/FMQs: Apologies, Border Controls & E-mails

FMQs: Apologies, Border Controls & E-mails



First Minister apologises to Adam Price

Following “ugly scenes” in the Senedd chamber last week after his use of e-mail correspondence between Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E & Dinefwr) and Hywel Dda health board (which turned out to be wrong information), the First Minister took the opportunity to apologise.

He said the information, whilst incorrect, was passed to his office “in good faith” and he never asked for it – though he chose to use it. On reflection, last week’s exchanges were “unworthy” of the discussions AMs should have in a Welsh Parliament, apologising again for the part he played.

FMQs, 6th February

Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda): Post-Brexit Border Controls

The UK Government have repeated that they want to leave the EU customs union – a move that would clearly affect Wales’ Irish Sea ports. What work had the Welsh Government undertaken on that? The First Minister also said Wales didn’t need a veto on any post-Brexit trade deals (like Wallonia does) – why would he deny the Senedd a say?

Carwyn told the chamber that the issue of physical infrastructure at ports was a matter for the UK Government and international trade is too. Any future trade deals have to have buy-in from all of the UK’s nations and he would fight to prevent deals that could threaten Welsh farming or the steel industry. He warned there was little he or anyone else could do to mitigate against the impact of a “Hard Brexit”.

Verdict: Block – It’s hard to pick sides here when Plaid has worked with Labour to establish a Welsh position on Brexit.

Leader of the Opposition, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central): Use of private e-mails addresses by the First Minister

Recently, Andrew was told in a written answer that the First Minister occasionally uses a private e-mail address for urgent business. Activity surrounding a reshuffle may constitute urgent business and it’s not unreasonable to assume that all correspondence will be available to the inquiry. Will these e-mails be available to one of the Sargeant inquiries?

The First Minister confirmed the e-mails won’t be used and all relevant evidence has been given to the inquiry. Any e-mail sent to his personal e-mail is recorded and as it’s sent to a government machine is subject to FOI requests.

Verdict: Block – A bit uncomfortable for Carwyn but he answered the question in a roundabout way.

Neil Hamilton AM (UKIP, Mid & West Wales): Brexit Preparations

Neil referred to the External Affairs Committee report on Brexit preparations (as did Leanne Wood) which said the Welsh Government should be doing more to prepare for a possible “no-deal/Hard Brexit”. In the long term, economies and businesses adjust to cope but if other legislatures and governments were preparing, why aren’t we?

The First Minister accused Neil (and Andrew Davies) of not taking the issue of tariffs and other trade barriers seriously. “Cope” was the key word Neil used; “Why should businesses merely have to ‘cope’? Why shouldn’t they prosper?”

Verdict: Block – Neil has a point on preparations by the Welsh Government, but it’s true that Welsh businesses shouldn’t accept merely “coping” with a Hard Brexit.

Backbenchers

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM (Plaid, Ynys Môn): Will the First Minister make a statement on ambulance response times on Ynys Môn (particularly in relation to stroke victims)?

The Wales Ambulance Trust has met targets in the Betsi Cadwaladr health board. The colour coding model for ambulance response times was drafted by clinical professionals but asked for more details on specific cases where targets have been missed.

Verdict: Hit The ambulance call colour coding system clearly has issues.

Gareth Bennett AM (UKIP, South Wales Central): What assessment has the Welsh Government made of planning consent and change of use in relation to pubs in Wales?

The Welsh Government recognises the contribution pubs make to communities – “a community without a pub is a collection of houses”. There will be a review of planning regulations in May with a view to protecting pubs.

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.

Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid, South Wales West): Will the First Minister make a statement on local government support services for elderly people (in relation to a proposed £40-a-day charge for elderly day centre users in Swansea)?

Charging is a matter for Swansea Council, but the Welsh Government recognises social care services provide a lifeline to elderly people. Any changes have to ensure nobody loses out.

Verdict: Block – A bit of a glib answer, but it is what it is.