Wales Questions House of Commons

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Wales Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to the Welsh secretary Alun Cairns and his ministerial team.

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Order. Order. Questions to the Secretary of State for Wales, Mr


Steve Double. Questionable one, Mr Speaker. Secretary Alun Cairns. I am


keen to strengthen the relationship tween south Wales and the


south-west, after all Bristol is the most productive city in England


outside of London. Abolishing the Seve tolls will help to bolster the


joint economic prospects of South Wales and the South West of England.


I thank the Secretary of State for that answer but can I ask if he


would be a strong voice in Cabinet, not just for Wales, but for the


regions of our country, and, I don't know, perhaps especially places like


Cornwall, and if he were to make sure that the shared asperity fund


is distributed fairly and on the basis of genuine need? I am grateful


to my honourable friend for his question because his area, such as


large parts of Wales, benefit from what is currently EU structural


funds and the Shared Prosperity Fund offers great prospect of having a


much more streamlined approach to supporting some of the most needy


parts of the United Kingdom. I'm determined that the shared


perspective fund is a much more efficient delivery system with fair


distributional round the UK to serve his part as well as Wales,


obviously. What would have strengthened the links is


electrification of the railway between Cardiff and Swansea, which


the previous Tory Prime Minister described as vital. By scrapping


that, hasn't this Tory government once again let down Wales? Grateful


to the honourable member for his question but I am sure he would


recognise that advances in bimodal technology means that electrifying


between Cardiff and Swansea would not save passengers any journey


time. In fact, there would be significant journey disruption and


delay, adding costs to travellers and businesses alike without any


time-saving. And the advances in bimodal trains, mean we can take the


most modern fleet of trains further in West Wales than we would


otherwise with solely an electrified railway. The scrapping of the seven


tolls is a huge benefit. Will my right honourable friend agree with


me that it is of vast benefit the places like Wiltshire, where we have


places where I am grateful to my honourable


friend for his question. He has rightly recognised scrapping of the


Severn tolls is not only a significant boost to the South Wales


economy but also to the economy of the South West of England. He


welcomed it, along with the Chambers of commerce in south Wales with


business West, many others. It seems the only people who have not


welcomed the scrapping of the Severn tolls is the party opposite and the


Welsh government. Will he give a categorical equipment that --


commitment that all of those areas in Wales currently in receipt of


European structural funds will continue to be eligible in the


future? The UK Shared Prosperity Fund can do even more because we


will not have the same restrictions that the European Commission put on


the European structural funds. It hardly makes sense that some of the


most deprived parts of Wales are excluded from the European


structural fund's map as it stands because of European new rules. The


UK Shared Prosperity Fund allows us to introduce a much more efficient


and responsive scheme. Thank you, Mr Speaker. One project that could


provide significant economic opportunities on both sides of the


Bristol Channel is the provision of a regular ferry service between


Ilfracombe in my constituency and south Wales. It is being considered


by a commercial company. I wonder what support The Welsh Office could


give to that idea. I will happily meet my honourable friend to discuss


what prospects there are because he, like me, recognises the major


opportunities, economic opportunities that exist by binding


the regions together. Between the south-west of England and the South


Wales economy, we have one of the largest digital clusters. We have


one of the best cyber security clusters and the more we can do to


encourage economic growth, which will involve the sort of subjects I


have mentioned, as well as tourism that would benefit... Questionable


to, Mr Speaker. -- question number two. The UK Government is investing


significant sums in infrastructure, delivering improved journey times


the passengers on the latest trains. This will provide tangible benefits


to people and businesses in South Wales and boost access to jobs and


new opportunities. Has the Secretary of State specifically discussed with


his Cabinet colleagues funding for the reader element of Cardiff


Central station in my constituency? Well it be redeveloped, yes or no?


Grateful to the honourable lady for the question. Yes, I have discussed


with Cabinet colleagues the need for investment in new stations in Wales.


There is the prospect of a new stations and for further investment.


