Calls for Welsh Government to “do the right thing” and hold Wales-wide covid inquiry
A debate calling on the Welsh Government to hold a Wales-wide coronavirus inquiry will take place in the Senedd today.
First Minister Mark Drakeford has rejected calls for a Wales-specific inquiry, claiming a UK-wide process is the best way for Welsh voices to be heard.
The Covid inquiry will be chaired by retired judge Baroness Heather Hallett with the first stage examining the UK’s “resilience and preparedness” for an event such as the coronavirus pandemic.
However the UK Inquiry’s Chair Baroness Hallett recently admitted that its investigation “can’t cover every issue” relating to Wales, prompting concerns that doubts long-held by opposition parties and the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Wales group that the UK inquiry would miss out on many aspects of the pandemic in Wales.
The Welsh Conservative led debate today aims to establish a special purpose Senedd committee to identify where the UK inquiry is not able to fully scrutinise the response of the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay and Welsh public bodies to the pandemic, and undertake an inquiry into the areas identified.
The committee would then have up to two years to produce a report.
Commenting ahead of the debate, the Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “For the last year and a half we’ve tried to make the Labour Government accept that we need a Wales-specific Covid inquiry so people who suffered from the virus and lockdowns – and know others who died because of them can – get the answers they deserve.
“We simply should not be in this position where we are asking for a Senedd committee to do the job of filling the gaps of the UK investigation – Mr Drakeford was keener than anyone to point out that Welsh rules were made in Wales, so why should there be no investigation here either?
“It is increasingly clear that we are here because Labour ministers do not want to be under the microscope and in the limelight, preferring to hide behind the more well-known issues that affected England.
“The exercise of devolved power must be scrutinised and those who used them must be held accountable for their actions and the results incurred. Any politician who votes against our motion puts themselves in opposition to this principle and must justify that to the people of Wales.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have also reiterated calls for a Wales-specific inquiry into the Welsh Government’s response to the pandemic.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “Now is the time for Welsh Labour Senedd Members to do the right thing and back a Welsh COVID-Inquiry. The bereaved families of Wales deserve an inquiry that pays full attention to decisions made here in Wales.
“With serious concerns about whether the UK Covid inquiry will cover all aspects of decision-making in Wales, we need to have an inquiry looking specifically at the actions taken by Ministers in Cardiff Bay.
“As I have repeatedly said this isn’t about apportioning blame, but about ensuring that we learn vital lessons to ensure we are better prepared for the future.
“There is also something to be said that if Welsh Labour supports the devolution of more powers to Wales, they must understand that with increased powers comes increased scrutiny.”
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