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Pressure mounts on Welsh Government to follow Scotland and announce independent Covid inquiry

24 Aug 2021 4 minutes Read
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government

Pressure is mounting on the Welsh Government to announce its own independent Covid inquiry after Scotland’s First Minister did so.

Nicola Sturgeon said this afternoon that the Scottish government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic would be investigated by a judge-led public inquiry.

She said it would be established “to scrutinise decisions taken in the course of this pandemic, and learn lessons for future pandemics”,.

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said that the Welsh Government should follow suit and set up its own independent inquiry.

“The Scottish First Minister – like the Prime Minister – has done the right thing by announcing a public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic by her government,” he said.

“Regrettably in Wales, Labour and the First Minister have sought to block such scrutiny, transparency and accountability and it’s an unacceptable situation which cannot continue.

“Decisions made in Wales – both good and bad – had a direct impact on lives and that cannot be dismissed by a Labour administration that was keen to stress at every opportunity that they have done things differently.

“The calls from bereaved families in Wales are getting louder and louder, and the First Minister should now confirm that those people who’ve lost loved ones will receive the same respect from their government in Wales as in other parts of Britain.”

Plaid Cymru Health and Care spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth MS also called for a Wales-only inquiry.

“For over a year Plaid Cymru has asked for a Wales-only public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic,” he said. “The Labour Government in Cardiff has instead opted to have a Welsh chapter in a UK-wide inquiry.

“The Scottish Government has today announced it will hold its own public inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic by the end of the year. The Welsh Government have no excuse not to do the same.

“Wales rightly acted independently in so many areas during the pandemic and with so many of the relevant policy areas devolved, and so many decisions having been taken in Wales, we need a Wales-specific inquiry.

“The loss of life, as well as the loss of freedoms, of education, and a deep economic impact will weigh heavy on us for years to come. We need to look at what happened in detail, and in public, to learns lessons for the future.

“The Welsh Government has got to take responsibility for its actions – good and bad, and there should be no avoidance of detailed scrutiny.

“In rejecting the demand for a Wales-specific public inquiry, the Labour Government is essentially agreeing to the Prime Minister’s delay, and confirming that they’re happy for Wales to be a chapter in the deferred UK inquiry. The people of Wales are owed more than that.”

‘Interconnected’

The Welsh government had previously said that they favour being part of the UK-wide inquiry which will start next Spring and have no plans for a Wales-only one.

“The UK-wide inquiry has been agreed between all four nations,” a Welsh government spokesman said.

“We have requested specific chapters of the inquiry deal exclusively with the lived experiences of those here in Wales.

“A UK-wide inquiry will have the capacity and force to oversee the interconnected nature of the decisions that have been made across the four nations and is the best way for the experiences of people in Wales to be properly understood.”

The announcement in Scotland comes on the day their Covid minister John Swinney met bereaved families who have been calling for an inquiry.

“We will continue to listen to those affected by Covid-19, including bereaved families, on what they wish the public inquiry to focus on,” he said.

“Their feedback will be fundamental in reviewing the suggested approach set out here, and setting the terms of reference for an independent Scottish inquiry.

“Discussions are also ongoing with the UK government on the planned four nations inquiry, to ensure all areas that need to be considered are covered in a way that gives confidence to bereaved families and others.”

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Dr Keith W Darlington
Dr Keith W Darlington
1 month ago

Mark Drakeford should welcome an inquiry with open arms. His Labour party has been calling for one in other parts of the UK, so why not Wales? It is hypocritical not to do otherwise. He seems to be frightened in case they may be critical of him but surely politicians should realize that the public good is more important than popularity. Learning from our mistakes is what we should all want, otherwise, the same thing will happen again. So come on Mr. Drakeford, face up to the consequences and give us an inquiry like other parts of the UK.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
1 month ago

This is not about apportioning blame. It is about identifying valuable lessons that will save lives in the future. Every responsible government should welcome an enquiry for that reason.

