We continue to work closely with colleagues across both the UK and Welsh Governments to ensure that the industrial strategy continues to deliver for Wales. We have already made funding available for a number of projects for Wales, including recently providing a further £1.4 million to support innovative battery technology through the Faraday battery challenge.
Will the Minister confirm that by refusing to invest in major opportunities such as the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, the UK Government are denying the Welsh steel industry a significant opportunity to innovate and create quality jobs that would support a new industry with global growth potential?
I am afraid I do not recognise that description, given that the National Infrastructure Commission supported our decision. It is worth noting that the tidal lagoon project would be three times more expensive at producing electricity than other alternatives.
In the light of the very concerning news about the number of jobs that could be lost at the Ford engine plant in Bridgend, and reports of the impact that similar announcements by Nissan in my region and Honda will have on the supply chain companies in Wales, what assessment has the Minister made of the impact that Brexit is already having on the automotive sector in Wales? What discussions has he had with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to provide support to the sector in Wales via the industrial strategy?
It is worth saying that Ford has said that the decision is not linked to Brexit; if Opposition Members are interested in the views of Ford, it said to vote for the deal on Friday 29 March. Let me be clear that there is positive news. Only this month, Aston Martin started production of a new line of vehicles in St Athan in south Wales—in the Secretary of State’s constituency. That shows what can be done when there is positive work on behalf of local people.
The design of the shared prosperity fund will be crucial to Wales’s industrial strategy. Communities and business shareholders are clear on what the fund should look like—not a penny less, nor a power lost for Wales. The consultation on the fund was in the 2017 Conservative manifesto, and was mentioned in a written statement in July last year and by the Secretary of State at the Dispatch Box last October. Can the Minister confirm that this consultation has now been withdrawn?