Wales Questions House of Commons


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Wales Questions

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


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affairs and Brexit. Join me for a

round-up for the day in both Houses

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of Parliament at 11pm tonight the

first questions for the Secretary of

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State for Wales, Alun Cairns.

Growth corridors are an important

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element of the industrial strategy

for Wales and we are responding to

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local demand, building on the work

undertaken by great Western cities

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and creating a great Western

powerhouse. We want to see the

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skills and expertise of this

important region recognised across

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the UK and internationally.

Does the Minister agree with me that

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scrapping the tolls at the Severn

Crossing, a commitment made by this

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Conservative Government, will prove

an economic catalyst for further

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investment and significantly expand

the links between South Wales and

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the south-west?

Minister.

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I welcome those Severn tolls which

sent a powerful message to be clean

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and this economic corridor to bring

investment for South Wales and save

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the average motorist around £1400

per year.

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Mr Speaker, my constituents want to

have access to work in the

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south-west but it is claimed that

the demand for rail services will

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grow and grow locally... But there

are still too few carriages open and

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unreliable rail services. Will the

minister talk to great Western about

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this?

Will have a consultation at the

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moment and we help our constituents

will take part. It is important we

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recognise investment in rail is

important so as a Government that is

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why we are investing more as a

country band since the Victorian

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era. And with the new trains, that

is an investment of over £5.7

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billion. I hope she will welcome the

positive news.

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Kevin Foster.

Thank you. South Wales is one of the

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key market for Torbay's holiday

companies and industry. But we want

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the Minister to look at improving

the direct rail link between Cardiff

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and painting, raising issues with

Great Western about refreshments

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because at the moment there are not

only by the whole journey.

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I their wealth is a good place for

his constituents do have a

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definition, too -- Wales. We must

make sure transport is as successful

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as possible and we are in constant

discussions to improve services. In

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terms of food, we will make that

point, I am sure.

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Real economic growth projects in

that region, to deliver this

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project, and can I ask the Minister

to get on with it and encourage the

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Secretary of State to defend and

talk up for Wales in Cabinet?

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I can assure the honourable

gentleman that my right honourable

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friend is always standing for Wales

and Cabinet and does that

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effectively. Terms of the tidal

lagoon, we're looking at this very

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carefully to ensure that it is value

for money for the taxpayer as well.

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Number two, Mr Speaker.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, and with your

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permission I will answer questions,

two, seven and 11 together. I don't

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think the Welsh Government

continuity bill is necessary and the

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UK Government wants to reach

agreement with the Welsh Government

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and the European Union with all bill

with the view of including national

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assembly support for legislation.

Despite that answer, the Cabinet

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Office on Friday and today less than

24 devolved things that the UK

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Government will snatch back from

Wales and Scotland and that proves

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the need for a continuity bill. Why

is he not defending his devolved

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parliament and signing up for it

instead of allowing this power grab?

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Mr Speaker, my relationship with the

vice minister of the Welsh

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Government is a positive

relationship and we don't agree with

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everything but we agree on the

objectives and that is to improve

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businesses and communities in Wales.

In relation to Wales, there are 64

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areas the devolution settlement, and

24 areas that we want to discuss

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further with the Welsh Government to

come to an agreement of how best to

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ensure that common rules apply

across the UK to ensure that Welsh

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businesses are protected in order to

be able to market their produce

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across the rest of the UK.

Earlier this week, the long-awaited

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Government amendments to clause 11

were published, despite assurances

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and policies, they were published

without the consent or support or

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agreement of the devolved

administrations. Can I ask the

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Minister, is it still the Government

policy to obtain the consent of the

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devolved administrations, and if

further agreement is reached, will

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he bring forward further amendments?

Well, Mr Speaker, the honourable

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member is relating to amendments

tabled in relation to clause 11 in

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the other place, and of course

commitments were made that

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amendments would be tabled and that

is exactly what we have done. If we

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have not tabled this amendments,

then we would have been criticised

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for not having brought those

forward. As I have said in this

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chamber and elsewhere, we are

determined to work with devolved

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administrations to come to an

agreement, but it is the UK

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Government which has the interests

of looking after the whole of the

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UK. UK Government wants to act in

the interests of business and

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communities to ensure a Scottish

business can sell or buy products in

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Wales and same regulations that a

comment UK market would have.