huwdavies
huwdavies
1 month ago

Ah yes, the old lessons learned nonsense we get every time there’s a bit of a c**k up and a review/inquiry to follow. Lessons are seldom if ever learned other than politicians and senior servants adding new tricks to their stock of techniques for dodging direct responsibility. All the monumental waste especially on the part of Westminster should result in sackings and possibly prosecutions, but I doubt whether any one will feel any heat.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
30 days ago
Reply to  huwdavies

That is not the case with this pandemic. Our knowledge of how to deal with it at the outset was largely based on the experience of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. There are important lessons that must be learned from the Covid experience. It is as simple as that.

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
30 days ago

The basic ways of preventing a pandemic are the same. Isolate, stop contacts, stop infected people bringing it to your door, quarantine… The nuances of Covid 19 are still being learned. Coughs and sneezes spread diseases is as true today as it’s always been. The mathematical modelling in Hannah Fry’s 2018 BBC documentary, Contagion, could have been made applicable to Covid or any infection that spreads among people. In the meantime, I continue to protect others with my mask (aesthetically as well as epidemically!), keep my distance, wash my hands, keep a sanitiser in the car and keep travel to… Read more »

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
30 days ago
Reply to  huwdavies

I didn’t write this, a lot of Huw Davieses in Wales! Having said that, I basically endorse what huwdavies wrote! The ‘lessons will be learned’ standard statement is also one of my bug bears. All that usually happens is a new boss arrives, says ‘lessons will be learned’ then bugg ers off in a year or two, to another highly paid job, before any of the learned lessons have been put into practice. The ‘learning’ cycle then starts again, often with a new enquiry.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Yes there should be an inquiry in Wales and yes this should be done as soon as possible and certainly before the next Senedd election. What bothers me is that the Tory scumbag in number 10 is dragging his feet in announcing his own inquiry into the English government’s handling of the pandemic in England. Apparently Bojo the Clown is planning to hold an early election in 2022 or 2023 before the full effect of Brexit hits home. By delaying the Covid inquiry in England for as long as possible (if they even get round to having one) would ensure… Read more »

Steve George
Steve George
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

With respect, and while agreeing to the hypocrisy of Tories on both sides the dyke, this is just a rant of whataboutery.

Decisions were taken in Wales and they affected lives profoundly and in many cases fatally. If we’re capable of wielding the powers and making the decisions (which we undoubtedly are) then we’re more than capable of conducting our own inquiry. More than that we have a duty to do so.

As to it being led by a judge, the Senedd has the power to set up judicial inquiries and it should do so as soon as possible.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve George

Steve – I agree with you in many ways (that’s why I said there should be an inquiry at the beginning of my post) but the Tories – especially Andrew R2D2 – are being massively hypocritical about this along with their cheerleaders in the media. The call for a public inquiry is, I believe, an attempt to set the Welsh Government up for a fail whilst simultaneously trying to absolve the English government of any responsibility. Remember the 2019 English election: all the party leaders got roasted by Andrew Neil – except for the worst candidate of all (Johnson) who… Read more »

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
30 days ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

How dare you, sir. R2D2 is one of the greatest ever Droids. They never officially released the Andrew version. Rumour is that it’s noises were unintelligible and the decision was made to continue with the simpler R2D2 system of beeps.

Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

Waiting for Starmer. If it suits London Labour we’ll have an enquiry if not……… Well it’s only Wales eh Keir?

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

With a quarter of covid 19 deaths in Wales occuring in people who caught the virus in a hospital in Wales we need to find out exactly how this happened so we can ensure nothing like it occurs again. Only a Wales specific independent covid inquiry will enable us to do this and it’s very odd that the welsh labour govt continues to resist such a move.

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
30 days ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

This is the best reason for a Wales specific inquiry. Police/law making powers in Wales might also be relevant.

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