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Monday, March 21, 2011

Hain on a mission

Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain goes over the top this morning with yet more headline-seeking claims that don't stand up to scrutiny. This time he is arguing that the scrapping of three big infrastructure projects by the UK Government has resulted in cuts equivalent to nearly £17,000 for every resident of Wales.

He says that decisions not to proceed with the Severn Barrage, the defence training academy at St Athan and the Energy Island project on Anglesey together represented a loss of an astonishing £50.7bn for the Welsh economy – or £16,900 for every man, woman and child. Where does he think all this money is going to come from anyway?

At least he now has the £35bn cost of the Severn barrage right but he is still insisting that it will be privately financed and not need any public subsidy. What he has not done is to point out where the companies are who are prepared to put up this sort of money on an inadequate rate of return. Nor does he address the environmental and ecological problems with his preferred solution. He cannot even carry the Labour Party on this issue.

The Government has said that it will be making further announcements on St. Athan whilst the Anglesey Energy Island project is not even a Government scheme. For once the Welsh Office Spokesperson has it spot on when he/she says:

"Peter Hain was part of the Labour Government which never delivered any of these projects during 13 years in power.

“In 10 months we’ve delivered rail electrification, we’re investing millions in broadband infrastructure, we’re laying the foundations for economic growth, and we’re taking tough but necessary action on Labour’s legacy of debt.

“Mr Hain appears to be waging a one-man cheerleading campaign for the Severn Barrage. The Energy Minister said last week that the barrage is not written off for all time. However, at present there is no strategic case at this time for it to go ahead with public funding.

“The last Labour Government delayed making a decision on St Athan so that by the time we came to office the Metrix bid was no longer affordable and, by the consortium’s own admission, ‘could not be delivered within the framework and timescale originally intended’.

“The Ministry of Defence is currently reviewing its training needs and we remain hopeful a training facility will be located at RAF St Athan.

“Mr Hain also knows full well that the Anglesey Energy Island initiative is led by Anglesey Council. He is deliberately trying to confuse the issue by referring to economic development in ports for which the Labour-led Welsh Assembly Government received funding.”

The Shadow Secretary of State is stirring endlessly in the hope that something will jump out of the pot and vindicate his own poor record in government, but surely even his colleagues can see that he is losing credibility with every pronouncement.
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