8. Plaid Cymru Debate: Cap on political donations

– in the Senedd at on 1 May 2024.

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(Translated)

The following amendment has been selected: amendment 1 in the name of Jane Hutt.

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 5:04, 1 May 2024

(Translated)

Item 8 is next, the Plaid Cymru debate on a cap on political donations. Rhun ap Iorwerth is to move the motion.

(Translated)

Motion NDM8561 Heledd Fychan

To propose that the Senedd:

1. Notes a donation of £200,000 made to the First Minister during the Welsh Labour leadership election, and its declaration on the Member’s Register of Interests.

2. Believes that this donation does not meet with public approval.

3. Agrees that there should be an annual maximum cap on the political donations that any individual Member of the Senedd can receive from any individual or entity.

4. Calls on the Business Committee and the Standards of Conduct Committee to bring forward proposals for changes to the Senedd’s Standing Orders and the Members’ Code of Conduct that would put the cap into effect.

(Translated)

Motion moved.

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru 5:04, 1 May 2024

(Translated)

Thank you very much, Llywydd. We also note how incredible it is that the First Minister himself isn't here to listen to these debates this afternoon.

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru

The average property price in Wales is £225,000, so you can buy a house for that or you can use a similar amount to build your case to be leader of the Labour Party in Wales—an internal party election; the sum is eye-watering. We've seen nothing like it in Welsh politics.

Two-hundred thousand pounds is not only out of kilter with what the public would deem acceptable, but it also dwarfs the size of donations given to recent successful and unsuccessful candidates for the Labour Party leadership in Wales. Carwyn Jones and Mark Drakeford won their contest having received between £10,000 and £20,000. I can tell you that, in Plaid Cymru, the cap for an election like that is £5,000. Donations to Jeremy Miles's campaign, although a significant amount, came, in total, to less than a third of what Vaughan Gething received from one donor.

We can safely assume that money like that could have a material impact on the result, and not just who became the Labour leader in Wales, but, ultimately, on who became First Minister. Yes, Labour has admitted that some questions need to be asked, but the review will be conducted by a former leader of Labour in Wales, who you would expect to gravitate perhaps towards maintaining party discipline, rather than rocking the boat.

Plaid Cymru's motion today calls for a cap on individual political donations. Carwyn Jones has said that his internal review will consider that. So, I must say it's so disappointing that Labour here today would seek to delete our motion in its entirety, seemingly rejecting any cap outright, without even suggesting, in their amendment, that they're happy with exploring the idea. Nothing in the Government's amendment gives even the slightest nod to the fact that donations of hundreds of thousands of pounds are in any way problematic. 

In defending the donation yesterday, the First Minister glibly said that the issue wasn't a priority for the people of Wales, his contention being that they're more concerned with the cost-of-living crisis. He may not be able to square that circle, but during the campaign, Lee Waters rightly did when he said, and I quote:

'I'm sorry but £200k on an internal election in a cost of living crisis is completely unjustifiable.'

I agree with him. I echo those sentiments. And we're left to question the future direction of policy making, frankly, if a Labour First Minister can't find it within himself to acknowledge that him accepting hundreds of thousands of pounds to meet his own ends, when so many can hardly make ends meet, calls into question his political antennae. 

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru 5:07, 1 May 2024

(Translated)

This chapter raises broader concern about the fundamental health of our democracy. There is a risk of a poison affecting our politics here. The lack of regulation of funding in politics is a problem, and we must truly guard against politics becoming a game in Wales that can be played by those who want to buy influence only, or to give the impression that political favours are being bought. Even if the individuals themselves, as the First Minister in this case says he is, are determined to ensure that there is no conflict of interest in reality, the impression and the optics are so important here.

Canada, France, Ireland, Estonia and Slovenia—according to the research that we've been doing over the last few weeks—are all examples of nations that have put measures in place to limit the donations that individuals can accept. They're all different systems tailored to their own political needs, and we have an opportunity here in Wales to plan and to agree on rules that are most appropriate to our democracy. It is within the gift of the Senedd to present motions to change Senedd Standing Orders, and the Members' code of conduct, which would put a cap. In doing so, we should jointly plan the system with those people whose trust we are asking for: the public. With the support of the public, we can agree on a cap that allows the necessary level of political activity and agree on a level that the public considers to be reasonable.

If you agree that money, or lack of money, shouldn't be a barrier for people to enter politics, if you agree that money, or lack of money, should not affect one's ability to either develop a policy platform or to influence the route through political ranks, and if you agree that it's not possible to justify a donation of £200,000 to an individual's campaign to become First Minister, then I urge you to support the motion today.

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 5:10, 1 May 2024

Firstly, I need to ask the Trefnydd to propose formally amendment 1. 

(Translated)

Amendment NDM8561-1 Jane Hutt

Delete all and replace with:

To propose that the Senedd:

1. Notes that Members of the Senedd have a responsibility to declare interests on the Members’ Register of Interests and to identify such declarations where relevant in written and oral contributions to Senedd Business.

2. Notes that members are also required to check that donations of £500 or more are from permissible donors and report full details of those over £2230 to the Electoral Commission.

3. Recognises that political parties, and their constituent governing bodies, are responsible for setting and monitoring compliance with rules which go beyond existing legal requirements.

4. Calls on the Standards of Conduct Committee to continue to ensure that the highest standards of conduct are observed by all Members.

(Translated)

Amendment 1 moved.

Photo of Andrew RT Davies Andrew RT Davies Conservative

I welcome the opportunity to contribute in another debate on an issue that has captured many people’s imaginations outside of this place as well as much Plenary time and debating time as well. I’ll put on record for the second time this afternoon my disappointment that the First Minister isn’t here to respond to this important debate, because it clearly is another debate that sits within his portfolio of responsibilities. I did invite the Trefnydd to give us the reason why he hasn’t come here in the previous debate, and there might be a perfectly legitimate reason why he’s not here, but at least give us the courtesy of a response to that question so that we can be satisfied that it’s of such urgency and magnitude that he cannot show us the courtesy to come and address the points that have been put to him today. I hope Members, even speaking in support of the First Minister, would agree that this is an important debate, and the previous one is, and the First Minister should be here responding to it given it’s his ministerial responsibility.

