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Surfer rides a power wave

Newly-elected MP David Davies was ousted from his post as the Tory education spokesman in the Welsh Assembly this week, and as he headed for Westminster he declared: "I feel like the new boy at school."

Conservative leader Nick Bourne announced a re-shuffle after Mr Davies's general election victory in Monmouth helped secure one of three parliamentary seats for the Welsh Tories - their first since 1997.

South-east Wales Assembly member William Graham becomes the new Conservative education spokesman in the Assembly. But Mr Davies said education will remain one of his top priorities in Westminster - as will Wales.

He added: "I want to be the voice of Monmouth, education and Wales, but I'm not there to climb the greasy pole."

He will be juggling the London commute, a young family and his great love of surfing as he takes on the dual role of MP and AM of Welsh border county Monmouth, until the 2007 Assembly elections.

However, keeping busy is something the former lorry driver relishes. He helped out with his family's tea-importing business while canvassing, but says he still found time to help his wife and play with his new baby daughter.

Mr Davies, who made the decision not to go university, praised some policies in Welsh education since devolution, including moves towards vocational education. But he said he had been frustrated by local education authorities.

"LEAs should start treating their customers - the taxpayers - with respect.

I hate the way they have channelled funding in education, especially when it comes to the closure of rural schools."

He praised moves towards better childcare and the setting up of school councils, but said the introduction of top-up fees was now inevitable.

"It's going to happen because it's happened in England. I don't think the Assembly wants it, but it's inevitable. If I can somehow help to stop policies like these happening in England, then it will not threaten Wales.

Mr Davies says he will divide his time between Westminster and Monmouth, spending three days in the big smoke and the rest in his constituency.

He said: "I probably won't have much time to surf now, it won't be so easy for me to get to the coast."

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