26/03/2014 The Wales Report


26/03/2014

Huw Edwards takes a look at issues that matter in Wales and Helen Callaghan investigates the reality of living in modern Wales.


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Tonight on the Wales Report. Are the natural resources of Wales being

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properly protected? There are new concerns about the independence of

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the body responsible. The latest twist in the debate about more

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powers for the Welsh Government. We'll be talking to the Secretary of

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State, David Jones. And why is Wales so slow to promote the interests of

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women in public life? Stay with us for the Wales Report.

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Good evening and welcome to The Wales Report. Tonight: A special

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investigation into the work of Natural Resources Wales. It is a

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major new body set up last year with a budget of ?180 million, looking

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after some of the most valuable assets of the Welsh economy. Those

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resources are worth around ?8 billion. It's meant to be an

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independent body making crucial decision about the landscape,

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environment and wildlife of Wales. But how independent is it? And is

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the Welsh Government exerting an unhealthy influence on the work of

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the NRW? The Wales Report has seen evidence which raises questions

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about the relationship, reflecting the concerns of some of those who

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work inside NRW. Helen Callaghan reports.

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In Wales, our natural environment is perhaps our greatest asset. Our

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mountains, rivers and wildlife, the business they attract are worth more

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than ?8 billion to the Welsh economy each year. The natural environment

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is crucial to Wales. It is one of our few US peas, unique selling

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points. For the last 12 months the important task of looking after our

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environment has been the job of one body, Natural Resources Wales, which

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is funded by the Welsh Government to operate independently. It has a wide

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remit with responsibilities for planning, forestry and flood

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defences to name just a few. With a budget of 177 million and more than

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2000 staff it is our large -- largest Welsh government-sponsored

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body. But now, there are serious concerns that the Welsh Government

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wields too much influence over the bodies decisions. They are meant to

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be made independently. One of the first big test for Natural Resources

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Wales was how it dealt with proposals to develop this site into

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the circuit of Wales racetrack. There are claims it ended up

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backtracking on decisions already made by his predecessor, the

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countryside Council for Wales. It objected to the plan in March last

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year and recommended it be refused as Israelis significant

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environmental concerns. It would have an adverse effect. -- it would

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raise significant environmental concerns. It listed everything from

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noise and light pollution to the impact on biodiversity. Just months

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later, it actually alter its recommendation that the application

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be refused saying all the concerns could be dealt with and the plan

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could now go ahead. The Wales report has been shown e-mails written by

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the late Morgan Parry, a former NRW board member. The e-mails show

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frustration that staff are being asked to change the recommendations

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despite no new evidence coming to light. I don't know who wrote our

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submission. It painted a picture of an

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organisation where environmental governance seem to have been totally

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bypassed. When decisions were made by an individual of a small number

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of individuals, ignoring scientific evidence, ignoring advice from its

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own officials. It argued the case of circuit of Wales may not be an

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isolated example. The Wales reporter spoken to a senior staff member who

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claims that advice and decisions have been changed as a result of

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pressure from the Welsh Government. The staff member wants to remain

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anonymous but believes the organisation is failing to provide

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the independent expertise needed to protect the environment. From day

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one of the new organisation it is Cleo the Welsh Government ministers

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and officials expected to have a strong day-to-day influence on the

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decisions and advice of Natural Resources Wales.

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Helen Callaghan reporting their statement goes on to say that

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NRW's executive team haven't challenged the pressure being

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applied by the Welsh Government, they themselves have put substantial

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pressure on staff to come with the right answer for Welsh Government

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even when that is though evidence to support it. I does recognise that at

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all. We much depend on the advice coming forward from our staff and we

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support that advice. They are not given a steel on any kind of answer

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we expect all we want. We look at the evidence in front of us, we hear

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the advice of the staff and we implement on that. Does it surprise

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you that there are certain people who feel that way? Any organisation

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which is new, which is undergoing a period of change, yes, there will be

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people who are uncertain about their position. We are trying to take an

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overall holistic approach. Ringing together the various disciplines

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from the predecessor bodies to arrive at a similar conclusion.

