Welsh Government faces pressure to hold Wales-wide inquiry into its handling of the pandemic
Opposition parties have increased their calls for a specific Wales-wide public coronavirus inquiry into the Welsh Government’s handing of the pandemic.
It comes after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed yesterday that an independent inquiry into how the Scottish Government dealt with coronavirus would begin by the end of the year.
The UK Government has already committed to holding a UK-wide inquiry, which the Welsh Government has said it will partake in.
However calls for a separate inquiry into Wales’ handling of the pandemic have so far been resisted by ministers.
Speaking in July after an attempt to force a Wales-specific inquiry failed after a vote in the Senedd, Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “Holding a separate Welsh inquiry, as is suggested, would either lead to duplication of much of the work done by a UK-wide inquiry, or an England-only inquiry, or it would mean that important aspects of the pandemic that should be taken into account wouldn’t be part of a Welsh inquiry.
“The agreement, therefore, between the First Minister and UK Prime Minister to hold a UK-wide inquiry ensures that particular attention must be paid to Wales as part of this inquiry.”
But following Ms Sturgeon’s announcement yesterday, opposition parties have reiterated their calls for a separate investigation into how the pandemic was handled in Wales and the decisions that were made.
In an open letter to First Minister Mark Drakeford, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies MS said it was “imperative that families who have lost loved ones have the answers they deserve”.
Mr Davies said: “Now that the Scottish First Minister has announced that there will be such an inquiry in Scotland, the Welsh Government is the only government in Great Britain that will not subject itself to such scrutiny.
“In my view, this is unacceptable.
“Nobody can doubt that you and your cabinet have worked extremely hard since the beginning of Covid-19, but there are questions that need answering and lessons that need to be learnt, particularly if Wales is to be fully prepared for a future pandemic.
“I believe it is imperative that families who have lost loved ones have the answers they deserve, and it is also important that your government is recognised for its successes as well as its failures.
“Throughout this crisis you have consistently stressed that you and your government is responsible for public health decisions in Wales. As such, it is without doubt that you and your ministerial colleagues have made decisions that have had a direct impact on people’s lives in Wales and it is only right that there is appropriate, independent and thorough scrutiny of those actions.
“It’s vital you now make another important decision and announce an independent judge-led public inquiry into the Welsh Government’s handling of the pandemic. Otherwise, I fear you run a real risk of undermining the Senedd and bringing the Welsh Government into disrepute.”
Plaid Cymru Health and Care spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “For over a year Plaid Cymru has asked for a Wales-only public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic. The Labour Government in Cardiff has instead opted to have a Welsh chapter in a UK-wide inquiry.
“The Scottish Government has today announced it will hold its own public inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic by the end of the year. The Welsh Government have no excuse not to do the same.
“Wales rightly acted independently in so many areas during the pandemic and with so many of the relevant policy areas devolved, and so many decisions having been taken in Wales, we need a Wales-specific inquiry.
“The loss of life, as well as the loss of freedoms, of education, and a deep economic impact will weigh heavy on us for years to come. We need to look at what happened in detail, and in public, to learns lessons for the future.
“The Welsh Government has got to take responsibility for its actions – good and bad, and there should be no avoidance of detailed scrutiny.
“In rejecting the demand for a Wales-specific public inquiry, the Labour Government is essentially agreeing to the Prime Minister’s delay, and confirming that they’re happy for Wales to be a chapter in the deferred UK inquiry. The people of Wales are owed more than that.
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