I said in my previous contribution that the public are rightly anxious and concerned about the news—. Hefin David, the Member for Caerphilly, points to the gallery as if there’s no-one up there. There are actually three more people up there than there were for Senedd reform yesterday, when we were told we were talking about historic legislation, and there wasn’t anyone. Oh, sorry—I missed the people sitting over there. There are five people in the public gallery today. To dismiss it so flippantly and say that the public aren’t concerned most probably shows the detachment of the current First Minister, and his supporters’ inability to grasp what is going on in the voters’ minds when it comes to this. [Interruption.] I’ll gladly take the intervention.

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour 5:12, 1 May 2024

What I find difficult about some of this is the hypocrisy. Your party took £10 million from someone who said they were going to shoot black people. They wanted to shoot black women. How do you feel about that? 

Photo of Andrew RT Davies Andrew RT Davies Conservative

Anyone who makes those comments should never be near a political party or take those donations. I agree with the point that you just made. But we are debating here an issue about an individual, because as I said in my speech in the previous debate, this money wasn't given to a political party. This money was given to an individual to secure a position that ultimately would secure the leadership of the country that he lives in and is proud to represent, just like all of us are. That is the point we are talking about here, and it is about judgment—the judgment call that the now First Minister made in the knowledge that this individual who made this substantial donation had two criminal convictions from the company that he owns, and also had taken a loan from the Development Bank of Wales for £400,000, and in the same year gave a £200,000 donation to the leadership campaign.

And as I said in First Minister’s questions yesterday, if you read the annualised accounts of this company, it highlights one of the benefits that the company sees going forward is in legislation, and legislation to improve the prospects of that company. They’re not my words—they’re in the accounts that are filed at Companies House, which highlight what the company wants to achieve. So the company has put £200,000 in a pot that it identifies is a route to maybe having the ability to influence legislation that governs the prospects and profitability of that company. That’s there. That’s in their own words. You can’t dismiss that.

And as we saw in First Minister’s questions yesterday, the Gwent levels were raised by John Griffiths, and we saw then Julie Morgan from Cardiff North highlighting the taxi firm that also made a substantial donation of £25,000. How many areas are going to be out of bounds for the First Minister to speak on because he has this conflict of interest, because of this level of donation and taking of money to secure the role of First Minister?

That is the debate, and that is the discussion. It’s about judgment and a solution, then, to put in place to find that independent opinion that will either say, ‘No, there is no conflict of interest in terms of the ministerial code here, and there is no perception of a breach of that code’—. Because it is important that perception appears within that ministerial code. It’s worded there, it was read in the summing up of the last debate, and in my opening remarks, and the Trefnydd didn’t respond to that point whatsoever. She just regurgitated many of the arguments that have been put forward by the Government that, frankly, haven't silenced the critics when it comes to this particular point. And many of those critics aren't wearing blue rosettes, they're not wearing yellow rosettes, they're not wearing green rosettes—they're wearing red rosettes, and that is an important distinction on this issue, which is something I do admire in the Labour Party, which is the discipline and the collective responsibility that you will always take to make sure that you continue in Government. But here, you can clearly see that there is wrongdoing going on in taking this donation that has had an impact on your prospects. And I am just amazed again with this motion that the Government have put a 'delete all' amendment down to it. 

We will be abstaining on this motion because we believe there's more work to do around the cap on donations. We don't believe it is wrong to consider a cap, but does the scope of the debate today have the ability to capture all the sentiment that is required to understand what the instruction and the scope of the work that the Business Committee and the standards committee will do? And so that's why the Conservatives will be abstaining on the motion, but we'd be prepared to carry on working with Plaid Cymru and any other parties, so that the Senedd can take this work forward with a clearer understanding of the remit of the instruction, so that we get a goal at the end of it rather than it disappears down a rabbit hole and we don't get the solution that we all want to see. 

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour 5:16, 1 May 2024

Andrew R.T. Davies has made the same speech twice now, and it doesn't get better with repetition. I do need to respond to Sam Kurtz's point. The Development Bank of Wales said the loan—he was in the same committee I was, so he should have remembered it—the money, was allocated for a specific purpose that it was loaned for and could not be spent on any other matter because there was an audit trail. [Interruption.] Well, you can't perceive something that's already been proven not to be the case; there is no perception. 

So, I'd like to address two issues: public approval and the annual maximum cap, because I think they are serious issues that do need to be addressed and I will finish with my views on it. And I know that my colleague Vikki Howells, as chair of the standards committee, will address the final point of the motion.

Public approval—well, I think the problem we've got is if we start looking at these things from this lens, you're going to be bringing down the whole of this Senedd and damaging the Senedd's reputation across the political groups, because in 2019 £140,000 was donated to Plaid Cymru by Julian Dunkerton, co-founder of Superdry, and in 2022 that company had to pay £96,208 to a female employee after being found guilty of unfair dismissal and age discrimination. Now, the thing about that, businesses—they have these kinds of histories. Do we then say 'no' to all donations? [Interruption.] I'm not taking an intervention.

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

I'll come back to that in a second—

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru

[Inaudible.]—to respond.

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

I think this needs to be highlighted. Just to be clear, I'm not criticising you for it. I'm not making a criticism. What I'm saying is—. [Interruption.] Two seconds. Let me just finish what I'm saying. This needs to show the inconsistencies that different Members in different parties are expected to comply with. 

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru 5:18, 1 May 2024

If you're taking an intervention. I'm grateful to you for taking an intervention. You draw attention to one particular donation. I have to point out a number of things: (a) that was a party donation rather than an individual donation, which is what we're talking about today, and it pales into insignificance, by the way, compared to gifts and donations given to the Labour Party. That is a donation that was accepted three years before concerns were raised about employment rights.

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

You don't need to defend yourself. 

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru

The First Minister accepted this—three times the amount accepted by Plaid Cymru, after convictions for environmental crimes were pointed out. He also says that the questions around the Plaid Cymru donor—

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

This is more than an intervention now. 

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

This is a speech. [Interruption.] No, this is a speech. 

