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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

A memorandum of deliberate misunderstanding

I am not in the habit of defending the English Health Minister but there are times when the Welsh Labour Government go looking for a fight even when they are in the wrong.

Walesonline reports that Andrew Lansley wrote to the Welsh Government to complain he only found out about its policy of removing and replacing faulty PIP breast implants through the media.

They say that he asked to be notified in future if the government in Wales takes a “contradictory” approach to England:

He wrote: “I would like to take this opportunity to seek your assurance that in the future you will inform my department if the Welsh Government decides to take a contradictory approach to a public health issue before we learn of it through the media, which was the case in relation to your comments regarding the replacement of PIP breast implants on the NHS.”

According to the Welsh Government's spin doctors this is “arrogant and patronising”. They say that Mr. Lansley is "behaving like devolution never happened" and once more they have raised the issue of the so-called "respect agenda”.

Their problem however is that Mr. Lansley's letter is perfectly consistent with devolution and in particular with a memorandum of understanding signed by the Welsh Government amongst others that agrees in paragraphs 4 and 5 that all of the UK's administrations will seek:

* to alert each other as soon as practicable to relevant developments within their areas of responsibility, wherever possible, prior to publication;

* to give appropriate consideration to the views of the other administrations; and to establish where appropriate arrangements that allow for policies for which responsibility is shared to be drawn up and developed jointly between the administrations.

Doesn't the lack of respect in this instance lie with the Welsh Government who have ignored this agreement and then complained when they were asked to comply with a commitment that they voluntarily agreed and signed up to?
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