/FMQs: Bullying, Mental Health & Green Taxes

FMQs: Bullying, Mental Health & Green Taxes



FMQs, 28th November 2017

Leader of the Opposition, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central): Welsh Government Bullying Allegations

The Senedd is due to debate a motion calling for the Scrutiny of the First Minister Committee to undertake an inquiry into bullying allegations at the Welsh Government. Why had the Welsh Government tabled an amendment deleting it? Committee members will look at the evidence objectively and come to a conclusion. It’s disappointing the First Minister doesn’t have confidence in the ability of a committee to do the work it’s supposed to do.

The First Minister believes an independent process is the best way of getting to the bottom of the allegations. He believes the Leader of the Opposition was attempting to make it political. It isn’t down to the committee to determine how the First Minister’s office is run.

Verdict: Block – I suspect this will heat up tomorrow in the debate, but it’s honour’s even.

Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda): Children’s Mental Health

Did the First Minister stand by a statement that appropriate resources had been put into child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS) services? StatsWales changed how waiting lists were recorded which removed 1,700 children from those lists in one stroke, but even with the new data waiting times were getting worse; 45% of children are waiting more than a month for a first appointment compared to 87% in March. Why keep moving the goalposts?

Carwyn stood by his statement; an extra £8million a year has gone into CAMHS. Around a quarter of all CAMHS referrals are redirected to another service. Statistics aren’t changed by the government, but by the UK Statistics Authority.

Verdict: Block – Any deterioration in waiting times will be difficult to defend but it’s not as if the Welsh Government aren’t putting extra resources in.

Neil Hamilton AM (UKIP, Mid & West Wales): Green Taxes

Household energy bills have risen by three times the rate of inflation for 20 years and Neil put the blame of green taxes; 5% of energy bills go as profit to energy companies while 20% is green taxes. There are also additional costs like linking remote wind farms to the National Grid. Why should low-income households be burdened with that?

The First Minister said Neil was one of the people who voted to privatise electricity and gas while he would like to see energy renationalised in the future; high prices are a result of companies making profits on the back of ordinary people. All energy transmission costs money as does cleaning up the environment, but why would we want to import energy when we can generate it ourselves cleanly?

Verdict: Block – Neil has a point on high energy costs but it’s not as simple as green taxes and his climate change scepticism lets him down.

Backbenchers

Explanation: All the backbench questions are from Tories because of a fluke in how the questions were ordered/selected. I’ll try to come up with a fairer way of selecting questions in the new year.

David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central): Will the First Minister make a statement on the budget of Rent Smart Wales?

The First Minister considers Rent Smart Wales to be self-financing and paid for by landlord fees despite an FOI request revealing it was running at over double its projected cost. It was for Cardiff Council to explain its running costs. Any landlord not registered is breaking the law but may escape fines if they come forward now.

Verdict: Hit – Cardiff Council have some explaining to do but that doesn’t let the Welsh Government off the hook on their costings.

Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy): Will the First Minister make a statement on adult mental health services in Wales?

An additional £40million is committed to mental health over the next two years and that funding is ring-fenced. It’s not just down to money though, it’s about ensuring people have access to the right kind of therapies. 154,000 people have been seen by primary care mental health support services since they were introduced.

Verdict: Miss – More confident than the answer to Leanne Wood.

Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.): Will the First Minister outline what the Welsh Government is doing to support sites of historical interest across Wales?

There are 34,000 building and ancient monuments protected in Wales, while Cadw is allocated around £22million a year in capital funding. A large part of the Historic Environment Act 2016 has also now been implemented. In response to a follow-up question, the First Minister was confident that a grant scheme to protect war memorials was working.

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.