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