I was just moidering about what I might say in the big debate on Tir Mynydd, which is due before AMs head off to plead for votes, when my own business' Tir Mynydd payment arrived in the post. Its £3684.44 before anyone named anonymous asks. It seems that I will not have to open the debate on behalf of the EPC Committee - so I'll be freer to say what I think.
Its been one of the most difficult issues for me to handle as a Committee chair. The most difficult was when I was charged with coming up with a Committee opinion on 'hunting with dogs' a few years ago, when both Peter Pogers and Ron Davies were both Committee members. Peter and Ron were entirely reasonable and I came within a whisker of pulling off the impossible. But there was some playing of 'silly b*****s' at the death and I had to scrap the whole venture. Who knows what would have happened if we had succeeded - and it was the pro- hunting side which b*****ed it. Really shot themselves in the foot.
But back to Tir Mynydd. I've admired the Minister's straight and upfrontness about his intention to cut the budget. I have also admired Elin Jones doggedness in taking on the Minister and his back-up team of officials. And a special mention for Mick Bates (now this isn't easy for me you understand) and Brynle Williams for not confusing the position by backing Elin in a quiet, determined way. The Assembly performs well when there is genuinely expressed disagreement. I daresay there will be some rubbish in the Plenary debate though. Hope not.
I will back the reprioritisation of the Minister's budget and support the increase in the Tir Mynydd budget line, despite the negative impact on current agri-environment schemes. However, I will want to link my support to a future review of the nature of the scheme. I am committed to channelling farm support through the agri-environment route. I will stand by my promises to do all I can to return the budget line for Tir Mynydd to the £36 million it used to be - but the only way this can be done is if Tir Mynydd itself becomes, at least in part, an agri-environment scheme itself, rather than a wholly compensatory scheme. There is an election in 49 days - and I'm only going to say what I would be prepared to deliver.