Labour urge Welsh Secretary and others to reject £17k redundancy payouts
Labour are urging cabinet members who served for only a few weeks, including Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland, to reject £17k redundancy payouts when leaving their posts.
Sacked Cabinet members are in line to receive £16,876, but some of them only served for a very short time under Boris Johnson’s interim caretaker government after his resignation and then Liz Truss’ 50-day stint as Prime Minister.
Robert Buckland was Secretary of State for Wales for 110 days, or three months and 18 days, but is in line to receive more than half the average Welsh yearly salary as a redundancy payoff.
Some members of the Cabinet had served for an even shorter period. Eight of them were only in office since the start of September and most had no opportunity to put their own stamp on the departments they ran.
That time included a two-week period of mourning for the death of the Queen, during which the government was effectively closed down.
Liz Truss has also been urged not to pocket the £115,000 a year she is entitled to as a former Prime Minister.
Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, said: “Yet another parade of Tory ministers is set to walk away with thousands in taxpayers’ money handed out as rewards for their party’s catalogue of failure.
“If they had a shred of decency, they would already have made it clear that they will refuse these payments.
“Why should the public have to pick up the bill for the merry-go-round of resignations caused by the Tories’ revolving door of chaos?
“It’s time for the British public to get a proper say on the country’s future through a General Election.”
Christine Jardine, the Cabinet Office spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats, said: “What staggering unfairness for the ministers who got us into this financial mess to be rewarded with taxpayers’ cash.
“It beggars belief that while families are struggling to pay their bills, many retiring Conservative ministers are set to receive thousands of pounds, some of them after just a few weeks in the job.”
Robert Buckland said on Tuesday that he was no longer Welsh Secretary “at his own request”.
In a letter to new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak amid that day’s Cabinet reshuffle, he said that he was submitting his resignation from the government, having taken on the role under Boris Johnson after Simon Hart’s resignation in July.
Buckland, who is from Llanelli, was a controversial choice of Welsh Secretary as he represented a non-Welsh constituency in South Swindon.
The choice of a Welsh Secretary who did not represent a Welsh Constituency was cited by Bridgend MP Jamie Wallis when he called for former Prime Minister Liz Truss to resign.
Robert Buckland has also abandoned Rishi Sunak for Liz Truss during the Conservative leadership campaign in the summer, making his place in the Cabinet less secure.
In his resignation letter to the new Prime Minister he said: “Firstly, my congratulations on your election as Leader of the Conservative Party and your appointment by His Majesty The King this morning as Prime Minister.
“I am grateful to you for our meeting earlier. At my request, I am writing to submit my resignation from the Government.
“It has been a huge honour to serve four Prime Ministers on the front bench for seven and a half years, most latterly as Secretary of State for Wales.
“At the Wales Office, I was able to make significant progress on our Levelling Up agenda, launching the Welsh Freeports bidding process and continuing the roll out of the Shared Prosperity Fund. It was the honour of my life to have helped to lead the ceremonial events in Cardiff on the sad death of her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Accession of His Majesty The King last month.
“I have always been proud to be a unionist, proud to be Welsh, and proud to serve in the UK Government. I firmly believe that we are one family and one nation with shared values, and we are stronger together, which is why I was proud to serve once again in Cabinet.
“As Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, working alongside you in Cabinet, I was deeply proud to lead generational reforms to sentencing law, divorce law reform, better support for victims of rape and serious sexual offences, reform of the Probation Service and oversight of the massive prison-building programme, as well as having responsibility for managing the prison estate during the Covid emergency.
“You can be assured of my support from the backbenches as we deal with the economic and security crisis that faces us. We have to now come together to deliver our 2019 Manifesto and to ensure that our country emerges stronger from the storms that beset us.
“I will continue to serve my fellow residents in South Swindon as I have done since 2010, and I am also looking forward to working on issues relating to autism and employment with you and would like to lead a Review as to how business and private enterprise can help us bridge the employment gap, which for autistic people is just too great.”
Yesterday the new Secretary of State for Wales has said his first priority is to get families and businesses “through this challenging winter”.
Veteran Tory politician David TC Davies, was promoted to the Cabinet role on Tuesday by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after his predecessor Sir Robert Buckland resigned.
The Monmouth MP backed Mr Sunak in the most recent leadership contest after voting in September for Liz Truss, whose premiership came to an end after just 49 days.
Mr Davies told PA news agency it was a “privilege and an honour to be appointed” and that he would “promote the interests of the people of Wales”.
“I would like to thank the Prime Minister for the trust that has been placed in me,” Mr Davies said on Wednesday after first Cabinet meeting in Downing Street.
“We now have a new Prime Minister and a new Cabinet who are determined to focus on delivering for the people that we serve.
“I look forward to working alongside my colleagues in Westminster and with the Welsh Government on the common goal of improving lives and increasing opportunity for all the people of Wales.
“Wales and the rest of the UK face significant challenges,” he added.
“I understand that the cost of living and the economic situation are having a significant impact on every single person in the country.
“My first priority is to help ensure families, businesses and individuals across Wales are helped through this challenging winter.
“I promise to be a strong advocate for Wales around the Cabinet table, doing all I can to promote the interests of the people of Wales.”
Mr Davies said he wanted to work on growing investment in Wales including unlocking the country’s potential for producing renewable and nuclear energy, and ensuring it continues to benefit from the union.
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