Create Cross-Party Coronavirus Select Committee
Plaid Cymru has called for a cross-party Coronavirus Select Committee to be set-up to scrutinise the UK Government’s response to the crisis.
The party’s Chief Whip, Jonathan Edwards MP has said that a Coronavirus Committee could “allow us to learn lessons quickly to avoid future failures”.
The party made the call in its submission to the Common’s Procedure Committee which is currently reviewing Parliamentary procedures following the introduction of ‘hybrid’ proceedings which has allowed Members to make contributions via video link.
Highlighting the precedent of the Brexit Select Committee during the 2017-19 Parliament, which had a membership of 21 MPs with at least one seat for every party represented in the House of Commons.
In New Zealand, where they have begun to lift the lockdown, the parliament acted swiftly by establishing an Epidemic Response Committee to conduct coherent, overarching scrutiny of the Government’s response to Coronavirus at every step. This Committee is chaired by the by the leader of the opposition and made up of at least one representative from each party.
Select Committees are a central pillar of Parliamentary scrutiny and play a vital role in holding inquiries and interviewing ministers and senior civil servants. The majority of Commons Select Committees mirror government departments, but there are a small number of Committees which cover issues that cut across departments, such as the Public Accounts or Environmental Audit Committees.
Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards MP said:
“The House of Commons is playing an important role in holding Ministers to account, but the Westminster Government is still seeking to avoid scrutiny. So much so, the Speaker had to reprimand the Prime Minister this week when it emerged he would announce new measures in a press conference rather than to Parliament as he should.
“A Coronavirus Committee would lead to much more effective scrutiny, not for the purpose of political point scoring, but to ensure better decisions are made.
“Like the Brexit Select Committee in the previous Parliament, all parties in Parliament should be represented so that they can ask questions and raise concerns.
“No one has a monopoly on good ideas, and the British Government must be open to scrutiny and willing to recognise when it has got something wrong.
“Sadly it seems we are going to be living with this disease for some time yet. A Coronavirus Select Committee would allow us to learn lessons quickly to avoid future failures.”