The Barnett Formula

2. Questions to the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution – in the Senedd at on 11 October 2023.

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Photo of Mabon ap Gwynfor Mabon ap Gwynfor Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

6. What advice has the Counsel General provided to the Welsh Government regarding the legal status of the Barnett formula in relation to HS2? OQ60048

Photo of Mick Antoniw Mick Antoniw Labour 3:05, 11 October 2023

The Welsh Government’s position is that HS2 provides no overall benefit to Wales and it should therefore attract Barnett formula consequential funding.

Photo of Mabon ap Gwynfor Mabon ap Gwynfor Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

Thank you for that answer. My supplementary question follows on from a question by Adam Price earlier. Every party in the Senedd has called for Wales to receive our share of HS2 funding; after all, our taxes are going to pay for a project that will, in truth, enrich London further at the expense of Welsh communities—well, why break 800 years of tradition?

In his speech to the Labour conference yesterday, your leader Keir Starmer devoted an entire session to talking about Scotland. He made reference to Northern Ireland twice, but there was no mention at all of Wales in his speech, and when he, Keir Starmer, has mentioned HS2 in relation to Wales, he has rejected the idea of giving Wales its fair share. Do you share our disappointment here that Starmer has not committed to giving us the money that is due to Wales from HS2?

Photo of Mick Antoniw Mick Antoniw Labour 3:06, 11 October 2023

Well, of course there is a role for opposition, when it looks as though they're likely to come into Government, to be very cautious about the issues that they're going to present, particularly when they've not yet set out fully the manifestoes and so on. I am absolutely certain and convinced that Wales not only needs a UK Labour Government, but there are so many things that we want to do in Wales that relate to part of our devolved responsibilities, to our well-being, to our financial position, that can only be resolved with a Labour Government, and that's why it's so important that we have a Labour Government in Wales.

Can I just say in terms of that that we are also seeking through our own means to achieve an outcome? And I refer to the earlier answers that I gave—of course, the finance Minister is expected to meet with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury; those positions in respect of HS2 will be put. There are the options of the dispute resolution processes open to us, and we are basically going to put that particular case. That will be the most effective, the most efficient and the speediest way of actually achieving a Barnett consequential in respect of funding that is actually being incurred.

You are right, there was obviously a very significant focus on Scotland, but I think that is because within Scotland there had just been a rather significant by-election result for the Scottish Labour Party, and I think that was a rather natural reference and issue that was going to be raised at that particular conference. I'm sure we all welcome the new Member of Parliament for that particular constituency.