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Funding in Wales

Volume 628: debated on Wednesday 6 September 2017

3. What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on whether additional funding announced for Northern Ireland in the Government’s deal with the Democratic Unionist party will have consequences for funding in Wales. (900691)

The agreement with the Democratic Unionist party is about delivering for the whole of the United Kingdom so that we can get on with our plan to get the best Brexit deal for our country and create an economy that works for everyone. It is part of the Government’s commitment to support growth across all parts of the UK, including commitments to investment in city deals in Wales and the introduction of the Barnett floor to provide the Welsh Government with fair funding for the long term.

Given the cash deal with the DUP to prop up the Government, did the Secretary of State demand an increase for Wales under the Barnett formula, or was he simply sidelined?

I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Secretary of State and I have been successful in achieving city deals for Cardiff and Swansea, and we are working towards a north Wales growth deal as well. That additional funding from Westminster was not subject to any Barnett consequentials with regard to any other part of the United Kingdom.

Does my hon. Friend agree that last year’s fiscal framework agreement secures long-term, needs-based funding for the Welsh Government, and that that can act as an enabler for improved public services across Wales?

I thank my hon. Friend for her question. She is absolutely right: this Government have delivered a fiscal framework for Wales that was called for for 13 years, when the Labour party did absolutely nothing. That fiscal framework gives certainty of funding for Wales and the people of Wales, and it will be beneficial to the development of the Welsh economy.

The Secretary of State and the Minister have been having some problems with the Conservative party in Wales. Does the Minister agree with its leader, who said:

“Any potential incentives considered for one nation in securing the majority must also be considered for Wales”?

When are the Secretary of State and the Minister going to do their job and at least follow the line of their leader in Wales on securing additional funding for the people of Wales?

The leader of the Assembly group in Wales has the right of his own position, but the situation is very clear: this Government’s commitment to Wales is unprecedented. We delivered a fiscal framework when the Labour party did nothing. We have delivered city deals for Cardiff and Swansea, and we will deliver a growth deal for north Wales. This Government’s track record is one of additional investment to Wales, which needs to be matched by the Welsh Government.

As part of their arrangement with the DUP, the UK Government will contribute £150 million over two years to the improvement of broadband in Northern Ireland. As I am sure the Minister will be aware, of the bottom 10 UK constituencies for average download speeds, more than half are in Wales. What discussions has he had with Cabinet colleagues to ensure similar funding to improve broadband infrastructure in Wales?

I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s question and I welcome him to his place. The situation is very clear: constituencies such as Ceredigion and my own of Aberconwy have lagged behind in broadband connectivity in a Welsh context. He will be aware that broadband roll-out in Wales is the responsibility of the Welsh Government. It is interesting to note that Labour constituencies in Wales were prioritised over constituencies such as Ceredigion and my own of Aberconwy.

The May magic money tree, celebrated by the Tories during the general election, has been found planted and flourishing in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, Wales withers under Tory austerity. Some Tories have taken a principled stand on the use of pork-barrel bungs to Northern Ireland. The Tory Secretary of State for Scotland said that there should be no “back-door funding”, and the Tory leader in Wales, Andrew R. T. Davies, said:

“Any potential incentives considered for one nation…must also be considered for Wales.”

When is the Secretary of State for Wales going to do his job and stand up for Wales?

I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his new position on the Front Bench, and I welcome him back to the House. I will repeat the comments that I have already made. For 13 years between 1997 and 2010, he was a Back Bencher when there was a Labour Government in this place. That Labour Government did not deliver any change to the Barnett formula, and they did not deliver a fiscal framework for Wales. This Government are delivering for Wales, and we will deliver a north Wales growth deal, which will be beneficial to his constituents.