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One of the reason the Continuity

Bill has come forward is because

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there is no agreement on this

blatant Westminster paragraph and

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that has not stopped them pressing

ahead anyway, but can they agree no

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deal could be agreed a new powers

unless there has been a joint

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ministerial committee?

Help the agreements of the devolved

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administrations will come as soon as

possible and I will not tie down to

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one particular committee. But there

was a joint ministerial committee

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last week another enjoyable thing. I

have been this position before work

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was that would not get a consent

motion for the Wales Bill is that

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progressed through Parliament by

only by constant hard work and

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engagement and optimism, acting in

the interests of business and

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communities, not on politicians,

that allowed this.

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Can my right honourable friend

confirmed that not only is there not

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a power grab, but there will be a

significant increase in powers to

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the devolved administrations as

Britain leaves the European Union?

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Mr Speaker, my honourable friend is

right and there is no intention of

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any power grab out of the 64 areas

relating to Wales, and we have

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already said that 30 would pass

without any need for any further

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agreement or, at the very most, an

informal agreement between the UK

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Government and the devolved

administrations. There are 24 areas

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combined in the interests of

businesses in Wales and Scotland and

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Northern Ireland and England to have

common practices so we can protect

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the UK market. 80% of Welsh

agriculture is sold to the rest of

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the UK.

Mr Speaker, does he recall that

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Wales is a principality in the

United Kingdom as a nation and

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worried to leave the European Union,

therefore, rather than looking back

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continuity of the EU, we must be

focusing on how to strike the best

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deal for Britain leaving the EU, to

be ready and they won prepared at

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Dover?

-- prepared at Dover at the front

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line on day one?

Wales voted to leave the EU and we

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are obligated to act on that

instruction from the referendum but

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we must also highlight that 80% of

output of goods from Wales coast of

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the rest of the UK and Scotland

sells four times more to the rest of

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the UK than to the rest of the

European Union. On that basis,

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protecting the UK market must be a

priority. Acting in the interests of

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business and communities is our

priority.

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Are my right honourable friend

update the House on the advantages

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do Wells of having a Common Market

across the whole of the United

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Kingdom, -- can he?

My honourable friend is right

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because much focuses as --

understandably and rightly placed on

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selling and trading with the

European Union but the most

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important market in Wales is the UK

market. Eight out of ten lorries are

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output to Wales and the supply

chains are complex... Two weeks ago

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we recognise the investment of

Toyota in Derbyshire and that has

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major positive impact on Toyota

and...

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Microphone?

I can't hear. I can't hear.

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The consent... And in so doing this

Government has changed the

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fundamental principle of the

devolution settlement against the

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settled will of the people of Wales.

Mr Speaker, I don't recognise the

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statements of the honourable member

being used there. The amendment that

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has been tabled in the other place

is a significant amendment where it

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recognises powers automatically fall

to devolved administrations but also

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introduces the prospect of bringing

those essentially to protect the UK

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Common Market, in the interest of

Welsh business. I have been

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privileged to sit in front of panels

of industry representatives and we

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are acting in the way they are

calling for rather than the interest

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of politicians who are more

interested in powers.

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Mr Speaker, I thank the Secretary of

State for his response, but the UK

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Government has said that this

amendment merely creates a temporary

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place for the 24 powers to be kept,

in a freezer, until new arrangements

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are discussed. If this is a

temporary measure, why permanently

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alter the Government of Wales act

2006?

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Mr Speaker, protecting the UK market

is absolutely a priority for us and

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the honourable lady will have people

in her constituency who want to sell

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their products in England according

to common practices on food

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labelling. That is an example of an

area policy we seek to get agreement

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on. We will continue to work hard

with the devolved administrations in

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order to get agreement, but it is

only the UK Government backtracked

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on the interests of the whole of the

UK rather than some politicians in

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other areas seeking to represent a

regional dimension only.

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Last week the Secretary of State

published a list explicitly

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outlining which powers Westminster

intends either to halt or to dole

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out, as it sees fit. This week we

published a set of amendments,

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without gaining the agreement of

either of the devolved nations.

