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The Welsh Economy

Volume 636: debated on Tuesday 27 February 2018

9. What recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of Government investment on the Welsh economy. (904036)

My hon. Friend will know that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced an additional £1.2 billion for Wales in the Budget. We maintain our position of ensuring that Welsh Government funding per head is some 15% or more above the rate in England. As a consequence of those and other measures, Wales is now one of the fastest growing of the nations and regions of the United Kingdom.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that leaving the UK single market would represent a far bigger risk to the Welsh economy than leaving the EU single market?

My hon. Friend is entirely right. It is a simple fact that some 80% of Welsh exports go to the other nations of the United Kingdom, compared with just 12% going into the European Union. Those figures speak for themselves.

Traditionally, Wales has lower wages than the rest of the economy. In the light of low productivity and growth forecasts, what are the Government doing to attract high-quality jobs to the Welsh economy?

As the House will know, we are doing a great deal for productivity throughout the country. We have agreed two city deals in Wales, with £500 million for Cardiff and £115.6 million for Swansea. Since 2010, employment in Wales is up by 7.3% and unemployment is down by 39%.

My question is this: what investment? The Government have broken their promise to electrify the main line between the two main cities in my country, they will not commit to the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, and the Swansea Bay city deal is 90% Welsh public and private money. At the same time, the Government are subsidising the most expensive railway in the world—in England. When will the British Government stop taking Wales for a ride?

I am surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman level those accusations against the Government because, as I have explained, we set aside an additional £1.2 billion for Wales in the recent Budget. I have referred to the two city deals, and we are also backing the south Wales metro, as he will know. We are committed to agreeing further growth deals with north and south Wales.