To say that our countries interests are often taken for granted by some our MP’s is no understatement. There are more than enough MP’s who represent geographically Welsh constituencies who do little to further the interests of our country or even to call for far funding for Wales. Plaid Cymru Westminster Transport and Treasury spokesperson Jonathan Edwards MP is spot on when he says that any MP based in Wales voting for HS2 without fair funding for Wales will be committing an act of political betrayal.
The UK Westminster Government commissioned detailed economic analysis by accountants KPMG which shows that hundreds of millions of pounds will be lost from the Welsh economy each year as a result of the proposed HS2 rail link project which plans to link the North of England to London. Yet the figures were only released after a Freedom of Information request by the BBC 2’s Newsnight. The report indicates that Cardiff will lose £68m per annum; Swansea £16.5m; Bridgend £11m, and Neath Port Talbot £6m and that Wrexham would only gain marginally from HS2.
England-only infrastructure developments should result in Wales receiving its fair share even under the deeply flawed and outdated Barnet formula. Yet, as transport infrastructure remains not devolved and the HS2 project has been designated by the UK Government as a UK wide project this means that Wales won’t receive 5% of the total costs of the project in compensation. Last summer the UK Government up-rated the expected cost of the development by £10bn to over £40bn.
Plaid Cymru Westminster Transport and Treasury spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP said:
“The last time I looked on a map, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, and Leeds were all in England. I find it difficult to see how the UK Government can claim that this is a UK-wide project. In reality what we are seeing once again is a UK Government using Welsh taxpayers’ money from the general pool of taxation to fund an infrastructure project which will disadvantage our economy.
“The Budget for HS2 is spiralling out of control and construction hasn’t yet begun. The budget for HS2 will inevitably increase and it will be the only game in town for generations in terms of rail infrastructure spend, meaning that there will be less money to invest in Welsh transport infrastructure.
“Wales historically only gets a fraction of infrastructure investment - far less than what our population share would demand. We can ill afford to not receive our fair share from HS2.
“Following queries from the Financial Times as to why the Labour Welsh Government was not supporting Plaid Cymru’s position, it belatedly performed a U-turn. However it was revealed in a recent Parliamentary question I tabled that the Welsh Government had made no representations to the UK Government on securing a fair deal for Wales. Wales cannot have a Labour Government that is unwilling to stand up to Westminster on this issue.
“Based on UK Government projections, Wales should receive £2bn as a result of HS2. However with predictions that the total bill for HS2 could easily double, we could be looking at nearer £4bn. Either way this is a huge sum of money which could revolutionise transport infrastructure in Wales.
“Together with the published negative impact on the South Wales economy in particular, it would be an act of betrayal by MPs representing Welsh constituencies if they didn’t oppose the HS2 Bill today without cast iron guarantees that we were not going to be short changed again by the UK Government.”