I have met with Cardiff Council to talk about it, I have spoken about


it to the Welsh government. I am keen to explore the opportunities


that exist there and also the opportunity to attract private


investment and therefore I have spoken to the privates developer


surrounding that side. Returning to the subject of electrification, it


is true that the bimodal trains are good but they are a second-best


solution. But look into the future for further rail infrastructure


investment in Wales, does my right honourable friend agree that there


are major questions to be asked of Network Rail was like ability to


deliver projects on time, and control their costs, and what more


could be done to create a more competitive but cost effective


environment for rail infrastructure environment investment in Wales? My


honourable friend makes an important point about the efficiency of -- the


efficiency of network whale -- Nirat wail. The Public Accounts Committee


reassessed the case for electrification, partly as a result


of the increased costs that have been delivered by Network Rail. But


I would also say, to improve rail access to West Wales and the


Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, and other places in West Wales, we


have the opportunity to explore new opportunities of new stations that


could well deliver bimodal trains on a regular basis to parts of Wales


that don't access fast trains at the moment. Following a delegation I


lead in 2014. The then Prime Minister, David Cameron, alleged to


extend electrification to Swansea, saying it would have a huge economic


impact on developing employment in an area of neglect and


infrastructure, so will he stand up to the Prime Minister, and basically


deliver the promises of the previous Prime Minister, as a previous member


of Secretary of State did, and deliver the Thomases of


electrification we so urgently needs? I will not call the


honourable gentleman in a hurry if he is going to be so long winded. I


hope the honourable member will recognise the new most modern trains


will be available in Swansea and serviced in Swansea within a short


number of weeks. Swansea will benefit from the latest most modern


trains and will benefit from 15 minutes of safe journey time when


the project is completed. There will be no time-saving, in fact there


would be significant disruption to Swansea if we continued with the


electric only model he seems to be advocating. But is it not the case


that Swansea's connectivity will be improved by the new Kingsway


Project, which is creating a digital district Gretchen Mark and isn't it


a shame that members opposite don't recognise this important move?


Perhaps they don't know what a digital district is! My honourable


friend has great expertise in all things Welsh but particularly in


relation to digital project and the Kingsway Project he talked about.


The Swansea -based city deal is an exciting project that will


complement the private activity that is taking place, and that will


improve connectivity by digital means as well as the rail


connectivity and the new trains being operating very soon. Thank


you, Mr Speaker. I love the new haircut and the tie. LAUGHTER


You are great. Before the summer recess, the


Transport Secretary, his Cabinet colleague sneaked out news that the


UK Government would break its promise to electrify the mainline


from Cardiff to Swansea. People in Wales are now rightly asking whether


his government can even be trusted to deliver electrification as far as


Cardiff. Would the Secretary of State promise that this


electrification will go ahead, and not join the ever growing list of


broken promises his government has made to the people of Wales? Mr


Speaker, the honourable lady will be well aware that the work is


currently underway, in terms of electrifying the Cardiff. The


bimodal trains will be bringing the service times when the project is


complete it will be a major benefit, not only the Cardiff but also


Swansea as I have said. Also the major advantage of the bimodal


trains means that we can take the latest rolling stock further in West


Wales rather than the electric only project, which would have meant any


benefits would have stopped in Swansea. The agreement with the


Democratic Unionist Party about a living for the whole United Kingdom


so we can get on with our plan to get the best Brexit deal for our


country and create an economy that works everybody. It is part of the


government's and to support growth across all parts of the UK the city


deals in Wales and the introduction of Barnett floor tooth to provide


Welsh government with a fair level of funding for the long-term.


Given that deal, did the Secretary of State actually demand and


increase for Wales and the Barnum formula? The Secretary of State and


myself have been successful in achieving city deals for Cardiff and


Swansea and we are working towards a North Wales growth deal as well.


That funding from Westminster was not subject to any consequential is.


Does my right honourable friend agree that last years fiscal


framework agreement secures long-term needs -based funding for


Welsh government and that this can act as an enabler for improved


public services across Wales? I find -- I thank ever the question, she is


right, this government has delivered a fiscal framework for Wales that


was called for 13 years when the party opposite did nothing. The


fiscal framework gives certainty of funding for Wales and the people of


Wales and will be beneficial to the benefit of Welsh economy. The


Secretary of State and the minister have been having problems with their


party in Wales and does he agree with the leader of the Conservative


party in Wales but any... When is the Secretary of State and the


minister going to do their job and followed the line of their leader in


Wales in securing additional funding? Leader of the Assembly


group has the right was in position that the situation is clear, the


commitments of this government Wales is unprecedented. We have delivered


the fiscal framework when the party opposite did nothing, city deals the


Cardiff and Swansea and great deal of the North Wales. The track deal


is of additional funding. The UK government will contribute ?150


million over two years towards improvement of broadband in Northern


Ireland, off the bottom and ten constituencies for download speeds


are in Wales. What discussions has had with Cabinet colleagues to


improve broadband in Wales? I welcome the question and I welcome


him to his place was to the situation is clear, constituencies


like Cowan-Dickie and Anne Conway have been lagging behind. But he


will be very aware that broadband roll-out is the responsibility of


the Welsh government is interesting to note the Labour constituency will


prioritise over Kerry dig in. A magical monetary celebrated by the


Tories during the general election has been found planted and


flourishing in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, Wales withers under Tory


