Posted: Wed 6th Oct 2021

North Wales MS who missed Covid pass vote while at Conservative party conference left ‘deeply upset’

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Oct 6th, 2021

A North Wales MS who missed a key vote on whether Covid passes should be made mandatory for nightclubs and large events says he has been left “deeply upset”.

Vale of Clwyd Conservative Gareth Davies was attending the Conservative party conference in Manchester at the time of yesterday’s vote.

He blamed unspecified “IT challenges” for his inability to take part remotely as the passes were approved by a single vote.

The Senedd’s Presiding Officer Elin Jones said Mr Davies had been given several opportunities to be present, even offering her phone number to allow him to dial in.

North.Wales put a number of specific questions to the MS, including for full details of the exact cause of the technical difficulties he encountered, who was to blame and whether he felt he had failed his constituents.

We also asked for any further context to explain what happened but the questions remain unanswered at the time of writing.

Yesterday Mr Davies posted on Facebook that he intended to vote against the passes after receiving “so many emails and messages from Vale of Clwyd residents” opposing the measures.

Had he done so the vote would have been tied and the new law would not have passed.

Today he asked to make a statement in the Senedd, where MSs can currently attend in person or via Zoom, but was denied the opportunity as it was already in the public domain.

The statement reads: “I’m deeply upset, frustrated and angry at last night’s events and my inability to cast a vote against vaccine passports.

“Yesterday evening, IT challenges meant that I was unable to access the voting system.

“Throughout the voting period, I was speaking with the Chief Whip and Welsh Conservative staff members in an attempt to solve the IT issues.

“The Senedd currently operates under a hybrid system that means only half of our representatives can vote in the chamber, with others voting remotely from elsewhere.

“I was working and representing the Group at the Conservative Party conference and I would have been able to vote remotely if I’d have been able to access the remote voting tools.

“Concerns have been raised with the Senedd’s ICT department and I will be making a personal statement in the Senedd later this afternoon.”

A fuller version also appears on his Facebook page, which appears to contain the exact wording he intended to use in the Senedd.

Within the post, Mr Davies clarified that he was already on a call where he was “frantically speaking” to Welsh Conservative staff members to resolve his IT issues when the Presiding Officer gave him the chance to speak over the phone.

He said he would not rely on technology in future and asked for a full return to the Senedd chamber for MSs to minimise the chance of it happening again.

Addressing the situation in the Senedd yesterday, the Presiding Officer said he had been given “every opportunity possible” to take part “including sharing my personal phone so he could ring”.

Today she stressed it was down to MSs to ensure they are present to take part in votes.

She said: “I received a request from a member to make a personal statement with regard to his absence from the vote last night. I received that request just before 1.30 p.m. today.

“I hadn’t even had time to consider that request let alone agree to it when, just before 2.15 p.m., the content of that statement had been shared with the press and on Twitter.

“I consider that statement now in the public domain and that it no longer requires to be made to the Senedd.

“I’ll take the opportunity, however, to reiterate to all members that it is every individual member’s responsibility to ensure they are present early enough and in time to vote wherever you may be, and especially if voting from a location for the first time.”

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