The Cardiff city deal represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to raise growth levels right across the region, securing Cardiff’s position as one of the best capital cities in Europe and a fantastic place in which to do business. Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and I met leaders from the Cardiff capital region to discuss the city deal and to ensure that progress and momentum are being maintained.
My hon. Friend Craig Williams has long championed the city deal to help deliver even greater success for Cardiff and Wales, but for it to succeed everyone must be as committed to delivering for Cardiff as he and the Secretary of State so clearly are. What assessment has the Secretary of State made of the Welsh Assembly Government’s commitment to this city deal and particularly their commitment to funding it?
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I discussed the Cardiff city deal proposal on Monday with the First Minister, and I am pleased and reassured that all parties are now strongly committed to it. I think that there are still some questions to be asked about the nature of the financial commitment coming from the Welsh Government, but there is now momentum behind the deal and we look forward to getting it secured as soon as possible.
I am slightly surprised by the hon. Lady’s tone. We have already put £125 million on the table to help with rail electrification. The Welsh Government may want to put that into the pot. We have already put £50 million towards the compound semiconductor catapult centre in Cardiff. There is no question mark over our commitment to securing an ambitious city deal for Cardiff. As I have said, there are some questions about the nature of the Welsh Government’s financial support for such a deal, but I am sure that, with the correct attitude, we can work through those issues and land a deal.
I am sure the Secretary of State will join me in welcoming the massive announcement that Aston Martin will be building its new vehicle in south Wales. Does that not emphasise the important nature of the private sector involvement in the city deal, and what is he doing to ensure that the Welsh Government and local authorities engage with the private sector so that they lever in more money?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. First, though, let me put on record our congratulations to him and his wife, Clare, as it is a few days after the birth of their second child. It is wonderful to see him taking a break from paternity leave to stand here today championing the interests of his constituents in Cardiff. He is absolutely right on two counts. The first is on the success of bringing the Aston Martin deal to Wales, which is a great example of the Welsh and the UK Governments working together in a true team Wales approach. The second is on the importance of business and the fact that it is right at the heart not just of helping to create the city deal vision, but of delivering it as well
Let me pass on my congratulations to Craig Williams. I also congratulate the workforce in the St Athan area—in the seat of the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns—and the Welsh Labour Government on their support for that project, the Cardiff city deal and the Swansea city deal. Will the Secretary of State confirm that the support will be there for Cardiff and for the proposal by Terry Matthews for an “internet coast” that links Swansea and west Wales as well, as that is where we will drive the jobs into Wales?
The hon. Gentleman has raised a number of different initiatives all together in one question. The common thread running through them was the nature of partnership working, and we need to see more of that. I am talking about the Welsh Government, the UK Government and local partners all working together. The Aston Martin deal shows the fruit that can be borne when we have the right kind of attitude and commitment from the Prime Minister, the First Minister, the Ministry of Defence and excellent local MPs such as the Under-Secretary of State for Wales. I have discussed the Swansea city deal with Sir Terry Matthews. We are really interested in understanding it in a bit more detail, and we want to work with the Swansea city deal partners as well as our partners in Cardiff.
My hon. Friend, who has a great love for and knowledge of Wales, is right. The most important thing for securing big inward investment projects such as Aston Martin, or the continued inward investment of companies such as Airbus, is the excellence of the skills and the workforce that we have now in Wales. We are not complacent about that. There is more progress that could be achieved, but the reason that such companies choose Wales over locations all round the world is the quality of the skills of the workforce, the quality of the infrastructure and the UK Government’s commitment to creating the best environment for economic growth.