Local Welsh Labour MP, Chris Elmore, has again called for daily Downing Street briefings on the UK Government’s response to COVID-19 to improve the way ministers communicate information on devolved issues.
During the most recent session of Wales Questions, Chris urged the Welsh Secretary to ensure that UK Government Ministers improved the way through which they provide information regarding devolved policy areas. Concerns have been raised regarding the lack of differentiation between devolved and reserved policy areas by the UK Government since the Coronavirus pandemic began.
Chris Elmore MP said:
“It’s never been more important for the public to be properly informed about the latest public health advice and the financial support available to them. While responding to this pandemic has largely been undertaken via a four-nation approach, the delivery of much of the financial support available remains devolved and it’s vital that UK Government Ministers properly recognise this when providing briefings.
“The media has a role to play here too. Far too often, we hear references to the “UK Health Minister” from UK media outlets which can cause confusion among the wider public. It’s important that this is addressed in the challenging weeks and months ahead.”
Last month, several Welsh Labour MPs joined forces to write to the Prime Minister, asking him to prevent “mixed messages” at official briefings. They called on the government to:
· Clearly state during every policy announcement whether it is England-only or UK-wide.
· Strive for as great a degree of unanimity as possible between the four UK nations before a policy is announced to prevent the need for clarification after the official announcement.
· Ensure all government websites, advice notes, policy announcements, and media campaigns make absolutely clear what applies to where and encourage broadcasters and journalists to use a common branding for UK-wide and devolved policies.
The Ogmore MP does not believe the situation has significantly improved since the group sent the letter and he will be continuing to pursue this issue.