Plaid Cymru accuses Welsh Government of hampering process of effective scrutiny

Holding government to account is hard when they take eight months to reply – that’s according to Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Health and Finance, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS.

Mr ap Iorwerth says has waited many weeks or even months for responses to letters or Written Senedd Questions.

In one case it took Welsh government 23 weeks to reply to an appeal to make it necessary to wear face masks to be worn in supermarkets. By the time the response came, the mask wearing rule had already been in place for 21 weeks. The letter from Welsh Government, dated 9 February 2021 and which went on to two pages, described at length the regulations brought in on 14 September.

In another example, two emails were sent to Welsh Government on 18 June 2020 regarding concerns about delays to receiving test results, and receiving test results in error. A response to both emails was received 10 February 2021 – eight months later.

The role of opposition is to question and scrutinise the work of the Government, but Mr ap Iorwerth says this is “seriously hampered” by the poor handling of responses to correspondence and written questions.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Health and Finance, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,

“When a day is said to be a long time in politics, imagine how much can change in five months, and yet this is the length of time it can take to get a response to a written question from Labour Welsh Government.

“Our Senedd website boasts ‘Effective scrutiny of government is at the heart of any democratic process’ but I would argue that this is seriously hampered by the painfully slow response times to written questions.

Even formal Written Senedd Questions – that have at times during the past year been limited in the number that could be asked – have been delayed. While the Welsh Government sets a targeted response time, responses received by the deadline are often just holding replies.

Whilst calling for faster response times, Mr ap Iorwerth also called into question the use of resource in preparing such lengthy out-of-date responses:

“The time spent in answering this particular call for regulatory changes, when so much time had passed, makes little sense. I’d rather have a brief and timely answer than a lengthy one that’s past its sell-by date.”