Skip to main content

The Union

Volume 686: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2020

The Government are unwavering in their commitment to the Union as a social and economic partnership. Its strength is demonstrated by the economic support we have provided to Welsh business during the covid-19 outbreak and by the city and growth deals that help to level up communities across the UK.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the strengths of our Union—our great and united Union—is that we can support and help each other in times of crisis? What support are the UK Government giving to the Welsh Government to help them to fight the pandemic, now that Wales has the second-highest death rate per 100,000 in Europe?

My hon. Friend touches on a current and important point: the Union is not a competition; it is a partnership. I sometimes think it gets portrayed as the former, whereas we all know that it is the latter. The UK Government have been able to introduce numerous financial interventions to assist the Welsh Government in fighting this dreadful pandemic. The most recent is yesterday’s joint letter from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to the First Minister saying that where hospitals face real challenges and hardship in Wales, NHS England and the UK Government stand ready to offer whatever support we can and to put down our political differences to make sure that we fight covid as a UK-wide challenge.

The scale of the response to covid in Wales in terms of economic support would never have been possible without the combined strength of our United Kingdom, so will my right hon. Friend emphasise that that strength will help us to ensure that Wales recovers alongside the rest of the United Kingdom as, hopefully, we move on from covid next year?

My right hon. Friend is right. All the businesses in Wales that we have spoken to during the covid crisis have pointed out that they do not recognise political boundaries: they are fiercely Welsh and very patriotic, but they recognise that the economic regions stretch into the far corners of the UK and well beyond. My right hon. Friend is absolutely right that we do make that commitment. Whether or not we are Unionists in the original sense, we are very much on the same page.