‘Terms of reference’ set by Carwyn Jones threaten the independence of the ministerial code investigation
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, has today written to Carwyn Jones to express concerns regarding the ‘terms of reference’ of the Independent Adviser’s investigation into the First Minister.
In his letter, he has asked for the First Minister to confirm whether the Independent Adviser will be allowed to investigate and explore issues outside of the parameters he set on Friday, and if not, has called on Carwyn Jones to revisit the terms of reference to ensure that James Hamilton has a blank canvass to ensure he can investigate how he sees fit, and not as dictated to by the Welsh Government.
Mr Davies has also repeated his calls for current cabinet secretaries to be free from ‘collective responsibility’ if they wish to give evidence to the various inquiries and asked the First Minister to confirm publicly that this will be the case.
A copy of the letter to Carwyn Jones is attached and the text is provided below.
I write to express a number of concerns following Friday’s publication of the ‘terms of reference’ in regards to the Independent Adviser’s investigation into the Ministerial Code.
First and foremost, I, along with many others, do not believe it is appropriate or acceptable for you as First Minister to set the parameters by which you can be investigated. This falls someway short of the full and transparent inquiry we were promised as Assembly Members over recent weeks.
Secondly, the terms of reference you have set seem unusually narrow with regards to the parameters and timescale covered by the investigation. The accusation of breaking the ministerial code is extremely serious and warrants a thorough investigation. However, it would be wrong and unjust if the numerous allegations made by Leighton Andrews, Steve Jones and others over the last month were not provided a similar platform of scrutiny.
When our calls for the Committee for Scrutiny of the First Minister to investigate these matters were defeated in the National Assembly, we were promised a ‘robust independent process’ by your colleague, Jane Bryant AM. The Leader of the House Julie James stated that the ‘investigation will look at the issues that have been aired in this Chamber and in the media in the last couple of weeks, and will determine whether the First Minister breached the ministerial code.’ Friday’s publication of the terms of reference do not honour these pledges.
There is no doubt that these revelations have been hugely damaging not just for your office, but also for public confidence in the Welsh Government and the institution of the National Assembly for Wales. For this to be restored, a full and thorough independent investigation into all of the above matters is required.
I would therefore appreciate if you could confirm at the earliest opportunity whether the Independent Adviser will be allowed to investigate and explore issues outside of the parameters you have set? And if not, I call on you to revisit the terms of reference to ensure the Independent Adviser has a blank canvass to ensure he can investigate how he sees fit, and not as dictated by you.
I would once again also ask for a public guarantee that current cabinet secretaries are allowed to provide evidence to the numerous inquiries currently underway without being forced to adhere to cabinet collective responsibility.
I look forward to hearing from you in due course.
Andrew RT Davies AM
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives