I met officials from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities last week to discuss this very subject, and I feel confident that there are going to be several high-quality bids from Wales. The bidding process closes tomorrow at 6 pm, and I look forward to the announcement being made early in 2023.
I welcome the Secretary of State to his place—croeso. Will he join me in thanking all those who support Anglesey’s bid to become a freeport, and does he agree that a freeport in Wales delivers on our Conservative manifesto commitment and will strengthen Wales’s bond with the UK Government and our important Union?
I am absolutely delighted to agree with my hon. Friend, and indeed to thank all those who have been involved in freeport bids across the whole of Wales. Freeports have the potential to spread wealth across the areas in which they are established, they deliver on the Government’s commitment to level up and they are an example of the benefits of Wales being a part of the Union. I would like to congratulate my hon. Friend, who has spoken on this issue on 26 occasions, and I look forward to that announcement being made in February.
We have seen many claims about the number of jobs that will be created in Holyhead. Can the Secretary of State give me a precise assessment or even a wild guess as to how many jobs will be created, how many of them will be new and how many will be merely transferred from other areas?
I have certain powers as Secretary of State, but the powers of absolute clairvoyance are not among them. Therefore, I find it rather difficult to give an exact figure for the number of jobs that would be created as a result of any one of the many projects that the Government are doing to level up across the United Kingdom. What I can tell the hon. Member is that, where freeports have been trialled in Humber and Teesside, they have created thousands of new jobs, and I look forward to seeing something similar happen no matter where a freeport is established in Wales.