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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Welsh Tory MPs and their broken manifesto promise on S4C

The Western Mail reports that Welsh Tory MPs have secured a debate in the House of Commons in an attempt to reverse the damaging cuts being made by their Government to Welsh language broadcaster, S4C in defiance of the manifesto commitment on which they fought the General Election.

S4C plays a valuable role in safeguarding the Welsh language and in enriching the culture of Wales. But, equally as important, it also brings significant benefits to the Welsh economy. Every £1 invested by S4C in the creative industry more than doubles its value to the economy, with individual productions having a direct impact on the areas in which they are filmed.

S4C has supported the growth of a strong and successful independent sector as a publisher-broadcaster. It spends nearly 81 per cent of its commissioning budget on the independent sector, supporting jobs and skills development. S4C supports a wide range of skilled creative industry jobs across Wales. It is hoped that it will be an ever more important player in the Welsh economy, particularly in areas such as Ceredigion and Carmarthen, where S4C is relocating its headquarters. That is why I think it is important that the Welsh Government also continues its support for S4C.

It is true that the Welsh Conservative manifesto for the general election made a clear commitment to protect the budget of S4C. The proposals being put forward by the UK Government breaks that promise.

However that promise was not in the Conservatives’ UK manifesto. So, when MPs such as Guto Bebb quite rightly stand up in the House of Commons and say to the relevant Secretary of State that S4C needs to be protected because it is a manifesto commitment, he is only partly right. It was not a manifesto that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport signed up to when he faced voters last year.

Welsh Tories failed to seal the deal by getting their UK colleagues to agree to the pledge on S4C. They are now reaping the consequences of that failure.
Today's Tories are clearly not afraid of Plaid Cymru's MPs fasting unto death.

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