UK Government challenged over allocation of rail infrastructure funding to Wales
Plaid Cymru MP for Arfon Hywel Williams has hit out at the UK Government for denying Wales a share of the rail infrastructure funding being spent on major projects in England.
Wales has missed out on billions of pound in recent years because the Treasury has categorised selected English-only rail projects, such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, as England-and-Wales projects.
As a result, the Welsh Government has not received consequential funding, unlike the Scottish and Northern Irish governments.
However, other English rail projects such as Crossrail and Thameslink are deemed to benefit England only, and therefore provide proportionate consequential funding to the Welsh Government based on expenditure in England through the Barnett formula.
If HS2 were treated as an ‘England only’ project, Wales could expect to receive approximately £5bn over its duration, with an additional £1bn from Northern Powerhouse Rail.
During the Welsh Affairs Committee session last week, Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion, Ben Lake, sought an explanation for this disparity.
The Chief Secretary’s response was that Mr Lake was “dragging me into quite complex technical details” and that it was “quite a difficult, technical financial calculation and I am not full of that information in my head at the moment”.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions today (12 July), which was taken by Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden in the absence of Rishi Sunak, Mr Williams MP asked: “In the Welsh Affairs Committee my Honourable Friend for Ceredigion (Ben Lake) asked the Chief Secretary to the Treasury about the varying comparability factors for Wales for Crossrail, for Thameslink, and for HS2.
“His answer began with ‘you are dragging me into quite complex technical details’… and then he gave no complex technical details.
“I’m sure that the people of Wales would be delighted to tackle any complex technical details were the Deputy Prime Minister to explain to the House why we are paying £5bn for a white elephant in HS2 which by now comes nowhere near our country.”
The Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden responded that “it is thanks to the strength of our United Kingdom that record sums are going to Wales under Barnett consequentials”.
He did not, however, address Mr Williams’ question about HS2 funding.
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