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Criticisms of NRW don't centre on its independence from Welsh

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Government influence. The concern is the body's focus is spread too

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thinly over too wide a remote which includes the 280,000 hectares of

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woodland. When it was first put forward, we were quite concerned

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that we were losing an organisation which had a forestry focus. What we

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are seeing at the moment is a certain amount of disorganisation.

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Do you feel you are managing to fulfil that wide remit? We are

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unique organisation but we are managing all that work very well in

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my opinion. I am pleased with things. We're looking at things from

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an overall perspective which did not exist before. They have had nearly

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12 months. They have got the next year to sort themselves out. We have

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to see results. Joining me now is the Minister for Natural Resources,

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Alun Davies. Is this an independent body or not?

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It certainly is. The big story is there is no story at all. When I

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wrote the order, when I sighed the order bringing Natural Resources

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Wales into existence a year ago, I remember this duty was full of these

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Jeremiahs wringing hands and telling is nothing was going to work. The

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whole place would collapse. Since then, the BBC has not run a

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single-storey in the last year on all of those scare stories and all

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of those scare tactics we had a year ago. NRW is in a smooth and

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controlled fashion. They have had to deal with the biggest challenge.

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That was from floods, to storms, to forestry and three disease. It is

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succeeding in your view because it is carrying out its work

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independently or because you are telling it what to do? It is

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listening to advice from its own specialists and giving us advice.

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For example, you have spent the last two or three months reporting on the

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chaos in England about the floods. You haven't been reporting about

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that in Wales. We haven't seen the same chaos in Wales. You have got

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somebody like NRW investing in flood defences and the management of them.

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We have already ensured that all the funding required to rebuild the

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flood defences in places like Aberystwyth has been delivered. That

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is done as a consequence of the work of NRW, both managing and leading

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the response to the storms. But also understanding the impact on that.

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NRW didn't just respond to what happened in those storms are both

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planned how we should respond in future. I have listened to them.

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What is your relationship with them? Do you intervene and meddle in

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what they do? I have just provided a remote letter for the next year.

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That'll outlined the main areas and want them to focus on and the areas

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I want them to lead on in the next 12 months. That is about dealing

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with green growth, investing in sustainable management of our

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natural resources and to ensure largely unable to provide the advice

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we need in government. I understand the sensitivity around the circuit

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of Wales but that is the kind of case people have brought up. They

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have said that is why the are concerned about the independence of

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this new body. What can you say to reassure them? A single anonymous

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source, that is a generalised... What about Morgan Parry? The person

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you quoted was anonymous. Look at the practice of the work that NRW is

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doing daily in, day out, throughout its first year. It has delivered on

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its expectations and I expectations. We are building on a firm

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foundation. When you look at the organisation, the number of staff,

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the focus will be slightly changed from where it was before. You

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mentioned forestry and timber work, concerned about how efficiently that

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is being run. You happy with that? Certainly. Does criticisms I have

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heard in the last 365 days. The real challenge facing NRW in the next

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year isn't what was in the film but is in working as a part of the

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country of Wales in protecting and managing our naturally is. And doing

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that independently? Yes, but also changing how we do governance in

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Wales. We want to say this is how we can manage developments. This is how

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we can manage sustainability. This is how we can deliver. We want to

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see economic growth. We want our natural resources contributed to it.

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That is a fantastic challenge for NRW, it is a fantastic opportunity

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for Wales. I want to work with NRW to see that vision. You dismiss most

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of the film but it is to do with the culture of this new body. Whether

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you as a minister are ready to give it a bit of space to make its

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decision without looking over his shoulder all the time, worrying

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about what you might be thinking. It is hard the space to take those

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decisions. That it has had. The point that you are making are

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correct. It -- that there is need to be a culture change. It can't be a

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body that says no to everybody. That must not be how NRW operates. It

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must recognise its role is to manage the natural resources of Wales in a

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sustainable way. It is not for me to say how that is achieved. That is up

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for the senior management team and all the staff of NRW to deliver on

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the ambitions that all of us shared across Wales. Minister, thank you

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very much. It was pensions and bingo that

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dominated the headlines following last week's Budget so maybe only the

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very observant would have noticed the Chancellor's reference to The

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Wales Bill which sets out plans for the further devolution of tax and

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borrowing powers. The bill was published the day after the Budget.

