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Government Funding

Volume 489: debated on Wednesday 11 March 2009

5. What recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on the mechanisms for allocation of central Government funding to Wales. (261328)

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his response, but in Wales £8,577 per person is spent on public expenditure. In my constituency it is only £6,936. My constituents pay the same taxes as those in Wales. Is it fair that each man, woman and child in Wellingborough is £1,641 a year worse off?

I do not know the rate of deprivation in Wellingborough, but large parts of Wales are seriously deprived because of the run-down of traditional industries. The Barnett formula, which deals with central funding for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, was based on the needs of those different parts of our United Kingdom. That is the reason why that difference is in place.

Will my right hon. Friend assure me that any discussions that he has about central funding and the mechanism used do not undervalue the role of defence expenditure in projects such as the defence technical academy in my constituency at St. Athan? Will he join me in welcoming the news that the joint director for technical training in the military is going to move to St. Athan in April, in anticipation of the construction of the new college?

Of course I will, and I congratulate my hon. Friend on his tenacity in dealing with this issue. Billions of pounds of public spending will come to his constituency and the surrounding constituencies, and I know that he has played a very significant role in ensuring that that is the case.

Central funding for policing in Wales has left south Wales with a shortfall of £10 million since 2005 and with an estimated shortfall of £7.7 million over the next three years. I have already written to the Home Secretary about that and have not yet had a reply. Will the Secretary of State take the matter up with the Home Office, to tackle that unfair and dangerous funding gap?

The hon. Lady will be pleased to know that I met the Home Secretary last week on that very issue, and further discussions are ongoing.

The Assembly Finance Committee this week, and the Labour party in Scotland through its submission to the Calman commission, have made the case for borrowing powers to be given to the devolved Administrations. Does the Secretary of State see some merit in that proposal?

I cannot see an enormous amount of merit in it at this stage, because of course if there is borrowing, money has to be found from somewhere to pay off the borrowing. However, I know that further discussions are being held on the matter. [Interruption.]

Order. Before I call the next question, I should say that it is unfair to hon. Members who are here for Welsh questions that there is so much private conversation.