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Drakeford: Welsh Gov could ‘reconsider’ on holding a Wales-specific Covid inquiry

27 Aug 2021 3 minutes Read
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government

The Welsh Government could “reconsider” its position on holding a Wales-specific Covid-19 inquiry, Mark Drakeford has said.

The First Minister has so far resisted pressure to announce an independent inquiry in Wales, arguing that a UK-wide investigation into the pandemic is sufficient.

In a letter in response to Tory Senedd leader Andrew RT Davies, he defended the Welsh Government’s stance, but added if the “approach” of the UK Government is “found to be inadequate” that could change.

The Welsh Government has said it has “requested” that the UK Government make sure that “specific chapters of the inquiry deal exclusively with the lived experiences of those here in Wales”.

Pressure is mounting on the First Minister to reverse course following an announcement from the Scottish Government that it will hold an independent judge-led Covid inquiry in Scotland.

Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru have both argued that Wales needs its own inquiry.

In a letter to Andrew RT Davies, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “It is inaccurate to assert that the Welsh Government is not subject to the scrutiny of inquiry.

“I am clear that the UK-wide public inquiry – which will cover the actions of all 4 nations should examine the circumstances and decision-making here and report with specific chapters/ commentary on Wales.

“The inquiry should also look at the wider UK context in which many of our decisions were made. This approach, if managed correctly, will provide the fullest and most coherent account of the pandemic as experienced in Wales.

“I look forward to discussing the terms of reference of the UK-wide inquiry with your counterparts in the UK Government so that I have the assurances I am seeking for a comprehensive inquiry.

“If the detailed terms of the UK Government approach are found to be inadequate then we, of course, reserve the right to reconsider.”

‘Accountability’ 

Commenting on the response, Andrew RT Davies said: ““The First Minister was always keen throughout the pandemic to stress that he and his ministers are responsible for decisions made in Wales. Yet he does not want the accountability that comes with power.

“The most wide-ranging use of devolved powers exercised by the Welsh Government should not be shrouded in the shadow of a UK-wide inquiry and must be examined fully, publicly, and transparently in Wales.

“Most shameless of all is at the end of the letter when Mr Drakeford suggests he might change his mind if the UK remit is not to his liking, despite indicating to the Senedd he’s content with the proposals put down.

“It’s an embarrassment and an insult to grieving families who have lost loved ones in Wales during this crisis.

“Playing politics like this and running down the clock does not reflect the actions of a confident and mature government in a functioning democracy, but those who have been caught red-handed in their use of excessive powers and knowing their decisions in areas such as care homes and hospital acquired infections will be fully tested and potentially exposed.”

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Brian Coman
Brian Coman
30 days ago

How about an inquiry on mask wearing…July 2020 Drakeford said they made little difference..then for the last year they are compulsory.
Since England dicarded their position on them…rates in Scotland and Wales are rising while Englands is dropping…..
time to have another rethink ?

Gareth Parry
Gareth Parry
30 days ago
Reply to  Brian Coman

And they should remain compulsory but it needs to be robustly enforced, take a trip in the North West and see how Tesco, Asda, Morrison’s are failing to ensure that face masks are worn in their stores, all full of tourists who seem to think that the rules do not apply to them, Biggest mistake has been opening up hospitality and allowing the summer hordes in. The belligerence is overwhelming in our coastal and national park areas by these swarms of tourists. Compare the rising infection rates of the UK to Italy which despite their initial increase at the start… Read more »

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
30 days ago
Reply to  Brian Coman

The drop in recorded Covid rates in England is not a reliable indicator that infection rates have actually dropped. Professor of intensive care medicine, Hugh Montgomery, of University College London Hospital said, at the end of July “Increasingly, it appears that lots of people don’t want to be tested or swabbed, partly because it might stop them going on holiday, etc.”. “Of course part of that might be because there are 20% fewer people with any symptoms that want testing, but most of our evidence would say that people are avoiding testing so numbers may be higher than they are,”… Read more »

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
30 days ago

What is Mark Drakeford waiting for? A quarter of covid 19 deaths in Wales occured in people who contracted the virus in a welsh hospital. We need to find out why this happened and learn any lessons so that nothing like it happens again. Only a wales specific inquiry will do this. The families of these people deserve and want a Wales specific inquiry https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-58271577

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