The North Wales Growth Deal has been announced several times over now. I have been stating that we need it urgently if we are to stop any increases in unemployment. Sadly, the Government have only just started to take action. That is why I wanted to press the Minister on the increase in unemployment in Delyn announced today.
October witnessed a rise in unemployment and I warned the UK Government if they did not take action it would only rise further. Today’s figures demonstrate that they did not heed these warnings and let unemployment push above the 800 mark. This follows years of fluctuations in unemployment in Delyn, under the Conservatives, but no definitive fall.
Youth unemployment is remaining at 180 people. Showing that despite the efforts of the Welsh Assembly Government in providing excellent education and skills training, the UK Government is squandering our young people’s potential.
What we are seeing is a government who are not competent enough to manage the UK economy. For all their bluster surrounding their credentials on the economy we can see a shambolic approach to bringing down inflation and securing more decent jobs. We now live in the situation where inflation continues to rise to an eye-watering 3.1% and the number of people in secure work plummets. Labour will invest into our community and tackle the cost of living crisis head on.
The Minister seemed to demonstrate an unwillingness to even note the rise in unemployment in Delyn. Instead he opted to say that everything is well in his constituency. This shows a disregard for the people of Delyn and shows this government’s incompetency in implementing a growth deal when it was first needed.
I am deeply concerned at the speed in which this Government takes decisions on transport investment. The expansion of Heathrow airport has constantly been kicked into the long grass despite an independent review stating it was the best option.
The failure to expand Heathrow is worrying as the promises to make Crewe a hub for HS2 may never happen if the Government live up to form. The hub at Crewe will directly benefit us as we will have quicker links to Manchester, Birmingham and London. This is good for people wanting to visit North Wales, but is equally as good for businesses who currently operate in our community.
I pressed the Minister to tell us when Heathrow and the hub at Crewe will be given the green light so businesses and people in Delyn can plan accordingly.
Before the Budget on Wednesday, I was able to ask the Minister of State for the Wales Office, Guto Bebb MP, why the Government has broken its promise, as set out in its 2015 election manifesto, to protect funding for S4C.
The funding last year for S4C was £6.7m and was £6.1m this year. A fall of £600,000, completely contravening the Government’s pledge to the people of Delyn.
The Minister dithered and failed to answer my question directly. Instead he said that a review was being undertaken and that an announcement will be made shortly on the continued freezing of funding for S4C. As we can see, funding hasn’t been frozen it has been cut.
I will always push for better investment and support for the Welsh language. The Welsh Assembly Government is doing an excellent job in promoting Welsh, but that is in spite of the efforts by the Westminster government.
On Wednesday, I asked the Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns MP, about the future of the steel industry.
When the Prime Minister visited the Indian Government we learnt that she failed to raise steel. As Tata, the Indian based company, is the company responsible for the steel works in Shotton it beggars belief that she did not think it necessary to ask the Indian Prime Minister, or any of his Ministries about how we can go forward and secure the thousands of jobs in the vital steel industry.
I asked the Secretary of State what steps he will take in the near future when he meets trade unions representing the steel industry to discuss the impact of the loss of single market access. Losing access to the single market will see our industry being hit with tariffs, making steel production become more expensive in the UK and threatening jobs.
The Secretary of State changed the subject of the question to discuss the cost of energy to this sector. As important as this is, under the current circumstances the costs imposed through losing access to the single market will be far more damaging. I was disturbed that the Government did not seem to have an answer to my specific question. I will continue to raise the steel industry within parliament until we get a plan that secures jobs for the long-term.