On Wednesday, David Lynch, of the Independent, reported on a debate in the Commons which focused on a proposed floating wind farm off the Welsh coast. The article highlighted input from the Secretary of State for Wales, David TC Davies, Welsh Affairs Committee Chair, Stephen Crabb and Stephen Kinnock.
Kinnock posited that “the manufacturing, the supply chain, the jobs, the skills, [stay] (sic) in Wales”. In response, Crabb wanted to ensure “alignment between the Crown Estate’s leasing auctions and the UK Government, the Treasury’s contracts for difference process, and the commitments that developers are making.”
While this list may seem quite exhaustive, it misses one key group of people: anyone who represents Wales and Welsh interests.
The Crown Estate in Wales is owned by the Crown and administered by the Westminster Government. This is not the case in Scotland, where Crown Estate administration is devolved to the Scottish Government.
The UK Government is the Conservative and Unionist Party, for now. Wales has not voted majority Tory since “new” Welsh towns were given the ability to vote in 1885. The Treasury is part of the UK Government and as fiscal powers are not devolved, Wales is not represented there either.
Therefore, we are left with hope that the proposed private-sector developers, whoever they turn out to be, will represent Welsh industry and Welsh interests.
How can we ensure that Welsh people are represented and that all the required processes happen for the benefit of Wales? There are two options: transfer the Crown Estate, energy and all treasury responsibilities for Wales to the Welsh Government; or Wales could become an independent state and make decisions about its own resources.
With the current arrangement, Wales is like Oliver Twist. Its pay, opportunities and livelihood are decided by the self-righteous Mr Bumble (the Crown Estate), the hypocritical Mrs Corney (the UK Government), and the neglectful Mrs Mann (the UK Treasury). If Wales is going to grow up, it needs to rid itself of the so-called “voluntary” authorities within the so-called “equal” union of the United Kingdom.
The final input in the article was so left-field, it went all the way round to being far-right. Jonathan Gullis, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, felt the need to pipe up about the “waste of money” that is the proposed enlargement of the Senedd and the Secretary of State agreed. Gullis quoted the figure of £100 million for the proposed Senedd increase of 36 MS, but the figure is closer to £13 million according to the Senedd Commission, who obviously know more about this than Mr Gullis does.
Byline Times reported that Boris Johnson’s first year as PM incurred a “waste” of over £57 billion, a premiership that Gullis lauded. Liz Truss’ horrific experiment cost the country £30 billion and Bloomberg estimates it wiped out £300 billion of investment in her first month a budget Gullis was responsible for as a Minister of State. Furthermore, Brexit costs the UK £100 billion per year in lost output, a project that Gullis advocates.
On these figures alone, Gullis and his colleagues’ wasted more than £600 billion. By my calculations, that’s enough to expand the Senedd from 60 members to more than 1,600,000, or roughly half the population of Wales! It’s also enough money to build an offshore wind farm 300 times the size of Gwynt y Môr (which would be bigger than Wales).
My suggestion to Jonathan Gullis, and those who share his view, is that they should sit down and keep quiet on matters relating to Wales and wasted money. In the meantime, they should educate themselves on the facts, and speak to Welsh people in the communities that have been forgotten by successive UK governments and investors for far too long.