UK Government to review decision to exclude Holyhead route from £17m ferry aid

The UK Government is to review a decision to leave a key ferry route from Wales out of a scheme to help the ferries industry through the coronavirus crisis.

It follows a Welsh Minister describing it as 'unacceptable, inexplicable and irresponsible' to leave out the Holyhead to Dublin route from a £17m package of aid that had been announced by the UK Government's Transport Secretary.

In a meeting of MPs, the Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said that it was a deicsion which 'probably didn't quite pan out in the way that the textbook said it might' and that ministers in London were looking again at the decision.

When Grant Schapps announced the decision last week, the deputy transport minister Lee Waters reacted angrily in a written statement:

The ferry route between Holyhead and Dublin is a vital link, transporting critical goods, such as food and oxygen supply for the NHS, for the UK mainland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. As the second busiest roll on roll off ferry port in the UK it plays an essential role in the economy of North Wales and further afield.

Lee Waters AM, Deputy minister for transport

Simon Hart was asked about this in a meeting of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee. The meeting took place via video conferencing yesterday but because of Commons resources wasn't broadcast live as usual. A transcript has been released today.

The Secretary of State acknowledged it had been what he said was a rare example of the relationship between the two governments not working as it should be.

This has come up a couple of times, as you'd expect, recently we had a fairly detailed conversation with Ken Skates, and with Kelly Tolhurst, the relevant UK minister. UK Government is reviewing and looking at the situation, in the context of respecting the role of Welsh Government and indeed our colleagues across the water as well. I think this is one of those areas which probably didn't quite pan out in the way that the textbook said it might. It is one of those areas, but we're back on track in terms of relationship between UK Government and Welsh Government, and should be in a better position probably to follow this up with some helpful information to the Committee, I would hope, within probably a week or two rather than days.

Simon Hart MP, Secretary of State for Wales

Both Mr Hart and his junior minister David TC Davies told the MPs that despite this glitch, the relationship between the two governments was better than it had been for a long time.

Mr Davies said:

I think, Mr Chairman, I'd simply agree obviously with what the Secretary of State has said. In over 20 years of politics in the Welsh Assembly, and now in UK Government, I've never known such a constructive atmosphere and a willingness by members of the UK Government and the Welsh Labour Government to work together on this issue. And I was trying to think of a witty answer to your question as to whether, you know, we're all on the same side or, or on different teams with a similar goal. I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. We are like a national rugby team which has come together with members from all sorts of different clubs, perhaps with a few different training techniques and outlooks, but all hopefully working to one common cause and I hope that some of those relationships, and that constructive working atmosphere will carry on after this crisis has ended.

David TC Davies MP, Wales Minister