Plaid Cymru MP slams Welsh Secretary ‘ignorance’ after he admits to not having known how Wales was funded
A Plaid Cymru MP has slammed the “ignorance” of the Welsh Secretary after he admitted that before taking his post he didn’t know about the mechanism by which Wales is funded.
In an interview with Times Radio, Simon Hart said the Barnett Formula was something “nobody has ever heard of, really – me included before I took on this job”.
The Barnett formula is a mechanism used by the Treasury in the United Kingdom to automatically adjust the amounts of public expenditure allocated to the Welsh Government to spend in Wales as a population share of the money spent on England.
Simon Hart was asked by interviewer Matt Chorley why Wales deserved spending of £14,222 per head compared to England where spending was £13,666 per head.
Simon Hart answered: “It’s all a byproduct of this thing which nobody’s ever, ever heard of really – me included before I took on this job – which is the Barnett formula.
“And that’s designed to reflect the needs and backgrounds or social and cultural and economic backgrounds of the individual nations so that the nations England, Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland all get more money and England gets less.
“But that’s I hope, and always has been anyway a reflection of the fact that the economic, the large part of the sort of economic generating power of the UK based in London in the South East, and it’s quite reasonable, that that money is redistributed as evenly as possible across the rest of the UK and Wales.
“And indeed, you know, Cumbria or Cornwall are beneficiaries of that spreading the wealth of evening, evening out the wealth that can be produced in the sort of in the big conurbations in England.”
Simon Hart had been an MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire for nine years before becoming Welsh Secretary in 2019.
Arfon MP Liz Saville Roberts reacted to say that it was “extraordinary” that Simon Hart would “admit to this level of ignorance”.
“Those in the know follow the money. Competence not an essential requirement in Secretary of State for Wales’s job description.”
Simon Hart was also asked why Mark Drakeford’s popularity in Wales was so high compared to Boris Johnson.
He answered: “Well I think it’s an unbelievably easy position to be in when you’re responsible for spending the money but you’re not responsible for raising it.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.