10. What recent assessment he has made of the cost of living in Wales. (903937)
The Government understand the financial pressures facing many households at this time. That is why we have introduced real practical measures to bring down the cost of living in Wales by freezing fuel duty and raising the personal allowance, taking some of the lowest paid out of income tax altogether. We are putting money back into the pockets of hard-working people in Wales.
Just as in Harlow, the Conservative-led coalition Government have had a relentless focus on helping people with the cost of living, by freezing fuel duty, freezing council tax and cutting tax for lower earners. Will my hon. Friend lobby the Treasury to go ever further and raise the threshold at which lower earners pay national insurance contributions?
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for the work he does campaigning for those on the lowest incomes. Decisions on national insurance contributions are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I share my hon. Friend’s objective. We are determined to return more money to the pockets of hard-working people by taking them out of income tax.
Train fares are high and electrification of the valleys lines is crucial for south Wales. What is the Minister doing to make sure that the Government are making sure that the 2019 electrification timetable will be met?
Improving the rail network in the valleys is an important way of our connecting people in those communities, where unemployment is higher than average, with the new jobs that are being created in Cardiff and Newport. As the hon. Gentleman knows, discussions about electrification of the valleys lines are part of the discussions we are having with colleagues in the Welsh Government and colleagues at the Department for Transport about how we finance that major package of infrastructure improvements for south Wales.