Welsh Border (Governance)

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 21st March 2007.

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Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham 11:30 am, 21st March 2007

What steps he is taking to help improve relations between the National Assembly for Wales and English local authorities on the Welsh border.

Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Wales Office

The hon. Gentleman will know of the recent memorandum of understanding between the West Midlands regional assembly and the Welsh Assembly Government. Rural communities in mid-Wales, Shropshire and Herefordshire share many interests, and it makes sense for them to co-operate where appropriate.

Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. He has already spoken to me about this issue, and he knows how concerned I am for my constituents who live right on the Welsh border, because of the differences in funding from the Welsh Assembly for services for Welsh citizens who cross the border to use facilities such as the Royal Shrewsbury hospital. He knows that my hospital loses £2 million a year because of the difference in funding from the Welsh Assembly. Will he please ask the Assembly to increase co-operation with English authorities on our side of the border, to make sure that the treatment of citizens is fairer on both sides?

Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Wales Office

From what I gather, the hon. Gentleman wants to see further investment, but it certainly will not come from him and his party, given their policies. The memorandum of understanding outlines the commitment of both organisations to building stronger cross-border collaboration in policy and service delivery. Cross-border working has been highlighted as a key priority for each of the Wales spatial plan areas. An official level working group has been established, which led to the memorandum of understanding, and I am happy to convey the hon. Gentleman's further suggestion to Welsh Ministers when I meet them. I know that the Welsh Assembly Government share the hon. Gentleman's concern to ensure proper co-operation on cross-border issues.