7. Plaid Cymru Debate: HS2 funding

– in the Senedd at 4:47 pm on 5 June 2024.

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Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 4:47, 5 June 2024

(Translated)

The next debate, under item 7, is the Plaid Cymru debate on HS2 funding, and I call on Delyth Jewell to move the motion.

(Translated)

Motion NDM8594 Heledd Fychan

To propose that the Senedd:

1. Calls on the next UK government to allocate a fair share of HS2 funding to Wales.

(Translated)

Motion moved.

Photo of Delyth Jewell Delyth Jewell Plaid Cymru 4:47, 5 June 2024

Diolch, Llywydd. This is not just a debate about a railway line; it is about how Westminster disregards the needs and the voice of Wales. HS2 is a railway line in another country that we are nonetheless funding, a track that does not break our border but that is costing us billions to run, so we lose money by something that makes us even poorer. Time and again in this Senedd, we have agreed that the situation is unjust, unjustifiable, and yet nothing changes. Not even that; Westminster does not deign to notice.

If there were elsewhere—say, in eastern Europe or South America—somewhere far away, where a nation was starved of funding for its own infrastructure but paid towards enriching its neighbouring nation, it would be seen as absurd. Whole opinion pieces would be written in newspapers aghast at such a blatant stitch-up, yet beneath the noses of the broadsheets, we get barely a mention. Wales is a nation to the side of what commentators consider worthy of their attention. As one Guardian journalist wrote some years ago, 'Forget Wales, which does not matter.'

Well, Llywydd, it matters greatly to us. It matters greatly that our own tracks need repairing, that our only electrified lines are there to get passengers more quickly to England, that the billions we've been starved of for HS2 could have been used to connect our own communities, that it matters to us that neither Labour nor the Tories have pledged to put this right if they win power in Westminster. Wales is alone amongst the nations of these islands in paying towards a railway line that does not trouble our terrain. The farce of calling iT an England-and-Wales project could not be more blatant. But that's the attitude: forget Wales, which does not matter to them.

Time after time, vote after vote, this Senedd has spoken with one voice telling Westminster to give us back the money we're owed from this project, to reclassify it based on reality not falsehood. But those motions don't matter to them. Mr Sunak and Mr Starmer see fit to ignore Wales—beneath the notice of one and outside any interest of the other, either taking us for granted or for fools. That is the lot under this rotten Westminster system for Wales. They know we are owed this money, but we are told it isn't a priority, that Wales is not a priority. Forget Wales, which does not matter—that is how they view us.

But we have had enough of their indifference, of being told to wait and see what we will get given—always 'maybe' for Wales, always the least of their concerns, foisted always to the background, always 'wait your turn'. We will not make do with waiting, waiting for investment that is rightly ours. We have waited and waited in vain for fairness to be shown us by Westminster. They build railways that make us poorer, and charge us for the privilege of our poverty.

Forget hoping for the best from Westminster. Doing what is right does not matter to them. We have been here before in Wales, with this track that gets us nowhere. Instead of waiting for fairness to be shown us, it's time we demanded what we are owed. Let's send a message to them in Whitehall that these billions matter to Wales and they're a matter that must be met.

Photo of Natasha Asghar Natasha Asghar Conservative 4:52, 5 June 2024

Can I thank Plaid Cymru for bringing this debate before the Chamber this afternoon? Let me start by being crystal clear. I've said it before and I'll say it again today: the Welsh Conservatives have long called for Wales to receive its share in HS2 consequential funding. I've had many conversations with my transport counterparts in Westminster on this matter on a few occasions, and I know some of my colleagues, from MPs to MSs, have done exactly the same. We will continue to make that case, and indeed we have wholeheartedly supported previous motions to reclassify the rail project as England only.

