20 Years of Devolution

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:49 pm on 11th July 2019.

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Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office 2:49 pm, 11th July 2019

May I begin by congratulating the shadow Minister, Mr Sweeney, on a very effective first appearance at the Dispatch Box? I did not agree with everything he said, as he will not be surprised to hear, but he certainly made a very good start and I am sure that we will hear many more such speeches in future. I also congratulate Pete Wishart and my hon. Friend David T. C. Davies on securing the debate. It has generally had a reflective tone, despite some obvious differences in where we believe the devolution journey should take us.

Devolution has allowed space for the four nations of the UK to pursue their own domestic policies, reflecting the distinct circumstances of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Equally importantly, it combines all those benefits within the wider strengths and advantages of the Union. Devolution means that the nations and regions of the UK can work together, with their voices and interests amplified by being part of something bigger. It means drawing from and contributing to the strength of the Union and combining our resources to be the world’s fifth-largest economy and a leading player on the international stage. Around the world, the voices of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are amplified by being part of this United Kingdom as we participate in diplomacy, sport and international aid. When we come together as one people, we benefit from the security and stability that comes from being part of one of the largest economies in the world, pooling risks and sharing benefits. But devolution is not about the UK Government just forgetting an area.

In Wales, we are working with the Welsh Government, businesses and local councillors to support the Cardiff capital region deal, which will provide investment funds for the region and support electrification of the Valley Lines railways, and the Swansea Bay city region deal will deliver over £1 billion of investment to the region and support investment in digital infrastructure and next-generation technology. We have also committed £120 million towards the agreement of a north Wales growth deal and continue to support a mid-Wales growth deal—all three levels of government working together in the interests of those we represent.

The UK Government have also committed over £1.35 billion to support economic development in Scotland through city and growth deals. When it comes to research and development programmes and funding, the UK benefits from the talent and expertise in the devolved nations, and the devolved nations punch above their weight as part of this United Kingdom. Scotland benefits significantly from the UK life sciences industry, and the life sciences industrial strategy is a UK-wide strategy.

We continue to work towards the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland, and I am sure that all Members of the House look forward to the day when Stormont—