Welsh Affairs

Part of International Women’S Day – in the House of Commons at 4:31 pm on 2nd March 2017.

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Photo of Chris Elmore Chris Elmore Opposition Whip (Commons) 4:31 pm, 2nd March 2017

Happy St David’s day, Madam Deputy Speaker. I congratulate my hon. Friend Albert Owen, Mr Williams and others on securing the debate.

For Wales to continue to thrive and meet its potential, we need continued investment in infrastructure. The Welsh Government are right to be investing in transport, and I am glad that there is a focus on plans for both a north Wales and south Wales metro. World-class public transport is vital for the future of Wales. It can provide a sustainable way forward to attract the brightest and the best to our nation. Through the implementation of the south Wales metro, I hope that we will get much-needed improvements to the level-crossing in Pencoed and the half-hourly service to Maesteg, and road infrastructure improvements around the town of Llanharan.

I want to focus on two national campaigns that are often raised in this House but are seldom given a Welsh context. First, I want to draw Members’ attention to how much scamming affects people across Wales and beyond. The practice of scamming is on the rise, and each year around 9,000 incidents of fraud are reported to the police. Scamming has an impact on the most vulnerable in society, and at the moment not enough is being done to tackle the problem.

At present, there is not enough recognition of the problem that scamming poses to the most vulnerable in our communities. Awareness of the threat should be more of a priority at all levels of government. If people are aware of the most common scams and the tactics that criminals use, they will be more able to protect themselves, and less likely to be flustered and rushed by scammers. In the coming months, I will be stepping up a campaign in Ogmore to raise awareness of scams, and I encourage all hon. Members to look into doing the same in their areas.

As with any other crime, it is ultimately the police who do most to protect the people of Wales and elsewhere from scams. Police officers face immense danger in their line of duty, and we must do more to keep them safe. According to data from the Police Federation of England and Wales, over a period of 12 months, there might have been more than 2 million unarmed physical assaults on officers, and a further 300,000 assaults using a deadly weapon. The vast majority of these incidents are unreported, however, so official figures show far fewer instances. We must work together with the police in Wales to ensure that they are safer at work, and we must heed their campaigns for better protection.

Forces throughout the UK have begun to use spit guards as a defence against spitting suspects. If forces in Wales choose to use these guards, we should defend them and show our support for that. Spitting is a form of assault that leaves officers at risk of receiving life-threatening diseases, and if our police forces in Wales can see a way of preventing such assaults, we should stand by them.

There will be opportunities and risks for Wales over the coming years. Our departure from the European Union will bring difficulties for each nation of the UK, but I am glad that we have a strong Welsh Labour Government in Cardiff Bay to fight our corner. The Welsh Government are right to focus on the need for continued investment in infrastructure and public services, and I only hope that the UK Government, and particularly the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary, will always continue to champion Wales on reserved matters.