It is important to note, however, that we do not want this extra money to go straight into the Welsh Government's bank account, as we all know how reckless they are when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money. Instead, we believe the money should be given directly to Network Rail, as it is better placed to invest wisely in our transport infrastructure, and I have confidence that they won't fritter the cash away on vanity projects. Whilst we do believe HS2—

Photo of Carolyn Thomas Carolyn Thomas Labour

But Network Rail are in charge of the railway infrastructure, aren't they, so—

Photo of Natasha Asghar Natasha Asghar Conservative

To an extent, but, as you're aware, Carolyn, because I know you're very passionate about transport, a lot of the train lines have links between Network Rail and Transport for Wales, and that's where the money’s going to go.

Whilst we believe HS2 should be reclassified and Wales should see extra money as a result, there is no denying that our country is benefiting from the UK Conservative Government's decision to axe the Birmingham-to-Manchester leg of the rail scheme. As a result, the UK Government announced it would be investing £1 billion in electrifying the north Wales main line, which will bring parts of the country within an hour of Manchester. It would also lead to more reliable and punctual journeys on the route between Crewe, Warrington, Chester, Llandudno and Holyhead. This is genuinely good news for Wales, Presiding Officer.

Photo of Natasha Asghar Natasha Asghar Conservative

Not any more, please, I'd like to carry on. Labour leader Keir Starmer has time and time again refused to commit to giving Wales extra HS2 money should he—and this is an incredibly frightening thought—become Prime Minister in the next few weeks. Hopefully he will never get his hands on the keys to 10 Downing Street, but, if he does, he has been clear that no cash will be forthcoming to Wales. So, I'd be keen to know what discussions Labour Minister here have had with Keir Starmer and his team in London, and what their response has been so far. And, in fact, has the First Minister raised this issue directly with him after their meeting last week? Perhaps the Cabinet Secretary for transport could shed a little light on the sorts of discussions the Government has had with Keir Starmer when he responds to this debate a little later on.

Presiding Officer, whilst there may be some discrepancy on how we'd like to see the funding administered, it's fair to say we are all in agreement that Wales should receive extra funding for HS2. Regardless of what happens on 4 July, we must all keep the pressure on to ensure that it happens and the Welsh public gets what is due to them. To that end, we will be supporting this afternoon's motion. Thank you.

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru 4:55, 5 June 2024

(Translated)

I would like to start in the spirit of glorying in the fact that there are some issues in this Senedd where we have more in common across parties than separates us. It's a cause of real pride that we as a Senedd had stated with one voice, a little over a year ago, that HS2 should be redesignated as an England-only project. One can't hide from the fact that there is a fundamental injustice in the fact that taxpayers in Wales are to all intents and purposes paying for a railway in England, which not only brings no benefits to Wales but, according to studies, is actually damaging to the Welsh economy. But, having identified that injustice and agreed upon it, the question, 'What next?' still hasn't been answered.

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru

When we debated HS2 last April, the then deputy climate change Minister, Lee Waters, said it was a scandal that Wales wasn't receiving its fair share of consequential funding. But arguably, the greatest scandal is that even in a general election campaign—traditionally the time of big giveaways and pledges and promises—we've heard nothing from either the Conservatives or Labour on righting the HS2 wrong. Committing to HS2 consequentials, I would argue, is one of the most obvious litmus tests for any would-be UK Government when it comes to being serious about fairness for Wales, because there is nothing fair about the current state of our railways. The line between Glasgow and London was electrified half a century ago, yet the north Wales main line is still waiting for electrification, the south Wales main line only as far as Cardiff.

Wales is home to around 12 per cent of the UK's rail infrastructure. We receive 2 per cent of the UK's rail investment. All the while, Transport for Wales train services accounted for more than 1 million minutes' worth of delays in 2023. Now, £4 billion is a good estimate of the fair share from this project that should be coming to Wales—a project that won't see a single mile of track built here. Whatever the exact figure, it could be ploughed into transforming our public transport network: buses, and we know how much they've suffered; rail; improving road links between north and south, east and west. That could go so much of the way towards making up for the decades of chronic underfunding by successive Tory and Labour UK Governments.