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

I'm happy, Llywydd, to—. Whatever he's unhappy with about what I've said—

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru

No, no. Let Rhun quickly finish. 

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru

I will quickly. And this specifically is around employers' rights. The First Minister also accepted £25,000 from Veezu taxi who have been the subject of complaints about employment rights within the last year.

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

Right. So, first of all, I'm happy to accept whatever he says, but it isn't the subject of the motion; the subject of the motion is a cap on donations. It isn't the subject of—. It doesn't actually mention the issues being raised—[Interruption.]

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

Okay, let's talk about individual donations then. On 10 March 2014, Ynys Môn Plaid Cymru received £121,891.43—[Interruption]. No. It received £121,891.43 from an individual—Ynys Môn Plaid Cymru. It was a few months after Rhun ap Iorwerth had been elected, in August, to this Senedd Chamber. It's on the Electoral Commission's website and, again, I'm not criticising that—[Interruption.] But the total donation to one constituency party—[Interruption.] The total donation to one constituency party—[Interruption.]

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 5:20, 1 May 2024

It's for the Member to accept an intervention or not.

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

I'm not accepting an intervention. [Interruption.] I'm not accepting an intervention. [Interruption.] So, the total donation to one constituency party—

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru

Sit down, Rhun ap Iorwerth.

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

—of £141,584.92 from one donor. Now, I can tell you the Caerphilly constituency party has probably got about £3,000 or £,4000 in the bank—I'm sure Delyth will be glad to know. But the Ynys Môn party was receiving a donation from the Electoral Commission for a total of £141,000. Now, why, then, didn't Rhun ap Iorwerth say, in 2013, when he had this in the bank in his constituency party, that there should've been a cap on donations then? It's an interesting question. [Interruption.] No. Because what I'm saying—. I'm not taking an intervention, no. I'm not being shouted down, Llywydd. Llywydd, I'm being shouted down by two sides for making reasonable points in a debate. [Interruption.]

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 5:21, 1 May 2024

[Inaudible.]—shouted down by anybody other than me. You carry on, Hefin David.

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

Thank you, Llywydd.

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru

You can sit down now, Rhun ap Iorwerth.

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

So, we do ask, 'Why didn't he raise the cap on donations then?' It's a reasonable question to ask, and I don't criticise him for it. If your constituency party receives that kind of money, then, absolutely fine, but don't be hypocritical. Let's remember that sanctimony is a close cousin of hypocrisy, and if you engage with sanctimony, sooner or later you're going to bump into hypocrisy, as Plaid Cymru have, unfortunately, today. [Interruption. ] No, I'm out of time.

So, what I would say is I don't really agree with the idea of publicly funded—getting the taxpayer to fund—political parties; I don't think that's right. But having said that, it is an interesting point that Plaid Cymru make in their motion. I won't be supporting it, because I think you would need to look at it in much more detail before you ask taxpayers to fund political parties and, indeed, individual candidates. But I think we do need to recognise the hypocrisy on all sides of the Chamber, both sides of the Chamber, here today, and if you just avoid sanctimony, you can avoid that. If we care about our democracy today, now's the time to move on.

Photo of Adam Price Adam Price Plaid Cymru 5:22, 1 May 2024

I think that was a very poor contribution from my fellow Senedd Commissioner. I hope he wouldn't mind me saying that at the outset.

Look, money in politics, concerns about it—it's been one of the drivers of what we were talking about yesterday, the collapse in trust in democracy and in politicians, in politics. We've mostly been immune from it in Wales, because there haven't been many people with deep pockets that wanted to invest in politics. We now have that problem, as a result of what's happened, and I think it's important that we have a mature discussion about how we solve that problem.

There's been reference to approval ratings, hasn't there, in the context of what we're talking about. Look, set aside the party-political knockabout that we've just heard, right? Let's elevate the discussion to what's really important. I'm not really, in the short term, medium or long term, that interested in individual politicians' approval ratings or even parties; I am really concerned about the public approval for this institution and for our Welsh democracy. And, look, just objectively, I think it's very difficult to deny that that trust in our politics will have taken a hit, as a result of this donation and everything surrounding. I'm trying to be objective and step back here. I think it's undoubtedly the case. What this motion is trying to do is to come up with a solution to that, right?

We don't have the power to legislate in relation to campaign donations, political donations; that's reserved to Westminster. But we do have the power over our own Standing Orders and our code of conduct, which is what this motion is suggesting: that we actually introduce a cap in relation to that. Because there will be people out there, in a close election, who will perceive that the leadership of the Government, the leading position, the First Minister's job, was bought as a result of a donation. Political donations are given for one of two reasons. In one case, you have high net-worth individuals that actually have genuine—. You know, they have a record of political engagement, they strongly believe in a particular cause, a political party—that's one case. The other one is, suddenly, out of nowhere, they sign a cheque, and you're left wondering, 'Why did I sign that cheque?' Does anyone know why David Neal gave this money to Vaughan Gething? Because I certainly don't, and I think many people will be asking that question.

We have to respond to this situation collectively, across parties, and the way we do that is to set a cap on what's acceptable for Members of the Senedd to receive. I'm disappointed the Conservatives aren't able to support it now, but I hope, in further discussion, that they will. Certainly, on the Labour benches—set aside what's happened for one minute, and think about the future. Think about the future. You say you want to move on. Well, think about moving on, right? Think about actually having rules, so that we can go out there and we can all be proud of the rules that we have over our democracy in Wales.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life proposed a cap on individual donations—the kind of caps that, as Rhun said, exist in many, many countries. I think in Ireland it's as low as—what is it? About €250—it's a few hundred euros. Look, we can do that in Wales for our Senedd. That's what the Committee on Standards in Public Life was calling for 13 years ago, and it was blocked in Westminster. We have the power to set a different standard here in terms of our democracy because no-one should ever be left thinking that money talks, that money is able to control the future of our politics, of our democracy. It's in all of our interests, every party represented here, all of us who believe in our democracy, that we do what this motion says: we set a standard for our democracy in Wales that says that money, access to money, should never play any part in the future of our country; we do things differently here based on one person, one vote, not the size of a chequebook deciding our political future.

