Alun Cairns – 2018 Speech on Welsh Innovation

Below is the text of the speech made by Alun Cairns, the Secretary of State for Wales, in Hong Kong on 23 March 2018.

Thank you for that introduction and a very good morning to you all.

It’s a pleasure to be here today and to be at this GREAT Festival showcasing the very best of British innovation.

I may have only been here for 24 hours but in that short amount of time I have been truly inspired by the conversations I’ve heard about our shared ambitions, and energised by the opportunities we have to work together to shape the future of global trade.

There is no denying that there is a real buzz about the place.

At every turn I am seeing:

British and Asian visionaries forging new links and strengthening existing relationships.

Businesses enthusiastic to show that they are capable, cutting edge and confident to embrace global markets.

And innovators making the connections that will put them in pole position to benefit from the opportunities this important market provides.

It truly is a meeting of brilliant minds and I am very much looking forward to seeing businesses reap the benefits of the valuable relationships that they will forge here.

And I’m delighted to have the opportunity to talk to you today about Britain’s trading future and how our global reputation for innovation excellence places us on a firm footing for the future.

INNOVATION

If your experience abroad has been anything like mine, you will know that British innovation is deeply valued around the world.

In our distilleries and on our factory floors; in our tech hubs and our research facilities: ideas, goods, and services are being produced that are coveted right across the globe.

Indeed, innovation in in the fabric of Britain’s DNA.

Game changers invented by the Brits include items as diverse as penicillin and the pencil, the jet engine and bungee jumping.

We invented the telephone and text messaging. We can claim evolution, gravity, longitude and the Higgs Boson particle. And, perhaps the most important breakthrough of all – a Brit invented the chocolate bar.

And from a personal point of view, I am particularly proud to say that the world’s first ever wireless broadcast took place in my own constituency the Vale of Glamorgan. And the message was, ‘are you ready’?

Ironically, a message which is equally relevant to today’s challenges.

Yet there can be no denying that having the capability and capacity to innovate is still the way to prosper in the 21st century.

And – as Welsh Secretary – I’m delighted that Wales is playing its part.

How many people know, for example, that the wafer semiconductor technology for more than half the world’s smart phones is manufactured in south Wales in what is becoming a hub of hi-tech excellence and innovation?

I’m delighted to see IQE – the company helping to drive this innovation forward – here at this festival this week.

And Swansea University is already exploring how 5G technology can be used for smart bandages which can detect how a wound is healing and send a message back to doctors in real time.

They – and the thousands of other Welsh companies breaking overseas markets – are making a huge contribution to the value of Welsh exports which totalled £16.4 billion last year – an increase of 12.3% on the previous year.

So you know, as well as I, that we have world class innovations and services to offer to the world.

But what is the UK Government doing to help British innovators to thrive abroad?

Well, everything that the Department for International Trade does is designed to help you on every step of your exporting journeys.

From financial backing, export advice, trade missions or access to the 1,200 advisers in 108 countries worldwide, there is a world class resource that you can tap into.

EU EXIT

I understand that every business here at this Festival will be hoping for a glimpse of what that trading potential with the rest of the world will look like once we leave the EU.

I know that businesses value certainty and stability above all else.

But what I also know is that this Festival shows that the connections that we have around the world can become more varied, become stronger and become more enticing as we leave the EU.

We are living in a time of historic opportunity with great prizes at stake for our economy if we only have the courage to grasp them.

But we must, as a country, set our sights on this future.

And our future must be global.

Because the pattern of our trade is changing.

Dynamic trading has shown that over 50% of Britain’s exports are now to outside the EU, compared with only 46% in 2006.

So in the wake of Brexit, we must become more not less international in our outlook.

We need to make sure that Britain will always be open for business, will be open to collaborative partnerships with like-minded countries, institutions and firms right around the world.

INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY

But to encourage innovation, it is not enough to simply increase investment and to set challenges.

We also need to provide the freedom that innovators and optimists need to thrive.

And that is what our Industrial Strategy is all about.

A strategy that has been developed in full partnership with the innovators, investors and job creators of the British economy.

It is a strategy sets out how we are building a Britain fit for the future and how we will respond to the technological revolution taking place across the world.

CONCLUSION

It is another example of how we have set out a positive vision of an optimistic, open, outward looking, free trading, buccaneering Global Britain.

It is a vision of a country back in charge of its trading destiny.

But to realise that vision, we know that Government and businesses need to work hand in hand.

The UK Government will continue to lay the foundations and develop the international relationships – opening doors and taking down barriers.

