Green Jobs in South-east Wales

1. Questions to the First Minister – in the Senedd at on 18 June 2024.

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Photo of John Griffiths John Griffiths Labour

(Translated)

4. How is the Welsh Government working to promote and develop green jobs in south-east Wales? OQ61298

Photo of Vaughan Gething Vaughan Gething Labour 2:10, 18 June 2024

Thank you for the question. Green job creation is a priority for this Government. This includes realising the enormous net-zero opportunities across Wales from our natural environment to support business growth and develop new technologies, such as compound semiconductors, to enable a just transition. 

Photo of John Griffiths John Griffiths Labour

After some 14 years of Tory UK Government austerity, imposed as a political choice, we've seen economic stagnation and record falls in the standard of living of our communities. Thankfully, the people of Wales and the UK as a whole understand this and look set to vote for badly needed change and a UK Labour Government. That incoming Labour administration will make the UK a clean energy superpower by creating high-quality jobs through investment into renewable energy projects and industrial clusters across the UK. In south-east Wales, we have the Severn estuary, which offers great potential for floating wind platforms and harnessing tidal energy. Newport docks has important plans for expansion and, of course, Tata Steel at Llanwern must be involved in a transition to green steel. So, First Minister, will the Welsh Government work with a UK Labour administration and our local authorities, together with other key partners, to create these sustainable green jobs and economic projects here in south Wales?

Photo of Vaughan Gething Vaughan Gething Labour 2:11, 18 June 2024

I think the Member points out exactly the change we do need to see. For those who have read part of the UK Labour manifesto, the commitment to develop a national wealth fund is a key part of it, not just the direct public investment that will go into it, but also the additional private sector investment we expect to realise in our ports, in the race for clean power, in advanced manufacturing and in a future for the steel sector. Jobs right across, not just south Wales, but across north Wales too. In all of those areas, we have natural assets and advantages. What we need is a stable partner with the level of vision to deliver them.

And you don't need to take my word for it. On clean power, for example, the UK Labour manifesto contains a quote from Sir Patrick Vallance, formerly the chief scientific adviser of the UK Government, who recognises the level of ambition that is required and the benefits that could and should come from it. That is what is on the ballot paper on 4 July, a different partnership with ambition and vision and the resources to deliver it. That is something I believe people in Wales here will be positive about, and, I hope, will vote for.

Photo of Natasha Asghar Natasha Asghar Conservative 2:13, 18 June 2024

First Minister, I'm not going to go down the route of John Griffiths and make a PR bite in order for the UK election to get a way ahead. Let's focus on the Welsh issues, which are what we're all sitting here for, and that's why I'm going to be saying that our green energy sector and energy are, indeed, vitally important for the economy here in Wales. But what is most important about it is that we have a just, sustainable and economically viable transition in this sector, with the right level of consistent investment and utilisation of skills to maximise economic output.

Earlier this year, the UK Labour Party pledged £28 billion in a green spending promise, then, in last week's Labour manifesto, we saw a pledge of £7.3 billion to key green industrial sectors. First Minister, you'd think we were on a beach with the amount of flip-flopping that we've seen from Keir Starmer so far, and the man seems quite adamant to bring about change, and I say that very loosely, yet still can't quite work out how to actually do it. So, First Minister, with a clear lack of plan going forward, lack of direction and cherry-picking from different commitments by UK Labour, how can the Welsh public trust that your party will actually stick to promises when huge u-turns have already been made in key manifesto pledges? Thank you.

Photo of Vaughan Gething Vaughan Gething Labour 2:14, 18 June 2024

It's an interesting contribution, and what I will say is, when you look at the last Conservative manifesto, swathes of it have been trashed and not delivered without a hint of shame about it at all. Just take structural funds and the pledges in two Conservative UK general election manifestos that not a single penny would be lost. None of that has happened. We know we have lost over £1 billion here in Wales. The Member said she wants to talk about Welsh issues, and I still haven't heard a consistent view from Conservatives in this Chamber about that missing £1 billion that her party has taken away from Wales. More than that, of course, it's what it has not allowed us to do: invest in the skills she says she's interested in. Actually, that is why we have had extraordinary pressure on our own budgets here in Wales. We could and should be able to do more.

When we get the return, the restoration, of decision making around structural funds, I am clear that we will reinvest in apprenticeships and skills programmes that worked and delivered real results in industries of today and the future. The semiconductor industry I mentioned will require some of that investment. It's an industry where there's supposedly a UK strategy, supposedly with £1 billion over 10 years—not the sum of money that should actually meet the challenges or opportunities there—but not a single penny of that has been spent. If you're going to have a semiconductor strategy, then, actually, the south-east of Wales should be a key part for that investment to be delivered in. Not a penny has been. This Government has a very different record of investing alongside that sector to deliver investments and good-quality jobs. We will do more of the same if we have willing partners who can deliver upon that. If people vote for change on 4 July, I look forward to delivering that with another UK Labour Government, in partnership.