Islwyn Assembly Member Gwyn Price, who was only elected in 2011, has spoken less in the Chamber than any other speaker, totting up 2,269 words in one year. He represents one of the most deprived regions of the UK and his word count is even shorter than the Welsh Secretary, David Jones, who only made one annual appearance.
As reported in the South Wales Echo, Mr Price’s inaction was raised during a radio question and answer session with the First Minister Carwyn Jones. A contributor claimed Mr Price “never contributes” to debates, and cited an example where Mr Price was tabled to lead a short debate in the Assembly in November, but failed to lodge a motion for it. To rebut claims of total inactivity, the First Minister claimed that Mr Price did in fact ask questions, and was a part of an important committee.
Mr Price, who was a keen former Union Leader and who grew up in the South Wales Valleys, announced in February he was to stand down from his seat at the next election, which prompted sarcastic amendments to his Wikipedia page suggesting he was stepping down to concentrate on an autobiography called “Code of Silence”.
The latest revelation came to light after research from Welsh language campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, which collated the number of words spoken in Welsh during plenary sessions, as well as the total number of words, to gauge the use of Welsh in the Assembly.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have claimed that:
The primary role of an Assembly Member is to represent their constituents in the National Assembly. Yet week in, and week out, Gwyn Price fails to utter a single word in Assembly debates on behalf of his constituents.
The research conducted by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg and other bodies is very revealing. Politicians are paid to represent their area, so inactivity harms not only democracy, but also taxpayers. Constituents are should have a right to recall their representatives if they feel they aren't getting value for money.