Mark Drakeford defends Covid passes after Senedd gives green light by just one vote

Watch the video report from ITV Wales' Political Editor Adrian Masters.

The First Minister has reiterated why Covid passes are necessary for both businesses and public safety after a dramatic Senedd showdown which saw the law passed by just one vote.

Mark Drakeford has said the purpose of the Covid pass was “not to penalise any business, it’s to give that business an extra defence to allow it to continue to operate”.

Asked about the close vote in the Senedd on having Covid passes, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "It was an extraordinary moment, but what was really extraordinary was the fact that opposition parties were not prepared to support this simple measure which will help to keep people safe from coronavirus."

The Health Minister Eluned Morgan accused the opposition parties of "gross irresponsibility" in deciding to oppose the plan.

All three opposition parties united to oppose the Welsh Government plans which could have blocked them altogether if the vote had been tied, throwing the plan into disarray. 

But in the end the law change was passed by a single vote after one opposition member was unable to join remotely. 

Mr Drakeford said on Wednesday: "The vote is taken on the floor of the Parliament, the way the vote is conducted is not for the Government, that is for the Parliament.

"It is members’ responsibilities to make sure they are in the chamber or on Zoom and 59 of 60 members managed to do that."

Gareth Davies MS was unable to cast his vote on Zoom.

One lang-standing Welsh Conservative councillor has since vented his anger at his own party over its failure to block the Welsh Government last night.

Nightclub industry representatives are calling for a second vote to take place.

Michael Kill, the CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, told BBC Radio Wales: "It is devastating, especially based on the fact we felt it went through on a technicality. From our perspective, given that one of the Conservative MSs was unable to get through to the vote, we feel there should be a re-vote. We don't feel that that was a true outcome in terms of all parties in the Senedd.

"Our confidence was lifted when Plaid Cymru said they were going to vote against. It is such a pivotal vote that affects so many lives, I think it is important it is looked at.

"Our members were devastated and outraged at the outcome. They feel it needs to be redressed."

Those going to large events and nightclubs will now need a Covid pass in Wales or proof of a negative test result.

But Mark Drakeford explained that the point of the Covid pass "is to allow businesses to stay open."

He added: "If we don’t have this defence and coronavirus numbers rise over the autumn and the winter, then these are the venues which will be the first to be closed.

"So, the purpose of it is not to penalise any business, it’s to give that business an extra defence to allow it to continue to operate."