Back in October, the UK Labour shadow Secretary of State, Jo Stevens, claimed that Labour couldn't commit now to HS2 funding for Wales, stating that a Labour UK Government would have to work out what the needs for Wales are in terms of transport after an election victory, that they haven't seen the books. Of course, only this week, Keir Starmer was able to make a cast-iron pledge to renew Trident, again without having seen the books, so why not on this injustice? That is why the motion in front of us today is so important. It's a way that the Senedd can send a clear and united message to the next UK Government, and that UK Government is almost certain to be a Labour Government, regardless of how Wales votes, which is why a vote for Plaid Cymru in this election is so, so valuable. But the message in this vote today is that Wales deserves that fairness and the funding that we need to build connectivity and a rail network fit for the twenty-first century. I urge all Members who share that view to support the motion today.

Photo of Carolyn Thomas Carolyn Thomas Labour 4:59, 5 June 2024

HS2 has been a complete disaster by the UK Government: ripping up countryside, destroying homes, and costing the taxpayer billions. I met someone who is now living in Flintshire whose home was compulsorily purchased. He was so angry at the scheme and the devastation that it caused, plus the massive costs as well.

In 2011, costs were projected at £32 billion, but by 2020, they were projected to be £106 billion, and I believe that the first phase from London to Birmingham will now cost £66 billion. It's an extremely expensive white elephant, and a distraction from the reality of that investment that's desperately needed into the Victorian rail infrastructure right across the UK, and particularly in Wales. And the railway infrastructure, I think, is mostly in the control of the UK Government through Network Rail. HS2 will now just save a few minutes to get from Birmingham to London—that's all, with all that investment. And the decision to label HS2 an England-and-Wales project is ridiculous. In reality, it could have a negative economic impact of up to £200 million on Wales, and I believe it was a cynical move to cheat Wales out of much-needed investment through consequentials. 

Three times rail infrastructure bids were put to the UK Government for levelling-up funding and rejected, and these priorities in Flintshire included the Deeside Industrial Park station to create access to thousands of jobs and getting freight off the line at Hanson Cement in Padeswood. There was also the Wrexham gateway project as well, which was rejected three times. They were bids that were comprehensive and had cost lots of valuable time and resources. The feedback was that, while the projects were good, available UK levelling-up funding was limited. But then, this year, levelling-up funding has been given to Canary Wharf in London that is more than the whole of Wales combined, and I don't understand the lack of fairness at all for Wales. 

Fourteen years of underinvestment in the pursuit of austerity has led to real-terms cuts for railway maintenance, which will see a severe reduction in scheduled maintenance tasks, which really worries me further. To make railways safe, we need that investment. Network Rail will cut 1,850 maintenance jobs as part of the modernising maintenance programme, and we need to be concerned about that. This is at a time when we should be investing in flood prevention, as the instances of severe weather events come to intensify. And I'm increasingly concerned about the future viability of the north Wales main line, as the threat of changing weather and climate change looms. I know we had a high tide where the tide nearly overcame the railway line recently. 

I want to see a new UK Government that understands the importance of transparency and an end to Westminster departments finding money down the back of the sofa so that they don't have to pass on the consequential funding to Wales. We need a UK Labour Government that respects the importance of devolution and is willing to work collaboratively with the Welsh Labour Government to deliver positive change for Wales, going forward, with true transparency. And this will be in stark contrast to the Tories, who have attempted to bypass and undermine our Welsh Government and the Senedd at every opportunity. Thank you. 

Photo of Cefin Campbell Cefin Campbell Plaid Cymru 5:02, 5 June 2024

(Translated)

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this debate. I want to focus on how more investment could transform the provision of public transport in rural communities, like the areas that I represent in Mid and West Wales—communities that suffer because of poor public transport.

