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Cross-Border Working

Volume 672: debated on Wednesday 26 February 2020

I have already held constructive discussions with Welsh Government Ministers on various issues, including cities and regional growth deals, which have the potential to create jobs and economic growth in Wales and strengthen cross-border working to benefit both sides of the border.

Many residents of Aberconwy, and, indeed, north Wales as a whole, rely on good road and rail links along the north Wales coast. Does the Minister recognise the importance of that east-west axis and the connections that it offers with England so that people can have contact with families, public services, work and, dare I say, even the Crewe hub as part of HS2?

We certainly recognise the importance of those east-west links in both north and south Wales, as will be clear from the improvements in the rail and road infrastructure and the growth deals. I recently had a chance to see cross-border working in action when Dŵr Cymru was taking water in from English counties in order to ensure that fresh water continued to run in Monmouth after the floods, and I pay tribute to it for that, but I can assure my hon. Friend that we will recognise the importance and benefits of cross-border working because we are a Unionist party.

As the Secretary of State will know, Henry VII landed next door to his constituency, and he grew up in in Raglan Castle, in the Minister’s constituency. He then gained the crown at Bosworth Field, which brought about the Tudor dynasty. Has the Minister considered promoting the history of our modern royal family by creating a Henry VII trail?

That is an excellent and interesting idea. I know that the hon. Gentleman is an expert on sporting history and the contribution that boxing has made in Wales, but I had not realised that he was also interested in Tudor history. I look forward to discussing that with him outside the Chamber.

My hon. Friend said that he recognised the east-west links between north and south Wales and England, but links with mid-Wales are also important. The Cambrian line—the Shrewsbury-to-Aberystwyth line—needs a signalling upgrade. Will he convene a meeting with me and other interested parties?

It is always a pleasure to meet my hon. Friend, who has done a fantastic job in lobbying for better east-west links in his own constituency, and I shall look forward with interest to hearing what he has to say. No doubt those in the Treasury and the Department for Transport will also take a keen in interest in the subject.

Wales took the brunt of the storm last week, and hundreds of people in my constituency lost absolutely everything, because they have had to make a choice between buying food and paying the insurance bill, and they are completely uninsured. Rhondda Cynon Taff Council alone—just one local authority—is going to have a bill of £30 million. What is the point of a United Kingdom if the United Kingdom will not stand by Wales financially when we really need it?

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already said, he has had meetings with the First Minister. At the moment, there is no way of knowing exactly what the cost of those floods will be—I know that the chief executive of Monmouthshire was unable to tell me—except that it will run into millions of pounds. We have already moved to ensure that people who receive compensation will not see any impact on their benefits. We absolutely stand with Wales, but as the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, it would be impossible for us to go marching into Wales to tell the Welsh Government what to do in what is a devolved area. We stand ready to support the Welsh Government in any way, but they need to come forward with a set of costs and explain exactly how that money will be spent.