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Public Spending: Wales

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th January 2018.

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Photo of Robert Jenrick Robert Jenrick The Exchequer Secretary

Decisions announced by the Chancellor in the autumn Budget resulted in an increase of £1.2 billion to the Welsh Government’s budget. For the first time, this included more than £65 million thanks to the new Barnett boost agreed with the Welsh Government’s fiscal framework. This ensures that the Welsh Government’s block grant will increase in real terms over the spending review period.

Photo of Jonathan Edwards Jonathan Edwards Shadow PC Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Foreign Intervention), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The headline-grabbing announcement in the Budget was the alleged £1.2 billion uplift to the Welsh public finances, which the Minister has just repeated in his answer. It was an example of financial trickery best suited to the Foreign Secretary’s big red buses. Is it not the case that more than half that money will be in the form of repayable loans—in other words, financial transactions?

Photo of Robert Jenrick Robert Jenrick The Exchequer Secretary

I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman’s analysis or with his slightly cavalier attitude to £650 million of taxpayers’ money. This money is at the disposal of the Welsh Government and can be used for important things such as helping to support businesses and helping people to get on to the property ladder through Help to Buy.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

Given that the tolls on the Severn crossing went down last week for the first time ever, there is going to be greater demand for use of the M4. However, since 2012 the Labour Welsh Government have done nothing about using the public money available to them to extend the M4. Is it not the case that public money should be spent on that, and that it has been made available to Wales from this Government?

Photo of Robert Jenrick Robert Jenrick The Exchequer Secretary

My hon. Friend makes a good point. As I said in my answer to the previous question, we have increased the budget for the Welsh Government. How they choose to spend that money, and how wisely they do that, is another question.