Minister accuses Tory health spokesperson of not turning up to covid briefings
A Minister has accused a Tory health spokesperson of not turning up to covid briefings.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething made the accusation against Andrew RT Davies after he complained he was not getting enough information from the Welsh Government.
They were debating coronavirus restrictions on the floor of the Senedd, which the Welsh Government argues are necessary because of a surge in cases following the firebreak lockdown in the autumn.
The Conservatives have been highly critical of the all-Wales restrictions, which include a ban on selling alcohol in pubs and restaurants and have called for what they call a more “targeted” and “localised” approach.
Mr Gething said: “I should say that Andrew RT Davies referred to there being one briefing for him and Rhun ap Iorwerth’s spokespeople. I’ve provided regular briefings. I’ve provided regular briefings for the Health Committee for some time now, and it’s a matter of fact now that Andrew RT Davies has chosen not to attend more than half of those briefings.
“He can hardly complain about not having access to information from myself, the Chief Scientific Advisor and the Chief Medical Officer if he chooses not to attend.
“To be fair to Rhun ap Iorwerth and Dai Lloyd and other members of the Committee, the do attend and engage in those briefings.”
Rhun ap Iorwerth is the health spokesperson for Plaid Cymru and Dr Dai Lloyd is a Plaid Cymru regional Member of the Senedd for South Wales West, as well as the chair of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee.
The Health Minister was responding to Mr Davies after he said: “I do take the health Minister up on his reference to the briefing that Rhun ap Iorwerth and I undertook last week. That is the first direct spokesperson’s briefing that I have been offered by the Health Minister since I’ve taken this role up from July.
“If you take the lockdown restrictions that were brought in in England, there was comprehensive discussions between the opposition parties and information shared.
“There might well have been disagreements, but at least people understood what was happening.”
A Welsh Labour spokesperson said: “Andrew RT Davies is the Conservatives’ health spokesman, but he has demonstrated little interest in the health of his constituents in the midst of this ongoing deadly global pandemic.
“He has repeatedly voted against measures to protect their public health and save lives, missed briefing sessions and yesterday, as the Chief Medical Officer warned Wales was facing an incredibly difficult situation, he recklessly calls for measures to be suspended.”
Mr Davies insisted that it was “perfectly reasonable to come to this Chamber and debate alternatives and propose alternatives”
He said: “All we are merely calling for is a suspension of the current restrictions and an implementation of more proportionate regulations to be brought in place.
“I make no apology for putting an alternative when I think the Government are wrong.
“People can put alternatives, because it’s a democracy, and I regret the remarks that she directed at me as shadow health Minister and at the leader of the opposition.”
Andrew RT Davies has been approached for further comment.