Welsh Affairs

Part of International Women’S Day – in the House of Commons at 4:05 pm on 2nd March 2017.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West 4:05 pm, 2nd March 2017

There is a delightful picture, which I have produced with pride on my website, of the hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Wales—a trio of snake oil salesmen—lined up against the background of the bridge, saying “Well, it used to be £6.70. Now, we’re going to make it £3.70.”; “No, we’re not—it’s £3”; and “We’ll charge you each way, so it’s £1.50”. These are the techniques of the fairground.

The charge should be nothing because we have already paid the bill. How many Members were in the House for the Severn Bridges Bill in 1992, when we were told by Wyn Roberts, “This is the end of it”? We have already paid £1 billion of public money. We pay our taxes for every road within the British Isles—we have to pay our share of that—and, in addition, we pay this extra tax to get into Wales. It is a barrier to Welsh life and it should go. I am looking forward to hearing how Ministers came up with the idea of charging £3. There is no justification for it. The largest element of it will actually go on collecting the tolls themselves. This is a totally unfair tax on Wales.

I am sure that the Secretary of State will announce, in under an hour’s time, that this is over and that he will now crusade on the issue and build himself up as the new symbolic or legendary figure of Welsh life, so that when he lays down his political role and joins the choir invisible he can discuss with Harri Webb his verses on the Severn bridge and contemplate the opportunities he has had in life, such as the ones I am sure he will take up after today.