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Leaving the EU: Wales — [Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:34 am on 25th October 2016.

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Photo of Gerald Jones Gerald Jones Shadow Minister (Wales) 10:34 am, 25th October 2016

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey. I congratulate my hon. Friend Stephen Kinnock on securing this important debate and on the powerful case he made. We have heard from an array of hon. Members from across Wales who have a variety of views on what leaving the EU will mean for their constituencies, for Wales and for the people of Wales. The one theme that has come through is that the next few years will be an uncertain period for all, and for our communities and businesses in particular, as highlighted by my hon. Friend Carolyn Harris.

The Government have a clear and pressing duty to reduce that uncertainty. We have all heard of investment decisions that have been delayed and of businesses that are genuinely worried for their futures. People voted to leave, but they did not vote to damage our economy, so the Government need to step up and set out their plans more clearly to deliver the clarity and business confidence we so badly need.

As my hon. Friend Chris Evans highlighted, Wales currently receives a significant net gain from the European budget because west Wales and the valleys qualify for the highest level of EU regional development funding. The Welsh European Funding Office estimates that projects in the 2007-13 round of funding created 11,925 enterprises, supported nearly 40,000 jobs and helped more than 72,000 people into work and 56,000 people into further learning. As my hon. Friend Christina Rees said, 16,000 farmers in Wales get direct subsidies from the common agricultural policy, without which 90% would be in financial difficulty. My hon. Friend Chris Elmore highlighted the positive impact that that funding has on farmers and the risk posed by leaving the EU.

Wales is set to receive £2.7 billion in structural funds up to 2020. We have heard examples of local regeneration already delivered across Wales. Many communities have been transformed with the support of EU funding, including many in my constituency. We heard my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon outline the iconic Swansea University campus and the Workways+ and BEACON schemes, which have been supported through the EU.

My hon. Friend Albert Owen highlighted the important point of matched funding and what that means in supporting EU funding to go even further in regenerating Wales. My hon. Friend Geraint Davies highlighted the regeneration projects in his area and the lack of reassurance coming from the Government.

Despite that, Wales voted in line with England to leave the European Union, and we respect that decision. However, Wales did not vote to become poorer or to damage its public services. That is why, as we begin the process of leaving the EU, we need to work together to ensure that Wales, its economy and its communities get the best deal.