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Infrastructure Investment

Volume 630: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2017

3. What recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on infrastructure investment in Wales. (901489)

6. What recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on infrastructure investment in Wales. (901492)

I hold regular discussions with Government Departments and the Welsh Government about infrastructure investment in Wales. We have invested £212 million in the new HMP Berwyn and committed more than £600 million to city deals in Cardiff and Swansea. Just last week, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was in Swansea to announce our £800,000 investment in important innovative infrastructure—the UK’s first energy-positive office, which is capable of generating more energy than it uses.

Lasting economic success will come only from a long-term approach to major economic decisions, which is why it is so great that the Welsh Labour Government are supporting strategic investment in infrastructure. A Labour Government will ensure that they work with rather than against the devolved Governments. Is that the same for the Conservatives and, if so, will the Minister assure the House that Wales will get its full Barnett consequentials funding from HS2?

The hon. Lady raises an interesting point, but I regret to say that it probably shows that she does not really understand the relationship between the Wales Office and the Welsh Government. It is fair to say that infrastructure investment in Wales does depend on a partnership approach, which is why the growth deals secured for Swansea and Cardiff have been crucial examples of co-operation, and why I am working so closely with the Economy Minister to develop a north Wales growth deal.

Like many constituencies across Wales, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney has seen huge benefits from European structural funds, but there is great uncertainty about the future. Will the Minister assure the House that the level of financial benefits that we currently enjoy from structural funds will be replicated when we leave the European Union?

The hon. Gentleman makes a point about structural funds, but the reality is that structural funds in Wales did not make the difference that we anticipated. This Government are committed to a shared prosperity fund for the entire United Kingdom. Communities such as Merthyr Tydfil want good long-term jobs—the type of jobs I saw when I visited General Dynamics, which is recruiting apprentices and creating quality jobs in Merthyr Tydfil. That is exactly what the south Wales economy needs.

The excellent History of Parliament website yesterday tweeted a link to a 1606 Bill to build a new bridge at Chepstow. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is a pity that those involved did not add an amendment calling for a M4 relief road, because by now the Welsh Assembly Government might have got their act together and actually built one?

I thank my hon. Friend for that comment. It is indeed disappointing that we are still waiting for a relief road for Newport. I understand that the Welsh Government are going for another consultation, but it is imperative for the sake of the economy of south Wales and the south Wales valleys that we see action on a relief road for Newport sooner rather than later.

11. I was pleased that the Minister mentioned the north Wales growth bid. It is now 10 years since the step change in services between Chester and Shrewsbury that was caused by the introduction of an hourly service. Does he agree with everyone else in north Wales that it is high time that that step change was repeated through the reintroduction of the north Wales growth bid and better transport services across the border? (901497)

The hon. Gentleman is a key supporter of better transport links in north Wales, and his work on Growth Track 360 is appreciated by the Department. The north Wales growth deal is a key priority for the Wales Office. Cross-border connectivity is crucial to that growth deal, and I agree that we need to improve transport links, whether road or rail, as part of the development of the north Wales growth deal.

I would like to add my condolences, and those of Labour Members, to all those affected by the heartbreaking tragedy at Llangammarch.

Wales is one of many areas in Europe that have received EU structural funds to help to improve their infrastructure. After 2020, will Wales receive the same funding as those comparator regions of Europe or will there be a reduction in funding to Wales by this Conservative Government?

The hon. Gentleman raises the question of EU structural funds as if they were a success story in the Welsh context. They were actually a failure: £4 billion of investment, yet our comparative economic performance fell. This Government are committed to the UK shared prosperity fund, which will work for the benefit of the Welsh economy, rather than being wasted in the way in which the Welsh Government wasted our structural funds over the past 18 years.

I am afraid that the Minister did not answer my question, so I will come back to it. There is a lack of clarity about what will happen in Wales after 2020. I thank the Secretary of State for meeting me to discuss these issues, but will he and the Minister convene a meeting of the Wales team, the shadow Wales team and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to sort these issues out so that there is absolute clarity for the people of Wales?

The offer of a meeting is something I would always be happy to accept, but it has to be at the right time. In the context of structural funding, the key thing is that, for example, a strategic approach across north Wales was not possible because four counties were receiving European structural funds and two were not. We now have an opportunity for a strategic approach across north Wales, which will be supported by a UK shared prosperity fund in due course.