Friday, 12 June 2015


The Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland governments need to join forces to campaign for full Barnett consequentials resulting from the England-only High Speed Rail 2 project. 
Only a few weeks after HS2 Ltd, the planners behind the multi-billion pound development, stated that there is "no business case" for Scotland and that the project would now not be extended north of the border
Plaid Cymru parliamentary leader Jonathan Edwards MP speaking on June 11th at a Transport Questions session in the Commons to press the UK Government on securing a fair share of HS2 spending for Wales, said:
"I was disappointed to hear the Transport Secretary replying to my question by maintaining his position that there will be no fair funding from HS2 to Wales, despite the admission of HS2 Ltd.
"Any claims of a business case for HS2 that would benefit Wales has long been demolished by official KPMG figures showing that the project would wipe over £200m from the Welsh economy each year.
"Because HS2 will be funded from general taxation, taxpayers in Wales will pay for HS2 despite it undermining the Welsh economy.
"It is clear that the Westminster government has no intention of extending HS2 to Scotland. This means that it is clearly an England-only railway, and if the UK's funding mechanisms are to be applied correctly, this must result in a full and equitable share for the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to invest in their own countries' transport infrastructure.
"The moral case to me seems clear. If the Westminster government maintains its current position then I urge the national governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to work together to demand fairness for our nations.

"The UK government needs to make a clear statement that this injustice will be rectified when the Comprehensive Spending Review is published, or face sustained pressure from Plaid Cymru and others who will continue to fight for a fair deal from this development."

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


Plaid Cymru MP for Arfon and Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Hywel Williams, speaking before today's debate on the second reading of the European Union Referendum Bill to make the case for strengthening Wales' voice in the European Union. Mr Williams will describe his party as "a critical friend" of the European Union - making the case for robust reforms while recognising that Wales enjoys significant economic and social benefits within the EU.

Mr Williams is expected to say:

"Plaid Cymru is in favour of Wales remaining in the European Union and will be campaigning for this in any referendum - on our own terms.

"Wales enjoys significant economic and social benefits within the EU which we fear might be endangered in a renegotiation which is heedless of our requirements and would certainly be put in jeopardy were we to be dragged unwillingly out.

"But whilst we are pro-EU, we remain critical friends. We want the EU to be reformed, but not along the narrow lines this UK Government apparently proposes, nor along the lines that those who see the EU as a 'capitalist club' fear.

"We want a greater say for Wales in the future direction the EU takes with direct representation for our ministers. A single market that clearly benefits Welsh business, industry and commerce.

"The tripartite structure should be reformed into a new four part process that includes the sub state government representative body - the Committee of the Regions - so that it is no longer simply an official advisory body.

"We must end the scandalous waste of the Strasbourg parliament and excessive European civil servant and commissioner pay.

"And we must prevent large corporations bending the rules to their advantage either through TTIP or by lobbying at the heart of decision making without the impediment of an official register.

"But to want an end to these things does not mean we want out. Structural Funds and the Common Agricultural Policy provide £billions of pounds to Welsh communities each year. In the event of Wales being dragged out of the EU, funds which provide vital financing of projects across some of the poorest communities in Wales - which are also the poorest in the UK and in Western Europe - would suddenly be thrown in to doubt. As yet, we know of no plans to replace this funding.

"To suddenly cut off vital funds to our farming communities would also potentially destroy most of our agricultural industry. The family farm is the cornerstone of rural life and the rural economy. And it is a vital support four our culture and language.

"And those are yet more reasons why Plaid Cymru will fight our fight to keep Wales in the EU - on our own terms."

Thursday, 4 June 2015


The news that the Westminster government's remaining 30% stake in the Royal Mail is to be sold and some £3 billion pounds are to be cut from government spending this year won’t surprise many people. 

The last remaining UK Government stake in the Royal Mail currently valued at £1.5 billion is to be used to pay down the national debt. Another£3 billion pounds of cuts are pending, they will be announced in July. Back in July 2013 the news that the Post Office profit rose from £ 152 million pounds to £ 403 million pounds (in the 12 months up until the end of March 2013) would once have been warmly welcomed. 

The increase in Post Office profits actually made little difference; the Lib Dems (notorious locally for campaign to keep open local Post Offices that were not under threat of closure) with their Conservative collation partners decided to privatise the Post Office. The Party formerly known as Labour (in Westminster) were understandably silent over the matter of Post Office privatisation, understandably as they had spent years crying crocodile tears, as they tried and failed (under Peter Mandelson) to privatise the Post Office themselves during what is increasingly been seen as their largely wasted 13 years in government.

Now don't get me wrong, I had absolutely no problem with the publically owned Post Office exercising the maximum amount of commercial freedom to go out and diversify and to make money (as happens in the Netherlands and in other countries) but happen to firmly believe that the privatisation of the Post Office was entirely ideologically driven and unnecessary. I still have major concerns about the longevity of the unprofitable rural postal operations – how long will it be before they are dropped because they don’t make enough profit? 

The Post Office, rather than be simply sold off to a private company was floated on the stock market, and its shares were sold off. The business has been valued at something between £ 2 billion and £ 3 billion pounds with up to 10% of shares being set aside for postal workers. Not surprisingly, probably along with most people, the members of the Communication Workers Union were understandably firmly opposed to the privatisation of the Post Office – unlike the Labour Party.

There are still potentially big and as yet unanswered questions as to how will the government go about selling it off? Will Westminster’s friends in the City - big institutional city investors - get some sort of preferential opportunity to buy shares? Perhaps the Conservatives will go for a big share sale to the public or drip feed shares into the market, as has happened with the Lloyds Bank shares?" Whatever happens expect near complete silence form the Party formerly known as Labour…