HS2 Welsh cash bid hits buffers

It would be one of the biggest infrastructure problems the UK has seen, costing more than £30bn of public money.

HS2 is hugely controversial in parts of England and its benefits for Wales are disputed. But (those Barnett consequentials again) will Wales get a share of the cash?

Apparently not. Transport may be devolved to Wales, giving the Welsh government a share of increases in spending in England, but transport infrastructure is not.

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards has been campaigning for a change in the rules to allow Wales a share of any cash spent on HS2. He says it could be worth almost £2bn.

A UK government reluctance to increase public spending is not unexpected. What has surprised Mr Edwards is an apparent reluctance by the Labour-run Welsh government to press for extra cash for Wales.

The Welsh government has put its case in new evidence to the Commons Welsh affairs committee.

That evidence says: "The Welsh government continues to engage with the UK government to ensure that Wales receives all of the consequentials to which we are entitled.

"In relation to the recent HS2 announcement, no budget allocations have been made for the construction of either phase in the current spending review period.

"Rail infrastructure is not devolved and as such we would not expect to receive consequentials.

"An exception is in relation to transport projects in London where the Welsh government can receive consequentials, an example of this is the Crossrail project for which a consequential was paid to the Welsh government."

A Welsh government source has reportedly accused Mr Edwards of failing to understand the rules on those Barnett consequentials; he finds it strange the Welsh government isn't apparently making the case for Wales to get a share of higher public spending on HS2.