BBC News

Covid: Mark Drakeford accused of Senedd 'disrespect' over new rules

Published
Related Topics
  • Coronavirus pandemic
media caption"We cannot let the virus take hold of our lives again"

Opposition parties have accused the first minister Mark Drakeford of disrespecting the Senedd over how he announced new coronavirus restrictions.

There were calls for him to apologise after news broke of the changes hours before Mr Drakeford broadcast them.

He had not disclosed them to the Senedd on Tuesday, and senior ministers had spoken to UK parliaments elsewhere.

Mr Drakeford said the BBC's request for a broadcast was a tribute to devolution.

On Tuesday Mr Drakeford announced hospitality businesses would need to shut at 10pm, although it was later clarified that they would not be able to sell alcohol after that time.

Conservative Andrew RT Davies accused the first minister of "discourtesy" because the BBC published a story about the plans hours before they were announced "despite members being told at five thirty that no decision will be taken by the government until just before eight o'clock".

Presiding officer Elin Jones had told Senedd Members on Tuesday that she had been told a final decision was not likely to be made "until a little before eight o'clock".

  • New local restrictions come into force in Wales
  • No case to extend lockdowns, first minister says

A recorded address by Mr Drakeford on the new measures was broadcast after the prime minister spoke on BBC One Wales on Wednesday night.

"Yesterday was deplorable on your behalf," Mr Davies said, because he had not addressed the Senedd "in a manner that should be fitting of a national parliament".

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said the "Senedd has been side-lined time and time again in favour of government by press briefing".

"Literally within minutes of leaving the chamber, after the close of proceedings, I was told in detail by the BBC what the government had decided," he said.

image captionAndrew RT Davies accused the first minister of "discourtesy"

Mark Reckless, Brexit Party Senedd leader, told Mr Drakeford: "You preferred to give that to the BBC because you wanted to make your announcement to the nation through the BBC, and not the Senedd.

Both he and Mr Price pressed Mr Drakeford on when he recorded the statement.

The first minister said: "The prime minister asked the BBC yesterday for time to make an address to the nation, given the position that we faced.

"The BBC suggested that the leader of the government here in Wales should make a similar address to people in Wales.

"I think that is a tribute to the Senedd and to devolution."

"Far from it being a competition between the Senedd and other forms of letting our fellow citizens know what changes, I genuinely think members should regard it as a sign of the way in which devolution, the work of the Senedd, the fact that we have our democracy here in Wales has taken root here in Wales, the BBC thought that was the right thing to do.

Responding to Mr Price, the first minister said: "We were making decisions here, as I say, well into last evening.

"I am not responsible for the time that the BBC requires material to be supplied to them."

Related Topics