CALLS for Wales-specific Covid-19 inquiry which would scrutinise areas not sufficiently covered in the UK-wide inquiry have been voted down.

Opposition parties in the Senedd proposed a motion to “establish a Wales Covid-19 inquiry special purpose committee” to “identify where the UK Covid-19 inquiry is not able to fully scrutinise the response of the Welsh Government and Welsh public bodies to the Covid-19 pandemic” and “undertake an inquiry into the areas identified”.

However, first minister Mark Drakeford said any investigation of this type should wait until the publication of the UK-wide Covid inquiry.

Russell George MS, Welsh Conservative’s shadow health minister, said: “I have no doubt that the UK Covid inquiry will do their job at scrutinising the UK Government and its actions, but now we've seen the blueprint, we know that the inquiry cannot fully scrutinise the Welsh Government.

“We know this because, just this month, Baroness Hallet, who is leading the UK inquiry, has stressed the inquiry would not be covering every issue in Wales. 

“The Welsh Government has made its own decisions, and at times very different decisions, and it's entitled, of course, to do that, but I would hope the first minister would accept there should be scrutiny and accountability for those decisions that were made.” 

Plaid Cymru’s health and social care spokesperson, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, said that “decisions taken in Wales need to be scrutinised in Wales”, and that the motion provided a “pragmatic alternative” to a full Welsh inquiry.

“There were indeed decision that were Whitehall based that affected all of us, and areas of shared responsibility too, but so many decisions were rightly taken wholly in Wales by Welsh Ministers, who were held to account here in this Senedd.

“We could only scrutinise those actions properly with a Wales-specific inquiry.

“But the Labour Government chose to opt out of that forensic level of scrutiny, choosing instead to leave it all in the hands of whatever inquiry Boris Johnson at the time decided to establish.

“And that, I have no doubt, did a disservice to the people of Wales, and the Covid bereaved, all of us wanting to ensure that lessons are learnt.”

Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said that although she praised the first minister for “many of the decisions” made in Wales throughout the pandemic, she was supporting the motion as the decisions made should be scrutinised in order to learn lessons from them.

In response to the motion, Mr Drakeford said: “It is absolutely necessary that the questions that those families have are properly scrutinised and answered. 

“But the way in which that is best done, indeed the only way in which that can fully be done, I continue to believe, is through a UK Covid-19 inquiry.

“The reason why the UK inquiry is able to do the work in the way that it will be able to do is because of the agreement we made with the UK Government so that, as the prime minister of the time Boris Johnson said, it would guarantee that the UK inquiry would have a significant Welsh dimension to everything that it did.”

Mr Drakeford said the Welsh Government would support the establishment of a  “special purpose committee” should concerns arise over whether the UK-wide inquiry could adequately cover Wales, although he added this should be done after the completion of the UK-wide investigation.

The motion received 27 votes in favour and 27 against, with no abstentions. The presiding officer cast the deciding vote, voting against the motion.