Tag Archives: Welsh Affairs Committee

THE FUTURE OF THE SEVERN RIVER CROSSINGS: HAVE YOUR SAY

ROAD users and local residents are being invited to have their say about the future of the Severn River crossings.

The Welsh Affairs Committee is seeking views on plans to handover the bridges to public ownership in April 2018.

An oral evidence session is being held at the Drill Hall in Chepstow on Monday 13 June from 10am to 11:30am.

Severn Bridge

Chaired by Monmouth MP David Davies, the committee will first question the Freight Transport Association before gathering opinions from members of the public.

Mr Davies decided to launch an inquiry into the long-term future of the Severn crossings following Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget announcement in March that toll charges will be halved once the bridges revert to public ownership.

The committee intends to establish the timescale for this process and examine what plans are in place to ensure a smooth transition.

Traffic congestion, highways maintenance and toll payment methods will also be scrutinised.

“There has long been public interest in the effects of the tolls on the south Wales economy and the wider impact on users of the bridges,” said Mr Davies.

“The announcement that the tolls are to be halved is therefore fantastic news. While it is not as much of a reduction as some were hoping for, it is certainly a welcome step forward.

“The main priority now is to ensure a proper handover plan is in place when the bridges revert to public ownership.

“Furthermore, the potential for installing an electronic pre-pay system is a key issue as reducing the tolls is likely to increase traffic levels and could lead to big queues on the toll plaza.

“We are very keen to gauge local views as they will not only inform the committee but help us to investigate the subject thoroughly”.

Anyone wishing to attend the evidence session can register and book a free ticket at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-future-of-the-severn-river-crossings-share-your-views-tickets-25650070050

TATA: CLIMATE CHANGE HYSTERIA AND EU INERTIA CONTRIBUTE TO BRITISH STEEL CRISIS

CLIMATE change hysteria doubled with inertia from the EU in dealing with cheap Chinese imports has contributed to the crisis in the British steel industry, an MP has claimed.

David Davies described the statement by India’s Tata Steel that it wanted to sell its loss-making UK business, including plants at Port Talbot and Llanwern, as a “black day” but said there were things that could have been done to help the company.

The Monmouth MP and chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee led a parliamentary inquiry into the steel industry in Wales following Tata’s announcement in January of more than 1,000 UK job cuts – including 750 in Port Talbot.

Union leaders, Tata management and Business Minister Anna Soubry were among those giving evidence to the committee.

“There has been a worldwide fall in the price of steel as a result of the downturn in the world economy, which ultimately led to a glut of steel on the market,” said Mr Davies.

“Clearly, there is not much that any single government could have done about that. However, there are things that could have been done to help companies like Tata.

“We heard evidence that the Chinese have been selling steel into the EU at prices below which it would be produced, a practice known as “dumping.”

“Yet it took the EU a year to do anything about it and even now the extra tariffs attached to steel are far too low.”

UK companies face paying the highest energy prices in the EU as a direct result of carbon taxes introduced to tackle global warning, Mr Davies added.

He said:

“When the government realised the impact these were having, they brought in a compensation scheme but were forced to get permission from the EU which took several years.

“I suggested to the Business Minister that it is a crazy policy to increase taxes on an industry then try to compensate them for the impact of these taxes. It would be far more sensible to scrap the taxes in the first place.

“She seemed to agree and described the policy as “barmy” but then went on to defend it.

“Carbon taxes are used to subsidise renewable energy schemes, particularly wind farms. I have been told that most of the steel used to make wind farms is imported.

“I repeatedly asked the Minister how much British steel is used by wind farm producers but the government do not have the figures.

“Government policy is to levy huge taxes on British businesses and subsidise companies using non-British products with these taxes.

“We should be able to state that any company in receipt of government subsidies must be required to use British products. This is a point I repeatedly made to the Minister.”

As a former British Steel Group employee in Newport – his first job after leaving school – Mr Davies said he was “very saddened” by Tata’s restructuring decision.

“Politicians of all parties need to think about the impact of carbon taxes on high energy producers in the UK or we are going to lose yet more jobs,” he warned.

The Welsh Affairs Committee held a one-off evidence session on the steel industry in Wales on Wednesday, 10th February 2016. You can watch a video of proceedings here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/welsh-affairs-committee/news-parliament-2015/steel-industry-evidence-15-16/

SEVERN CROSSINGS BUDGET ANNOUNCEMENT ‘FANTASTIC NEWS’ FOR SOUTH WALES ECONOMY

COMMENTING on Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement in today’s Budget that toll charges on the Severn crossings will be halved in 2018, Monmouth MP and chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee David Davies said:

“This is fantastic news for the south Wales economy and I am absolutely delighted.

“Halving the tolls is not as much as some were hoping for but it is certainly a welcome step forward.

“There has been a lot of lobbying from all members of the Welsh Affairs Committee to bring this about and I have worked closely with cross-party colleagues, especially Jessica Morden in Newport East, for many years.

“I think it goes to show that when MPs get together to raise their voices loudly and for long enough, change can actually be achieved.

“I am very glad the government has gone much further than was originally being suggested and my main priority now is to ensure a proper handover plan is in place when the bridges revert to public ownership.

“I will also be concentrating on getting an electronic pre-pay system installed, similar to the one used for the London congestion charge, as reducing the tolls is likely to increase traffic levels and could lead to big queues on the toll plaza.

“This would take time and require government involvement. I’m not entirely satisfied that enough has been done yet.”