Gillan: Rail electrification 'cannot happen on a whim'

Cheryl Gillan UK and Welsh governments should work together in Wales' interests, Cheryl Gillan says

Related Stories

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan says the UK government must see a business case before it can electrify the main Paddington-Swansea railway line.

Electrification cannot happen on a whim, she told the Welsh assembly in a statement on the Queen's speech.

Meanwhile at meetings in London, First Minister Carwyn Jones raised concerns about UK government welfare reforms.

The UK government announced plans to electrify the Great Western line as far as Cardiff last year.

But the Welsh government wants the project to go further west to Swansea and into the valleys.

Budget deficit

Supporters say electrification would mean quicker journeys and cleaner trains.

Mrs Gillan told AMs in the assembly chamber that she was continuing to press the case for electrification of the line to Swansea, but warned AMs that "you can't just go ahead on a whim".

Transport Secretary Justine Greening has said there is a "good case" for looking at electrification of lines in the valleys and Prime Minister David Cameron has said he backs the scheme.

TRADING PLACES

While Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan was at the assembly, First Minister Carwyn Jones was delivering a different message to the Westminster coalition.

Mr Jones complained about welfare reforms at meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

The Welsh government says Wales will be hit "disproportionately" by the UK government's plans to change the system.

A Welsh government spokesman said there was a "robust exchange of views" and that Mr Jones also raised a UK government green paper on the way AMs are elected. Assembly elections should be dealt with in the assembly "rather than being imposed on Wales by the UK government," he said.

The UK government says it is restoring fairness to the benefits system.

From April next year the amount of out-of-work benefits available to working age people will be capped at £26,000 a year.

Claims for single people will be limited to £350 a week, while couples and single parents will have their benefits capped at £500.

Mrs Gillan also urged AMs and the public to have their say on possible changes to assembly elections.

The Wales Office published a green paper on the issue this week, but Mrs Gillan said she "did not have a closed mind" on the eventual outcome.

She said the coalition would "not shirk" from its main objective of reducing the budget deficit.

In a debate on the Queen's speech, Finance Minister Jane Hutt said the UK government's legislative programme "is failing the Welsh economy".

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said the Queen's speech was a "wasted opportunity".

She said: "Here was the first real chance since the UK re-entered recession for there to be a change of direction. Unfortunately that did not materialise."

Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black said the coalition was taking measures to stimulate economic growth, including cutting income tax for the lowest paid workers.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Wales politics stories

RSS

Features

  • Shinji Mikamo's father's watchTime peace

    The story of the watch that survived Hiroshima


  • A man hangs a Catalan flag at his balcony near Barcelona in 2013Caledonia homage

    Who are the Europeans with an eye on the Scottish referendum?


  • Elephant Diaries - BBCGoing wild

    Wildlife film-makers reveal the tricks of the trade


  • Hamas rally in the West Bank village of Yatta, 2006Hamas hopes

    Why the Palestinian group won't back down yet


  • A woman dining aloneTable for one

    The restaurants that love solo diners


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.