Cameron: Wales has a strong voice at government's heart

David Cameron has spoken about why he sacked Cheryl Gillan as Welsh Secretary.

In an interview with BBC Wales at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, the prime minister said Mrs Gillan had done an excellent job.

But her replacement, David Jones, represented a Welsh constituency, he said.

"I want to make sure that Wales has got a strong voice at the heart of government," he said.

"Yes, there is devolution and it is right we make that work, but Wales also benefits from making sure that the Foreign Office is standing up for Wales, that we're helping sell Welsh goods around the world, that we are taking into account all of Wales' needs."

He added that the junior minister Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire MP, was unpaid and offered good value.

He fills the post vacated by Clwyd West MP Mr Jones in September in David Cameron's first major reshuffle since forming the coalition government in 2010.

Mrs Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire, has returned to the backbenches.

"Don't underestimate all the things Cheryl (Gillan) and, I think, the government have achieved for the people of Wales," he said.

"The pledge to electrify the line all the way up to Swansea and the valleys lines; I think that is a very big breakthrough that previous governments have talked about but never delivered.

Cost reductions

"So, she did a great job but I think now it is right to have a Welsh MP and a Welsh constituency at the heart of cabinet," he added.

The Department of Transport's decision to electrify the line further followed heavy lobbying after the announcement last year to electrify the line no further than Cardiff.

When asked about plans to cut the number of Welsh MPs by a quarter, Mr Cameron said the vote on boundary changes would return to the House of Commons.

"I will be urging every MP from all parties to back it," he said.

"I think it is right that as we make cost reductions elsewhere we cut the cost of politics.

"Frankly, I think 600 MPs is quite enough and also I think it is fair that every seat should have the same number of voters in it.

"That is something that is not rocket science; it is a very simple, democratic and legitimate demand.

"So, I will be urging people to vote for that legislation," he added.

The prime minister also said he supported the call by the Conservatives' leader in the National Assembly, Andrew RT Davies, to become known as the leader of the Welsh Conservative Party.

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