But it is ultimately our enterprising businesspeople like you who will make the most of those new opportunities.

I want you to know that the UK Government will be backing British business all the way – doing all we can to help you realise our vision of a prosperous, truly Global Britain.

I look forward to experiencing what the rest of this Festival has to offer, and to continuing to celebrate with you the success of British innovation now and in the future.

I’ll now hand over to the Permanent Secretary to the Department for International Trade, Antonia Romeo.

Thank you.

Alun Cairns – 2018 Speech on St. David’s Day

Below is the text of the speech made by Alun Cairns, the Secretary of State for Wales, at Downing Street on 1 March 2018.

Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today is an extremely important day. It is our opportunity to celebrate, underline and show our respect to the world’s greatest nation! We have our own language, history and culture.

After all we have more castles per square mile than any other country.

If you flattened our mountains, we’d be the bigger than England.

And Welsh is one of the oldest living languages in Europe – and through your hospitality, Prime Minister, so many people, have travelled to celebrate St David’s Day here in No 10 – I don’t think these walls have heard so much Welsh spoken since Lloyd George lived here!

There is little wonder that our exports are growing so sharply when you consider the quality of the produce we have on offer here today.

And the Cor y Boro (Cor y Borough) choir from London and harpist Rhys Wardough from the Vale of Glamorgan are excellent examples of our fantastic cultural offering.

I have the privilege of seeing the importance you place on every part of the UK, Prime Minister, but this reception again shows to the public the special emphasis and respect you show to all 4 nations of our precious Union.

Over the last year, we’ve had had the joy of witnessing some of our best sporting and cultural offerings – from Opera to Football or rugby. – And I am sure you will agree that was a try in Twickenham two weeks ago!

We’ve been moved by the heroic tales of Welshmen who fought for our freedom during the First World War commemorations.

And only a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of being the first MP in history to make a speech in the Welsh Language in a House of Commons debate.

And before we look to the future, we need remember our roots and heritage, it’s worth recalling St David saying, –Be Joyful. Keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do’.

And looking to the future – amongst a host of exciting policy commitments to Wales – to help grow our economy and improve the way we live our lives – The whole country was particularly delighted when you agreed that the Severn Toll barrier to enter Wales will be abolished by the time we meet next year.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Prime Minister.

Alun Cairns – 2018 Speech on the Opportunities of Cross Border Growth

Below is the text of the speech made by Alun Cairns, the Secretary of State for Wales, at the Severn Growth Summit on 22 January 2018.

Introduction

Good morning I’m delighted to welcome you here to Newport and this superb venue today for the first ever UK Government Cross-border Growth Summit.

It’s wonderful to see such a packed audience – I have been truly overwhelmed with the response to this Summit and the fact that this event is sold out shows the appetite for a new way working between the great cities of Newport Cardiff and Bristol.

I’d like to start by thanking all those that helped make this event happen, particularly Business West and the South Wales Chambers of Commerce.

This Summit was born out of an appreciation for what this great region has to offer.

The Welsh economy is going from strength to strength – last year, Wales was the fastest growing country in the UK and Cardiff was the fastest growing capital city.

And Bristol is the only city in England outside of London with productivity above the UK average.

Together, it’s clear this region is a true powerhouse of the UK economy.

But the real driver behind this event today has been our commitment to abolish the tolls on the Severn Crossings.

This was my first objective when I became Secretary of State for Wales because I recognise the symbolic and economic barrier the tolls represent to the prosperity of Wales and the South West.

As many of you in this room will know these iconic landmarks have served commuters, businesses and local communities in Wales and England for over 50 years.

60,000 journeys are made between England and Wales on the M4 each day – that’s almost a fifth of all road journeys between England and Wales.

By ending the tolls for the 25 million annual journeys across the Severn, we will create a natural economic growth corridor spanning Cardiff through Newport to Bristol.

This commitment will save commuters £1,440 a year, equivalent to £115 per month.

And hauliers will no longer pay £20 for every truck transporting goods – this will be profound change to the economic landscape.

This sends a direct message to businesses, commuters and tourists alike that we are committed to strengthening the links between England and Wales.

And we must ensure we capitalise on this opportunity – that’s why I wanted to bring you all together today.

And to emphasise how important this is, can you imagine if there was a £6.70 charge between Cardiff and Newport and the impact this would have on the local economy? Or if there was a £6.70 charge between Bristol and Bath?

The barriers this would create to business and communities would be devastating. And so we must not forget that this barrier has been in place for 50 years between Wales and the South West, and this is now our opportunity to transform this great region.

