The below is the another in our now regular summaries of this week’s First Minister Questions session from Cardiff Bay. First Minister Questions takes place every Tuesday when the Assembly is sitting and can be watched live via Senedd.tv
For those who have never ventured onto the Senedd site, you can view the session the below was taken from here, that displays a video of the meeting (along with creation of your own clips!) plus by clicking the ‘meeting information and papers’ link you are able to view all the supporting documentation, along with a link to the full transcript.
Wrexham did not appear to get a mention this week, however last April we tweeted about a ‘geological disposal facility’ consultation that sounded like storing a collection of rocks, that was slight more…
Interesting point by @RitchieThomas13 a ‘Geological Disposal Facility’ sounds quaint, and communities like Wrexham may want to ‘host’ one, perhaps like a fete or the Olympics. *clicks link* Errr… no ta. pic.twitter.com/bNroDSK7u6
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) April 16, 2018
That was discussed at FMQ’s (below) with it noted by the First Minster that Wrexham could look to explicitly opt out of any such siting, “The local authority within which that community lies also has rights under the policy that we have proposed, and a local authority could declare that it does not want to see any geological disposal within its local authority boundaries, and that would override anything that that local community might say.”
“No sites identified” for nuclear waste burial
The opening question was from Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) who asked for a statement on nuclear waste burial. Radiological waste disposal is a devolved matter, but there was questions from another document that Mr Gruffydd said was ‘silent on nuclear’.
Mark Isherwood AM (Con, North Wales) later added the decision as to where to bury the waste would ultimately be determined by geology and asked if there been any discussion with six locations identified in England?
“The Welsh Government has not identified any sites or communities where geological disposal of radioactive waste could take place, and there is no intention to do so. A facility can only be built in Wales if there is a community willing to host it, and it secures full planning, safety and environmental consents.”
– First Minister, Mark Drakeford
The First Minister added that, as far as he believes, geological disposal of nuclear waste is devolved, “This radioactive waste has been created by us. It is in the lifetime of people in this Chamber where this waste has been created. And we do have a responsibility to deal with the consequences of what we have done, rather than simply saying that we will play no part in bearing that responsibility, that somebody else must do it instead, or that we hand it on to future generations that come after us to clear up the mess that we have left. Because that mess is there; it has already been created”
Responding to Mr Isherwood the First Minster added, “We will not and have not identified such sites, and we don’t intend to do so. It is for any local community that is willing to come forward to do so, and if no community comes forward, there will be no disposal here in Wales.”
First Minister accepts High Court inquiry judgement
The first question from Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E. & Dinefwr), related to Monday night’s indicative votes on Brexit. 24 Labour MPs from Wales voted against a second referendum and a large number opposed revoking Article 50.
The to and fro was similar what the chamber had heard before, boiling down to the Welsh Government supporting an option that’s as close to the Welsh Government-Plaid Cymru Brexit paper as possible. However, the First Minister warned that revoking Article 50 would be serious and couldn’t be used as a negotiating tactic, only to prevent crashing out of the EU without a deal at the last minute (still set for April 12th).
Adam Price’s second series of questions related to the High Court judgement on the Sargeant QC inquiry including, Did the Welsh Government accept they unlawfully interfered? Would the Sargeant family receive an apology? Would it be converted into a statutory public inquiry? A request was also made to publish a redacted version of the leak inquiry report.
“I can confirm that the Welsh Government accepts the judgment of the High Court in full. I can confirm I first became aware of the terms of the judicial review and the issues at stake on it when I was briefed on becoming First Minister. I can also confirm I’m in the process of receiving advice on what the judgment says and the courses of action available to me. As soon as I’m able to resolve those issues, I’ll issue a statement to the Assembly setting out my decisions.”
– First Minister, Mark Drakeford AM (Lab, Cardiff West)
Criticism of GP contract negotiations
Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.), said GPs were in crisis:
“The BMA in Wales spoke out at the weekend with what they called sadness over how recent contract negotiations with your Government had gone. Chairwoman of the general practitioners’ committee, Charlotte Jones, said your overall approach had been disappointing and that the result…fell well short of a deal where the committee could actually look doctors in the eye and say it was good for the profession.”
– Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies
He added that weren’t only GP problems, but falls in the number of midwives, nurses and visiting staff too.
The First Minister said GPs have been offered a 5.4% raise in the 2019-20 contract and talks will resume to discuss alternative ideas. Employment in the Welsh NHS was at record levels (92,500 staff) with increases in doctors, consultants, scientific/technical staff and ambulance staff – but this
was conveniently overlooked by the Conservatives.
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