Hairless good boyo creates dazzling effect

To begin at the beginning. It is afternoon in the great brown, gothic brown, MP bobbing, minister yelling House. And on a green bench at the front, William Hague - Secretary of State for Wales and very good boyo - is alternately answering questions and dreaming of leading his party.

Destined for greatness, Hague seems to radiate light from an opening in his head. This is because his pate, almost entirely devoid of follicular product, is for some reason the shiniest at Westminster. Other hairless heads are matt finished, but Hague's is done in skin-coloured deep-gloss, polished with an expensive chamois by an extremely competent and vigorous chamber-maid. Together with his agreeable smile, the effect is - literally - dazzling.

A Yorkshireman himself, all around him he hears the lilt of the valleys, as Welshmen (no women), ask and reply to questions. Win Griffiths (Lab, Bridgend) speaks in Chapel language of youngsters being "imbued with moral purpose and direction". The hirsute and virile-looking junior minister, Gwilym Jones (who is as hairy as Hague is smooth) delivers himself of non sequiturs and absurdities, in a beautiful, almost musical voice. "Anyone in any doubt about Labour's lack of priority for the health service, should look at what they've done to education," he says at one point.

But it is Alan Williams (Lab, Carmarthen) who really gets things moving. Mr Williams suffers two disabilities: one - that he has a voice exactly like Gladys Pugh from Hi-de-hi - is involuntary. The other - a haircut borrowed from Ringo Starr in 1964, and never subsequently restyled - is of his own making. He raises the case of a Mrs Tattersall and her seven children, who inhabit three rooms in Llandovery. His colleague Allan Rogers (Lab, Rhonndda) asks how many are on the housing waiting list in Wales. The minister is indignant - of course they don't have figures for the homeless, and no histrionics will force them to produce any. But he can tell the House, apparently, how many new trees have been planted in the principality. Which leaves the strong impression that the Welsh Office is far more exercised by treelessness than homelessness. "What about tree- houses?" heckles one Labour member.

The shadow Welsh Secretary Ron Davies, with that handsome plausibility which characterises so many Welsh politicians, is baiting the Tories over law and order, which can "only be restored by spanking schoolchildren and shooting burglars". This is a reference to Welsh Tory, Walter Sweeney (majority 19, Vale of Glamorgan), who is sitting opposite. Mr Sweeney, a large, half-varnished wooden man (who looks like something that I once made in woodwork class, but decided not to take home) apparently believes in instant and summary justice for burglars. If I saw him late at night, canvassing in my driveway, I'd certainly wonder where I'd put that Olympic .22 calibre handgun.

Mr Sweeney is a fan of yet another Welshman, Michael Howard, who is presenting his Bill for banging everyone up for ever. Harrying him from argument to clause is my final Welshman, Alex Carlile (Liberal Democrat, Montgomery). Mr Carlile is retiring at the next election, and that is the only sense in which he is retiring; in every other way - with his curling lip and glasses halfway down his nose - he is wonderfully arrogant. For every smooth elision of Howards, Mr Carlile has the answer. If the government had thought sentences too lenient, how many had the Attorney-General appealed to have increased? No reply. Weren't some criminals going to have less supervision and shorter sentences as a result of the proposed legislation? Apparently so. We will miss Mr Carlile.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border