MP warns of 'museum/playground' risk in rural Wales

Liz Saville Roberts MP Image copyright Elin Roberts
Image caption Liz Saville Roberts MP making her maiden speech- as seen on BBC Parliament, watched by Plaid parliamentary leader Jonathan Edwards

Plaid Cymru's newest MP has made her maiden speech in the House of Commons - in a debate on English education.

Liz Saville Roberts used her 22 years' work "as a teacher, college director and local authority education leader" to highlight the importance of education.

"Plaid Cymru is committed to public services for all," she said. "The reason we will oppose the [Education and Adoption] Bill if there is a vote, even though education is a devolved matter, is that the growing privatisation by stealth of education in England through the increased number of academies has implications for the funding of Wales via the Barnett formula."*

Her speech also focused on the challenges of the rural economy. The Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP said that although unemployment in her constituency was only 1.7%, more than 50% of those in work earned less than the living wage.

"Education gives our young people a ticket to hope and a career, but the lack of decent salaries and affordable housing closes the door on their return. Work and the means to buy a home are essential.

"Rural hinterlands are at risk of becoming a low-income combination of conservation museum and adventure playground, to be serviced by the locals on the minimum wage and enjoyed by those who have made their money elsewhere."

In keeping with the traditions of maiden speeches, Ms Roberts talked about her constituency - home to "the greatest mountain of Wales and England, Yr Wyddfa" - and her predecessor, Elfyn Llwyd.

"From my first day here, it has been evident that members and officers of the House alike held him in the highest regard. Elfyn contributed extensively to improving legislation for victims of domestic violence and stalking. He was an advocate of the rights of veteran soldiers.

"He will be remembered as a foremost critic of the Iraq war, who called for the impeachment of Tony Blair. That role continued in his scrutiny of the Chilcot inquiry, which, disgracefully, we still await."

You can read her speech here.

* I wonder if the Bill would be subject to new restrictions on MPs from outside England under the government's "English votes for English laws" plan.