Welsh Affairs

Part of International Women’S Day – in the House of Commons at 3:37 pm on 2nd March 2017.

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Photo of Chris Davies Chris Davies Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire 3:37 pm, 2nd March 2017

I strongly agree with my hon. Friend. When one stands on the beautiful Pen y Fan in the mountains of the Brecon Beacons, we look down on south Wales to the Gower, and what a pleasure it is to see it from a distance—or, in fact, from near or far.

The Welsh tourism industry provides excellent employment prospects in my constituency and is a great boost to the local economy, but it is under some threat at the moment. Business rate hikes, should they go ahead as planned, will harm the tourism industry’s small profit margins, and a number of owners have expressed their concerns to me that they might have to close altogether as a result. I therefore very much look forward to hearing any measures that the Chancellor can put in place next week for England that can be replicated in Wales.

It is not just the tourist in St David who is well suited to my speech. As many hon. Members will know, St David set up a number of monasteries around Wales. They were very frugal in their operations; once set up, they farmed the land. Thankfully, farming practices have remained, and produce from Wales is now widely recognised as among the finest products available in the world. Welsh lamb is becoming a benchmark for quality, and our beef is second to none. I am therefore pleased that the Government are supporting Welsh farmers by protecting farm payments until 2020. Furthermore, with Brexit, we have the opportunity to free our Welsh farmers from the shackles of the EU so that we can better compete with produce from around the world.

St David was not just a tourist and a farmer; he was also an inspiration to the warriors of Wales—he was recognised as our patron saint at the height of the Welsh rebellion against the Normans. Support for our military is still very visible in Wales. For many years, we have had a vast number of training grounds and barracks for our military right across our nation, and our communities take great pride in welcoming servicemen and women to their towns. I know that from the infantry training camps in Sennybridge and the Brecon Beacons, and from the barracks in Brecon, in my constituency, which once housed soldiers who fought in the battle of Rorke’s Drift, which was made famous by the film “Zulu”. That history of community is very important to local people, so I am disappointed that the Government seek to close the Brecon barracks. I hope that they will reconsider that proposal, see how important the barracks is to the military and the wider community, and keep it open for generations to come.

Following my research, I felt that I could not speak in this debate without mentioning St David’s great miracle. As he was preaching to the crowd at the synod of Brefi, he raised the ground beneath him into a hill that his sermon could be heard from. There are times when I wish for just such a power, because of my height—so does the Secretary of State, I am sure. None the less, I was reminded of the beautiful, rolling countryside of Brecon and Radnorshire.