Jo Stevens

A strong voice for Cardiff Central

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Taking the lead at Welsh Questions

This morning was my first appearance at the despatch box as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales. I was joined by my Shadow Ministerial colleague Gerald Jones.

With the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster so present for many in Wales this week, I took the opportunity to pay tribute to the spirit and resilience of the people of Aberfan in the face of such a tragedy.

I then questioned the Government on their priorities for infrastructure in Wales, asking the Minister to confirm when work would be accelerated to improve Cardiff Central Station.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Guto Bebb, refused to commit to the project or acknowledge the disparity between the lack of action in Cardiff despite modernisation programmes having gone ahead in Edinburgh and Birmingham. 

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I also questioned the Minister on the forthcoming deficit of funding to Wales following the UK's exit from the EU as, by his own acknowledgement earlier this year, EU funding and relationships across the EU are very important to the Welsh economy. The Minister was quick to lay blame on Welsh people, but unable to provide a full commitment that our communities here won't be disadvantaged.

I was very disappointed with the Minister's response, the Tory Government says it is standing up for the best interests of Wales but we are yet to see any firm commitments on maintaining the funding that keeps Welsh business afloat and Welsh industry thriving. Welsh people are facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty in work, in their communities and in our national industries. It's time for the UK Government to step up, stop laying blame elsewhere and guarantee that Wales will not be left worse off than England in the Brexit negotiations.

The issue of Brexit will continue to be vitally important to all of us in Wales over the next 2 years when negotiations are taking place. In my role as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales it will be a priority to press the Government continuously to make sure that Wales gets its fair share. Labour has called for proper Parliamentary debate and scrutiny throughout the Brexit negotiations and I will be campaigning for this alongside Keir Starmer, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.


The full exchange was:

 Jo Stevens, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales:

“Rail passenger numbers into our Capital City station Cardiff Central, are forecasted to increase to 22 million a year by 2025 - so the expansion of the station, in conjunction with the South Wales Metro that includes that EU Funding is critical.

 “Can the Secretary of State explain why his Government have been willing to invest in Birmingham and Edinburgh stations, but won't confirm funding now to accelerate the feasibility work on expanding Cardiff Central?

 “Does he want our capital city to have a station fit for purpose or not?”

 

Guto Bebb, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales:

“First of all may I welcome the hon lady to her place on the front bench. I think in relation to Cardiff this is again another example of the old-fashioned view that Westminster knows best. We are still waiting for the proposals from South Wales in terms of what needs to be done in relation to Cardiff station. This is a Government which is investing in rail in a manner that simply did not happen under 13 years of Labour Government, so we are waiting for a proposal from South Wales and, if that proposal meets the expectations of the Government, then it will be looked at in a constructive manner.”


Jo Stevens, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales:

“In April’s Welsh Questions, the Secretary of State’s ministerial colleague told this House:

‘The EU makes a massive contribution to the Welsh economy. It is our largest trading partner. It supports thousands of jobs and provides significant investments for projects all around Wales.’

Four months on from the referendum result - what’s the Secretary of State’s Brexit plan for Wales to replace that trade, those jobs and that infrastructure? Where is it?  And when will we see it?”

 

Guto Bebb, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales:

“Well again on the issue of Brexit I have to remind the Hon. Lady that the people of Wales voted to leave the European Union. I stand by the comments made four months ago, but I think it is important to point out that this department, the Wales office, have been going around Wales, talking to stakeholders, identifying the opportunities that exist as a result of Brexit. But also trying to reassure, and I would hope that the Hon Lady would at least welcome the commitments made by the Chancellor that we will support European funding projects in Wales, we will also support agriculture funding in Wales. These are underwritten proposals from Treasury, which should be welcome by the front bench opposite.” 

You can watch my questions on YouTube here:

Click here to watch Welsh Questions in full on Parliament TV.

 

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