Senedd Bites #64: Committee chair warns AMs over standards investigation “leaks”

(Title Image: National Assembly of Wales)

Committee Chair tells AMs that leaks impact confidence in complaints system

In an oral statement to AMs in the Senedd chamber, the Chair of the Standards Committee, Jayne Bryant AM (Lab, Newport West) warned AMS that leaks to the media during standards investigations threatened to undermine confidence in the system.

She cited two examples of leaks being made before investigations had even started and meant those investigations take place amidst external speculation. She reminded AMs that they shouldn’t disclose the details of standards investigations until the Committee’s report is published.

HMRC tax cock-up results in Welsh taxpayers paying Scottish income tax

A blunder by HMRC has resulted in Welsh taxpayers paying a (higher) Scottish rate of income tax. Prior to the devolution of income tax-varying powers, Welsh taxpayers had a “C” affixed to the start of their tax code, but some had the Scottish “S” affixed instead. It’s unclear how many people were affected, but they’re eligible for a refund from HMRC.

Chair of the Finance Committee, Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) said: “HMRC’s admission is deeply disappointing as this Committee was repeatedly given assurances that mistakes like this would not happen….We are seeking an immediate explanation of how this has happened and will be asking representatives from HMRC to appear before this Committee in the near future.”

44 Blue Flags awarded to Welsh beaches

Wales continues to have more Blue Flags per mile than any other part of the UK following the latest round of awards. Blue Flags are awarded to beaches that reach exceptional standards in terms of cleanliness, facilities and water quality.

Three beaches – Aberdaron, Tywyn and Whitmore Bay (Barry Island) – lost blue flag status. The latter has well-publicised problems with littering by day-trippers.

Doctor shortage risk to child health

A shortage of consultant paediatricians could put children’s health at risk in Wales according to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. They estimate 73 consultants are needed in Wales to meet requirements – an increase of 42%. There were particular concerns about the number of general paediatricians.

The Welsh Government said the number of paediatricians had increased by just under 19% between 2015-2018 and an international recruitment campaign was focusing on paediatricians.

Sargeant evidence challenge rejected

Former First Minister, Carwyn Jones AM (Lab, Bridgend), had an appeal to force the Coroner to accept evidence from two Flintshire councillors rejected by the High Court on 9th May. Mr Jones’ legal counsel believe the evidence was necessary to give a full picture of Carl Sargeant’s state of mind and the allegations made against him.

A judge said the Coroner had acted correctly by not allowing the evidence submission, with a spokesperson for the Coroner saying: “The inquest is a limited fact-finding inquiry to answer four questions: Who, when, where, how.”