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Andrew RT Davies blasted in Senedd over HS2

04 Oct 2023 5 minute read
An HS2 worker. Photo Jacob King PA Images

Emily Price

The Welsh Conservatives were blasted in the Senedd yesterday by Plaid Cymru Leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth over the continuing controversy of the HS2 rail project.

Reports suggest the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak will ditch the Manchester to Birmingham section of the line meaning there wouldn’t be a case for it being classified as an England, Wales development.

Unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales doesn’t receive Barnett consequentials from spending on HS2 because national rail infrastructure in Wales is reserved to the UK Government.

For this reason the Treasury has classified HS2 as a ‘national project’ which benefits both countries. But if the Manchester leg is scrapped and the project only benefits England, Wales would be owed billions in consequentials.

Calls for Wales to receive a funding windfall from the rail project have previously been backed by all parties in the Senedd.

However, in an interview with BBC Radio Wales this week, the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies said the issue of Wales losing £5bn in rail funding was “above [his] pay grade”.

“Unraveled”

Speaking during yesterday’s FMQs, Mr Iorwerth said the leader of the opposition “shouldn’t be on any pay grade if he doesn’t think it’s his business to stand up for Wales”.

The Plaid Cymru leader said: “The Conservative Party conference unraveled on day one, reports emerged that the UK Government was scrapping HS2 from Birmingham North to Manchester.

“It was never a project to benefit Wales, of course, but, without that link at Crewe, it is now beyond any doubt that what Plaid Cymru has been saying is right, that this is an England-only project, improving England’s railways at our expense.

“Now, I note the insistence of the Conservative leader here that making the case for Wales to receive its fair share of HS2 funding is beyond his pay grade.

“Some people would argue that the leader of the Tories here shouldn’t be on any pay grade if he doesn’t think it’s his business to stand up for Wales, but there we are.

Mr Iorwerth went on to say Welsh railways have been “historically underfunded” by UK Governments and he called for HS2 to be reclassified and consequentials paid to Wales.

Responding to the Plaid Cymru leader, the First Minister said that Plaid’s position on HS2 is also the position of the Welsh Government.

Mark Drakeford said: “I agree with what the leader of Plaid Cymru has said, that, if there is to be no link beyond Birmingham, then the flimsy case for regarding this as an England-and-Wales development collapses completely, and, at that point, the case for making sure of a consequential for Wales will be stronger still.

“Wales has already missed out on £270 million as a result of HS2 misclassification in the current spending review period. That will only grow beyond that unless and until this misclassification is put right; that is the position of the Welsh Government, and has been for an extended period of time.”

Transport

Mr Iorwerth said the billions of pounds of HS2 consequentials being withheld from Wales would have a  “transformative impact” on the country’s transport system.

He said: “I flew to the United States last week, and it took less time than it did for my daughter to travel by train from Bangor to Cardiff. Given the awful experiences of rail travel in Wales, reported to us by our constituents week after week, and given cuts in buses too—and Plaid Cymru will be leading a debate on buses tomorrow—the money just can’t come soon enough.

“The Tory leader, as I said, has given up on fighting for Wales, but, given that Keir Starmer is also refusing to commit to giving us the consequentials, can I ask what pitch the First Minister has made to him on how transport in Wales could be improved using this money, because Labour hasn’t yet been able to give us an integrated transport system, but some joined-up thinking on this would be most welcome?”

Mr Drakeford said that if Labour were to be successful in the general election, the Welsh Government will be “weighing up a whole range of different priorities” that people from across the United Kingdom will be putting to Labour’s Treasury team.

He added: “I think, entirely understandably, he is not in a position to go agreeing piecemeal to one sort of possibility after another. However, you can be sure that the case for additional investment in Wales, and particularly the case for making sure that HS2 is properly classified.

“There’ll be an opportunity to do that, because transport comparability factors will change once the current comprehensive spending review period is over, so there’ll be an opportunity for that to happen—that that case is made regularly and with the sort of determination that you would expect, given the views of politicians across this Chamber.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
7 months ago

Make Barnet fair !

With all this ganging up will RT be the first customer for the new Humanist chaplain?

Jeff
Jeff
7 months ago

Don’t forget who he is supporting and what they are saying. The Tory party conference now seems akin to an Icke event, full of misinformation, lies and conspiracy (really some stupid idea’s claimed there).
Welsh cons have an option. Become the UK only decent Cons party or go the same way as the national cons. Mean leadership change. means taking control. Means standing up for Wales and making sensible contributions at the Senedd not doing what you are told. Become a decent opposition party.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
7 months ago

Do we as a nation have to wait for the political position of another country beyond Wales to decide our future ?

If Welsh Labour was really a people’s party then it should claim all taxes paid in Wales to be spent in the interests of the people of Wales.
We should collect all our taxes including income tax & corporation tax.
Companies where owned by a parent company outside Wales must trade through a Welsh registered subsidiary company.

Solution:
Wales must be a sovereign independent country.

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
7 months ago

You cannot be Welsh and a Tory they do not and never have gone together if you say you are Welsh and a Tory you are a QUISLING because you support another country that is England because the Tories have always England first that is London and the South east of England and the Tories are an ENGLISH NATIONALIST PARTY

Blinedig
Blinedig
7 months ago
Reply to  Dai Ponty

Well said, and Welsh Tories should not be referred to as if the name of a party. There is no such thing.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
7 months ago

Tory turncoat Andrew RT Davies defends the indefensible. And this is the very reason he will never be First Minister. It’s above his pay grade..

Last edited 7 months ago by Y Cymro

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