FMQs, 8th May 2018
Leader of the Opposition, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central): Tawel Fan Report
The recent report into the Tawel Fan scandal (here’s a summary of the original report) highlighted flaws in how Betsi Cadwaladr health board was created – including lack of accountability and ignoring the views of senior clinical staff – which clearly form the starting point of problems at Tawel Fan. Did the First Minister regret how the health board was reorganised?
As the board has been in special measures for three years, and the First Minister’s recently claimed he has “no unfinished business” in his role, did Carwyn think it’ll be out of special measures before he stands down?
The First Minister dismissed accusations from Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West) that the report was a “whitewash” and its findings needed to be acted upon. He didn’t believe the principle of reorganisation “was a bad idea”, nor that it was a cause of the problems. There was no time limit put on special measures and they’ll remain in place for as long as they’re needed.
Verdict: Block – The First Minister seems to have answered the questions though it’s no doubt a serious sore point for the government and health board.
Neil Hamilton AM (UKIP, Mid & West Wales): The Welsh Baccalaureate
Elite universities aren’t interested in the Welsh Bacc. He’s been told by constituents it’s “tedious and not useful for more-able pupils”. Giving students a round education isn’t a bad thing, but “political topics” (Global Citizenship element) need to be taught in a balanced way, with Bacc. teaching material often being from “a centre-left disposition”.
The First Minister said it was wrong to assume universities don’t recognise the Welsh Bacc. It is valued as it makes pupils look beyond academic subjects and develop a more rounded education; many education systems that perform better than Wales at PISA don’t teach students critical thinking. Based on Neil’s comments, did he think George W. Bush was a “dangerous Communist”?
Verdict: Miss – Neil’s real reason for opposing the Welsh Bacc. shone through; a shame because it’s a wasted question on a topical issue.
Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda): The Brexit Powers Deal
The newly-amended version of the Brexit Bill still allows the Assembly’s powers to be restricted without consent. This is the verdict of the National Assembly’s legal team. Did the First Minister agree? Westminster and the UK Government will determine whether Wales remains in or leaves the customs union and single market – both things Labour in Wales have said they want to retain.
The First Minister admitted the recent deal “wasn’t ideal”, but a lot of ground was given by the UK Government; he believed Wales has the “protection we need” and sufficient safeguards have been put in place. The UK Government has always been able to legislate in devolved areas due to parliamentary sovereignty, it just wouldn’t “normally do so”. However, there’ll be a very high political cost for any UK Government that tries to “ram through whatever it wanted”. He accused Leanne of not arguing on the detail and specifics – as other members of her party have done – but grandstanding instead.
Verdict: Block – No give or take either way; both had valid points.
Just a reminder that these questions are chosen at random.
Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E & Dinwfwr): Will the First Minister make a statement on the availability of out-of-hours doctors in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area (GP shortage)?
The First Minister admitted the service was “not of the quality we would expect”. The number of doctors in Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire has increased and the health board is beginning to recruit advanced paramedic practitioners to fill in for GPs on home visits. There are also discussions on the possibility of GPs working from home.
Verdict: Block – Adam Price mentioned Carmarthenshire being left out of a training programme and the First Minister didn’t respond to this.
Lynne Neagle AM (Lab, Torfaen): Will the First Minister make a statement on support for care leavers (council tax exemption & training)?
The Welsh Government have asked local authorities to use their power to exempt care leavers from council tax. If one local authority can do it, the First Minister expects others to follow. There’s a £1million fund to enable care leavers to access training, £1million has been provided for personal advisers and councils have been given £665,000 to provide apprenticeships to care leavers.
Verdict: Miss – Obligatory “aren’t we doing well?” question.
Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) Will the First Minister make a statement on the procurement of health services in North Wales (“privatisation” of dialysis services)?
All procurement needs to meet standards set down by the Welsh Government and health boards have a duty to ensure they provide the best possible services. The First Minister “would like to see” a letter Llyr mentioned suggesting the Welsh Government supports contracting dialysis services out privately, even though the First Minister has, on record, said he opposed it.
Verdict: Hit – Carwyn seemed caught a bit off guard.