Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Senedd to debate call for Wales specific Covid inquiry

21 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Mark Drakeford speaking at a Covid press conference

Emily Price

Plaid Cymru will today bring forward a Senedd motion calling for a Wales specific Covid inquiry to be established.

It comes ahead of the UK Covid Inquiry’s Welsh chapter due to begin next week (26 February 2024).

The party has tabled a debate in the Senedd calling on the Welsh Government to establish an inquiry in order to be accountable for its decisions during the pandemic.

Probe

Plaid Cymru says their long-standing calls were vindicated on the first day of the UK probe when the chair, Baroness Hallet, said in reference to Wales: “I have to emphasise, we can’t cover every issue, we cannot cover, or call every witness, we are going to have to focus on the most significant and the most important decisions.”

Baroness Hallet also indicated that it would still be possible for a Wales-specific inquiry, saying: “If a Wales inquiry is set up, I will work with them and cooperate to the best of my ability to ensure that between us we cover all the issues that people of Wales would wish to see covered.”

The party has long criticised the response of the Welsh Government to calls for scrutiny on its handling of the Covid pandemic in Wales.

Both Mark Drakeford and former Health Minister and Labour leadership candidate, Vaughan Gething, have consistently denied calls to establish a Wales specific probe.

Calls for a Wales specific inquiry intensified last year after Mark Drakeford admitted during a UK inquiry evidence session that Wales was “not as prepared as it could have been” for the pandemic.

Vaughan Gething was also criticised for telling the UK probe he hadn’t read a key document produced by a cross-government exercise he took part in.

Depth

The Wales Covid-19 Inquiry Special Purpose Committee was set up as part of a deal between Welsh Labour and the Welsh Conservatives to identify any gaps in what the UK Inquiry says about Wales.

However, bereaved families say the Committee isn’t fit for purpose.

Ahead of Plaid Cymru’s debate on Wednesday (February 21) the party’s Health and Social Care spokesperson, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, called on the Welsh Government once again to establish a Wales Inquiry.

He said: “As the UK Covid inquiry makes a pit stop in Wales for a few weeks, we can already see that decisions that were made in Wales will not get addressed to the degree that is needed or expected by the Welsh public. There will be so many aspects that will not be covered in terms of Welsh decision making – good and bad.

“It remains to be seen how much depth it will go into, but the chair has already said, quite plainly, that there simply won’t be time to go into the depth that is expected by the Welsh public and our institutions.

“Our administrative services need to understand whether the decisions that affected their work were correct. The Welsh Government must be held accountable for these decisions, good and bad. It’s true to say that a failure to establish a Wales-specific Covid inquiry undermines devolution. The way that the Labour government are dodging scrutiny is truly scandalous.

“Covid bereaved families as well as those still living with the long term effects of Covid need an official independent forum to raise their questions and get substantial answers, however, the UK Inquiry does not have the capacity to include the full range of relevant Welsh organisations and provide answers to their questions. Understanding these decisions and being able to hold someone accountable is a basic right.

“We can recognise the importance of the UK Covid Inquiry in identifying how decisions by the UK Government influenced the Covid response in Wales. But this should sit alongside a nation specific Covid inquiry to fully examine the actions and decisions of the Welsh Government before, during and after the pandemic, as has been established in Scotland.

“Instead, the Labour Welsh Government have done a back-room deal with the Conservatives to establish a Wales COVID-19 Inquiry Special Purpose Committee. This falls far short of what is needed. It cannot assess the full range of matters related to the Welsh Government’s handling of the pandemic. That is why nothing short of a judge-led Wales Covid inquiry will be sufficient.

“The Welsh Government must now step up and establish this at once, but I’m afraid to say that this dodging of scrutiny is one example in a list of so many that show this Welsh Government as avoiding accountability for its decisions.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Our position is clear – the UK-wide Covid Inquiry is the best way to fully scrutinise the interconnected nature of decisions taken by the four UK governments during the pandemic.

“Welsh Government Ministers and officials will be giving detailed evidence to the UK Covid Inquiry in Cardiff in the coming weeks.

“We will also be working with the Senedd committee, which will further scrutinise the UK inquiry’s conclusions at the end of each module to see if significant questions remain outstanding.”

 


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
4 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
A.Redman
A.Redman
1 month ago

One would think that Drakeford and Gething would be the ones demanding a full enquiry over The Welsh Government’s handling of the pandemic as they are so quick to condemn the national Government?

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago
Reply to  A.Redman

Drakeford and Gething are the national gov, they sit in the Senedd.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
1 month ago

Drakeford does no wrong so what’s the point of an enquiry. His decisions have always been perfect.

Welshman28
Welshman28
1 month ago

If Drakeford and Gething have done nothing wrong why are they blocking an all Wales enquiry . It stinks

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.