Senedd to vote on Gething donation row

Vaughan Gething
Vaughan Gething won the Welsh Labour leadership contest last month [PA]
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Calls for Vaughan Gething to return a controversial campaign donation and hold an independent investigation will be voted on in the Senedd on Wednesday.

The first minister accepted £200,000 for his leadership campaign from recycling firm Dauson Environmental Group, which is owned by a man who has been prosecuted for illegally dumping waste.

Welsh government ministers will tell Labour MSs to vote against motions from the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru.

Mr Gething has said he always followed the rules and has refused to hand the money back.

He played down public concern about the donations in the Senedd on Tuesday.

The motions would not be binding on Vaughan Gething if they were to pass, but it would be embarrassing for his government if they did.

Despite criticism of the donation among some in the Labour group, sources told BBC Wales they expected party members to follow a whip as normal, where MSs are instructed how to vote by their party.

Labour - which has exactly half of the Senedd's 60 politicians - has enough votes to force a tie if the opposition vote together.

The Welsh Conservatives have tabled a motion recognising "public concern regarding a potential breach of the Welsh government's ministerial code", and have called for an independent advisor to investigate any conflict of interest.

They are critical of Mr Gething receiving the donation from a company that has a subsidiary which has taken a £400,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales (DBW).

Mr Gething has insisted throughout that he cannot and will not take any decision related to Dauson Environmental Group.

DBW has said it is independent of minsters.

Welsh Conservative Senedd leader Andrew RT Davies said: “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."

Economy Minister and Mr Gething's rival for the Welsh Labour leadership, Jeremy Miles, has said he would not have accepted the money.

Plaid Cymru, meanwhile, have tabled a motion calling for a cap on donations, to be implemented by the Senedd.

It says the donation "does not meet with public approval".

Former first minister Carwyn Jones has promised that a review of future Welsh Labour leadership rules will look at donations.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru leader, said: “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.”

Labour amendments to both motions would delete the concerns from the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru if they were backed by Senedd members.

What has Vaughan Gething said?

Last Friday Mr Gething said there were no "legitmate" questions about his integrity over the donations.

Mr Gething maintains the donation of £200,000 was properly declared and within the rules.

He promised the committee there would be no "watering down" and no "shift or downward turn" in his government's commitment to raising environmental standards.

Director of Dauson Environmental Group, David Neal, 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.

“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 of our business plans or applications and would not expect him to have any involvement in these decisions anyway.”