austerity. Mr Speaker, some Tories have taken a principled stand on the


issue of barrel bombs to Northern Ireland, the Tory leader in Wales


said any potential incentives considered for one nation must also


be considered for Wales for Mr Speaker, when is the Secretary of


State for Wales going to do his job and stand up for Wales? I welcome


him to his new position on the front bench. I think I will repeat the


comment over Jamaica, for 13 years from 1997 the honourable member was


a backbencher when there was a Labour government in this place, the


Labour government did not deliver any changes to the formula, did not


deliver fiscal framework for Wales, this government is delivering for


Wales and will deliver in North Wales which will be beneficial to


the constituents of the honourable member. The Wales office has a close


discussions with ministerial colleagues following the publication


of the review. The lagoon at Swansea is an exciting project but it is


vitally delivers value for money. It is nine months since the Henry


review strongly endorsed the tidal lagoon at Swansea. It is the


second-highest rise and fall in the tide in the world, it would unlock


power for generations but only on the Welsh side but on the other side


of the Bristol Channel, when our ministers going to a decision? I


thank him for his question and he is a champion for this new technology


however it has to be stated that whilst the Henry review was


supportive of the concept of a tidal lagoon in Swansea, there were no


financial issues are dealt with in that report. It is necessary we make


a decision which is right not just in terms of the concept of a tidal


lagoon in Swansea but that decision has to be looked at in relation to


the energy price consumer will pay and the taxpayer. Too many noisy


private conversations taking place in the Chamber. As has been


indicated, the Henry review was set by the Conservative party, the


framework to finance these big project was set up by the


Conservatives, it is time now to deliver. It is time to stop talking


and start delivering for Wales and I urge the office to stand up for


Wales on this project and deliver for Wales. I thank him for his


question and he is a champion of energy projects across Wales and in


his own constituency of Anglesey but he understands in the same way I do


but these decisions is the right in relation to the cost to taxpayers


and the energy consumer. We will ensure the decision were made takes


all issues into account and makes the right decision for the energy


consumer and for the people of Wales. With the minister make


renewable energy in Wales a priority set a complex full part in


delivering important goals on energy security and tackling climate


change? I thank her for her question. The development of energy


policy in Wales is about energy security and securing our energy


supply for the future which is why we and my colleagues in the Welsh


office are involved in projects like the new power station Anglesey and


small modular reactions for part of Wales and looking at the tidal


lagoon in Swansea. Wales has once in a generation opportunity to become


the world leader in tidal lagoons, the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon alone


will generate 2000 jobs and contribute 300 million to Welsh


economy. Welsh Labour MPs, the Welsh Labour government, many public faces


and campaigners have declared they love the lagoon. So why is this


government refusing to publish its response to the Henry review and in


so doing putting this project at risk? At a risk of repeating myself,


she highlights the fact there is support for this concept in Wales


and the race. But she also needs to be honest but the fact the Labour


government in Wales and Labour Assembly members have also


highlighted the danger of high energy prices to the steel industry.


We need to make a decision which is right for industry in Wales, for the


Swansea Bay tidal lagoon but on a calculator bases looking at the


facts which is what we will do. Question five, Mr Speaker. This


government is committed to supporting renewable energy to more


secure energy. In March we gave consent for a storage project which


we supported other renewable technologies like capturing Access


energy from solar or wind. It is a great example of the essential role


Wales plays in the UK energy supply. I thank the minister for that answer


but following on from questions from the honourable member for Tiverton


and Hamilton, and from my honourable friend the issue of the tidal lagoon


does need a response from the government. It is eight months since


the review, can the minister Saint now when the government will publish


its response because there is a real risk the investors that are needed


to fund this project will walk away and a decision is made very soon by


this government. I thank for question. In previous parliament she


was a front bench spokesman for the Treasury, she will be aware of the


fact we need to analyse from a cost perspective the benefits and the


costs of the tidal lagoon. The decision decision will be made in


due course by the relevant ministers. On the issue of the tidal


lagoon there is great support from my constituency where energy would


manufacture the turbines, is the minister concerned the lead we have


in this sector may be lost if we do not make a swift decision? I thank


him for the question, having read the review I am aware of the


potential benefits to industry from the technology question which is why


the giving such serious consideration to the report produced


Charles Henry. Community hydro schemes throughout Wales have faced


increases of up to 900% in the business rates. In Scotland there


was 100% relief in England there is a cap but Labour ministers in Wales


are sitting on the hands. I'm told the basic problem is made in London.


