Meeting the devolution challenge
With this being the last First Minister’s Questions of 2019 – the 20th anniversary year of devolution – Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.) reflected on three challenges set down by the first First Secretary/Minister, Alun Michael:
“First, we must deliver a better life for the people of Wales. Secondly, we must deliver a sense of unity and purpose and, thirdly, we have to deliver a new confidence in ourselves in Wales and in political life. First Minister, Welsh Labour have run the Welsh Government for over 20 years, on reflection, can you honestly say that the challenge set by Alun Michael has been met?”
– Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies AM
The First Minister said that despite everything the Conservatives had done to “undermine the prospects of a better life” in Wales after a decade of austerity and cancellation of projects by the UK Government which could’ve made a difference.
“This party stands up for Wales in the face of every onslaught that his party performs. We stand up for people faced with the fear and the horror of Universal Credit. We stand up for the people of Wales where they have to deal with the consequences….of his party’s policies, which will create 50,000 more children in poverty here in Wales. We stand up for those people who go in every day to our public services – starved, to quote the Leader of the Opposition; cash-starved by his party – to try and make those services as good as they can possibly be.”
– First Minister, Mark Drakeford (Lab, Cardiff West)
First Minister “makes no apology” for use of private management consultants in the NHS
Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E. & Dinefwr), brought up the findings of a freedom of information request which revealed that in the last year, 37 private management consultants have been hired for use in the NHS at a total cost of just over £2million. PricewaterhouseCooper was paid £335,000 for twelve weeks work on managing winter pressures at Betsi Cadwaladr health board.
“First Minister, we both agree that creeping privatisation is a threat to the NHS. The surprising thing, perhaps, is that that threat, in part, comes from you….Don’t you think that that money would have been better spent on more doctors, nurses and social carers to manage the winter crisis, rather than pen-pushers with PowerPoint presentations?”
– Adam Price AM
The First Minister repeated what he’s said in response to similar questions – that appointment of management consultants was taken on the advice of the Senedd’s Public Accounts Committee. He made no apology at all for ensuring the NHS works as well as it can whilst investing record amounts of money in health services. He then took another dig at what he described as Adam Price’s “tour of television studios” and Plaid’s Unite to Remain electoral agreement.
Labour’s “credible Leave option” is no Leave option at all
2019 couldn’t end without another Brexit question from Mark Reckless AM (BXP, South Wales East), who described UK Labour’s position on renegotiating a “credible Leave option” as being nothing of the sort. Any second referendum, as promised, would effectively be “between Remain and Remain”. He also suggested that any attempt at lowering the voting age to 16 would be an attempt to rig a second referendum.
“He’s correct in this: only a vote for Labour will put this deeply divisive decision back in the hands of the people, where we believe it belongs….Do I think that 16-year-olds should have a vote in that election? I certainly do, because it is their future and the future of young people and the future of generations to come that would be at stake in such a referendum.”
– First Minister, Mark Drakeford