Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Whose coming for welsh cakes
Who has the prime minister had round for dinner. Has become subject to political debate. And rightly so.
The worry is that those round the dinner table may have undue influence and public policy and on law making.
This blog raised concern about those that attempt to influence our law makers last October in the middle of the Liam Fox debacle.
At the time the absence of a Welsh register of lobbyist was raised. There is still no register of lobbying firms operating in Wales and there should be one. (see http://ogarethhughes.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/whose-in-lobby.html)
In calling for a code of conduct on the lobbying industry there is another safeguard that needs to be put in place. An awareness of who our cabinet ministers meet and why.
A record of all meetings need to be kept and published.
We know not who have welsh cakes with our ministers.
It is all about accountability. Making a case to government is a very proper thing to do, indeed some very useful legislation stems from such meetings.
Many a public or charity body has also been helped with a cash grant by government. Welsh life would be the poorer if this didn’t happen.
But those that pay through their taxes need to be assured that money is handed out on merit and not because the body has had special access to a Minister.
Today the Liberal Democrats have belatedly taken up the cudgels. They’ve called for the Welsh Government to publish details of its meetings with lobbyists and external pressure groups.
They rightly point out that the “UK government now routinely publishes details of all meetings `ministers and Civil Servants have with lobbyist. The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe the Welsh Labour Government should do likewise.”
Of course, the usual reaction of government when an issue is raised by the opposition is a big no, no.
The government should on this issue ditch a habit of a lifetime and say ‘yes.’
Fortunately there has never been a scandal connected with any member of the Assembly and long may this be the case. But as many safeguards that can be built into the system to prevent a scandal happening, the better. This is one such measure that should be implemented, and soon.
The architect's brief for the Senedd building was to make it an open transparent building to represent the kind of political institution that it was to house. Let the government also take that as its brief.