When I go out to meet constituents across the region—and I've done quite a lot of that over recent weeks—one of the issues that most affects them, and they tell me this time and time again on the doorstep, is a lack of public transport. And this particularly impacts young people and pensioners. The absence of public transport options is among the biggest issues that they are concerned about.

For too many rural communities, the idea of convenient rail links is just a pipe dream. And often, these are the same communities that face losing their bus services as well.

Photo of Cefin Campbell Cefin Campbell Plaid Cymru 5:03, 5 June 2024

A lack of access to public transport is a driver of rural poverty and social exclusion. It makes it harder to do business, and more difficult for people to access education, training and other essential services like doctors, dentists and pharmacies. Where rail services do exist in rural Wales, these are regularly beset by delays and cancellations. The Heart of Wales line has the dubious honour of having the worst customer satisfaction ratings across the whole of the UK. And recently, we have seen cuts to services on this and the Cambrian line.

But it doesn't have to be this way. The consequential funding that Wales is rightfully owed from HS2 could help to transform rail provision. By investing in our railways, we could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our services, providing faster, more frequent and more reliable connections across the region. And it could deliver a pathway to reconnecting north and south Wales by rail, plugging the gap in our national transport infrastructure left by the Beeching cuts. Improving connectivity in north and west Wales would support businesses and help them overcome key obstacles to investment, and investing in our public transport is, of course, absolutely central in the fight against climate change. Quite simply, there is no way to make that modal shift we need if public transport remains so unreliable and inconvenient—where it exists at all.

Photo of Cefin Campbell Cefin Campbell Plaid Cymru 5:05, 5 June 2024

(Translated)

It is a matter of gross injustice that Wales has yet to receive what it is owed from the investment in HS2. And why—why—as we’ve already heard in this Chamber, is Labour under Keir Starmer not committed to providing that funding? Every one of us—and we’ve already heard in this Chamber—literally all of us have called for this to happen several times. There is an agreement between all parties and beyond that this should happen. Even the shadow Secretary of State—again, as we've heard—Jo Stevens, has said publicly that this is unjust and deprives Wales of economic benefit worth £150,000 million per year. Why doesn’t she force Starmer to provide this funding that is owed to Wales as a manifesto commitment?

People in Wales deserve train services that are efficient, reliable and sustainable that connect them to each other. They deserve investment in their local economy that creates jobs and reduces poverty. But vitally, they deserve the money that they are owed, which is about £4 billion to £5 billion—billion—from HS2. We in Plaid Cymru demand fair funding for Wales, and it’s high time that both parties in Westminster commit to delivering it, whoever wins the general election.

Photo of Rhianon Passmore Rhianon Passmore Labour 5:07, 5 June 2024

I’m also happy to support this motion. High speed 2 construction would have seen the line connect London and Birmingham; it would have run nowhere near Wales and been of no benefit to Welsh rail passengers. Up until next year, Wales will have missed out on around £350 million as a result of the incorrect classification of HS2 as an England-Wales project, and that amount due is also likely to increase considerably in future years. And in Wales we still have Victorian-era signalling on some of our key routes, which should be a priority for investment. Only a mere 2 per cent of the rail network in Wales under the control of the UK Government is electrified, compared to 40 per cent of the railway in England. Wales deserves better, and deserves its share of the UK electrification cake.

If Wales received its fair share of funding from the UK Tory Government, it would make a significant difference to our Welsh public services in Wales and the tough, very tough, financial decisions we have to make. The reality is that the current funding system is flawed. The Welsh Labour Government have set out proposals in reforming the union for a new principles-based approach to UK funding, enshrined within a new fiscal agreement overseen and operated by a body independent of the UK Government.

