Wednesday, 12 May 2021

The Bills in the Queen's Speech

The following Bills were announced in yesterday's Queen's Speech. I have referenced them to the pages in the Government Publication "The Queen's Speech 2021", where further information is available. That document can be downloaded from here.

It might be, that before any bill is introduced (1st Reading) - the name may be altered slightly. When bills are published, a Research Paper from the House of Commons Library is likely to be published. I thoroughly recommend these as useful documents in getting to grips with the proposed legislation.

- Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill (p57)

- Animals Abroad Bill (p132)

- Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill (p131-2)

- Armed Forces Bill (p101)

- Building Safety Bill (p109)

- Charities Bill (p121)

- Counter-State Threats Bill (p96)

- Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill (p147)

- Dormant Assets Bill (p119)

- Electoral Integrity Bill (p141)

- Environment Bill (p128)

- Health and Care Bill (p20)

- Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill (p143)

- High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill (p65)

- Judicial Review Bill (p145)

- Kept Animals Bill (p132)

- Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill (p111)

- National Insurance Contributions Bill (p70)

- Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concerns) Bill (p149)

- Planning Bill (p61)

- Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (p81)

- Procurement Bill (p74)

- Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill (p66)

- Professional Qualifications Bill (p77)

- Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill (p123)

- Skills and Post-16 Education Bill (p50)

- Subsidy Control Bill (p72)

- Telecommunications (Security) Bill (p97)

- (Draft) Downstream Oil Resilience Bill (p68)

- (Draft) Online Safety Bill (p94)

- (Draft) Victims Bill (p89)

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Details of the Queen's Speech

Did you watch it? I listened in - but I have to say - the Speeches that a Prime Minister gives to the Monarch are never very exciting. The purpose is to tell Parliament what her Government plans to do - so, by nature they are very dry. (The Queen - who is above politics - isn't expected to be passionate and advocating policies - that's for the professional politicians). However - it's worth listening to speeches made under different Prime Ministers. The contrasts between Queen's Speeches under Major and those under Blair were quite obvious - I'm not talking about content - but the literary style and language. She doesn't write the speech - that is done by and on behalf of the current Prime Minister.

Soon afterwards, and this year it took a little while - hours not minutes - the Prime Minister publishes "The Queen's Speech (and gives the year)". So I dutifully downloaded the 160+ document that gives more detail of the rationale and what bills will follow. It's the first time for me in a while. When I worked in Westminster I downloaded it shortly after the speech was delivered. The last few years, being in retirement, I haven't. It has saved a lot of paper and ink. But now that I'm presenting a programme on Spectrum on Air called "PPS" about the Processes,
eople and relevant Sources for decision and law making (At Westminster, but also around the world), I thought it time to re-establish the habit.

It is easy to download - just click here 

YOU DON'T NEED TO PRINT IT OFF - it is available in PDF format. (My excuse/justification is that I will make annotating the document for use as I prepare pieces for the programme.

The Queen's Speech

 Yes, it's that time again - a new session begins in the British Parliament.

This time, it will be a stripped down affair - because of the Coronavirus pandemic - which though more suppressed than it has been -  hasn't gone away (so please do all you can to protect your own and others' health and life). The Queen won't be taking her usual ride in a carriage - and the number of people (Peers, MPs & staff) will be greatly reduced.

We'll get to hear the Government's legislative plans (though most of the bills to be presented have been fully discussed in the last few days.

You can watch live via 

BBC1 (if you have a UK TV licence) - and afterwards here. Huw Edwards is presenting (by the way - his excellent series on the history of Wales is available on BBC iPlayer). 

Parliament Live - but without the commentary.

In next week's PPS on Spectrum On Air  I'll be discussing how to get the details of the Queen's Speech proposals and the stages necessary to turn a bill into a Law.

(Previous editions of PPS are available at https://www.spreaker.com/show/process-people-sources

Monday, 10 May 2021

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

In today's PPS programme on Spectrum On Air - we did a piece about the Congressional Research Service. 

(If you look through old posts on this Blog you'll see that I am a great fan of the CRS. The good news is that their reports are more easily obtainable now)

If you want to access their reports the address is - https://crsreports.congress.gov. You can either enter a word or a phrase OR click the search button without entering any text to bring up a list of reports, which you can then scroll through.

Specially for listeners in the USA the PPS is broadcast again at 8pm (20.00) Eastern Time on Tuesdays (Insomniacs in Europe can also access it but it is in the middle of the night!)

NAO Report on the Rail System in England

In a few minutes time I will be talking about the National Audit Office's very readable and useful guide to the financing of the Rail System in England as part of my weekly programme on Spectrum on Air (the live link can be accessed at this address.

If you can't get there in time - it will be available later in the week (and available for some length of time) here.

If you've come to this blog as a result of the programme - the address which will link you directly to the report (which can be downloaded) the address is -


House of Commons Library

There is a quality research facility within the House of Commons Library. It has to be impartial. I've long been a user of its publications - whilst working at Westminster - but also in my roles as a lecturer - and I always used to encourage students to use their publication.

They are freely available at https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk

Recent 'Research Briefings (the detailed research papers) can be accessed directly at https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/

Material relevant to the current week's business in the House of Commons can be accessed directly at https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/this-week/

Research by General Topic areas can be directly accessed at https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research/

They are worth bookmarking!!!!

In my programme PPS on the new internet radio station 'Spectrum on Air' I will be talking about the various publications - and why they can be of great use. My programme airs at Noon (UK time) on Mondays and 8pm (ET in the USA) on Tuesdays. Do listen in.

