FMQs: Always take the weather with you

Creative Ambiguity

Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E. & Dinefwr), returned to his party’s debate a few weeks ago on a “People’s Vote”, which was rejected by Labour.

“First Minister, can you explain why, when the Labour group voted….against Plaid Cymru’s motion calling for a People’s Vote on Brexit, two of your Ministers have been pressing the case for such a vote? Your Health Secretary says the Leave campaign could’ve committed fraud. Your Skills Minister says Brexit would be a tragedy and seriously damage Wales. Both say they would vote remain in a referendum that should be held on the Brexit deal. Now, I agree with them. The question is: do you, or do you agree with your finance Secretary who declared that a People’s Vote isn’t a policy but a slogan?”
– Adam Price AM

The First Minister believes his government’s policy was clear: they would support a second referendum if the final deal is rejected at Westminster, in the Senedd and in Scotland and there was an inconclusive result in the next UK General Election.

When Adam accused Labour of “creative ambiguity” on the issue, the First Minister said it was fair for leadership candidates to put forward their own policies as long as they didn’t conflict with established government policy.

Turning to a lack of answers in the Public Accounts Committee, Adam Price accused the Welsh Government and civil service of operating a “code of silence” similar to the Mafia’s omert√†.

Naturally, Carwyn “didn’t know nuttin'”….he didn’t know what answers Adam was referring to.

Cuts & Callum

Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.), referenced recent flooding during Storm Callum: Why had the Welsh Government cut flood defence spending by 50% in 2016-17?

“We have invested a great deal of money, ¬£350 million over this Government term, to reduce the risk of flooding and coastal erosion. That’s a substantial investment, far in excess of what’s been done by his party in England I have to say, where flood defence money has been cut very, very sharply indeed.”
– First Minister, Carwyn Jones (Lab, Bridgend)

Paul wasn’t happy with that answer and demanded the First Minister take responsibility “instead of talking about England”. The cuts to flood defence spending between 2015-2017 showed the Labour Welsh Government failed to anticipate the needs of communities. Would the First Minister apologise?

Carwyn said the Welsh Government weren’t in a position to prevent every flood, which are often hard to predict. The exchange continued:

Easy & Lazy

Angela Burns AM (Con, Carms. W & S. Pembs.) focused on local authority spending

“‘An easy and lazy option when it comes to local government is to blame austerity and the Tories.’ Gosh, First Minister, it sounds a bit like you and your Government. Let me read it again, ‘an easy and lazy option when it comes to local government is to blame austerity and the Tories. It too often ignores other factors, such as poor decision making, when it comes to both budgets and service delivery.’

 

First Minister, these are the words of the former Labour leader of your local council, Jeff Jones.[Laughter]”
– Angela Burns AM

The First Minister said, diplomatically I suppose, that there was very little upon which he agreed with Jeff Jones, but the idea that it was all down to poor decision-making was “crying wolf”. He hoped the Prime Minister was true to her word that austerity was ending and local councils in Wales would stand to benefit if it’s true for Wales at the next budget.

Nevertheless, in response to follow-up questions, he expected councils to take their obligations seriously and the reason why money hasn’t been transferred from health to local councils is because demand in health increases year on year making the balance difficult.

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