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Behave! Presiding Officer warns AMs about insults

Elin Jones began Assembly proceedings with her warning to AMs Photo: Senedd TV

AMs have been told that they should be able to disagree without resorting to personal insults.

The Llywydd, or Presiding Officer, Elin Jones delivered a collective telling-off at the start of business in the Senedd, saying she had reflected on yesterday's session as well as previous incidents.

She made it clear that her remarks applied to ministers as well as other AMs and that "proper scrutiny should not be met with personal attacks".

Yesterday, the Plaid Cymru AM Neil McEvoy, who's been in trouble with the Presiding Officer himself in the past, came under fire from the First Minister.

He doesn’t like incomers much, does he? It’s one of the things that we do notice about him. He doesn’t like people coming to live in Cardiff. Perhaps he wants to consider which party he should be a member of, but that’s a matter for him.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

The Presiding Officer didn't say what remarks had prompted her statement today, though she particularly deplored what she called "attacks on character".

There have been exchanges that are both unfitting and unpleasant. I want no more heckling of Members as soon as they get to their feet, no more shouting of insults from sedentary positions and no more attacks on character.

– Presiding Officer Elin Jones AM

As it happened, the first AM to speak after the Presiding Officer was the UKIP group leader, Neil Hamilton, who fell foul of the Presiding Officer at the start of his Assembly career by calling the Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and the Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams as "political concubines in Carwyn’s harem". Today, he simply said that he was "most grateful for the Llywydd's statement".