THE WELSH CONSERVATIVES will tell the First Minister later today that he “has one final chance to show the nation that he respects devolution and accepts accountability” as the Senedd will be asked to endorse a Wales-specific Covid inquiry.

Mark Drakeford continues to block an inquiry that would scrutinise his Labour Government’s response to coronavirus, despite the British and Scottish governments commissioning respective investigations looking at their own actions.

In September, Mr Drakeford said that “the experience of coronavirus has shown people in Wales… the breadth of independent decision making we already have”. However, Senedd Conservatives say such autonomy should be accompanied by a similar scrutiny that a Wales inquiry would provide.

Examples offered by Senedd Conservatives of what needs to be examined include:

  • discharging care home residents back to their homes from hospital without having had a Covid-19 test;
  • the thousands of incorrectly sent shielding letters;
  • why a quarter of deaths in Wales resulted from catching Covid-19 in hospital;
  • the failure to regularly test NHS frontline staff; and
  • allowing large scale events to go head as initial cases rose at the start of the first wave.

Wales has the highest death toll out of the British nations (282 deaths per 100k, as of 9 December).

Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS will open the debate and ask the Senedd to support the Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru campaign and welcome the Older People’s Commissioner’s call for a Wales-specific public inquiry into the Welsh Government’s handling of the pandemic.

When the Senedd was last asked to vote on the matter in the summer, the Liberal Democrats and Labour did not back calls for the inquiry. Although Plaid Cymru voted for an inquiry they have failed to secure an agreement on one as part of their recent coalition deal with Labour.

Commenting ahead of the debate, Welsh Conservative Russell George MS said: “While attention is focussed on the new variant, it is important we do not forget that a countless number of decisions have been made over the last two years that demand to be examined.

“Labour’s First Minister was always intent on making it known that decisions concerning Wales were made in Wales, so it is suspicious that he does not want them scrutinised here too.

“The Labour Government in Cardiff Bay – who have long blamed Westminster for its own problems – should not be allowed to hide behind a UK-wide inquiry. The people of Wales deserve better than this petty politics.

“The First Minister has one final chance to show the nation that he respects devolution and accepts accountability or whether he wants to deny the answers for which all those affected by lockdowns and the virus are searching.”