Welsh Affairs

Part of International Women’S Day – in the House of Commons at 3:49 pm on 2nd March 2017.

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Photo of Craig Williams Craig Williams Conservative, Cardiff North 3:49 pm, 2nd March 2017

It was a great privilege to pitch this annual debate to the Backbench Business Committee with Albert Owen—my friend on this occasion—and Mr Williams. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Ynys Môn not just for leading the charge on that occasion, but for the tone in which he opened the debate, which I want to echo.

It will not be a great surprise to the House that I will concentrate my remarks on the Cardiff city deal. As a Member of Parliament for Cardiff North and our capital city, I think the deal is a great achievement. This is an appropriate debate in which to talk about it because it needs cross-party and cross-governmental co-operation. Ten local authorities got together this very week to show their commitment of £120 million within the overall package of £1.2 billion. That is a great investment fund for south Wales and for Wales because when the capital city and engine house of Wales—the vast majority of the population live in south-east Wales—prospers, Wales prospers.

We have spoken at great length about tourism and the fantastic places all over the country. I have heard champions for Brecon and Radnorshire, Gower, Pembrokeshire, and constituencies represented by Opposition Members. When tourists arrive at our capital city—the international gateway—through the airport in the Vale of Glamorgan or through Cardiff Central station, which I will touch on in a moment, they come through a great, welcoming capital city that prospers through the research of our three universities. I pay tribute to Jo Stevens for championing the universities that cross our city. Only a couple of weeks ago, I visited the very department she mentioned, and I also call for the continuation of programmes such as Erasmus and Horizon 2020 during the negotiations for us to exit the EU. Those programmes, which prosper in our country, are great collaborations for EU states and non-EU states, which is important to recognise as we go forward.

I mentioned the Cardiff city deal and the £1.2 billion commitment. That is not talk; it is real investment going into our economy now. The local authorities are getting together and agreeing a delivery framework. We need to hear the word “delivery” a lot more in Wales—not just committees or task and finish groups, but real delivery. The M4 relief road is a good example of where we need delivery. While I welcome the collaboration I have mentioned, we need to bring in the third and private sectors to leverage a lot more money than £1.2 billion to fix the infrastructure needs in south Wales. That brings me on to Cardiff Central station, which is our gateway to Wales.

The station is an incredibly important hub for my constituents who commute in, out and around Cardiff on a daily basis. I was delighted to join the Secretaries of State for Wales and for Transport in talking to operators and developers about what we can do there. We need to work together across parties and across Governments to look at the capacity. We are getting new rolling stock. For the sceptics in the House, I do not mean the great Tornado that visited to mark St David’s day yesterday, although steam had its time and it was wonderful to see it in Cardiff Central station on St David’s day. The new rolling stock is being built now and will be rolled out soon, on top of the electrification coming down the railways. That is huge investment with huge challenges. We should recognise that, rather than, as is traditional, bashing each other on the head about such projects, which take a great deal of thought and money.

I end with another great achievement of working together: securing not only the UEFA Champions League final, but also the UEFA Women’s Champions League final. It will be the first time that a city has ever managed to host both events, with one in our magnificent Principality stadium and the other in Cardiff City stadium. We will have the main Champions League final—the biggest sporting function in the world—and the Women’s Champions League final down the road. That underlines our nation’s potential, the incredible pull of Cardiff, and what we can secure and pay back to the economic development of our great country when we work together. Happy St David’s day.