Once again this week we have been forced to ask ourselves whether Ieuan Wyn Jones is in fact the weakest of the four Plaid Cymru Government Ministers? Is he up to the job he has taken on?
Avid readers of this blog (and believe it or not your numbers are growing) will recall previous articles about the Deputy First Minister’s aversion to scrutiny and in particular his failure to deliver a timely and efficient service to Welsh business and to Assembly Members.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams revealed last month that Welsh government statistics revealed in a Freedom of Information request show that the Mr. Jones failed to reply to over a quarter (28%) of his correspondence while other Ministers receiving more and slightly less correspondence were answering over 90% in the target 17 working days.
On Tuesday, in First Minister’s question time Kirsty made a similar point about a specific company in her constituency:
The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats (Kirsty Williams): We continue to see bad news on the job market front, from the loss of manufacturing jobs in north Wales through to further cuts in the financial sector in Cardiff today. In my constituency last week, the manufacturing company Benson Heating went into administration. Despite that, there is some hope of rescuing the majority of the 50 jobs in that particular business. An e-mail from the company said:
‘To restart the business the issue is, as you would expect, obtaining sufficient funding. In this current economic climate it is not easy to gain support’.
It also said that time is of the essence. Incidentally, First Minister, despite my urgently e-mailing the Deputy First Minister and ringing his department to speak to the top civil servant, I have yet to hear of any action being taken to help that particular business. Could you tell us what progress you are making—despite the general lack of progress—on banks lending to businesses to keep their cash flow going and to ensure that businesses can restart or maintain their current position?
Incredibly, the Deputy First Minister’s response was to accuse Kirsty of attacking his civil servants. He then went on to demand an apology whilst at the same time admitting that he had the information she had requested on him in the chamber, the details of which he failed to share with Kirsty or anybody else.
As of close of play last night neither Kirsty nor her office had had a reply to their query despite the fact that there are 50 jobs at stake, nor does she know what the Economic Development Minister is doing to help the business concerned. Is it any wonder that people are questioning the way that he is doing his job?