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Could he explain how this is

anything other than a power grab?

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Mr Speaker, in the first instance, I

would say that list is still subject

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to discussion, as it clearly states,

in terms of the headings under the

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three various sections. I am also

pleased to say a devolved

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administration, as in Scotland and

Wales, they have recognised we

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wanted to publish that list and

supported the publication of the

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list, not necessarily that they

recognise the three elements of the

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list. This demonstrates the positive

way in which we are seeking to work

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with a devolved administration, the

devolved administrations in order to

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get agreement. Only the UK

Government can act in the interests

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of the whole UK.

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The Welsh continuity bill will pass

through its first stage of the

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timetable, if it passes, debate over

the power grab will be forced out of

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this chamber and into the courts.

Will be Secretary of State confirm

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when beginning to tell passes

whether he intends to fight this in

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the courts?

I do not think, as I

said earlier, but the continuity

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bill is necessary. The Welsh amateur

said that do not want to --

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Government were not wish to pursue

the continuity bill. I believe there

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is enough goodwill to come to an

agreement. If we are focusing on the

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needs of businesses and communities,

we will get to a positive outcome.

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Politicians to focus on the

powers...

Thank you.

I want answers

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question 35 together, the UK,'s rail

infrastructure is focused on

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maximising the benefits to

passengers while delivering the best

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value for taxpayers. The fleet of

modern trains running on the great

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Western mainline to Swansea bring

significant time savings to and from

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London and tangible benefits to

about a dozen times of speed,

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comfort and reliability without the

need for costly programme of

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electrification.

Instead into a lector like to

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Swansea, more people will use that

cars. Following the removal of the

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tolls on the Severn bridge, they

said no further modelling was

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undertaken in terms of increasing

cars. Happy Minister's department

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assessed the further gridlock?

I do not accept that not a lecture

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finding lines to Swansea will not

bring benefits, it will. The train

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journey times to London will reduce

that by 15 minutes. We have to

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recognise because of gone up

significantly, benefit to cost ratio

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was extremely low and even the

Public Accounts Committee

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recommended that it was looked at

again.

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Does the city of state agree with me

that his Government's broken

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promises on rail electrification and

its unwillingness to provide funding

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for rail enhancements will damage

the connectivity and therefore

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hinder our opportunities for

economic growth and development?

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I find it very hard to hear from of

the party opposite talking about

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rail investment when in 13 years

they properly electrified ten miles

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of line. We are bringing record

investment that is being seen all

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over the country, particularly in

Wales, we are proud of our

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achievements.

Is he aware of press reports

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suggesting that the Welsh Labour

Government are now cancelling a al

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education projects in the valleys?

They would get on with building the

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M4 relief road.

It is this Government that has been

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bringing in the investment in rail

infrastructure and he is right that

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the rate that car door does need

some solving. -- Mforce. Frankly it

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is time the washroom got on with it.

Can I urge my honourable friend to

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look at the evidence the transport

select committee received on this

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issue. We had that the new trains

will run to the same timetable if

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they are operating under diesel

power or electric, it is no loss of

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service by having these lines

electrified.

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He is a great expert in transport

matters and he is absolutely right,

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actually having the lines above the

train are not going to improve

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performance. What passengers want is

being able to get to their

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destination reliably and that is

what we are going to bring.

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Yesterday the Labour Government

cancelled electrification, using

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exactly the same as the Secretary of

State that travelling

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electrification on the line to

Swansea. Is it the case that when it

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comes to the Welsh railways, they

are being let down by the Government

0:15:430:15:46

at both ends of the M4?

I would not accept that. The fact is

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that we are investing in railway and

let us not forget that some of the

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investment but we made, maybe in

England will actually benefit

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passengers in Wales. Helping north

Wales, north Wales passengers get to

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Liverpool and the north-west.

Number format.

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We are working with the unions added

devolved administrations to develop

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a long-term viable solution. We are

deeply disappointed by the US

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announcement are taking all possible

action to support the industry.

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The still works in Corby is part of

steel supply chain that involves

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sites in Wales, further to the

conversations that he has been

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hammering in Wales, what

conversations with the having with

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ministers how he can best support

the steel industry in the UK going

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for?

