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Vaughan Gething suggests Standards reform at the Senedd

07 May 2024 5 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething. Picture by Senedd TV.

Martin Shipton

Vaughan Gething has invited the Senedd’s Standards and Conduct Committee to consider the donations totalling £200k he accepted from a convicted criminal as part of a review of the way Standards matters are considered by the body.

He has also suggested a fresh look at the idea of creating a register of lobbyists and an exploration of whether a recall system should be introduced so Members of the Senedd who are suspended for reprehensible conduct could face dismissal.

Donations

In a letter to the Committee’s Chair Vikki Howells, the Labour MS for Cynon Valley, the First Minister stated: “I recognise the level of concern raised regarding donations to my campaign as part of the Welsh Labour leadership contest. I very much regret the anxieties this caused for other members and I take seriously the work of seeking a resolution with the input of colleagues.

“While Senedd debates have shown it is accepted that the decisions taken complied with existing rules, the wider questions, reservations and concerns raised underscore the need for action that allows us to look at well developed reforms that are fit for the future. It is important we work collectively to ensure that the rules and processes relating to political donations are robust, transparent and have the confidence of the public.

“I have considered carefully the range of views expressed by colleagues in recent weeks and given thought to the best route to developing considered reforms that can have a lasting impact. It is, of course, important that proposed reforms are given careful and detailed consideration and that collectively, we put the interests of our democratic traditions ahead of any narrow party political priority. With an approach based on evidence and joint working, my hope is that we can draw on the vast areas of agreement that exist across the Senedd.

“The Standards Committee plays an integral role in considering these important questions. It is well placed, I believe, to now consider proposals to consider and bring forward proposals to update the Standing Orders and Code of Conduct in relation to donations made to Members of the Senedd.

“It will of course be for the Committee to decide their own terms of reference in such work. However, it would seem sensible for consideration to be given to meaningful and workable changes concerning the following areas in relation to donations: the level of reporting and disclosure and whether there should be a cap on donations from any one entity or individual.”

Disqualified

Mr Gething contunued: “As the Trefnydd [Leader of the House] has set out, it is important that we consider the nature of contributions that are clearly acceptable to the Senedd but may be disqualified by rules that are overly simplistic.

“For instance, the treatment of donations provided in wills or via collective contributions from workers via their democratic trades unions should be considered carefully. It is also important that a thorough and dispassionate view is taken of the existing protections that are in place and have worked well in preventing conflicts of interest. While we cannot expect full agreement across politically contentious matters on a cross-party basis, there is an opportunity to make progress on areas of agreement.

“In addition to this proposed process, I will be asking the Welsh Government’s Propriety and Ethics Director to consider recommendations on how to strengthen public confidence regarding any potential conflicts of interest where a Member of the Senedd is also a member of the government. “I would like to work with the committee to explore the opportunity to bring greater transparency to the way the Senedd and Welsh Government engage with organisations that seek to influence decisions taken in Wales. To this end, I would welcome a joint approach to revisiting the case for the creation of a register of lobbyists in Wales.

“By looking to best practice that exists in other nations, the Senedd and the Welsh Government could benefit from a more transparent system that helps organisations engage decision makers in a way that carries the confidence of the public over the long term. With a stronger Welsh Parliament that exercises far reaching powers that touch the lives of people across Wales, it is right that we ask how can make our decision making processes more transparent.

“In recent weeks, I have exchanged letters with the leader of Plaid Cymru regarding the matter of a proposed recall system for the Senedd which also has the ability to generate greater confidence in our Senedd. In my role as leader of Welsh Labour, I have already instigated a review process and I am pleased this is being taken forward within my own party. “I will be discussing the proposals set out above with the leaders of all parties in the Senedd and I am copying this letter to each of them as well as the Llywydd [Presiding Officer].


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Steve George
Steve George
15 days ago

Finally, the penny may be starting to drop! This issue is hurting him and won’t go away quickly.

Why vote
Why vote
15 days ago

This man is so insulated from reality he cannot understand that he is making a laughing stock of the senedd and the people of Wales. Trying to control the situation that he created by offering further rules to stop anyone else from doing what he has done as long as he will not answer for his own actions. Dose he do stand up comedy on the side.

Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
14 days ago

This beggars belief. He is adopting the moral high ground to avoid facing the actual issue which is that his reprehensible behaviour clearly makes him unfit for office.

robin campbell
robin campbell
14 days ago

Pot calling the kettle?

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