Labour assembly members have blocked a Conservative motion, backed by Plaid Cymru and Ukip, that would have triggered a third probe – by the committee for the scrutiny of the first minister.
The First Minister has been warned that he risks undermining public confidence in the National Assembly for Wales if he votes in today’s Senedd debate on bullying claims.
Welsh Conservative’s submitted a motion to instruct the Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister after allegations were made by former members and advisers to the Welsh Government about bullying, intimidation and the undermining of Ministers.
If AM’s back the motion the committee will be tasked to look at;
- when allegations were made to the First Minister and/or his office;
- how allegations were investigated;
- what actions were taken as a result of any investigation;
- the role of the First Minister and his office in dealing with these issues;
- the validity of the answers given by the First Minister to the National Assembly for Wales in relation to such allegations.
However, Carwyn Jones is seeking to head off the calls by announcing his own inquiry – denying the committee the right to scrutinise the allegations.
Carwyn Jones could even vote for himself – but the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, believes that would be a “blatant, potentially damaging conflict of interest.”
While Labour is expected to block the Conservatives bid to trigger an assembly-level inquiry, widespread anger amongst AM’s, following the death of Alyn and Deeside AM could see some within Labour ranks back the motion.
It’s likely all Conservative, Plaid Cymru and Ukip AM’s will vote in favour of a special scrutiny meeting over bullying claims.
Mr Davies is also calling for assurances that Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers will be relieved of ‘Collective Responsibility’ to speak freely as individuals in any future inquiry.
He posed both questions during First Minister’s Questions yesterday. The First Minister refused to answer either.
Speaking outside the Senedd on Tuesday, Andrew RT Davies said:
“Tomorrow’s (Wedensday’s) debate is the first step towards arriving at some degree of accountability.
“These are very serious allegations, and that’s why we want Assembly Members of all parties to set up an independent inquiry to get to the bottom of them.
“What’s not acceptable is for the First Minister to vote in a debate about his own behaviour, as that would be a blatant and very damaging conflict of interest.
“For the sake of his own reputation, and to retain any integrity in the process he simply cannot be judge, jury and executioner.”
Mr Davies also called for assurances that Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers would – if called to give evidence in a future inquiry – be relieved of ‘Collective Responsibility, and allowed to speak freely as individuals.
“We have an opportunity to take an objective look at claims of a culture of bullying at the heart of Welsh Government, and it is important that witnesses are free to co-operate fully.
“The First Minister must clarify the position with regards to any future investigation or inquiry, and guarantee that the principle of collective responsibility will not prevent members of his government from speaking freely.
“After all, a healthy democracy cannot tolerate leaders who run from scrutiny.”