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If it becomes law, it would give the Welsh Government the power to borrow

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more money to fund major projects, and subject to a Yes vote in a

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referendum there would be scope to adjust income tax. There are some

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who see this as a positive development, others accuse the

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coalition government of having less than honourable intentions. We will

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not be seeking income tax varying powers in future. We fear there is a

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trap being laid for the Welsh people by the Conservative party. Labour is

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used to the regular attacks by David Cameron, who accuses the Labour

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government in Wales of a disastrous record, especially on education and

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health. There are people on NHS waiting lists dying in Wales because

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the waiting lists are too long because the NHS is not being

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properly managed and Wales. They need to get their act together. In

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just 14 months, people will vote in the General Election. To what extent

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will Mr Cameron's campaign feature Wales as a weapon to attack Labour?

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Joining me now from our Westminster studio is the Secretary of State for

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Wales, David Jones. Is that a concern? I think people will have to

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examine what Labour do in power than the closest example that we have at

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the moment is Wales. The only part of the country in which they are

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actually in power, and it is right people should examine it very

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closely. If people get the impression that David Cameron is

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brandishing Wales as a basket case, how does that leave us? I do not

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think that is the case but it cannot be ignored that Wales has the worst

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health outcomes and education is on the decline and economic development

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has not doing too well. I think it is an parallel right to examine what

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has happened in Wales and compare it with the UK. When you look at

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coverage in our newspapers, should Wales be getting this coverage and

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what does that say to investors? I would say it is a challenge to the

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Welsh government to get the house in order and stuff like the remarks by

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Mark Draper about bagging Wales from the mud is not the right answer.

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They should be ensuring Wales gets the same standard of care as the

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rest of Britain and they are entitled to it. To pretend there is

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no problem is not really good enough. How will the Wales Bill will

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change things? What it will do in terms of fiscal accountability is

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the Volvo two small taxes, but what it'll do addition is the Volvo to

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the assembly the power to hold a referendum. -- devolve. 10p of each

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band of tax will be given to the assembly if there is our yes vote.

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We think the assembly government should be grasping the opportunity

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for going for a referendum as early as possible, and that would have to

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be predicated on the pledge to reduce the Welsh rate of tax, and I

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think that is a massive opportunity for the Welsh government. Do you

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recognise the claim by Labour and others that this is a trap you are

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setting? Not at all. If the Welsh government want to be treated as a

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McEwan institution and be held accountable, they need to be in a

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position where they can see we are responsible for this element of tax

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and will treat it with respect and deliver a lower rate of tax. I think

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that is a massive opportunity to grow the Welsh economy and it also

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gives them access to a larger borrowings dream which is what the

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Labour Party say they want. Why would it make sense to embrace these

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powers of the fundamental settlement is not in place? Carwyn Jones may

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see that but his administration agreed with us in 2012, a formula by

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which the issue of convergence would be examined at this stage. This has

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happened and what expenditure at a national level declining, there is

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less likely to be convergence. I think it looks awfully like the

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Welsh government making excuses for not taking on the accountability

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that I think people want to see. Are they also when your view making

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excuses about rail electrification? Rail electrification is important to

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South Wales. We made the commitment and entered agreement with the Welsh

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government and that was evidenced in correspondence between Justin

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Greening and Carl Sargeant, the Welsh Minister. There is also a long

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audit Trail of correspondence following that which makes it

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absolutely clear what we have the United Kingdom government are doing

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and what they as the Welsh government had expected to do,

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including most importantly an e-mail from the office of rail regulation

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that says the Welsh government would pay for the relevant work. I think

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that really what people want to see is the lion lecture five and rather

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than engaging in megaphone diplomacy, I would prefer if he ask