Wales needs a funding structure that is fair, that is based on need, and that delivers for people in different parts of the United Kingdom. But despite the lack of rail funding coming from Westminster, the Welsh Labour Government has invested £800 million in a new fleet of new trains that means that passengers across Wales are now starting to experience the benefit of increased capacity, improved accessibility and higher quality comfort, which is set to also gear and scale in the future. The results of the Welsh Labour Government’s £1 billion upgrade of the core Valleys line are now being seen with brand-new electric trains entering service this year. The investment shows what the Welsh Government can do where it has the powers and the funding. It remains rightly the Welsh Labour Government’s ambition to secure full devolution of the railways in Wales, and end the fragmentation inflicted. [Interruption.] Yes.

Photo of Andrew RT Davies Andrew RT Davies Conservative 5:09, 5 June 2024

I'm very grateful. The metro is co-funded with the UK Government. Will you acknowledge that point? Because it's via the city deal, and I think it's nearly 50 per cent of the money that comes from the UK Government.

Photo of Rhianon Passmore Rhianon Passmore Labour

It is, but we cannot escape, can we, the abysmal record in terms of rail electrification that hasn't happened in Wales, and we cannot negate that lack of rail spend for Wales, and we must look at this with clarity.

The Welsh Labour Government has further invested £160 million upgrading the railway line running through Islwyn communities. This is an investment responsibility of the UK Government. The Ebbw Vale line, which runs for around 13 miles was brought back into operation in 2008, having been in disuse for 40 years, and it is a travesty that Victorian Wales had a better transport infrastructure than we do today. This Welsh Labour Government and our Welsh local authorities have been investing, truly investing, in the Welsh rail network, despite virtually no infrastructural and UK moneys to match. It deserves now—we deserve—a time for us to see fair funding and fair railway spend for Wales.

Photo of Peredur Owen Griffiths Peredur Owen Griffiths Plaid Cymru 5:11, 5 June 2024

In a crowded field, the story of HS2 in Wales is one of the biggest financial injustices we have seen emerge from Westminster in a long time. Not a single mile of track will run close to Wales, let alone through it, yet taxpayers in this country are having to pay for it. This is because the Tory Government have classed it as an England-and-Wales project. This confirms that they are not only incompetent when it comes to the economy, but also incompetent when it comes to geography.

By way of contrast, Northern Ireland and Scotland will get extra money that they are owed for a project that is England-only. The Treasury knows better than to deny Scotland or Northern Ireland money that is rightfully theirs. Has the Westminster Government come to the conclusion that the Labour Government in Wales will not rock the boat too much over this? By their own estimation, this Government suggests that we should receive around £5 billion based on the country's population if the project was changed to England-only. We would get that extra money through the antiquated Barnett formula, which calculates how much funding the devolved administrations receive from the Treasury to spend on devolved areas.

Now, Natasha might want to reflect a little wider on the implications that giving the money directly to Network Rail would have. It would erode the devolution settlement and the democratic processes in this place.

The Tory Government absurdly claim that HS2 is a project that benefits both countries and says that Wales has benefited directly from any increases in the Department for Transport's budget that have been driven by HS2. In giving evidence to the Senedd's Finance Committee in the last fortnight, in our current inquiry into fiscal inter-governmental relations, the respected constitutional expert Paul Silk declared the justifications that HS2 benefited Wales were, and I quote, 'rather threadbare'. It is not right that UK Government is able to make these unjust decisions arbitrarily. This isn't a one-off, they've done it twice. The Northern Powerhouse rail is a proposed major rail programme that will see big upgrades to the connectivity of northern parts of England. Originally, it was supposed to build a new line connecting areas such as Manchester and Leeds, but has since been scaled back. It will still include significant improvements to rail in the north of England, including Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford and York. The Northern Powerhouse rail, like HS2, has also been classified by the UK Government as an England-and-Wales project, despite being entirely in England. This means Wales will miss out again, this time on more than £1 billion-worth of funding for transport. Commuters in Wales would do well to remember that at the ballot box in July, but also in 2026 at the next Senedd elections, because Labour leader Keir Starmer appears to have rubber-stamped these unjust decisions by refusing to commit to reversing them if elected as Prime Minister, but, of course, we might get a late manifesto commitment from the Cabinet Secretary on his behalf tonight. Diolch.

