school and the 'small-c conservative values' of thrift and self-reliance she learned from her family.

Of course there are the controversies. She tells me how she felt she'd 'let people down by lack of attention to detail' over her expenses and how she had 'a perfect right' to sell her house in her Buckinghamshire constituency, despite critics linking it to the High Speed Rail row.

But mostly we talk about Wales how she told her Welsh mother she'd like to be Secretary of State for Wales and how annoyed she gets when others suggest she's not Welsh enough to do the job.

She admits she's changed her mind on devolution and now sees it as 'a good thing in itself' for Wales but wants it to work better. Which is why in this clip she dismisses claims that the Silk Commission on devolution which she launched is a cynical exercise in imposing powers on the Welsh Government it doesn't want and cutting its funding. However, later in the clip she concedes that the process could look at taking powers back from Cardiff to London as well as transferring others.

There are many more insights too into the past, present and future of the Welsh Secretary. You can see Face to Face tonight at 1035pm ITV1 Wales.