Can I pay tribute to my honourable

0:16:430:16:48

friend for the work that he is doing

in supporting the steel industry. He

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was absolutely forefront of the

debate two years ago when the steel

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industry was facing a particular

crisis, it is through his influence

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that we have introduced an entity

compensation scheme, flexibility

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over EU emissions, 45 trade defence

measures, it is his influence that

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is pretty strong in this debate.

If the aware of the factor when

0:17:110:17:16

President Bush introduced Deal

tariffs in 2002, a lead to 200,000

0:17:160:17:21

job losses in the US what steps are

being taken to ensure that American

0:17:210:17:29

politicians are pressing President

Bush to drop these are truly,

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President Trump 's sorry, to drop

these terrorists.

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We have said -- drop these

terrorists.

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I spoke about the issue, the US

ambassador here in the UK are now

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spoken to the UK Trade Commission

again in the US and just last

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Friday. This is a cross Government

effort, someone is travelling to the

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US as I speak to pursue the issue.

The Prime Minister has raised

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directly with the president.

Number six.

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I have regular constructive

discussions with the Welsh

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government on EU exit and the EU

withdrawal bill and look forward to

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continue these discussions this

afternoon at the joint committee,

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chaired by my right honourable

friend the Prime Minister.

0:18:280:18:34

Agriculture and health farming in

particular are vital to Welsh

0:18:340:18:37

economy. What is he doing to ensure

the EU money going into rural

0:18:370:18:43

economy continues to do so after

Brexit? What discussions as he had

0:18:430:18:47

with his desperate colleagues? --

Defra.

0:18:470:18:55

He is right to highlight the

importance of the -- to the Welsh

0:18:550:19:02

economy. Committed to funding

agriculture to the similar scale

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till 2022.

The US UK Trade & Investment working

0:19:080:19:14

group was set up in July of last

year. What representations has these

0:19:140:19:19

are clear statement about group

about the impact that President

0:19:190:19:24

Trump's tariffs would have on the

industry?

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I mention to the honourable member

about the direct action by have

0:19:290:19:32

taken but I also referred to a whole

host of actions that were taken by

0:19:320:19:35

my right honourable friend, this is

such a priority for this team, a

0:19:350:19:41

cross Government action to support

the steel industry. My father was a

0:19:410:19:46

welder, I recognise the importance

of this industry.

0:19:460:19:51

The Welsh Labour Government in

Cardiff loves nothing more than a

0:19:510:19:55

long and fuzzy row with Westminster

over powers. Does you agree with me

0:19:550:19:58

that they would do much better to

work constructively and

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pragmatically with ministers here to

make a success of Brexit, which is

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after of what the people of Wales

waited for?

0:20:050:20:08

I am grateful my right honourable

friend is my predecessor, took some

0:20:080:20:15

positive steps to get a positive

relationship with the Welsh

0:20:150:20:19

government and laid the foundations

of the Wales Bill which is now the

0:20:190:20:25

wealth that. That is clarified the

devolution settlement that enables

0:20:250:20:29

constructive debate to take place

and I'm optimistic that over the EU

0:20:290:20:32

withdrawal bill that we can win if

we both focus on the outcome that we

0:20:320:20:36

need to focus on, the interests of

businesses and community 's.

0:20:360:20:41

I network steel who are close to

the... Does the Secretary of State

0:20:410:20:50

not think it is ironic that a time

when we need to be corporate and

0:20:500:20:53

more than ever, we are planning to

leave the European Union?

0:20:530:20:59

I also want to support the

steelworks but I remind the

0:20:590:21:03

honourable member that Wales waited

to leave the European Union and we

0:21:030:21:06

have an obligation to act on that

instruction. The honourable member

0:21:060:21:10

is right about the diversion and be

distorted to the market at the risk.

0:21:100:21:17

We are working closely with the

opinion in order to protect the

0:21:170:21:20

interests of Wales steals workers.

Members across this has recognised

0:21:200:21:30

the economic activity is not

hindered by the Borders. They

0:21:300:21:38

supported the Northern Powerhouse. I

was delighted to see that growth

0:21:380:21:44

corridors were formally recognising

the industrial strategy and will

0:21:440:21:47

continue to develop these for the

benefit of the 50% of the Welsh

0:21:470:21:51

people who live within 25 miles of

the border.

