Mark Drakeford urges people in Wales to have say on UK-wide Covid-19 Inquiry
People in Wales are being encouraged to take part in a consultation about the terms of reference for the UK-wide Covid-19 inquiry.
The UK government has published draft terms of reference for the forthcoming public inquiry into its handling g of the pandemic.
The Welsh government has refused calls to hold a separate inquiry that would answer questions and examine decisions made throughout the pandemic in Wales.
Terms of reference for the UK Covid-19 Inquiry will look at preparedness, the public health response, the response in the health and care sector and the economic response.
The Welsh government, together with the other devolved governments, say they have been consulted ahead of the publication of the draft terms of reference.
Wales’ first minister Mark Drakeford said: “The Welsh Government has made concerted representations to the Prime Minister to ensure the experiences of people in Wales will be properly and thoroughly reflected in the inquiry.”
“This will ensure decisions made by the Welsh Government and other Welsh public services during the pandemic are properly scrutinised by the inquiry team.”
The consultation will be led by the chair of the inquiry Baroness Heather Hallett.
Drakeford said: “The pandemic has touched all of our lives in different ways and I would encourage everyone to take part in this process and provide their feedback.”
“I have met representatives from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru group.”
“Their experiences and comments were also directly reflected in our representations to the Prime Minister about the terms of reference.”
“I am strongly committed to an independent inquiry and I have always believed the best way to achieve this is through a UK-wide, judge-led inquiry.”
Plaid Cymru has called for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru to be given Core Participant Status in the UK Covid-19 public inquiry.
Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for health and care, has this week written to the Chair of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry asking them to “ensure that the Welsh voice is heard distinctly” and to look at this “as a matter of urgency.”
The evidence being put forward by Covid Bereaved Families for Justice Groups UK relates solely to the UK government. Mr ap Iorwerth is calling for assurances from the UK inquiry that the evidence from the group in Wales – which has its own legal team – is represented distinctly, given that health is a devolved matter.
A Welsh Conservative spokesperson said: “We are pleased to see the progress being made on the UK-wide inquiry, the wide-ranging terms of reference, and the people of this country getting the answers they deserve.
“It is just a shame that the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay continue to run scared of scrutiny as they block the Wales specific Covid inquiry favoured by the public.
“It is now essential that the inquiry – and national media coverage – ensure that the UK’s nations are equally represented and examined, not allowing it to be England-dominated as we fear.
“We now need to see Labour ministers put the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru group at the centre of the inquiry, securing them core participant status, even if they ignore their request for a Welsh inquiry.
“It seems, in Labour’s eyes, accountability is not devolved.”
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