The Welsh Labour Government has announced that the First Minister has decided not to take part in a leaders' debate on the Silk Commission and that the Finance Minister will attend in his place.
All party leaders were asked if they could appear on the BBC's 'Wales Report' on Friday (1st) morning. With less than 24 hours to go until the debate takes place, the Welsh Government has decided the First Minister will not appear.
Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
"It is nothing short of a disgrace that Wales' First Minister feels he has to hide behind his Finance Minister.
"The First Minister has made it abundantly clear in the past that he speaks on constitutional issues for the Welsh Government. Has he all of a sudden decided that constitutional issues are no longer part of his portfolio or is he just running scared of debating these matters?
"When it was politically convenient, the First Minister consistently called for Silk's key recommendations to be implemented. Now he has got his wish, he's trying to wriggle out of taking responsibility.
"The announcement from the Coalition Government last week was a great milestone in Welsh devolution. These substantial changes will have a significant influence over the future of Welsh politics and the lives of the people of Wales. People have a right to know where parties stand on these issues and a leaders' debate would help heighten public interest. For the First Minister not to take part is deeply embarrassing for this government. They already have a poor record of defending themselves in the media. Just a few months ago, the Health Minister failed to address his government's shambolic handling of the Welsh NHS on the same programme.
"I understand that Welsh Labour is split on Silk's recommendations. However, the First Minister needs to show some leadership and take some responsibility. Running scared should never be an option for the leader of our nation".