Hain claims EU funding for Wales “ignored by anti-European Tory government”

July 16, 2009 at 7:00 pm 1 comment

by Nick Alderton

Wales Office ministers answered questions from MPs on Wednesday.

The Secretary of State accused the Tories of “ignoring” EU funding for the country when they were in government.

Peter Hain told the House:

“European structural funds have made a huge contribution throughout Wales, with some £1.54 billion awarded in the last spending round generating more than £3.8 billion in investments.”

Labour MP Chris Ruane said Mr Hain made a “brave decision in 1998 to include Denbighshire and Conwy in the objective 1 bid for Wales.”

“We were left out and my right hon. Friend included us. Over the course of objective 1 funding, we hope to draw down £500 million in those two counties alone,” he said.

“Why did the previous Conservative Government not draw down objective 1 funding, despite the closure of Shotton steelworks, and the decline of agriculture and traditional seaside tourism?”

Mr Hain replied:

“Because of their anti-European stance, our predecessors in government refused to draw down the enormous funding available for west Wales and the valleys, first under objective 1 and now under convergence funding.

“If they got back into power, that funding would be at risk again.

“That is the choice facing the people in my hon. Friend’s constituency and right across west Wales and the valleys.”

Wayne David, Under-Secretary of State for Wales, welcomed the news that in Whitchurch, Quotient Biosearch had taken over GE Healthcare, saving 75 jobs and in Montgomery a manufacturing firm, Regal Fayre, had been set up with a loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan questioned the government’s support for the car industry.

“Last month, when I asked the Secretary of State why France, Germany and even Italy had delivered on their automotive assistance programmes while our £2.3 billion scheme, which was announced back in January, had not paid out a penny, he said: “The money is coming through.”

“In a written answer to me last week, a Business Minister confirmed that still not a penny in loans or loan guarantees had yet been given to support the industry.

“Is a grand announcement followed by seven months of inaction this Government’s idea of being proactive and providing real help now?”

Mr David replied that schemes such as the vehicle scrappage scheme, the ProAct and ReAct schemes and the future jobs fund would go a long way “to improving the lot of the people of Wales and improving the Welsh economy.”

Mr David also said that, in terms of aluminium production, the vehicle scrappage scheme had increased the demand for new cars and that “the de-stocking has ended and a lot of car plants are now starting to produce again.”

He also expressed the hope that Anglesey Aluminium and Rio Tinto, would reconsider their position and accept the £50 Million that the Government have offered to help secure jobs within their factory.

Tory MP David Davies said employment and training will be “badly affected in Abergavenny” as the result of the closure of Hill college.

He called on the minister to speak to the Welsh Assembly Government about reinstituting the money that they have slashed from Coleg Gwent’s budget.

Mr. David said “discussions have taken place as far as that college is concerned, but a tremendous amount of investment has taken place in further education in Wales.”

He said the Government’s priority was “to ensure that that there is training and retraining for all people.”

Mr David also welcomed the new building of a power station in Pembroke and said that the Government were doing their utmost to ensure that “to ensure that local people derive the greatest possible benefit from that investment.”

He also said that both the Secretary of State for Defence and for Wales, were fully behind the defence training project at St. Athan, calling it the “single investment ever in the Welsh economy.”

Mr Hain said the Government would not “let short-term job losses turn into long-term unemployment, nor will we allow communities to be scarred by worklessness for a generation once again.”

He announced that the Government and the Welsh Assembly Government had both pledged to aid the workforce.

“First, the Welsh Assembly Government have announced a £20 million package to support new apprenticeships.

“Secondly, we established the future jobs fund. Thirdly, we have guaranteed help for all young people aged 18 to 24 who have been claiming jobseeker’s allowance for 12 months.”

Mr David then paid tribute to the work of the Royal British Legion for their help during the Armed Forces Day this year and said that discussions would be held Welsh Assembly Government and other local authorities in relation to next years Armed Forces Day.


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. related services in Gwent  |  July 19, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    […] Hain claims EU funding for Wales "ignored by anti-European Tory government" […]


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