In a week that politicians in Wales and across the UK opened up about their finances following the release of the ‘Panama Papers’, today we’re pleased to launch our ‘minifesto’ on opening up government in Wales.
We think it’s time to ‘let the light in’ on all aspects of Welsh politics, as the Assembly gains more powers and responsibilities.
As we say in our publication launched today, “Rightly or wrongly, perceptions exist that decisions are often taken behind closed doors; making it difficult (if not occasionally impossible) for citizens and elected representatives to hold to account those in power.”
Welsh politics has sometimes been seen as a closed clique of cosy networks. If it’s true, then that can and should change.
Transparency is vital in building public trust and improving the quality of our growing democracy. It can do so much to make decision-making better – not just by keeping politicians on their toes, but by letting the public follow and engage in the political process.
We want an Office for Public Engagement, and an inquiry into whether Wales needs its own Lobbying Bill, so that Welsh voters know who is pressuring their representatives. We want a National Data Plan for Wales to open up public data, and a Public Register of Welsh Government Evidence to get government research out into the public domain for the good of researchers and civil society.
In the Assembly, we’d like to see a Cross-Party Group on Transparency in Public Life. And we’d like authorities to establish a Wales Open Local Government Partnership so that public bodies can work with NGOs to get information out there to citizens.
All of these things and more can strengthen our democracy in Wales and give voters and civil society the power they deserve to scrutinise, challenge and have faith in Welsh politics.