Welsh taxpayers will certainly contribute towards building the most expensive railway in the world, even though not one inch of it being in Wales and the fact that the British Government has deliberately avoided giving Wales its fair share of investment in return by describing the project as an “England and Wales” investment even though it is actually having a negative impact on jobs and wages in Wales.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
HS2 AND THE UNION
We can be said live in a one sided Union, it can be argued that either the Union works for all, or it doesn't. If it doesn't then it's not a beneficial Union. It’s certainly clear that it is not a fair and equal Union, it's a Union of unequals, especially where Wales and Welsh interests are concerned.
Most recently Welsh companies have missed out on contracts worth £6.6 billion to build the first phase of England’s high speed rail line, HS2. The contracts, which will support around 16,000 jobs, have been awarded to mainly English, Austrian, Swedish and French firms.
No Welsh firms were shortlisted and no Welsh firms will participate in any consortia. A study by quantity surveyor Michael Byng, released over the weekend, estimates that the cost of building HS2 could reach over £100 billion, making it the most expensive railway in the world.
Public spending on England-only projects usually triggers consequential funding for the devolved nations but as the UK Government has designated HS2 as an “England & Wales” project, despite every inch of the railway being in England.
Wales was designated a HS2 0% rating at the last Comprehensive Spending Review for Barnett Consequentials whilst northern Ireland and Scotland were rated 100%.
A report published by accountancy firm, KPMG, in 2010 showed that HS2 will have an overall negative effect on the Welsh economy, resulting in 21,000 fewer jobs in Wales by 2040 as a result of jobs shifting to the English Midlands and the north of England.
HS2 may cost £100 billion if reports are accurate, if the project was correctly labeled as an England-only project, then Wales would be entitled to £5 billion. Our share could be used to invest in our own transport infrastructure. What’s going to happen is that our taxes are being used to fund a high-speed line for England.
The Welsh Labour Government should have ensured that Welsh companies were promoted during the procurement process. There can be no excuse for the British Government to direct contracts to overseas countries, supporting jobs and wages elsewhere instead of supporting our own companies here in Wales. It should be clear by now that Westminster is not clearly working for Wales.
The so-called ‘partnership of equals’ between the four constituent nations is merely a sham. The Union, as is, offers all the risk and little or no reward as the Labour Welsh Government simply sits on its hands. Only Plaid Cymru will stand up and fight for Wales to get its fair share of investment from HS2 and work to make sure that Westminster treats Wales fairly.