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Welsh Secretary vows to make the case for rail electrification in the North

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb says he'll be making the case for North Wales rail electrification 'at the heart of government.'

He's set to make his promise during a speech at the Daily Post business awards this evening which is part of histwo-day tour of the North.

Mr Crabb is expected to say:

This afternoon I visited Rhyl Station - one of the main stations on the North Wales coastline, to bang the drum for North Wales rail electrification.

Just like in the Valleys - electrifying the lines for stations like Rhyl would have a transformative effect for North Wales - connecting people and business with opportunities and jobs right across the country, so that geographic location is never a barrier to success.

North Wales needs modern rail infrastructure if it is to continue competing with the rest of the country.

This won’t happen overnight - it will take time, it will take money, and it will take a lot of hard work.

But I will be championing this around the cabinet table and making the case for North Wales rail electrification to my colleagues at the heart of Government.

– Stephen Crabb MP, Secretary of State for Wales

PM's comments mean underfunding will go on say Plaid

Plaid Cymru says Wales will continue to lose out after the Prime Minister told MPs that there is no reform 'on the horizon' for the Barnett Formula, which limits any change in the funding that the UK Treasury gives to the Welsh Government.

The Prime Minister's confirmation that the unfair Barnett Formula is here to stay proves that Westminster just isn't working for Wales. If Wales received the same money as Scotland per head, we would have £1.2bn more per year to radically improve our schools, hospitals, roads and railways.

– Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams

Jobs news is sign UK Government's plan is working says Welsh Secretary

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has welcomed the announcement of more than a thousand new jobs at six projects in Wales. He said the news is sign that the UK Government's long term economic plan is working and that Wales is poised to benefit from this week's investment summit.

The UK Government has a long term economic plan for getting right behind Welsh businesses and creating the perfect conditions for growth. We have reduced the deficit, cut Corporation Tax and slashed red tape to make our economy more competitive and more attractive for inward investment.

This has led to 8,000 new businesses starting each year in Wales and the creation of around 100,000 new private sector jobs since 2010.

This week’s summit will send a message to the world that we are an ambitious nation that is open for business. There has never been a better time for Wales to capitalise on an investment summit - to turn the success of the recent Nato summit into jobs and prosperity so that more people in Wales can benefit from the security of a regular wage.

– Stephen Crabb MP, Secretary of State for Wales

Prime Minister rejects Wales funding change call

The Prime Minister has told MPs that change to the way that Wales is funded isn't 'on the horizon.' David Cameron said that the current arrangements will become less important as the Welsh Government gets more control over raising its own finances through taxes.

He was being questioned about the next steps for devolution by the chairs of committees in the House of Commons. Monmouth MP, David TC Davies, who chairs the Welsh Affairs committee, asked him if the so-called Barnett Formula will be scrapped.

You can see the Prime Minister's answer in the video below:


St David's day deadline for devolution blueprint

Stephen Crabb set out his plans during a speech organised by the Institute of Welsh Affairs Credit: ITV News, Adrian Masters

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb says he intends to publish a 'blueprint' for the next stages of devolution by Saint David's Day 2015. Speaking at an event in Cardiff organised by the Institute of Welsh Affairs, Mr Crabb said that cross-party talks he's holding are aimed at reaching an agreement on the way forward.

Through this cross-party process I intend to announce, by St David’s Day, a set of commitments, agreed by the four main political parties in Wales, on the way forward for Welsh devolution. Those commitments would form a basis, a “baseline”, for taking forward Welsh devolution after the General Election next May.

This means people in Wales will know, irrespective of which party wins the General Election, that an agreed set of commitments will be taken forward in the next Parliament. I am hopeful that we will be able to reach broad agreement on a way forward for Wales, and set a course which puts Welsh devolution on the right track for the future.

– Stephen Crabb MP, Secretary of State for Wales

Fresh attempt to settle rail electrification row

New Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb turns to one of the items at the top of his in-tray today -the row between the Welsh and UK governments over who pays for the electrification of the Valley lines. Ministers in Cardiff Bay say Mr Crabb's predecessors, Cheryl Gillan and David Jones, were quick to claim the credit for the giving the multi-million pound project the go ahead, so there's no way that the bill should be passed on.

Today Mr Crabb will hold talks with this cabinet colleague, the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin. The Transport Department argues that as the Welsh Government manages the Wales and Borders rail franchise, it should be responsible for repaying the cost. That would mean either funding a bigger subsidy or putting up the fares.

Only yesterday, the Prime Minister defended what he saw as a done deal but ITV news understands that there might at least be a concession over how quickly the money needs to be repaid. A senior Welsh Government source was also optimistic that the dispute could soon be settled.

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