Photo of Vikki Howells Vikki Howells Labour 5:27, 1 May 2024

I want to make it clear that I'll be speaking this afternoon in my capacity, and solely in my capacity, as Chair of the Standards of Conduct Committee, and I will be addressing the points in the motion, which refer specifically to that committee.

As Chair of the standards committee, I welcome any debate about Member accountability; it serves as an important reminder to all Members of their responsibility to register and declare both registerable and relevant interests to ensure maximum transparency and confidence in this Senedd.

The register of interests is key in allowing the public to see the interests held by Members. The guidance on the registration, declaration and recording of financial and other interests is quite clear that these requirements are neither optional nor voluntary. Standing Order 2 sets out the requirements for Members in terms of registering and declaring interests, and the annex to that Standing Order has 10 categories of registerable interest. There is also a requirement to register relevant interests captured under Standing Orders 13.8A and 17.24A. This is broader in scope than the requirements under Standing Order 2. And candour is essential from each of us in deciding whether a declaration is required under this Standing Order or not. The committee has a responsibility for ensuring that the register is maintained and accessible. We have periodically reviewed the requirements on Members, and we will continue to ensure that regular reviews of the register and the registration process are undertaken. 

Last summer, as part of this review process, the committee ran a public consultation on registration and declaration of interests. The evidence we gathered from this consultation raised a number of issues that we are in the process of taking forward. These include, for example, the need for Members to now add an estimated value for gifts and hospitality, as well as the introduction of a new miscellaneous category to allow Members to register matters that may be of interest to the public, but which are not captured elsewhere in the register. This consultation was shaped in part from issues brought to the committee's attention by Members on the registration and declaration of interests. The responses received highlighted a need for some changes to what interests are registered and the information that needs to be provided and published to ensure maximum transparency. We will be looking carefully at best practice elsewhere to ensure that the Senedd's register is as transparent, if not more so, as those of comparable Parliaments. The committee will therefore be bringing forward proposals to amend the registration requirements as set out in Standing Orders for the seventh Senedd.

Alongside the responsibilities of the committee and the Senedd, the Electoral Commission, of course, also has an important role in regulating donations and loans to political parties and politicians. Currently, the Senedd and the Electoral Commission require different levels of detail of Members when registering the same donations, so we will look to ensure consistency in this regard in future.

The committee is always happy to consider any input from Members or others in our work on the register of interests, so I would like to encourage Members to continue to engage with the committee as our work on this matter progresses. Diolch.

Photo of Heledd Fychan Heledd Fychan Plaid Cymru 5:31, 1 May 2024

I particularly want to just thank you, Adam, for just bringing the debate back to what's important here, and reflecting as well, whilst listening, both to the previous debate and this one, about some of the debates we've been having, looking at Senedd reform, about the barriers to participation, why people don't stand for election currently, and why we don't reflect the whole of the population. And some of that is money, because how many people can afford to take unpaid leave? How many of us actually went into debt standing for election and started here with a minus bank account? Because that is the reality for some people here, and many of those that weren't successful in being elected here. And I'm passionate about ensuring that money should never be a barrier to anyone thinking that they couldn't be here.

But neither should money be a barrier for anybody wanting to be First Minister of our country. Every child in Wales that visits here, when we go into schools, should also be able to believe that they could, one day, be First Minister. That's something we tell them. But if they look at the donations here—and many of them are interested in this, they've picked up on it, just as they did with 20 mph—. To think we're not talking about £200,000 are we, really, we're talking about £321,600 in cash, £24,200 in kind, for one leadership campaign—that's really difficult to justify. When we are going round our constituencies and regions, yes, the issues that the First Minister wants us to discuss, such as cost of living, are what we're seeing, but how can we say that we're addressing some things but act in a different way? And I think that's the crux of the matter here—that something has happened that we can debate whether any rules were broken, but the current First Minister's judgment has to be brought into question, and that's why this question isn't going away, and why we need to take steps to restore trust.

The review into campaign finance we need is public, and it should be answerable to the people of Wales, not the membership of the Labour Party. We are calling today, therefore, for the Senedd to up its game, to ensure that our democracy, as has been said, cannot be bought. We know the damage that questionable campaign finances can have on our democratic institutions. It's been brought into sharp focus in recent weeks. And as we've already heard, there are many international examples of best practice that we might look to draw on as we seek to prevent any further undermining of the integrity of Welsh democracy. Isn't it apt that we have this debate at a time of Senedd reform where we talk about making ourselves more accountable, more representative? Well, why not ensure that we are completely different in terms of donations as well? We are calling for that cap on political donations that any individual Members of the Senedd can receive from any individual or entity, and I see no reason why this proposal should not garner the support of all of us in this Siambr.

I know that Members across the Senedd, including on the Labour benches, have been deeply troubled by the First Minister's poor judgment and also the impact this whole sorry episode has had on the faith of the people we represent. It has undermined public trust in our democracy. And therefore I would invite you to join us on the road to restoring that trust. It is disappointing that the First Minister isn't here. It is disappointing that the First Minister seems to dismiss the concerns raised, rather than address them head on: £321,600 in cash, £24,200 in kind—do we really think that's acceptable to become First Minister? I certainly don't, and neither does anyone that I represent, that I've spoken to on this matter—and people have views, trust me, in Pontypridd market, on this issue. So, let's ensure this never happens again. But the questions remain, and I think the First Minister has to pay that money back, because, if we want to move on, that's the only way that trust can truly be restored. And he can't continue to dismiss this. This is a serious issue, and he should be here to answer, and he should pay the money back.

Photo of Lee Waters Lee Waters Labour 5:36, 1 May 2024

I've been struggling to process my feelings about the issues before us today, and this is a speech I would rather have avoided. Immediately on the news of the donation coming out, I said I thought it was unjustifiable and wrong—that's a matter of record—and I've not changed my view. Two hundred thousand pounds is a staggering amount of money, unprecedented in Welsh politics, and over four times larger than the £45,000 spending cap the Labour Party set to ensure a fair contest. And the fact it came from a waste company with a conviction for damaging the Gwent levels, at a time when some of us were fighting hard to protect this sensitive area, really shocked me. Genuinely, it shocked me.