0:21:510:21:56

Wells greater access to my

constituency thanks to the M4. As

0:21:560:22:03

the considered building the M31, the

economic benefits will bring to

0:22:030:22:11

everyone I would agree, we recognise

the connectivity of them important,

0:22:110:22:15

cross-border connectivity.

The Department for Transport is

0:22:150:22:22

collecting evidence at the moment.

Attracting financial services to the

0:22:220:22:30

economy. Now the M4 toll bridges

coming down, as financial Wells

0:22:300:22:39

Powerhouse from Cardiff to Swansea?

Card already enjoys a centre of

0:22:390:22:45

excellence in finance, I think the

fact that the tolls are going on the

0:22:450:22:48

bridge will make that opportunity

even more available and we will do

0:22:480:22:52

everything we can to make sure that

it benefits in every way it can.

0:22:520:22:56

Can I tell my honourable friend that

I had a meeting with commercial

0:22:560:22:59

property people on Monday and they

were telling me that the

0:22:590:23:03

electrification of the realm line to

Swansea has having no effect

0:23:030:23:08

whatsoever on the investment, what

is the effect is the lowering of

0:23:080:23:14

tolls on the Severn crossing.

I think we should be talking up the

0:23:140:23:21

benefits of the investment that is

happening in our rail infrastructure

0:23:210:23:23

to bring about growth of cities like

Swansea, it is disappointing to hear

0:23:230:23:28

negative comments when really we

should be pushing the opportunities

0:23:280:23:32

that exist in the city.

There 7 million residents in

0:23:320:23:41

north-west England, 700,000 in north

Wales, priming and connecting these

0:23:410:23:49

two economies makes absolute sense.

The issue is finding, money. Welsh

0:23:490:23:56

government heavily committed

hundreds of millions of pounds to

0:23:560:23:59

these improvements, what new

additional funding has this

0:23:590:24:03

Government committed to date?

As the honourable gentleman knows,

0:24:030:24:09

we have given more money to the

Welsh assembly under the new

0:24:090:24:14

settlement but I completely

recognise that actually the

0:24:140:24:17

cross-border activity in north Wales

and the north-west of England is

0:24:170:24:20

incredibly important. That is

wireless pleased to meet with

0:24:200:24:23

representatives from the all-party

group the other day and we are

0:24:230:24:26

looking at some of the rail

investment that is needed,

0:24:260:24:32

particularly at the cow. -- fouls.

0:24:320:24:39

Question nine.

0:24:430:24:44

They cater investment in the Welsh

railway structure. So the benefit of

0:24:470:24:58

passengers, commuters and

businesses.

0:24:580:25:01

I am losing my voice. HS2... HS2

will cost £56 billion, 20,000 jobs

0:25:010:25:15

for £1 billion we could build 2.5

miles of HS2 or half the time is

0:25:150:25:20

between Cardiff and Swansea and have

an electrified Swansea Metro. Why is

0:25:200:25:26

the Welsh Secretary not objecting to

the billion pound cut from Network

0:25:260:25:30

Rail in our infrastructure and

investing in Wales instead?

0:25:300:25:35

He has done very well considering he

has lost his voice.

0:25:350:25:39

I would point out that HS2 of the UK

scheme provides the opportunity of

0:25:390:25:45

significant benefits to connectivity

to north Wales. He is relating a

0:25:450:25:48

Swansea Metro project which offers

interesting opportunities and I

0:25:480:25:53

happy to say that I am meeting the

architect of that in the coming

0:25:530:25:56

weeks.

Does my right honourable friend

0:25:560:26:00

agreed that the recently launched

Wells strategic rail 's prospectus

0:26:000:26:07

contains sensible proposals that

would significantly improve rail

0:26:070:26:10

connectivity in north Wales and they

should receive favourable

0:26:100:26:15

consideration by the Government?

I am grateful to my right honourable

0:26:150:26:19

friend for his hard work in this

area because connectivity on a

0:26:190:26:24

cross-border races is important and

demonstrate how integrated the

0:26:240:26:27

network is. There are significant

investment is taking place across

0:26:270:26:33

the north Wales network,

0:26:330:26:37