Just before First Minister's questions, I received an interesting note from Clywd West AM, Darren Millar who has been chewing over his proposed bill for a 5p levy on minty fresh gum to help pay for the cost of cleaning up litter.
What a good idea! Which of us has not been perturbed to have a blob of chewie attached to the sole of your shoe thanks to the indiscriminate spitting out of the same by some bounder too lazy to take his litter home.
Darren , of course has won an Assembly ballot to lead a debate on this next week to help clean up gum litter from our streets.And he has spoken to no less a figure in his research than the Senior Vice President of Wrigley's Rob Peterson who travelled over from Chicago for the Cardiff meeting.
But to First Minister's Questions proper and it was Andrew RT Davies who had a lot on his mind today. Mainly to do with allegations that some students in HE had been marked more leniently because they were foreign ! Well , that wouldn't be right would it ? And if it was true then, maybe these papers should be available for all of us to have a look at, so it was all transparent.
Frankly , the prospect of having the opportunity of reading the output of our younger bretheren in HE holds no appeal for me, does it for you? But my curiousity would be tempered by whether allegations about these courses, bandied about today by the Meeja were correct.
Pointing out that while some 11 percent of students come from overseas, they provide some 32 percent of income, Andrew RT Davies had this to say, against a backdrop of mangled mumblings off:
– The Leader of the Opposition Andrew RT Davies AM
Do you not believe that unless these allegations are taken seriously and are addressed, the Welsh brand of HE could be devalued and therefore, we need to get into the issue and address concerns raised by people in HE and students if there is any truth in allegations or not.
In reply to which , the FM said that it was a UK issue but if there was evidence to support these allegations then he would consider that evidence.
The leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats ,Kirsty Williams returned to her theme of the number of medical vacancies that aren't being filled in our hospitals. Despite a Welsh Government campaign to encourage Doctors from overseas to come to Wales, only a handful of posts have recently been filled. At this rate , she predicted . it would be the twelfth of never before all our vacant posts were filled. ( and that's a long, long time! )
– Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams AM
In January 2012 there were 214 medical vacancies in Wales and I'm pleased to say in June that figure had dropped but only to 209. You've managed to recruit an additional five doctors in six months. At this rate it will take you twenty years to address the shortage of medics in Wales.When do you expect your campaign to bear fruit?
And to complete the set of questions from party leaders, the Party of Wales, Leanne Wood has been turning her attention to the issue of Regional Benefit Caps. she had this question for the FM:
– Plaid Cymru Leader,Leanne Wood AM
First Minister, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne at the Labour party Conference said it would make more sense to have a different cap in different parts of the country. Do you agree with your party's policy to introduce a regional cap or not ?
The answer from the FM could be summed up by the word, No !