Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Scrutiny, Energy and the National Assembly for Wales

For the last few months the Environment and Sustainability Committee has been undertaking work on an enquiry into energy in Wales, and in particular renewable energy in Wales.  I will not pre-empt the conclusions of that work.  However today we sat in private session.  That session was to discuss areas on which we may wish to ask questions of the Ministers concerned.  Next week we will have 4 Ministers in front of us. Carwyn Jones, Edwina Hart, John Griffiths and Carl Sargeant.  In total we will be given 30 minutes with each.  This undermines the democratic accountability of the Assembly.  It means that the Ministers will not have sustained and detailed questioning about current policies such as TAN 8.  For those who feel that there is a lack of accountability for Ministers decisions both to the Assembly, and outside the Assembly, I would say that you are right.  I have raised the issue of scrutiny and timetabling today....... we shall see what the result is later (if any). The public in Wales need to know that Ministers should be accountable and are being scrutinised, from my experience to date, I would say that the current new structure of Assembly Committees is not delivering that for the public in Wales.  The First Minister in the last 6 months has not made a single oral statement to the Assembly on Energy.  No one has held him to account for this.  He has not been properly questioned by Assembly Members, and when there has been a chance, there have been severe and inappropriate time constraints.    For communities accross Wales facing large windfarm and other energy developments, you should be aware that debate and scrutiny on these issues is not reflecting the concerns as expressed so publicly by you.  30 mintues for each Minister is not enough for proper democratic accountability.