Plaid Cymru MP takes aim at post-Brexit ‘power grab’ on Wales’ subsidies
A Plaid Cymru MP has taken aim at a post-Brexit “power grab” on Wales’ subsidies.
Liz Saville Roberts, who represents Dwyfor Meirionnydd, has criticised the Conservative government’s Subsidy Control Bill, which will set new rules in the area.
During a debate in the House of Commons, she branded the Bill as an “assault on devolution”, which was “wilfully ignorant” of the needs of Wales’ economy.
Boris Johnson’s government has argued that there needs to “UK-wide” subsidy regime to prevent “harmful distortions” to competition.
The UK Government has faced accusations of taking away power over business grants from devolved governments.
Back in July, the Welsh Government said that the Bill undermines “the long-established powers of the Senedd and Welsh Ministers” in devolved areas, including “economic development, agriculture and fisheries.”
It added that meant that the powers being given to the UK Government-appointed Secretary of State for Wales had “little scrutiny from the UK Parliament and no scrutiny available to Welsh Ministers or the Senedd”.
Liz Saville Roberts told the House of Commons: “In sum, the Bill asks the devolved Governments to sign a blank cheque, with no explicit provision for further scrutiny or input.
“This is yet another power grab that undermines not only devolution but the levelling-up project the Government are allegedly so keen to promote.
“It simply is not good enough, and it speaks to an unconstructive disdain for the rights and responsibilities of the devolved nations from the Government.
“The Bill is an assault on devolution, wilfully ignorant of the needs of the national economies of the UK or the role of public bodies in advancing them, and has been prepared by an out-of-touch Government that is overly centralised.”
She also said: “First, the Bill wrongly assumes that the UK economy is a level playing field, deserving therefore of a level subsidy regime. The UK is one of the most regionally unequal countries in the west. That is supposedly being addressed by the Government’s levelling-up agenda.
“My party, Plaid Cymru, has long advocated greater public procurement to nurture local businesses in underserved and peripheral areas of the UK.
“This highly local and nuanced policy, which is recognised in the new co-operation agreement between my party and Welsh Labour, but too often ignored by the Treasury, is vital in delivering levelling up. The Bill’s restrictions on local procurement are therefore economically damaging and contrary to the needs of the levelling-up agenda. I urge the Government to reconsider.
“My second point—namely, the Government’s conduct when consulting the devolved Governments on the Bill—helps explain why Wales and Scotland have not given consent to the Bill. It is important to reiterate that in this place, because we will hear it again. It does matter if what is being produced here is creating discord with the devolved Governments.”
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