‘Environment Minister has a lot of explaining to do’ - Kirsty Williams

2014 Mehefin 10 4:22 PM

AdLib ShootCommenting on the First Minister's announcement that there will be an investigation into whether Wales' environment minister Alun Davies broke Government rules, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

"The First Minister previously confirmed to me that whenever a Minister might face a potential conflict of interest, then that Minister should refer themselves to the First Minister's office. The First Minister confirmed in the chamber today that this did not happen. Already that is a serious problem.

"When discussing constituency matters, the Ministerial Code makes clear that Ministers should take particular care in such cases to represent the views of their electorate rather than express a view themselves. Yet, the Minister continuously expresses his views his letter to NRW. I fail to see how that is acceptable.

"The Minister has a lot of explaining to do. Whilst he is not the Planning Minister, he is responsible for NRW and it is clear he tried to influence the agency to change its mind. Therefore he could potentially influence the planning decision by proxy. Matters are only further muddied by the fact he is also the Assembly Member for the proposed location.

"I welcome that the First Minister has accepted their must be an investigation into this matter. I fully expect that the Permanent Secretary's report will be made public. 

"There are numerous issues here. There are question marks with regards to the Minister potentially breaking the Ministerial Code, the are questions about whether the Minister has opened up the project to a legal challenge, and finally, there are serious concerns that Natural Resources Wales, which is meant to be independent, was heavily leant on by the Minister."

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