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 5:14, 5 June 2024

(Translated)

The Cabinet Secretary for finance to contribute to the debate. Rebecca Evans.

Photo of Rebecca Evans Rebecca Evans Labour

Thank you. So, the facts of this matter are very simple. HS2 is a railway line between London and Birmingham, and not an inch of track will be built on Welsh soil. It doesn't benefit Wales and it should be reclassified as an England-only project.

Photo of Rebecca Evans Rebecca Evans Labour 5:15, 5 June 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. That amount is likely to increase considerably in future years. The Welsh Government has been pressing for comparability with HS2 in the future and for the funding that would have come to Wales so far, if that comparability had been in place in the past. Looking ahead, the value of comparability will depend on future UK Government transport spending plans, but would be likely to deliver significant additional resources to the Welsh Government, and this could be in the region of £60 million to £70 million per annum. The UK Government should also conduct a wider review of comparability with the Department for Transport to ensure greater objectivity in funding decisions and to address the impact of the classification of future rail projects.

If Wales received its fair share of funding from the UK Government, it would make a significant difference to our public services in Wales, and could alleviate some of the tough choices that we have to make. Not only is our settlement this year worth up to £700 million less in real terms than expected at the time of the 2021 spending review, it's also £3 billion lower than if it had grown in line with GDP since 2010. Our general capital budget this year is worth up to 8 per cent less in real terms than expected at the time of the spending review in 2021. 

We also face rigid limits on our ability to borrow and to carry forward or draw down funds from our own reserves, and yet our Wales infrastructure investment strategy sets out a pipeline of projects that we could invest in to boost the Welsh economy if only we had the tools and the resources. The reality is that the current funding system is flawed. We have set out proposals in 'Reforming our Union' for a new principles-based approach to UK funding enshrined within a new fiscal agreement overseen and operated by a body independent of the UK Government. And this would enable a more rational, transparent allocation of public spending across the UK and ensure that decisions as to whether a programme is comparable or not are made on an objective basis. We need a funding structure that's fair, that's based on need and that delivers for people in different parts of the United Kingdom.

The Conservative Government has failed to support priorities in Wales. The UK Government is directing a managed decline of the Welsh rail infrastructure for which it is responsible. Their plans for Network Rail in Wales for the next five years will see a reduction in the amount of money that Network Rail has in cash terms to look after vital infrastructure. The result will be reduced asset reliability and more infrastructure issues, causing delays to rail services in Wales. The Welsh Government has refused to sit back and watch this crisis unfold. We have intervened with an £800 million investment in a new fleet of trains, which means that passengers across Wales are now experiencing the benefit of increased capacity, improved accessibility and high-quality comfort. But this has opportunity costs, and has meant difficult decisions elsewhere in our budget.

The challenge facing the next UK Government is that the current one has fundamentally mismanaged the economy over the last 14 years, giving us more than a decade of austerity, the reckless mini-budget and a cost-of-living crisis and record inflation. Despite the challenging public finance position, people in Wales understand that having two Labour Governments committed to working together for the future of Wales would be a good thing, and we could make real progress in this and in so many other areas. We have already demonstrated in Wales, where we are responsible for the core Valleys line, the transformation that we can deliver. The results of our £1 billion upgrade of the core Valleys line are now being seen, with brand-new electric trains entering service this year. The timetable change taking place this week is a step change towards the 'turn up and go' service that the metro will offer, delivering more frequent journeys for passengers, improving connectivity and creating opportunity. Our investment shows what we can achieve where we have the powers and the funding. It remains the ambition of the Welsh Government to secure full devolution of the railways in Wales to enable us to deliver a fully integrated, efficient transport system that meets the needs of Welsh passengers and freight users.

