Keir Starmer promises power boost to Welsh Government if he becomes Prime Minister
Keir Starmer is promising to give future Welsh governments more control over economic levers if he becomes Prime Minister.
Labour’s UK leader addressed delegates at his party’s Welsh conference in Llandudno this morning.
In his speech he said that if he moves into number 10 he will make changes that will lead to "Wales having power over its economic destiny".
And to back up his pledge, he said that one of his first acts if Labour wins power at the next UK General Election will be to give decision-making power to the Welsh Government over the replacement scheme for European Union funding.
When Wales was a recipient of EU funding, the money was administered by the Welsh Government on behalf of the EU.
Its replacement scheme, the Shared Prosperity Fund, is run differently with the UK Government allocating money to projects which have pitched to it directly.
That’s been controversial with opponents accusing the Conservative government of undermining devolution. The UK Government insists its making decisions closer to people, relying on projects supported by local groups with the help of local authorities and MPs.
In his conference speech, Keir Starmer said: "Only Labour will devolve economic power and control out of Westminster. The decisions which create wealth in our communities should be taken by people with skin in the game.
"Take the scandal of what has happened here in Wales with what used to be EU structural funds, the Shared Prosperity Fund.
"Funds that have been essential for Welsh businesses and communities for years. Powers that have been exercised here since the inception of devolution. The Tories have used the Brexit process to take back control of that money, not from the EU but from Wales.
"Well, no more. Today, I can announce that the next Labour Government will return power over its economic destiny to Wales. The decision-making role for the Welsh Government on structural funds, will be restored. It’s time for Wales to take back control."
The party’s UK and Welsh leadership hope to use the conference in Llandudno as a launchpad for its UK General Election campaign with an election expected next year or sooner.
"There will be a clear choice at the next general election between more decline and division with the Tories, or credible change with Labour.
"Change for Britain that brings with it change for Wales and your community. But to the British people, everywhere, we must show how this spirit combines with the solidarity we offer across the United Kingdom.
"How, together, we can deliver something even more precious. A Britain once again on the front-foot, with a sense of hope, possibility and ambition. A Britain that gets its future back."
However the Labour leader has been criticised by Welsh Conservatives who accuse him of brushing aside negative aspects of his party’s 25 years of power in Wales.
They’re highlighting NHS difficulties saying that the NHS in England has "been able to reduce two year waits to zero and yet more than 45,000 people are waiting longer than two years for treatment in the Welsh NHS".
They also say that "Wales has the worst exam results in the UK" and criticise Mark Drakeford for continuing to refuse to hold a Wales-specific inquiry into the Covid pandemic.
Labour can expect much more of that kind of criticism as the UK General Election comes closer.
Delegates in Llandudno will also hear from the First Minister Mark Drakeford in today’s conference session along with speeches from senior MPs and MSs.
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