UK-wide approach to Covid ‘inspires compliance’, argues Welsh Secretary
A UK-wide approach to the Covid-19 pandemic inspires “compliance”, the Welsh Secretary has argued.
Simon Hart, who represents the Conservative government in Wales, made the claim in response to David Simmonds MP, who complained about the Welsh Government “announcing extended lockdowns” without “due consultation”.
The remarks from Simmonds prompted sniggers from the Tory benches in the House of Commons.
The MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner asked whether the Welsh Government should “meet the financial cost of supporting businesses to keep their heads above water during those lockdowns?”.
The Welsh Government announced a firebreak lockdown in October 2020 because of a spike in Covid-19 cases.
It asked the UK Government to extend the furlough scheme, because Westminster controls the necessary borrowing powers, not the Senedd. But the Chancellor Rishi Sunak refused the request.
The furlough scheme was extended a few weeks later when England went into its own lockdown.
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has argued that an independent Wales would have the power to borrow to fund its own scheme.
David Simmonds said: “Like my right hon. Friend, I hugely welcome the progress that has been made in Wales, but what frustrates many is that the Welsh Government seem to be in the habit of announcing extended lockdowns at short notice – [laughter] – without having due consultation with the Government.
“Does he agree that, should this practice continue, we should expect Cardiff Bay to meet the financial cost of supporting businesses to keep their heads above water during those lockdowns?”
Simon Hart replied: “I notice the laughter stopped at the moment my hon. Friend raised that particular question. I will say again what I have often said from the Dispatch Box: certainty is crucial in all this.
“I have always preferred a UK-wide response to covid, in whatever respect that might come, because it inspires confidence and compliance.”