Will the minister meet representatives of the sector to


find a quick solution? I thank him for his question, his constituency


has a number of hydro projects and other more than delighted to meet


with the honourable member to discuss what these problems lie. My


understanding is the problem is lying Cardiff with a Labour


government but am happy to meet with him to make sure we deal with this


problem. I have regular discussions with my right honourable friend the


Secretary of State for exiting the European Union on how all aspects of


exit from the EU will affect Wales. The European Union withdrawal bill


will maximise certainty to individuals and businesses across


Wales and across the rest of the UK. 15 months after the referendum


result, progress on Brexit is still too slow. Two thirds of Welsh


exports go to the European Union, thousands of Welsh jobs depend on


this trade. So what is the Secretary of State doing as I Welsh economy is


in wrecked by a cliff edge Brexit that would damage these vital ties?


The honourable member will be well aware that the EU withdrawal bill is


about to be debated tomorrow and I hope the honourable member will


support that bill because of the certainty and security provides


intensive closing loopholes and ensuring we have appropriate


frameworks implies. Those present the issues of the cliff edge talks


about. Since the referendum result, we have seen record inward


investment in Wales, record amounts of employment and a proposal to


scrap the Severn Bridge tolls, doesn't this show under Conservative


policy the future for Wales is very good indeed? I am grateful to my


honourable friend for his question. He not only is a passionate


campaigner for the UK and for Wales but is also a compassionate campaign


of the benefits of leaving the European Union. We want to see a


stronger fairer more united outward looking union and all parts of this


house have a part to play. 100 years ago the black chair was posthumously


awarded at the Birkenhead said Ford. I would like to congratulate the


poets nephew and also for safeguarding the family. This month


also celebrate the referendum 20 years ago that pro-devolution to


Wales. The withdrawal bill is a barefaced Westminster bids to take


back control against the will of the people of Wales. Can the minister


tell this house what his government will do when Wales denied consent to


the bill later this year, would in the political folly press ahead? If


colleagues who show sensitivity to time that would be appreciated. I


underline many of the points she has made in relation to the former home


being open today. She will recognise the withdrawal is about creating the


smoothest form of exit we can possibly deliver. And where the


first Secretary of State that the first minister earlier this week, we


are keen to deepen our engagement further, we won the worst government


to respond so can come up with a sort of frameworks that will work


every part the UK. You mentioned more powers to Wales but is the


better it not undermined by the government record broken promises,


tidal lagoon, no decision, as was the funding, slashed, well alleged


navigation cancelled. Willis the powers Wales can look forward to and


one we will hear about what they are. I'm disappointed by the tone of


her question. Earlier this year we passed the Wales act, last December


we agreed a new fiscal framework which gives a very fair settlement


to Wales and we are trying to work with the worst government in the


close possible to deliver an exit from the European Union that will


work for every part of the UK and Wales is my interest in that. I'm


sure that the Secretary of State for Wales knows the Welsh economy could


be damaged by careless talk on Brexit. And the public narrative


that is coming from the worst government is often alarmist and


could even scupper future foreign investment from overseas. What can


the Secretary of State do to reassure potential foreign investors


that Wales is open for business and remains a first-class destination


for foreign investment? Well, she is absolutely right and I would say to


is shown that many of the members opposite is failed to recognise the


opportunity leaving the European Union brings about. When my right


honourable friend the Prime minister was in Japan last week, she


announced a deal in relation to Aston Martin which is yet another


significant trade arrangement with Japan on the back of Nissan and


Toyota and the Vale of Glamorgan and the Midlands will benefit further


from but Aston Martin deal. As we return from the summer recess,


I'm shower thoughts of the House will be the Vic tempts of the


Barcelona terror attack. Mr Speaker, awant to reassure the house the UK


has ensured assistance in the form of military and humanitarian


resources are in