Skip to main content

Economy

Volume 597: debated on Wednesday 17 June 2015

2. What assessment he has made of the effects in Wales of the Government’s long-term economic plan. (900271)

The Government’s long-term economic plan is clearly working for the Welsh economy. The UK is the fastest growing nation of the G7, and Wales is the fastest growing part of the UK. Our long-term economic plan has achieved some of the highest levels of employment in our history.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Having hauled my constituency out of the hands of Labour dominance after 109 years, I wonder whether my hon. Friend agrees that the general election result demonstrated clearly what we knew all along, which is that the Labour party, together with its failing chums in Cardiff Bay, was consistently on the wrong side of the economic argument.

My hon. Friend hits the nail on the head. His success in Gower was one of the most remarkable across the United Kingdom. His presence here is testament to the economic success of the Conservative Government. To his credit, he has played a significant part in lobbying the Government on major infrastructure projects that will benefit his constituency, such as electrification of the Great Western main line all the way to Swansea.

Cutting the Severn bridge toll should be an integral part of any plan for the Welsh economy, because we have the highest tolls in the UK, and they hit bridge users in south Wales particularly hard. Yes, VAT will come off the toll in 2018, but that is not nearly enough. Can the Minister confirm that he will be lobbying the Secretary of State for Transport extremely hard so that we get a much fairer deal for Severn bridge users?

The hon. Lady has raised that matter on several occasions. I am sure that she was pleased to hear the Chancellor announce that VAT will no longer apply, but she is right that we need to go further. We are abolishing category 2 so that white vans and pink minibuses will pay the same price as a light vehicle, unlike the way it was left by the Labour party.

I very much welcome any rise in employment in Wales, but more than half of all households with children in Wales, many of which include people working in low-income jobs, rely on tax credits to make ends meet. What reassurance can the Minister give to those Welsh families that his Government’s long-term economic plan does not include cutting their child tax credits?

The Government’s long-term economic plan is taking people out of poverty and bringing them into work. The hon. Lady should welcome the unemployment data that were announced today, which show that more than 100,000 private sector jobs have been created in the Welsh economy. Unemployment is falling and investment is growing. I hope that the hon. Lady will welcome that.

Indeed, I did welcome that. Yet again, there were no real answers from the hon. Gentleman; perhaps he is practising to be Prime Minister. Families across Wales who are going out to work and doing their best for their children will be very worried by that answer. If he cannot give full reassurance that his Government will protect tax credits, will he at least speak up and try to stop his fellow Ministers giving a kick in the teeth to working families while passing laws to protect millionaires from tax rises?

I am surprised that the Labour party is still pursuing the wrong priorities. It is on the wrong side of public opinion. The public rightly demand that we reform welfare and incentivise people to work. That policy worked over the past five years and I hope that she will welcome its continuation over the next five years.