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Edwina Hart to have an early meeting with Patrick McLoughlin, the

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transport secretary, and resolve whatever difficulties they seem to

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have. If you cannot afford, talk to the transport secretary, but to

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engage in this sort of grandstanding does not help matters much. When the

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Prime Minister said, I know we need these infrastructure investments in

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Wales and it is this government that is putting money into

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electrification, and of course the Valley lines. When he said that was

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he wrong to include the Valley lines? The Prime Minister indicated

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we are supporting directly and indirectly the upgrading of the

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infrastructure, but really, one has to look at the correspondence that

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has continued between ministers and between officials in the Department

:20:26.:20:31.

of Transport and the Welsh government. It is absolutely crystal

:20:32.:20:35.

clear of the Welsh government weren't going to be paying for the

:20:36.:20:40.

portion of the work, and if they are now saying they are having

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difficulty affording that, they should be speaking to the transport

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secretary. Thank you for joining us. It seems big business is becoming

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less of a man's world. Women now account for 20% of board members in

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FTSE 100 companies, but it is not reflected in Wales. New research

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shows little progress has been made in getting more women into positions

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of power and influence. The Wales Report has surveyed 61 of Wales's

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key public sector organisations and just one in five is led by a woman.

:21:16.:21:19.

In the private sector, the latest figures from the Equality and Human

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Rights Commission Wales found that among the 100 top companies

:21:23.:21:25.

operating in Wales, just two had female chief executives.

:21:26.:21:28.

In the world of politics, just seven of 40 Welsh MPs are women. There are

:21:29.:21:34.

three members of the Welsh cabinet and just over a quarter of

:21:35.:21:38.

councillors in Wales are women. In a moment I'll be talking with one of

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Wales's most prominent business women, Laura Tenison, about the

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challenges. But first, Professor Laura McAllister, chair of Sport

:21:44.:21:46.

Wales, offers her thoughts on getting more women into boardrooms

:21:47.:21:47.

and businesses. When I was playing football, when I

:21:48.:22:10.

got selected to play for Wales I believe that was because I was the

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best player in that position. I don't think that happens in other

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areas of professional life, because there are whole layer of more

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complex factors that determine how women get selected to do things.

:22:26.:22:34.

In lots of environments, it becomes apparent that the setup, whether the

:22:35.:22:39.

meeting or conference or dialogue, has been designed by men for men so

:22:40.:22:43.

often it is the loudest voice that gains most credibility. The

:22:44.:22:49.

traditional setup for the lot of leadership situations has been very

:22:50.:22:53.

old-fashioned and I think it is important that by having more

:22:54.:22:59.

diverse leaders we push the boundaries and debunk them as valid

:23:00.:23:04.

ways of operating a business. I do not tolerate lack of diversity

:23:05.:23:09.

at any stage in our organisation, so we would put up -- never put up a

:23:10.:23:18.

panel of all-male Laurel female voices to speak to an audience

:23:19.:23:22.

because I think it is important to have different views and life

:23:23.:23:30.

experiences. There are lots of men and women who

:23:31.:23:35.

would say, I want to be chosen on merit, not simply because I'm a

:23:36.:23:42.

woman only black person. I understand that but let's examine

:23:43.:23:48.

that meritocracy concepts. If you really believe that we

:23:49.:23:52.

operate according to a meritocracy, you need to ask yourself, why 80% of

:23:53.:23:58.

the powerful jobs in Wales held by men? What I always say when I talk

:23:59.:24:03.

to audiences about this is especially fathers with daughters,

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are you comfortable with the fact your eight-year-old daughter will

:24:09.:24:11.

not have the opportunities as you have eight-year-old son? The answers

:24:12.:24:18.

is one of complete horror. We have two really accelerate the changes

:24:19.:24:22.

that are happening and unless we are prepared to sacrifice our daughters

:24:23.:24:26.

and their daughters until we get proper equality.

:24:27.:24:31.

That was Laura McAllister, chair of Sport Wales. Joining me now is Laura

:24:32.:24:35.

