HS2 Consequential Funding

1. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Cabinet Office – in the Senedd at on 15 May 2024.

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Photo of Rhianon Passmore Rhianon Passmore Labour

(Translated)

7. What assessment has the Cabinet Secretary made of the funding lost to Wales as a result of the UK Government's refusal to class HS2 as an England-only project? OQ61108

Photo of Rebecca Evans Rebecca Evans Labour 2:13, 15 May 2024

Up to the end of 2024-25, Wales will have missed out on around £350 million as a result of the incorrect classification of HS2 as an England-and-Wales project.

Photo of Rhianon Passmore Rhianon Passmore Labour

Thank you. Cabinet Secretary, in a written answer to me yesterday, the First Minister stated that the Welsh Government budget is worth £700 million less than when it was agreed. So, if you add to this the clearly disgraceful decision by the UK Government to class HS2 as an England-and-Wales-only project, even though not an inch of track—or centimetre, even—will be built on Welsh soil, any fair and objective person can ascertain how Wales is being short-changed by the Tory UK Government, whilst the party opposite do nothing to stand up for Wales and Welsh interests. So, Cabinet Secretary, what practical differences, then, would it make to Welsh public life and the tough financial decisions being made every day by the Welsh Government, and our hard-working and hard-stretched local authorities, if the money Wales rightly should have and deserves was actually honourably given to us, or is this simply another great train robbery?

Photo of Rebecca Evans Rebecca Evans Labour 2:14, 15 May 2024

Well, £350 million could have made a significant difference to us here in Wales in terms of the investment that we're able to make in public services. I think that the UK Government should return that money to Wales. There's absolutely no argument now that the HS2 project, which is basically a London-to-Birmingham railway, has any benefit to us here in Wales. Those kind of flimsy arguments that we would benefit in the past I think have been completely washed away now, so that money I think does need to be returned to us. We're being short-changed in so many ways. When you think about replacement EU funding, for example, that’s a classic example of the UK Government short-changing the Welsh Government, and when you look at the ways in which the UK Government has provided specific funding for Northern Ireland to help Northern Ireland to meet its challenges in terms of public services, but not providing the same for us here in Wales, I think again that’s an example of where we’ve been short-changed. As I’ve said to the Minister in Northern Ireland, we don’t begrudge a penny. We recognise the pressures on public services there, but what we want is fair treatment and fair play right across the United Kingdom.

So, what I would like to see as we start our discussions in terms of the next spending review period is absolutely for this project to be categorised now as an England-only project, as it should have been all along.