The station can be heard via https://spectrumonair.com

Monday, 3 May 2021


 On my Spectrum On Air Show - "PPS" I played a song by Tecwyn Ifan called 'Y Dref Wen', and told the story of how I stumbled upon a Youtube video which introduced to me to the song, helped me on my path towards learning Welsh and to researching "Cyndyllan", whose death in the the White Town (Y Dref Wen - in Welsh) inspired the song.

Click here to see the  video with the words - in Welsh and English, - and to hear the song.

There are two ancient pieces of Welsh poetry which tell the story of Cynddylan - though they are difficult to reconcile. We don't know exactly when Cyndyllan lived or died - there are a number of theories. It is believed that he was a Prince or King in the Welsh area kingdom of Pengwern (modern area now solidly within England (Shropshire, possibly extending as far as into Staffordshire), but was at the time and beyond within the Welsh kingdom of Powys. 

The two poems are the 'Marwnad Cyndyllan' and the 'Canu Heledd'.

The Encyclopedia of Celtic Culture states -

Cynddylan fab Cyndrwyn (? †15 November 655) was a Welsh chieftain who is known to us primarily from two substantial pieces of early poetry: (1) Marwnad Cynddylan, a 71-line awdl on his death addressed to an unnamed king of Gwynedd at Aberffraw, whose attitude is that of a contemporary court poem and is widely accepted as authentic; (2) the 113 englynion of Canu Heledd (Poetry of Heledd), whose attitude is also contemporary, but the dramatic persona is not that of a court poet, but rather Cynddylan’s bereaved sister Heledd, wandering alone through the deserted ruins of the war-ravaged kingdom.This englyn cycle is usually assigned to the 9th or 10th century.

Some details of the historical context can be gleaned from these poems. Both Marwnad Cynddylan and Canu Heledd refer to a place called Tren, probably the river Tern in central Shropshire (Welsh swydd Amwythig). A stray englyn from Canu Heledd states that Cynddylan was part of the coalition headed by Penda at the battle of Cogwy or Maserfelth, where Oswald of Northum-bria was slain on 5 August 642 (Beda, Historia Ecclesiastica 3.9).The site of this battle was most probably near Oswestry in Shropshire, where Oswald was killed and crucified on ‘Oswald’s tree’ (Welsh Croesoswallt). According to Marwnad Cynddylan, the hero answered the call to arms of mab Pyd, which refers to Panna son of Pyd, the latter being the Welsh name for Penda of Mercia, who is known to have had Welsh allies when he fought against the Northumbrians in the mid-7th century. Marwnad Cynddylan mentions a ‘fight for the cattle (or the spoils) of Pennawg’, which may refer to an attack known to have been made by Penda of Mercia and Welsh allies on the Northumbrian court at Bam- burgh c. 650. The Marwnad describes a major, otherwise unknown, battle at Caerlwytgoed, the Roman fortified town of L{toc{tum at Lichfield, Staffordshire. Canu Heledd describes desolation in several places for which probable locations can be found in Shropshire: including Pengwern (probably in Shrewsbury), Eglwysseu Bassa (Baschurch), Dinlleu Vreconn (the hill-fort of theWrekin nearWroxeter), Romano-British Vriconium, and Ercal (High Ercall or Child’s Ercall). There is some question as to whether these places represent a continuous recollection of the old pre- Anglo-Saxon landscape of what became western Mercia, or a later Brythonicizing of an already English countryside, in effect creative historical fiction. For example, Baschurch seems to be a purely English name and Eglwysseu Bassa a Welsh translation. Of course, it is possible that Cynddylan had ruled a linguistically mixed country in the 7th-century, including a com- munity of Anglo-Saxon Christians.

Marwnad Cynddylan and Canu Heledd agree in portraying a military disaster in which Cynddylan fell, along with numerous noble kinsmen and comrades. The event itself is most plausibly identified with the battle of Winwæd, where Penda and all his many allies—called duces regii (royal generals) by Beda (Historia Ecclesiastica 3.27) and reges Brittonum (kings of the Britons) in Historia Brittonum (§§64–5)— fell in battle against Oswydd of Northumbria on 15 November 655. In the englynion, Cynddylan is once identified as ruler of Powys. The royal lineage known as the Cyndrwynyn (progeny of Cynddylan’s father, Cyndrwyn) do not seem to have survived into the 9th century, at which time Historia Brittonum (§§32–5) identified the kings of Powys as Cadelling, and Eliseg’s Pillar traces the same group back to Gwrtheyrn. Marwnad Cynddylan mentions the Cadelling twice, viewing them with hostility, as if they were rivals.

further reading
Aberffraw; awdl; Beda; Britons; Cadelling; Eliseg’s Pillar; englyn; englynion; Gwrtheyrn; Gwynedd; Heledd; Historia Brittonum; Marwnad Cynddylan; Oswald; Oswydd; Penda; Powys
; Bartrum, Welsh Classical Dictionary 169–71; Wendy Davies, Wales in the Early Middle Ages; Rowland, Early Welsh Saga Poetry; Stancliffe, Oswald 84–96; Ifor Williams, Canu Llywarch Hen.


Saturday, 1 May 2021

Police and Crime Commissioners

 On Thursday, elections will be held for Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales. 

On my programme, PPS on Spectrum-on-Air I will be interviewing Willy Bach - the retiring Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire. He'll be talking about the job and its responsibilities.

Do tune in - it is on air at Noon (UK time) - just head here and click the Listen Live button!

If you aren't able to tune in then (for US listeners - the programme re-airs at 8pm ET on Tuesdays) - a copy of the programme should be available from lunchtime on Wednesdays on Spreaker