Wales politics

UKIP to chair assembly climate change committee despite scepticism

Mark Reckless
Image caption Mark Reckless is set to be the chair of the assembly climate change committee

A UKIP AM will chair the assembly's Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee under a cross-party deal.

The news has prompted anger from Labour AM Lee Waters who described the move as "appalling" given the party questions whether climate change is man made.

But UKIP said the group was "allocated to us without our being consulted".

It is one of 13 committees divided among the parties based on the number of AMs they have.

A Labour AM will chair six of the committees, including education, Plaid Cymru three, including health and the Conservatives two, including economy.

UKIP's sole chairmanship will be the climate change committee - with the group agreeing that Mark Reckless will be the party's candidate.

Assembly committees scrutinise the activities of the Welsh Government.

Llanelli AM Mr Waters said: "I am appalled that a party that doesn't believe in climate change is man made... should be chairing the assembly committee responsible for it.

"Lots of people are very unhappy about it.

"The fact is that people voted for UKIP in large numbers and they have a significant group here. The way the assembly works is on a consensual basis and as a result they are entitled to one of the chairs."

But he added: "UKIP are a party that don't believe that human activity has worsened climate change, and they don't believe in supporting policies to tackle its worst effects.

"It's a responsibility we have to future generations, which is one of the reasons I came into politics."

Welsh Party leader Nathan Gill, now an AM, said last year: "We don't agree that man is responsible for changing the climate.

"We think it's hubris and we also think that governments have realised this is a great way of taxing people and people will say 'thank you for taxing us because you're going to save the world'."

Wales Green Party leader Alice Hooker-Stroud said putting a UKIP politician in charge of a climate change committee was "absolutely ridiculous".

"It makes a complete mockery of Welsh politics and today I am ashamed to be governed by a group that could make this decision," she said.

'Any objection'

A UKIP spokesman said the party was "exceptionally committed to the responsibility we have for future generations, which is why we advocated leaving the EU, and are pleased the majority of voters in Wales agreed with us".

He added: "If Mr Waters has any objection to UKIP chairing the committee, his criticism is of his own party's business manager, Jane Hutt, who agreed this allocation without consulting us.

"As a smaller group we were able to agree amongst ourselves who should be chair of the committee, and the consensus was it should be Mark Reckless."

AMs approved the deal on Tuesday, with the individual chairs being elected by secret ballot on Wednesday.

Presiding Officer Elin Jones said: "This move will result in an open and transparent process for electing committee chairs which significantly increases their authority and independence.

"That provides the assembly with a firm foundation from which the Assembly Commission's ambition of delivering robust and meaningful scrutiny can be achieved."

Deputy Presiding Officer Ann Jones will chair the Scrutiny of the First Minister Committee.

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