Now, the First Minister has said that the donations to his campaign were checked and filed properly with the Electoral Commission and declared to the Senedd and there is no case to answer. But I think the issue is not whether the paperwork was correct; the issue is whether the judgment was correct. Now, I welcome the appointment of Carwyn Jones to look at the rules for future elections, and the suggestion in Plaid's motion of a spending cap for each of us is worthy of consideration, but to agree to it today would prejudge the review. And I suspect he may well come up with something similar, but I want to give that process time to test the arguments properly and to consider unintended consequences. So, I won't support the Plaid motion. I will support the Government. But I hope the First Minister reflects on my concerns and takes them in the spirit that they're intended.

The Conservative motion, as Hefin David quite rightly said, is based on a false premise. As a former Minister in the economy department, I know that decisions on loans from the development bank are made at arm's length, precisely to avoid conflicts of interest. So, the First Minister is absolutely spot on about that. And the Tories, if I may say, would have more credibility if they had stood up when the last two Home Secretaries, the Chancellor, and even the former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, were not just accused of breaking the ministerial code but were judged to have actually broken the ministerial code. But what did Rishi Sunak and the Welsh Conservatives have to say about that? Not a dicky-bird.

So, we can all see through their double standards, but the reason I'm speaking this afternoon is because we're meant to be better than that. The point about devolution, this place—a Parliament we have created from scratch—is that we set higher standards. Twenty-five years ago, we talked of devolution as the beginning of a new politics, but the reputation of politics and politicians seems to be lower than ever. The First Minister has said that he does not believe his approval ratings have been affected by the controversy, and I must say that surprised me and it troubled me. Whether the polls bear that out or not, it really isn't the point. Surely the question isn't what any of us can get away with; it's what is right. And the fact that some voters just shrug their shoulders—that's what should worry us. Far from being an endorsement, I fear it's a reflection that we are all tarred with the same brush. And we all get it: 'You're all the same,' 'You're in it for yourselves,' 'You're on the make.' Not only is it demoralising for many of us who see politics as a genuine public service, a sacrifice, but it is also dangerous to the fabric of our democracy at a time when it's already under huge strain. Academics call it 'norm spoiling'. They say that when accepted standards of behaviours—norms—are undermined, it lowers expectations, and that lays the ground for a new set of weaker standards to take hold. That's why we need to confront this situation, and I'm deeply uncomfortable the way I'm now, in effect, being expected to endorse something I just think is wrong, and I haven't spoken out since the donation came to light 10 weeks ago, because I wanted to give time for the issue to be addressed, but it hasn't been.

So, to be clear: for me, this is not an issue of confidence, but it is an issue of conscience. We look to our leaders to model behaviour we want to see, to reflect our nation and to set an example. It's an awesome responsibility, and it's especially important in a democracy as young as ours. The ministerial code says, and I quote,

'ministers remain personally responsible for adhering to the Code and the decisions they take'.

It doesn't need an independent arbiter to uphold; it's a code of honour. Nor is the ministerial code a legal contract. The test isn't how to find a loophole; it's a code of ethics. Now, this situation can be put right. I hope it is put right. But the first step to solving any problem is to acknowledge that there is a problem. And it would not be a sign of weakness to say that it was a mistake to take the donation and, now all the facts are known, to give it back. It can still be done, in my view it should be done, and sometimes doing the right thing is the hardest thing, but you rarely regret it in the end. Diolch.

Photo of Delyth Jewell Delyth Jewell Plaid Cymru 5:41, 1 May 2024

A hundred and fifty miles from here, there is a palace on the Thames where the stench doesn't only come from the dirty water. In Westminster, the rot has seeped into the walls, bringing down the house with the weight of a corrupt and festering culture. We do not want our Senedd to be sullied with the same scandals that are common in Westminster. The whole point of devolution is that we can and should do things differently in Wales, that we can and should expect better for our Welsh democracy. More than a motorway should separate this Senedd from that rotting palace, the place of brown envelopes, cash for honours, illicit lobbyists, a place where, in the midst of a public health crisis, the Government set up a crooked VIP lane to make their rich friends richer, a place where policy can be bought and influence sold to the highest bidder, where—in the words of a former Cabinet Minister—an integrity vacuum has been created.

We should not seek to follow their example, because let's remind ourselves of that culture from which we must differentiate ourselves. Frank Hester gave at least £10 million to the Conservative Party in the past year. His healthcare technology firm TPP has been paid more than £400 million by the NHS and other Government bodies since 2016. He has profited from £135 million of contracts with the Department for Health and Social Care in less than four years. In March of this year, comments that Hester had made about a former Labour frontbencher, Diane Abbott, making him want to hate all black women, were reported by Abbott to the Metropolitan Police. Malik Karim, who has given the Conservatives £1.6 million since 2014, and is a former party treasurer, won two major contracts in 2023 through his finance firm Fenchurch Advisory, worth £1.5 million and £175,000 respectively, to advise the Post Office. These are all the examples from which we must differentiate ourselves.

Another Tory donor, Simon Blagden, was part of the Fujitsu leadership team at the time when postal workers were being wrongly convicted of false accounting and fraud by the Post Office because of its faulty software. Blagden was made chair of Building Digital UK, the Government agency responsible for delivering faster broadband in 2022, three years after his former company's software was found to have been at fault in what became the Horizon scandal. Since 2005, Blagden and companies he is closely associated with have donated £376,000 to the same party. During the COVID pandemic, Meller Designs Ltd, headed by Tory donor David Meller, who has donated more than £300,000 to the Conservative Party since 2009, was awarded—[Interruption.] What's this got to do—? I am saying why we need to differentiate ourselves from this. I will take the intervention, I will.

Photo of Janet Finch-Saunders Janet Finch-Saunders Conservative 5:44, 1 May 2024

This whole debate just shows—. You used the word 'pantomime' yesterday, and I'm really—. Oh, no, it was Heledd, actually. This debate is probably one of the worst debates I've ever sat through. When the First Minister decides to not even be here, that is an insult to this Chamber and the people of Wales. So, do you not—? Be honest with me now. How can anybody actually defend the indefensible in this Chamber, in this institution—

Photo of Delyth Jewell Delyth Jewell Plaid Cymru 5:45, 1 May 2024

Janet, I am in no way trying to defend that.