Tenison who founded JoJoMamanBebe, the high street clothing chain for

:24:36.:24:48.

babies and mothers. Good to have you back. It was a bit depressing in

:24:49.:24:55.

those terms because she laid it on the line. What is your analysis of

:24:56.:25:01.

what is still going wrong and 2014 in trying to correct this balance?

:25:02.:25:05.

We have to remember how far we've come. When I was growing up, gender

:25:06.:25:13.

stereotyping from childhood was rife. Today's parents want their

:25:14.:25:18.

children to succeed regardless of their gender and I think things are

:25:19.:25:23.

improving, have improved hugely in the last 20 years, and if we put

:25:24.:25:31.

quarters in place, it could set us back at least ten years. -- quotas.

:25:32.:25:41.

Her point is if we have an open meritocracy it is not getting as the

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results so maybe it is time to look at more rigorous ways of forcing the

:25:46.:25:51.

balance? Yes, but they do not give the right impression. If we become

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talk ends on board we will get more discrimination. Where men can prove

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they are good at their job. It is like the here and tortoise. Women

:26:06.:26:10.

can run businesses for longevity without too many mistakes and men

:26:11.:26:15.

rush ahead looking for an exit strategy. When a look at building

:26:16.:26:20.

communities. It is well proven that women reinvest their local

:26:21.:26:25.

businesses and run businesses with a safe mantra. Ambition is something I

:26:26.:26:32.

want to talk about because Laura mentioned the eight-year-old girl in

:26:33.:26:36.

comparison with her brother. Is there a problem with levels of

:26:37.:26:40.

ambition in particular in Wales and those that become more acute

:26:41.:26:45.

relating to young girls and teenage girls looking at career prospects? I

:26:46.:26:51.

get slightly depressed when I see how obsessed with fat US seems some

:26:52.:26:59.

of the generals in this country are, because the reality is we should be

:27:00.:27:04.

aspiring to be brain surgeons or at least managers in the workplace. The

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other statistic that stood out was 80% of top jobs in Wales are held by

:27:12.:27:16.

men. Is that simply a traditional cultural thing? Is that really

:27:17.:27:22.

telling us that in 2014 we still have attitudes which are frankly

:27:23.:27:27.

old-fashioned and I am wondering is Wales lagging behind the rest of the

:27:28.:27:31.

UK? We absolutely are lagging behind. We are something like three

:27:32.:27:39.

percentage points behind the UK and it is something that needs to be

:27:40.:27:46.

done but not with a quota. We need to accept that where men are good at

:27:47.:27:50.

things and promote them. We hold ourselves back and lack the

:27:51.:27:53.

confidence. When you need a job done, ask a busy woman. She will fit

:27:54.:27:59.

it somehow rant juggle everything else. Where men are very good at

:28:00.:28:07.

multitasking in a way men are not always. We need to be careful not to

:28:08.:28:13.

gender stereotype ourselves but the reality is where men are great at

:28:14.:28:18.

adding diversity to the workplace and adding qualities men do not

:28:19.:28:23.

always have. In Wales, we have a lot of dinosaurs and that comes from the

:28:24.:28:27.

fact we had male dominated industries in the past but things

:28:28.:28:32.

are changing, so let's just be patient and let the dinosaurs

:28:33.:28:36.

retired and there is a new breed of ambitious girls coming through. I

:28:37.:28:40.

think we will have a different story in about ten years.

:28:41.:28:43.

That's all we have time for tonight. We'll be taking a break for a few

:28:44.:28:47.

weeks, but will return to your screens after Easter. In the

:28:48.:28:50.

meantime you can get in touch with us about the issues discussed

:28:51.:28:53.

tonight, or indeed anything else. Email us at

:28:54.:28:54.

[email protected], and we are Twitter: @thewalesreport.

:28:55.:28:57.

Thanks for watching. Good night. Nos da.

:28:58.:29:02.

Huw Edwards asks the questions that matter to you about your job, your health, your future. Confronting decision makers with the consequences of their choices and each week Helen Callaghan will be investigating the reality of living in modern Wales.


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