Wales politics

Transparency in Welsh politics a 'tick-box exercise'

Daran Hill and Prof Laura McAllister
Image caption Daran Hill and Prof Laura McAllister criticised the Welsh government's transparency

Democratic transparency has been treated as a "tick-box exercise" by the Welsh government, a political commentator has said.

Daran Hill said the current Assembly is the least transparent since devolution began in 1999.

Devolution expert Prof Laura McAllister also said the level of scrutiny across Welsh politics is poor.

But Minister for Government Business Jane Hutt said it treats transparency as "a priority".

'Immature culture'

Mr Hill told BBC's The Wales Report programme on Wednesday: "I've found the fourth Assembly to be the most-closed and the least-transparent one that I've seen.

"A tone has been set whereby transparency has become more of a tick-box exercise, rather than something that's vibrant and energetic."

Prof McAllister, Professor of Governance at Liverpool University, echoed his concerns, saying: "It's a pretty immature culture of scrutiny that we have at the moment.

Image caption Minister for Government Business Jane Hutt said it treats transparency as a 'priority'

"And, in my opinion, that's because we haven't really got to grips with the need to have proper forensic and strategic critique of everything we do post devolution."

Their criticism was partly prompted by the Welsh government's decision to stop publishing ministerial Decision Reports.

These made public the facts and analysis upon which ministers based their decisions.

However, the government said hardly anyone read them and pressure on resources meant ministerial advice needed to be streamlined.

'Real test'

It also pointed out that cabinet papers and other documents informing decision-making processes continued to be published.

Jane Hutt said: "It's a priority of the Welsh government to be open and transparent, and I think it's very important.

"This is a real test of devolution, that we are open, we're transparent, that people know what we're doing."

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