Photo of Janet Finch-Saunders Janet Finch-Saunders Conservative

—in this Senedd. It's nothing to do with the UK Parliament or Government, this. This is this Senedd, yes or no?

Photo of Delyth Jewell Delyth Jewell Plaid Cymru

Janet, I would not defend what you're discussing here, but I'm saying why this Senedd should be different, and we should be different from what's happening in Westminster, because the list—. I won't go on with those examples, but I could go on and on and on. Many of them were the result of the so-called COVID VIP lane, which gave those privileged donors access to key contracts. The public paid over the odds for those goods and services; they were all too often defective or ineffective. The UK Labour Party is not without fault either. Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves received a donation from prominent climate sceptic Lord Donoughue in the days before her party in Westminster dropped its £28 billion green energy spending commitment. 

Llywydd, this is precisely the kind of rot we should turn our backs on, not embrace. The kind of politics we should offer in Wales should be different, better, because this Senedd should be better than that. This Senedd must be better. We cannot allow our politics to follow the same path as Westminster; that way, ruin lies.

Photo of Jack Sargeant Jack Sargeant Labour 5:46, 1 May 2024

If I may, I'd like to focus my contribution on the importance of considering the unintended consequences of motions when they come to the floor of this Senedd. As we've heard already from many contributions, all parties of this Chamber have received donations far bigger than the particular donation in question this afternoon. In this debate, I think we have to consider what the consequences would be for donations provided by our trade union colleagues in particular, and, Presiding Officer, I'm proud to put on record my declaration of interest as a member of Unite the Union and Community union. Those are individual donations provided on behalf of thousands of workers across Wales on a democratic basis, and those donations are already subject to strict regulation. So, I do share the concerns of the trade unions, of the ones I've been in conversations with, when considering how proposals like the ones mentioned in this afternoon's motion from Plaid Cymru would work in practice.

As has been said already, and as I've said, all parties have had donations and received far larger single donations, which would not be captured by the cap proposed by the motion from Plaid Cymru, so we must consider this, as well, when voting on the motion this afternoon. Presiding Officer, we've heard lots of discussion around today, and it's an important discussion to have, no doubt, but I am disappointed in some Members who do seek to attack the integrity of the First Minister based on insinuation. Like many others in this Chamber, the First Minister has a proven record when it comes to fighting for social justice and fighting for workers' rights, and the governance of political donations is a subject that should be designed in a thoughtful and serious manner. It's not simply for political attacks in the Chamber by some. I say this as someone who likes political attacks as much as the next person in this Chamber.

I find myself reflecting throughout this debate on the contribution Adam Price made, a valued contribution to the debate, as it often is from Adam. Adam said in his contribution that he's seeking to find a solution to the issues around donations. I understand the premise of what Adam is trying to do; I don't think this motion does find the solution that you're looking for. That's my opinion, it's the opinion of many trade union colleagues that I have spoken to, and it's those unintended consequences that we have to look at. I will give way, because I did mention the Member.

Photo of Adam Price Adam Price Plaid Cymru 5:49, 1 May 2024

Let's be clear, in terms of the motion, we're not having that wider debate, which I understand, at Westminster, led the Labour Party to oppose a cap on individual donations for the reasons that he's outlined. What we're talking about here is donations to individual Members, yes? Not to political parties. Would he accept that there is a distinction there that would still allow the kind of trade union contributions to political parties that he's referring to, but would introduce a cap on individual donations to individual Members, to avoid the kind of problems that we're talking about?

Photo of Jack Sargeant Jack Sargeant Labour 5:50, 1 May 2024

I do understand where the Member is going with the argument. What I would say to the argument is that I don't think that distinction has been definitive enough for the trade union colleagues that I have spoken to about this debate. I don't think the motion finds the solution that you're looking for, and I can understand why, perhaps, you might be looking for it. But it doesn't find that solution there. The conversation needs to be had at a different level and with more involved. So, I won't be supporting the motion in front of us today. I think it's important to distinguish and reflect on the facts in a serious conversation, in a serious and forceful manner, rather than political attacks from some—not all, but some—today and in the past. And I hope we can reflect on that, Llywydd. Diolch.

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies Conservative 5:51, 1 May 2024

I originally wasn't going to speak, but I was strangely inspired to speak by the leader of Plaid Cymru's opening remarks, when he said that the average house price in Wales is £225,000. When you represent a constituency like the Vale of Clwyd, where I've got constituents who are living in the Westminster hotel in Rhyl; the average salary in Denbighshire is roughly about £20,000 per year, which is significantly lower than the national average minimum wage; I've got constituents still living with their parents at 30, who can't get on the housing ladder; I've got the worst-performing hospital in the worst-performing health board in Wales; and I represent similar communities to what some of the Labour Party Members do, and what message does that give out to people who are low-income families, who are working hard to keep a roof over their heads, if they have the luxury to do so? They have high waiting times, they struggle to see a doctor, a dentist, and all of that money that the leader of Plaid Cymru mentioned could remedy some of those problems. It would certainly buy a house in the Vale of Clwyd; it would get you a pretty good house, to be honest, £200,000. It would get you pretty far in Rhyl, actually, because a three-bed semi is, roughly, I don't know, £150,000 to £175,000 in some areas, so you'd probably get a bit of change out of that as well. So, where does it lead in terms of socialism, as well, which we talk about? Because we hear all the time from Labour Party Members, talking about poverty, which is great, which is fine—I'm not demeaning that at all—but what does it mean in terms of socialism? What's the Labour Party built on? What's socialism built on? It's built on fairness, it's built on equality, it's built on inclusion—

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies Conservative

Well, it was, Janet, yes. It certainly was. But what message does that even give out to your voters that £200,000 can buy you a seat at the Cabinet table and the most influential, the most powerful job in the land? [Interruption.] Yes, certainly, yes.

Photo of Llyr Gruffydd Llyr Gruffydd Plaid Cymru

I mean, you're absolutely right in your criticism, but imagine what you could buy with Tory money. [Laughter.]

