Wales to ban politicians from lying

Politics

Wales will introduce a ban on politicians lying before the next Senedd election.

The Welsh government has committed to introducing legislation before 2026, which would mean Senedd members could be removed for knowingly misleading statements.

Mick Antoniw, the Welsh government’s counsel general, said it was “committed” to the principle.

“The Welsh government will bring forward legislation before 2026 for the disqualification of members and candidates found guilty of deliberate deception through an independent judicial process, and will invite the committee to make proposals to that effect,” he told the Senedd on Tuesday evening.

“I’m committed to that, the Welsh government’s committed to that and I believe now, as a Senedd as a whole, we’re all committed to that.”

Image:
Mick Antoniw. Pic: Senedd TV

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price put forward the party’s own version of the proposal earlier on Tuesday.

But before it went to a vote, the Labour government said it would introduce legislation by the time of the next Senedd election.

Mr Price had argued: “Trust in what we say as politicians has fallen to an all-time low.

“The motivation for this section is one that I know we all agree with, which is how can we restore and rebuild and maintain that trust in democracy.”

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However, some in the Senedd raised concerns that criminalising deception in politics would jeopardise members’ parliamentary privilege.

Conservative James Davies said it had “the potential to undermine our parliamentary privilege” – comments echoed by Labour‘s Hefin David.

But Peter Fox from the Welsh Conservatives said the subject was “something that we all should care about”.

“It is so fundamental that we try to rebuild the trust that has been diminished in our vocation, because it is so fundamental to democracy that we are trusted and believed, and sadly that’s been eroded,” he added.

“I’m pleased that we are going to find a way forward, I hope, to build trust back.”

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Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said the principle of “safeguarding” democracy had her “unwavering support”.

“Why does lying flourish in politics? Well, the answer is simple and it’s sobering – because we can get away with it. Deception can run among politicians, largely because we face no real repercussions,” she said.

“We have the chance to lead here in Wales by example, not just within the UK but on the international stage.”

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