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Welsh Questions: Government Still Has No Answers

In today's Welsh questions I took the opportunity once again to press the UK Government on their lack of support for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.

The energy-generating lagoon would be an initial project which, if successful, could be replicated in other locations around the UK coastline including Cardiff and Newport. The clean, green energy generated by the lagoons would be sustainable and affordable over the length of their functional lifespan.

Former energy minister Charles Hendry published a review of the tidal lagoon proposals at the start of this year, recommending that the Government go ahead with proposals as soon as possible. The Government has, however, stalled and delayed.

I am a strong supporter of the tidal lagoon project, both as a means of sustainable energy generation, but also as a key contributer to the future of the Welsh economy. The supply chain to build this and future lagoons would give a much-needed boost to our economy, create highly-skilled new jobs and sustain our Welsh steel industry and other manufacturing bases. We would lead the world in this type of energy generation.

Guto Bebb MP, Wales Office Minister, again refused to say whether the Government will give it the go-ahead.

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I also pressed the Government on their commitment to funding for Wales after the UK leaves the European Union.

The European Investment Bank has invested £1 billion in Wales over the past decade in transport, education, social housing, water, energy, innovation and urban regeneration. Wales needs future investment in energy, education and major transport projects so it's vital to the people of Wales that we get a firm commitment to the replacement of these European loans.

The Government again refused to confirm any commitment to replacing these funds after Brexit, and do not seem concerned at all that key projects could be in jeopardy without a secure future funding stream. Once again it was obvious to me that the Secretary of State for Wales is simply not up to the job and won't stand up for Wales.

 

Click here to watch the full exchange.

 

Jo Stevens MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

Mr Speaker, 84% of Conservative councillors; 83% of Conservative MPs; a former Conservative energy Minister; both Wales Office Ministers sitting opposite, and the Conservative Party manifesto all support the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project. 

And I notice that the Minister failed to answer the question from my hon friend the member for Ogmore just now. So I’ll give him another opportunity: When will his government kick start the Tidal Lagoon project?

 

Guto Bebb MP, Wales Office Minister

I'm grateful to the hon lady for her question but again I will re-state, this decision is a decision which will have to be made across government. There are other departments which will have to look at the issue, and I'm sure that the hon lady would agree that in an age when we are seeing industry across Wales worried about the cost of energy, any deal for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon must be good for both Swansea Tidal Lagoon but also has to be right for the taxpayer and the energy user in Wales.

 

Jo Stevens MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

Last week in Westminster Hall the Minister of State said, and I quote, "it is difficult to offer guarantees that the European Investment Bank loans would be supported" by a guarantee from the Treasury when we leave the EU.

Can the Secretary of State or the Minister tell the House what benefits the European Investment Bank has brought to Wales and - how much it has invested in Wales in the last ten years?

 

Guto Bebb MP, Wales Office Minister

Well I'm sure the hon lady will join with me in highlighting, for example, the success of the Swansea campus development as an example of the EIB investment in a Welsh context. But I'm sure the hon lady would also join me in paying tribute to the treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer for securing and guaranteeing EU funding up to the point of departure from the European Union. So I think the key point the hon lady must be aware of is that, thus far, this government has delivered a degree of protection for EU funding in Wales, and in due course there will be further announcements being made in relation to further funding support in a Welsh context.

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