Stuart Andrew: The amount spent on (a) art, (b) wine and (c) hospitality in the Wales Office for the last seven financial years is shown below: Financial Year Spend on Art Spend on Wine Spend on Hospitality 2010-11 Nil Nil Nil 2011-12 Nil Nil Nil 2012-13 Nil £232.65 Nil 2013-14 Nil £629.24 Nil 2014-15 Nil £347.29 £8,439 2015-16 Nil £668.47 Nil...
Stuart Andrew: It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Betts. I have had a double whammy of introductions today, answering my first session of oral questions in the Chamber and replying to my first debate as Minister in Westminster Hall. It has been a busy old day. I begin by thanking and praising my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries and Galloway (Mr Jack) for securing the debate to fight...
Stuart Andrew: The Wales Office provides water dispensers in its London and Cardiff offices, and does not routinely purchase bottled water. Any bottled water purchased by the department forms part of wider expenditure on catering for receptions and events. We do not hold information on the amount spent solely on bottled water.
Stuart Andrew: The Wales Office has two non-executive director board members: 1) Isobel Garner – Lead Non-Executive Director Board Member; and 2) Tom Jones – Non-Executive Director Board Member Further information is included in the Wales Office Annual Report: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wales-office-annu al-report-2016-17-published
Stuart Andrew: Wales is a fantastic tourist destination and we must take every opportunity to highlight its attractions. Since my appointment I have spoken with Visit Britain to discuss how we can work together to promote Wales to the world and I am hoping to meet with the Welsh Government Minister for Tourism in the coming weeks.
Stuart Andrew: Wales Office ministers meet regularly with representatives of the police in Wales to discuss a range of issues. The Government recently announced the proposed police funding settlement for 2018/19 which would see an additional £450m invested across England and Wales, including around £16m direct to Welsh PCCs.
Stuart Andrew: Diolch yn fawr, Mr Llefarydd. Rwy’n ddiolchgar i’m cydweithwyr am y croeso cynnes. At the Budget, the Chancellor announced that all claimants will be eligible for universal credit from the first day that they claim it, removing the seven waiting days.
Stuart Andrew: I loved the hon. Gentleman’s introduction. The need for reform was absolutely clear. Under the old system, people had to go to the Department for Work and Pensions, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the local housing authority and, potentially, more organisations. We are now simplifying the process so that we have a system that encourages people into work. Surely, we should all...
Stuart Andrew: That is exactly why we made the announcements in the Budget. Now, households who already claim housing benefit will automatically receive an additional two weeks of housing benefit when they claim universal credit. We are responding to the lessons that we are learning, and we will continue to do so as we roll out the project.
Stuart Andrew: I am delighted to take a question from my hon. Friend, and I mean that in the sincerest sense. He is absolutely right. Unemployment in Wales is currently 73,000, which represents a decrease of 52,000 since 2010. People are going back into work because universal credit is encouraging that. Under the old system, people who worked a minute over 16 hours would lose their whole jobseeker’s...
Stuart Andrew: First, I thank the hon. Gentleman for the warm welcome, which I much appreciate. It is important to recognise that, with PIP, we are bringing in a system to try to help people live with the conditions they have. If we compare the systems, 29% of PIP claimants are receiving the highest possible support, compared with just 15% for disability living allowance. I have only been in this job a few...
Stuart Andrew: Superfast broadband is now available to more than 19 out of 20 UK homes and businesses, including 95% of premises in Wales. That underlines the progress made in recent years thanks to our investment of £69 million in Wales, plus an additional £56 million gainshare to be reinvested.
Stuart Andrew: My hon. Friend is quite right to highlight the importance of good connectivity through broadband, particularly in our rural areas, if we are to maximise the economic benefits. We have decided that regulation is the best way to ensure that everyone in the UK has a decent broadband connection. A regulatory universal service obligation will give everyone in the UK access to speeds of at least 10...
Stuart Andrew: I am grateful to have such a welcome from someone I have known for many years. I am very grateful. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right.
Stuart Andrew: No, actually I was a member of the Young Conservatives then. We are determined to roll out broadband and to achieve the 2020 target. It will be incumbent on us, as the UK Government, to work with the Welsh Government to ensure that broadband is rolled out to every part.
Stuart Andrew: Let us not forget that the roll-out of broadband is the responsibility of the Welsh Government. As the hon. Gentleman will know, because we have already had a conversation about this, this could form an important part of the mid-Wales growth deal. That will be incredibly important in making a successful growth deal for the area.
Stuart Andrew: I absolutely accept that we have to ensure that broadband is rolled out to every part of Wales. Pembrokeshire is equally important, and my right hon. Friend is a big champion of his constituency and area. I am a little bit disappointed in the Welsh Government’s roll-out priorities, but we will continue to work to ensure that we deliver the roll-out that we have promised and envisaged.
Stuart Andrew: We continue to have constructive discussions with the Welsh Government on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, with a view to securing the National Assembly’s support for the legislation. The Welsh Government have not discussed with us their proposals for an EU continuity Bill, but we do believe that such legislation will be unnecessary.
Stuart Andrew: First, I do not believe that the continuity Bill is actually needed. We are engaging heavily, at every level of government, with the devolved Administrations to ensure that we go through the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to ensure that the clauses that we want to amend in the other place will be effective. Then will get the support of those assemblies.
Stuart Andrew: We are continually engaging. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster are going to Wales tomorrow to meet the First Minister of the Welsh Assembly, so that we can get the further detail of those discussions and bring forward the amendments as soon as possible.