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies Conservative

What sort of figures would you be talking about? Well, again, it's the—[Interruption.]

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 5:54, 1 May 2024

Allow the Member to carry on. I think he's being disturbed by his own Members at this point. Carry on, Gareth.

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies Conservative

Thank you, Llywydd. Again, it's the Party of Wales who are talking about—

Photo of Tom Giffard Tom Giffard Conservative

I think the question here, Gareth, is obviously on the money, as you've mentioned, but it's also on the judgment, I think, of the First Minister in this case. The First Minister, earlier today, I read in the Daily Express, said that he was aware that there was a conviction at the time he took that donation. So, his judgment is called into question and it is that same judgment that is being used every day in his role as First Minister. Is that not what we should be worried about, as well?

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies Conservative

Absolutely. And it brings an integrity issue. It's a good point you raised, Tom. But I'll just go back to that principle of socialism that we hear about all too often from Labour Members and the Government: what does that give to equality, what does that give to fairness, that £200,000 can buy you a seat at the Cabinet table and the most powerful job in the land? It doesn't send a good message out to the people of Wales, and my constituents, who genuinely struggle. My inbox is full of it; you can come and see it anytime you like. What message does that give out to the people of Wales, that £200,000 can get you the most powerful job in the land?

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 5:55, 1 May 2024

(Translated)

The Trefnydd to make a contribution. Jane Hutt.

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour

(Translated)

Thank you very much, Llywydd. In response to this debate, Llywydd, it has been good to talk about standards today. Scrutiny in an open and constructive way is welcomed.

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour

So, Llywydd, as the First Minister has repeatedly set out, all of the relevant rules have been complied with, and that's been acknowledged again this afternoon. I think, for the record, it's important to again state that the Welsh Government's propriety and ethics team has considered and responded to questions raised by Members, and are clear that no wrongdoing has taken place. And, as with all Ministers with registered interests, the First Minister will recuse himself from any involvement that presents any conflict of interest in the normal way.

Llywydd, the protections that are provided within our existing system are important. They're proactively upheld by Ministers, and that's been recognised in this debate.

Photo of Mabon ap Gwynfor Mabon ap Gwynfor Plaid Cymru

You say that there was no wrongdoing, and I accept that according to the rules there was no wrongdoing. Your colleagues have said that they wouldn't have accepted the money; Jeremy Miles, for instance, has said that. Would you have accepted the money?

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour

I think in terms of responding to this debate, Mabon, which I'm doing as Trefnydd, I was going to actually say, and I think you would welcome this, Mabon, that I'm very glad that this debate has, actually, constructively debated your motion. That's what you would expect and that's what Adam Price has asked us to do: that we, today, constructively—and that's what I'm doing in response to your intervention as well. This debate, I think, has been robust and it's been respectful. We'll see what—. You know, people who are watching us are recognising that we have to be respectful and robust in debating the Plaid motion.

I think it has also been really helpful, some of the engagement from Members. I'd like to thank Jack Sargeant, for example, for his contribution, because he acknowledges the important role—the integral role—played by trade unions in the Welsh Labour movement. Of course, can we just reflect on that for a moment, colleagues and Members? The Labour Party was, of course, founded by the trade union movement. It's a source of pride that the party is supported by the collective contribution of shop workers, steelworkers, council staff and health workers, among others.

Trade unions are highly regulated, but there are huge constraints placed upon them by your Government—anti-worker legislation as well, by your Government. But, also, those constraints are on issues like not just the internal operation of unions, but relating to political funding. I think, Jack, it's important that you recognised, and you stated the fact, that you've had feedback from trade unions that they provide funding based on the collective contribution of thousands of workers in the form of donations to Members, not always provided to an individual Senedd Member, but they're often delivered in that way and there's no reason why that should not be the case.

But it's the rules providing for transparency that are important on that point. Llywydd, any reform—and, again, it goes back to respectfully debating this motion this afternoon—any reform involving a cap should be considered very carefully, and it should be thought through by all parties today. I welcome the fact that this was acknowledged by the leader of the opposition today. So, you've opened a debate, and it's been respectfully discussed this afternoon. As we set out in our amendment to the motion, we believe that the current rules for transparency, for declaring and, where necessary, for notifying donations function very well in ensuring that there's openness and opportunity for scrutiny in this area. Our view is that existing requirements are sufficient to be binding upon all parties in the Senedd, and that above those it's the responsibility of each party to decide on the arrangements for its own business.

So, I will refer to the review that the First Minister has established, as leader of Welsh Labour. In fact, after winning the election to become leader of Welsh Labour, the First Minister established that review into the internal leadership contest arrangements. It was agreed by the Welsh executive committee, democratically elected by the party, and it will be chaired by our former First Minister Carwyn Jones. Can I just say that that review will include campaign finances, the length of contest, among other issues? I think it is right that parties—and this is learning for us all—work to create the best possible internal arrangements for leadership of their parties, and that's the work that my party, our party, is taking forward in that deliberative and democratic way.

In terms of responding to the debate today, we believe that this review is the right way forward, and it's been agreed with the democratic structures—

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour

—of the Labour Party. 

Photo of Alun Davies Alun Davies Labour

I'm grateful to you for that. I'm grateful to the First Minister for establishing this review—I think it is important. Carwyn Jones, of course, who's leading it, has already said he's going to investigate a cap on donations, and I think we look forward to seeing where he reaches with that. Do you also agree with me—because I think the points that Lee Waters made in his speech were very important—that we should also introduce the test of a fit-and-proper person from whom donations may be accepted?

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour 6:01, 1 May 2024

I'm grateful to Alun Davies for making that intervention today, because I think this is precisely why this debate can be respectful and can also feed back into the discussions and the review that will take place. As I said—and it goes back to what Andrew R.T. Davies said, actually—this is about thinking through; it's about thought-through reforms that I think we all need to take into account.