Llywydd, Wales deserves to be treated fairly and respectfully by the UK Government, and the Welsh Government should have the fiscal powers and the resources that we need to deliver our ambitions for a prosperous, green and healthy Wales. Thank you.

Photo of Delyth Jewell Delyth Jewell Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

Thank you, Llywydd, and I thank everyone who has taken part in this important debate.

Photo of Delyth Jewell Delyth Jewell Plaid Cymru

Diolch, Natasha, for indicating again your support for reclassifying HS2. The point that Natasha makes about Network Rail, that raises the point, of course, about why we need the powers over transport infrastructure devolved to Wales, or else we will forever be short-changed and short of tracks. Thank you for your contribution. 

Photo of Delyth Jewell Delyth Jewell Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

Yes, Rhun, this is one subject that does unify us as a Senedd. That's why it's so powerful and so insulting that the Westminster parties do ignore us—it's so much more insulting.

Photo of Delyth Jewell Delyth Jewell Plaid Cymru

Committing to HS2 consequentials is, indeed, a litmus test, I think, both for Mr Sunak and Mr Starmer, a test they are failing. They ignore us because either they don't care or they don't care to notice. Mr Starmer has, indeed, committed to Trident spending. Why not give us the billions we are owed?

Now, Carolyn set out the eye-watering sums of money being spent on HS2. I welcome—I really do welcome—the fact that parts of England are getting that investment and that citizens in England are going to benefit from that. I welcome it for them, but pretending this project benefits Wales is to subvert the reality of morality and of maps. 

Photo of Delyth Jewell Delyth Jewell Plaid Cymru 5:21, 5 June 2024

(Translated)

Cefin mentioned the impact on residents in Wales in terms of the poor standard of public transport—those services that would benefit so much from the investment of billions of pounds from HS2. As Cefin mentioned, this is an issue of social fairness. Our poverty as a country is a decision made in Westminster, and, yes, it's a question of rights as well, I agree. Why don't we in Wales have the right to have better services?

Photo of Delyth Jewell Delyth Jewell Plaid Cymru 5:22, 5 June 2024

Now, Rhianon signalled her support too for the reaffirmation of reality, almost, by setting out that HS2 will not come into Wales. It shouldn't be noteworthy that Member after Member has been reaffirming the blatant realities of geography, but Westminster seems determined to ignore it. We don't matter to them. Now, I agree with Rhianon about the funding. I cannot understand why the UK Labour leader can't see this too. 

Peredur talked about the financial injustice at the heart of this scandal. As Peredur pointed out, both Scotland and Northern Ireland will receive this funding. Why on earth should Wales matter less? And, yes, with Northern Powerhouse Rail, with all of these other projects, these injustices are set to continue until Wales has powers over our own transport infrastructure.

Now, as the Cabinet Secretary put it, the facts of this matter are clear. Again, they are clear to all of us, but Westminster sees it through another lens, the lens through which Wales does not matter. Now, I welcome that the Welsh Government has argued for this reclassification, and, yes, our funding system is flawed. What a dire indictment it is of our devolved settlement that it's up to the whims of Westminster to see whether what is right—what is reality—gets obeyed.

Now, what this Senedd says should matter to Westminster, because a railway line is about more than tracks and trains; it's about setting a direction for the future. This is not some hypothetical question that is yet to be answered, or something for future years. It's a question of correcting a wrong that's happened, a mistake that's already been made, a trick that has already been played. Now is our chance to tell that upcoming Westminster Government, whatever their hue, that Wales is not for waiting any longer. No more 'maybe next time' for Wales; no more being told to wait our turn that never comes. These billions are owed to Wales, they are direly needed to help our communities and we, in this Senedd, demand them.

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 5:24, 5 June 2024

(Translated)

The proposal is to agree the motion. Does any Member object? No, there are no objections. Therefore, the motion is agreed.

(Translated)

Motion agreed in accordance with Standing Order 12.36.