Senedd Bites #65: Brexit Party AM failed to declare they employed a family member

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Brexit Party AM “could have broken Senedd rules” by employing daughter

A BBC Wales investigation has found that David Rowlands AM (BXP, South Wales East) – who defected from UKIP to the Brexit Party last week – could have breached Senedd guidelines by employing his daughter without declaring it.

The practice of employing relatives by AMs is due to be phased out, but while Mr Rowlands’ wife is declared as staff on his register of interests, his daughter hasn’t been despite working for her father for more than a year. Under Senedd rules, employment of relatives has to be declared within four weeks of them starting work.

The mistake has been blamed on a political aide, while Plaid Cymru (who ban AMs from employing relatives) have called on Mr Rowlands – who’s also an Assembly Commissioner – to refer himself to the Standards Committee for investigation.

Deputy Minister criticises quality of Welsh language news

Deputy Minister for Culture, Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Ind, Dwyfor Meirionnyd), has criticised the depth of news coverage provided on S4C, after it was revealed the flagship Newyddion 9 programme will be cut to just 10 minutes on Fridays from 2020 – though a half-hourly programme will remain in the 7:30 pm slot from Monday-Thursday.

The Deputy Minister told the Senedd’s Culture Committee, “What is important for me is that news is presented interestingly and I am a big fan of Channel 4 News.” His comments were criticised as belittling journalists.

Welsh contaminated blood scandal compensation “unfair”

Welsh victims of the contaminated blood scandal from the 1970s-1980s – where haemophiliacs were infected with hepatitis C and HIV – will be paid £10,000 less per person than victims in England.

Victims in England receive around £28,000 a year but the figure in Wales was just £18,500. Scottish victims receive £27,000. 175 people in Wales receive payments.

A public inquiry into the scandal started in April 2019, though victims argue that as the NHS was a single UK-wide system at the time there’s no justification for such disparity in payments.

Campaign launched to boost the number of male nurses

NHS Wales has launched a campaign under the “Train, Work, Live” programme to encourage more men to train as nurses. At the moment, just 12% of nurses, midwives and health visitors in Wales are men.

The Royal College of Nursing said: “Having more male nurses may change men’s perceptions of their health and abilities to use services. Research tells us that men are often reluctant to talk about their health concerns and seek help.”

Direct rail services between north Wales, Cheshire and Liverpool start

On May 20th, Transport for Wales started direct services between north Wales, Chester and Liverpool via the Halton Curve near Runcorn. The service will provide two services direct services a day between Wrexham and Liverpool Monday-Saturday, with a two-hourly Cardiff-Liverpool service set to be introduced by 2023.

Economy & Transport Minister, Ken Skates (Lab, Clwyd South) said: “Each day thousands of commuters travel between north Wales and north-west England, meaning excellent rail connectivity is vital to the economy on both sides of the border.”