I would say, finally, Llywydd, that I want to, again, endorse the work of our cross-party standards committee, and I want to welcome and thank the Chair of the standards committee today, Vikki Howells. Let's look at this standards committee. We talked this afternoon about the fact that we want to move on—we want to move on—and I think the standards committee will help—[Interruption.] Let's just recall what Vikki Howells said today. She recognised that the work of the standards committee is a vital part of the operation of upholding the high standards of behaviour by our Senedd Members in taking action where there are suggestions that those standards have not been complied with. I have sympathy with Heledd Fychan's point, after having a really robust and positive discussion in the Senedd reform Bill committee this morning, about how we can ensure that we move forward with our Senedd reform, as we will do, I'm sure, next week, to also ensure that we reach out to the diverse people of Wales who we want to come and join us, and that they can trust in and respect the way that we conduct ourselves. That's crucial for the standards committee in terms of its work.

So, just very finally, Llywydd, I do want to thank all Members who've contributed to the debate this afternoon. It is about moving on. It is about recognising that we can debate these issues with respect, and also with respect that our First Minister is here today leading this Government—[Interruption.]—going to Mumbai next week on behalf of the thousands of people in our steel-working industry who expect that from a First Minister for a Welsh Labour Government.

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 6:03, 1 May 2024

I can't hear the Trefnydd. Please quieten down.

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour 6:04, 1 May 2024

And I think the Senedd, by hopefully next week, will also move to Stage 4symud ymlaen—with Senedd reform, to make sure that we can extend the democratic mandate effectively of this Senedd, and devolution 25 years on. There's a lot we can celebrate next week.

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

Rhun ap Iorwerth to reply to the debate.

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru

Diolch yn fawr iawn, Llywydd. I think it is important that, in his presence now—he did arrive towards the closing stages of these two debates—I do express to the First Minister the real disappointment that he wasn't here to hear and, indeed, to respond to these debates today. I will, of course, welcome an intervention, should he wish to make a statement at any point during my comments this afternoon.

We have just heard more appeals, as we have over recent days and weeks, to move on. I’m afraid we can’t simply move on as long as so many questions remain unanswered, and the fact that the First Minister himself doesn’t think that there are unanswered questions that remain doesn’t satisfy me, and I don’t believe it satisfies the vast majority of people in Wales.

I’d like to contrast, if I could, the contributions of two Members on the Labour benches. Firstly the Member for Caerphilly. We were talking, weren’t we, yesterday, in the discussion around the reform Bill, about the issue of misleading people in politics. One has to ask whether, in defending the First Minister, Hefin David hadn’t realised that today’s motion was about capping donations to individuals and not political parties, or whether he was conflating the two on purpose. He even referred to one donor to Plaid Cymru being found guilty of an issue around employees’ rights three years after that donation was made, when the First Minister received funds from one company, Veezu, that’s been the subject of challenges around employment rights in the past year. So, I think, be very, very careful when making those kinds of allegations.

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru

Now, or after I've said my next few sentences? And he then went on to make insinuations around a payment to my constituency party—not to me, to my constituency party—in 2013. Some donations, Hefin David, can certainly not be deemed to be made in order to try to gain political influence. The late Mr Parry bequeathed that sum in his will, and we are not talking here about stopping payments being made to political parties, including yours, in wills. We're talking about payments to individuals, not political parties, and I'll remind you that, in the last year, your party received £9 million, I believe, in payments, to put it in context.

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour 6:07, 1 May 2024

I think I should say I wasn't criticising you. I was just pointing out the fact that there is a degree of sanctimony and hypocrisy in your party. You received, or your constituency party received—which is what I said—£141,584.92 from a single donor. There's nothing wrong with that. I imagine it was used in the campaign to re-elect you in 2016, so please don't misconstrue what I'm saying. I'm actually supporting you.

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru

I didn't hear that very well, but I don't think it matters. I’ll just leave it to you to reflect on whether there is a fair comparison to be made between a sum—[Interruption.]—bequeathed to a political party in a will—

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 6:08, 1 May 2024

Allow Rhun ap Iorwerth to finish the point he's trying to clarify. Thank you, Rhun ap Iorwerth. Diolch yn fawr. 

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru

I'll leave it to the Member to judge whether it’s a fair comparison between a sum of money left in a will to a political party by somebody who believes in democracy and a payment of £200,000 to a candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party in Wales by a company that had been found guilty of environmental offences, who were looking to the Government to make a decision around a solar farm, et cetera, et cetera. I absolutely accept what the First Minister says in terms of having registered everything properly, and that he cannot use his influence, but let’s remember what that ministerial code says about whether a reasonable judgment could be made that there could be a conflict between a decision made in a personal capacity and one’s work. I believe the threshold has been found, and I’ve said so on a number of occasions.

The comments made by the Member of Caerphilly reflect poorly, I’m afraid, on him today. I contrast his comments with the comments made—the very honest comments made—by the Member for Llanelli. Lee Waters said in very succinct terms, talking about the low reputation of politics as it is, that it shouldn’t be—ever, should it?—about whether we can get away with it; it’s whether it’s right. And I think in the context of these payments to the leader of the Labour Party in Wales and the First Minister, people have come to a conclusion about whether it is right or not. He said, Lee Waters, that he was unable to support the motion today because he feared that it prejudged the outcomes of an internal review by the Labour Party. I said in my comments initially that I regret the fact that Labour, in deleting all of our motion, didn't take the opportunity to say that there was a welcoming of that kind of approach that could lead to an investigation of how such a system could be put in place, and I think that reflects badly also on the Government today.

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru 6:10, 1 May 2024

(Translated)

Simply, the decision to accept donations of this scale, never mind the source of those funds, the fact that it is allowed under the absence of rules that we currently have doesn't sit comfortably with the people of Wales. It gives an impression, even if all rules are respected, that influence can be bought. 

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru 6:11, 1 May 2024

I invite the Conservatives to reconsider their decision to abstain. On this, no decision is being made on what the cap should be, on what model should be brought in for that cap. I'd ask them to consider whether abstaining reflects poorly on them, given the controversies around the Conservative Party and political donations. So, I appeal to you to support the motion. 

This episode reflects terribly, I'm afraid, on the First Minister himself and his judgment, but we can take a stand here today to defend the integrity of our democracy as a whole.

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

The proposal is to agree the motion without amendment. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Yes, there is objection and, therefore, we will defer voting until voting time. 

(Translated)

Voting deferred until voting time.