Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru bringing motions over controversial Vaughan Gething donation

Questions have been raised repeatedly about a donation to Vaughan Gething as he campaigned to become first minister. Credit: ITV Wales

Opposition Parties will keep up the pressure on the First Minister over donations to his leadership campaign next week.

Both Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives have tabled motions to be debated next Wednesday.The Conservatives’ motion aims to force Vaughan Gething to hold an independent inquiry into the matter, something he has rejected saying that no rules have been broken and that there has been no conflict of interest.

Plaid Cymru’s motion seeks to introduce annual caps on the size of donations that any Senedd member can accept.

Neither proposal is likely to be passed, even if the opposition parties unite to support the proposals. That’s because Labour has half of the seats in the Senedd chamber and in the event of a stalemate, the Llywydd, Elin Jones, is obliged to vote against changing the status quo.

Both Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives will bring forward motions next week. Credit: Sharp End/PA Images

However, it means Vaughan Gething will face another week of challenges and criticism in the Senedd.

During the Welsh Labour leadership campaign earlier this year, it emerged that Mr Gething had accepted £200,000 from Dauson Environmental Group Ltd, whose director, David Neal, was convicted twice for environmental offences.

There has been criticism too because the group is repaying a loan to the Development Bank for Wales (DBW), which is wholly owned by the Welsh Government.

The First Minister has insisted there are no conflicts of interest - he has had nothing to do with any planning decisions involving Dauson and no ministers have any involvement in DBW decisions.

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Mr Gething told Senedd Members: “When it comes to support provided by the Development Bank of Wales, they made an investment choice with a commercial loan more than a year ago, and that has gone into the purchase of an individual asset and repayments are being made in line with the terms of that loan.

"All of those loan and equity investments to businesses in Wales are made independent of the Welsh Government by the Development Bank. Those are the facts. There is no reason to undertake an investigation when the facts are so clear and unambiguous."

David Neal, the director of Dauson Environmental Group, said: "As a Welsh company, the Dauson Environmental Group has a wide number of operations and assets and is committed to investing in the future of Wales, as well as the Welsh supply chain. This includes working with the Development Bank of Wales to support this economic growth.

"We can reassure you that none of the loans received contributed to the donations made by Dauson Environmental Group.

Llwydd Elin Jones would have the casting vote if there is stalemate - but is constitutionally obliged to vote against the motions. Credit: PA Images

"With regards to the donation, as a Welsh business, we want to see the economy, communities, and environment continue to prosper in Wales, and we supported Vaughan Gething’s campaign as we felt that he was the best person for the job.

"Dauson Environmental Group has not engaged with Vaughan Gething or his ministerial department regarding any planning applications and we would not expect him to have any involvement in these decisions."

However, the political pressure has continued, with opposition leaders devoting their full allocation of questions to the First Minister to the issue.

That’s likely to continue in the Senedd next Tuesday and now next Wednesday too.

The Conservative motion “calls on the First Minister to appoint an independent advisor to the ministerial code to investigate any conflict of interest that may exist in relation to the donation, with particular reference to points i and ii of paragraph 1.3 of the ministerial code.”

Plaid Cymru’s motion states that the donation “does not meet with public approval” and proposes “an annual maximum cap on the political donations that any individual Member of the Senedd can receive from any individual or entity.”

The votes will be held a week today, on 1st May. Credit: PA Images

Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth said: “In accepting £200,000 from an individual who he knew had been found guilty of environmental offences, Vaughan Gething has demonstrated a contemptuous attitude towards political donations.

“Not only would the eye watering sum of money not meet public approval, but it also raises wider questions about the First Minister’s judgement. Only an independent inquiry can bring this sorry chapter to a close.

“The purpose of having our own parliament is to be able to do things differently and to do them better. The First Minister seems utterly disinterested in seizing this opportunity.

"If he is to have any chance of restoring the Welsh public’s trust, the First Minister must urgently rethink his refusal to commission an independent inquiry, and commit to supporting Plaid Cymru’s calls for a cap on individual donations.

“The corrosive effect of unchecked campaign funding undermines the integrity of democracy. As a first step Vaughan Gething should repay the money but the least he can now do is support measures that ensures six figure donations to individual politicians are a thing of the past.”

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: “It’s time to put this issue to bed once and for all.

“Vaughan Gething’s Government has stalled before it could get going, with a senior Minister openly questioning his judgement, all while our public services suffer.

“In order to get on with the job of tackling Labour’s soaring waiting lists, the cancer crisis and poor educational attainment, we need to see a full, independent investigation into Gething’s campaign finances.”

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