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