Thursday, 12 June 2008


By way of respite from 42 days, missing secret documents, resigning shadow Home Secretaries, Mr and Mrs Rooney and all that I spent an hour or so plugging in to the Welsh Affairs Committee this morning.

MPs on the committee took evidence from First Minister Rhodri Morgan as part of their inquiry into cross-border services after devolution.

It was intriguing that the most hostile questioning came from Labour MPs Albert Owen and Martyn Jones; the gentlest came from the Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams, who bowled a several long hops to Mr Morgan on waiting times. (The Plaid/Labour coalition crosses borders where its reputation on public services is at stake)

Tory MP David Jones apologised before asking Mr Morgan whether his Health Minister had discussed with him a potential conflict of interest over the future of neurosurgery in south Wales.
Edwina Hart shelved plans to close a unit in Swansea used by her constituents - a unit she had campaigned to save before becoming Health Minister. Mr Jones argues that under the ministerial code she should have raised a potential conflict of interests.

The code says: "Where Ministers have to take decisions on their own portfolios which might have an impact on their own constituencies, they should, take particular care to avoid any possible conflict of interest.

"Where Ministers are uncertain about whether a conflict arises between their Ministerial and constituency capacity they should consult the First Minister. Where necessary Ministers should refer matters to the First Minister for determination."

So had Mrs Hart raised the issue with the First Minister? He says no. "I certainly don't recall one because I don't think there would have been one to have."

He added: "I don't think there is a potential conflict of interest."

Mr Jones had hoped to ask Mrs Hart in person, but she declined an invitation to appear before the committee, much to the annoyance of some of her Labour colleagues.


Anonymous said...

is she allowed to refuse

David Cornock said...

Select committees have the power to summon witnesses. As I understand it, MPs on the Welsh Select are keen to have another more formal go at "inviting" the Minister.