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Hope that Welsh MP's Argentina visit marks new start

Alun Cairns will represent the UK in Argentina for the Presidential inauguration

Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns will representing the British Government at the inauguration of Argentina's new President, Mauricio Macri.

The UK Government is hoping the new leader's election will mark an improvement in what have been strained relations between the two countries.

Mr Cairns will be the first minister British minister to attend an inauguration since 1999.

Ahead of his visit he said:

My visit is to represent the UK at the inauguration of President Macri. The UK wants a constructive and positive relationship with Argentina and we look forward to working with the new government.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Welsh Settlers arriving in Patagonia so it is appropriate that a Minister for Wales represents the UK Government at the inauguration.

As well as the inauguration, my visit will involve learning more about historic Welsh links with Argentina and seeing how we can develop those further.

– Alun Cairns MP

Minister urged to confirm 2018 electrification date

Opposition parties are demanding that the Transport Minister confirms that the Great Western main line will still be electrified through to Swansea by 2018. Patrick McLoughlin told MPs that the project was a top priority and is going ahead when other electrification schemes are being "paused". But he told Plaid Cymru's Jonathan Edwards that he'd have to write to him about the completion date.

Mr Edwards said he was "concerned by the ambiguity" of the minister's response. The Liberal Democrats' spokesperson in the Assembly says she'll also be writing to Patrick McLoughlin.

It would be completely unacceptable for Welsh passengers to have to wait any longer than they already have for these vital improvements. I am particularly concerned that the Transport Minister failed to properly give a firm delivery date. That simply isn’t good enough.

– Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Eluned Parrott

But the Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns has backed today's announcement.

I'm pleased to hear the strong commitment to south Wales electrification through to Swansea from the Transport Secretary today. This project will transform the lives of people in South Wales by attracting investors, linking businesses to suppliers and connecting people to jobs.

– Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns MP


Alun Cairns is new junior minister

Downing Street has confirmed that Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns is the new junior minister at the Wales Office. He takes over the role from the new Secretary of State, Stephen Crabb.

As was the case when Mr Crabb held the post, Mr Cairns will also be a government whip and do the Wales Office job part time. Both men are Conservative MPs, with the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Randerson completing the Wales Office ministerial team.

Wales education figures 'a scandal' says Tory MP

Welsh Conservative MP Alun Cairns described Wales' PISA results as 'nothing short of a scandal' and said that 'parents across Wales are genuinely worried about their children's education.'

Education Secretary Michael Gove said that Wales was like a 'control sample' in an experiment, saying that Wales is

almost an object lesson in what happens when you abandon reform and succumb to the NUT orthodoxy which has suffocated education in the Principality.

– Michael Gove MP, UK Education Secretary