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Welsh Labour continued silence over AWEMA forces Welsh Lib Dems to request urgent debate

2012 Hydref 22 2:02 PM

Following the continued silence from Labour Government Ministers over last week's AWEMA report, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for an urgent debate to take place in the National Assembly so that government ministers are held to account for their actions.

Standing Orders of the National Assembly permit any Assembly Member to call, at short notice, for an urgent debate to take place. The last time an urgent debate was tabled in the National Assembly was back in 2007 during the foot and mouth crisis.

Since the Wales Audit Office's AWEMA report was published last Thursday, Welsh Government ministers have refused to respond to media enquiries and Assembly Members are yet to receive a single ministerial statement.

If the Welsh Liberal Democrats' urgent request is accepted, Assembly Members will then be given the opportunity to vote on whether a debate should be held.

Peter Black, Shadow Minister for Equalities, commented:

"The Welsh Liberal Democrats are using all avenues available to us to force reluctant Welsh Labour ministers to face up to their responsibilities. Urgent debates are seldom used but we believe that this is a matter that clearly requires Assembly Members to ask questions and Labour Ministers to respond.

"Labour Government ministers might think they are above being scrutinised, but they need to realise that this is not how a working democracy operates. The people of Wales have a right to be told why ministers thought it was acceptable for millions of pounds of taxpayer's money to be thrown at an organisation that was not financially sound.

"Labour Ministers have refused every opportunity presented to them to explain their actions. It is nothing short of a disgrace that we are yet to receive a single ministerial statement since the release of the Wales Audit report. This is an insult to the National Assembly and its democratic processes. Even Welsh Labour's usually silent backbenchers are beginning to call for the Government to respond to the scrutiny of Assembly Members.

"It is absolutely unacceptable that they are hiding like this. Refusing to answers questions and sending out a civil servant as cannon fodder is tantamount to cowardice."