The Leader of the Welsh National Party (WNP), Neil McEvoy AM, has submitted a motion to the Business Committee of the National Assembly for Wales calling for weekly business to resume in the Senedd.
In recent weeks the National Assembly has met online only once a week, and for just a couple of hours, to hear statements, with no way for AMs to submit formal oral questions. Meanwhile, the parliaments in Edinburgh and London have begun returning to normal levels of business.
Neil McEvoy AM said,
“The reason to almost shut down the Senedd was taken using Standing Order 34.18, which relies on public health concerns. It was the right thing to do at the time but the situation has changed.
“We’re now meeting virtually, meaning there are no health risks. So the reason given for such limited Assembly business no longer stands up. The proroguing of normal Assembly Business must end without delay.
“As an elected member, I am asking for a full recall of the National Assembly for Wales, with appropriate measures to protect public health and maintain social distancing, with all the work and scrutiny that this entails.
“Every day, my constituents on the front line contact me with complaints about a lack PPE. Every day, I read about countries where mass testing is taking place and where rapid test kits are being used. Why can’t AMs put formal oral questions to Ministers about this?
“The WNP has not been given a single opportunity to question the First Minister since the Assembly started sitting virtually. The Presiding Officer has made it her business to prioritise questions from members of the Coronavirus Cabinet. But sometimes tough questions need to be asked about the Labour Government’s handling of the pandemic.
“So many people out there are desperate to get back to work. We need to lead by example by getting our National Assembly back to normal levels of work. As Assembly Members we are the nation’s legislature and we can provide essential scrutiny. We need to be doing more than hearing a couple of statements, without a fair way of questioning the government.
Cllr Keith Parry, Leader of the WNP Group on Cardiff Council said,
“The WNP Board met and unanimously agreed the call to get our Parliament working again. The Presiding Officer is preventing scrutiny of the Government at a crucial time. Other parliaments are working normally, why is ours virtually closed for business?
“The public needs to know when its national parliament will return to a full suite of business, not be given vague responses by the Deputy Presiding Officer that things get reviewed by the Business Committee.”