It’s clear that underpinning everything we do should be an understanding that economic opportunities do not stop at political or administrative boundaries.

So my ambition for today is simple, I want us to seize the new opportunities abolishing the tolls creates and work together to grasp the potential of this great region.

Synergies

So, what are our strengths?

We know there is already some excellent cross-border work despite the tolls – from businesses and universities who collaborate across the Severn, to the work Cardiff, Newport and Bristol Councils have begun through the Great Western Cities initiative.

I look forward to building on this work and develop the synergies that exist between the economies in Bristol, Newport and Cardiff.

There are many strengths in this great economic region and part of the work my department is doing is to establish what sectors have the greatest growth potential.

From the world famous Aardman animations in Bristol, to Cloth Cat in Cardiff, the creative industries sector is thriving and represents one of the largest sectors in the region outside London – we must take advantage of this talent.

There are over 4,000 creative businesses in Bristol, with a further 1,700 creative businesses in Cardiff.

Together, there are almost 50,000 creative jobs in Cardiff and Bristol, and with employment in the sector growing at four times the rate of the UK workforce as whole, this region is set to prosper.

And I’m pleased that there are already companies in the creative industries sector who operate in both Cardiff and Bristol.

Plimsol Productions is one such company and will be discussing their experiences of cross border working later this morning.

Between Bristol, Newport and Cardiff we also have one of the strongest digital corridors in the UK.

And it’s great to see Doopoll, one of Wales’ leading digital companies, here today supporting this event.

High tech industries and advanced manufacturing are central to this digital growth and companies like Airbus are already leading the way in Aerospace and Defence with operations in Filton and Newport.

There are also 450 law firms registered in Wales, including top international law firm Eversheds Sutherland, operating around the world from its Cardiff office.

And we shouldn’t forget the importance of the financial and professional business services sectors to Cardiff, Newport and Bristol.

Companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers have a presence in Cardiff and Bristol, and both cities have been identified as Financial Centres of Excellence by UK Government.

Financial services in Cardiff contribute almost £1.2billion to the UKs economy and in Bristol contribute over £1.3billion, higher than the contribution made by the sector in cities such as Sheffield, Liverpool, and Aberdeen.

This reinforces the status of Cardiff and Bristol as an emerging powerhouse in the financial and professional services industry.

Universities

But is it not just about business.

Our universities and higher education institutions also have extensive research links on either side of the Severn.

With specialisms in areas including life sciences, digital, engineering and energy, Welsh and South West universities are contributing to the innovation potential of this growth corridor.

And there is further opportunity for collaboration here too. Take for example the world leading work that is happening on Compound Semi-Conductors at Cardiff University and the potential for joint working with the Quantum Technology Innovation Centre.

Colin Riordan from Cardiff University will talk more about this collaboration potential in our panel session later this morning.

Industrial Strategy

The tolls were clearly a priority but they are one part of a broader approach to driving economic growth throughout the whole of the UK.

Underpinning policies like the tolls is our UK-wide Industrial Strategy which focuses on developing the natural growth corridors to spread prosperity and enable us to compete on a global stage.

City and Growth Deals are the building blocks of the Industrial Strategy and I want us to capitalise on the success of the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal and the West of England devolution deal – both of which have huge potential.

I look forward to hearing more about both regions during the course of the morning.

Cross border regions

And we must learn from others.

The Mersey-Dee alliance in North Wales shows what can be achieved when MPs from both sides of the political spectrum, as well as organisations from both sides of the border collaborate for the benefit of the region.

And on the international stage the parallels to the Oresund region in Scandinavia are clear.

This region, which spans parts of Denmark and Sweden, is linked by a bridge between Copenhagen and Malmo, not dissimilar to our own Severn Crossings.

Whilst differences to our own cross-border region exist, it is clear that we can learn lessons and benefit from others’ experience.

Connectivity

I wanted to highlight one area of particular interest which is clearly central to increasing cross-border collaboration – connectivity.

One of the key drivers behind the Northern Powerhouse initiative was the significant number of people commuting between Liverpool and Manchester, however there are actually more people commuting between Bristol and either Cardiff or Newport.

This shows that this region has huge potential, potential that rivals that of the Northern Powerhouse or Midlands Engine.

And where there are challenges there will also be opportunities, so for example, removing the tolls from the Severn Crossings has already raised concerns about congestion on the M4, whilst I understand these concerns I also believe we have an opportunity to look how we improve our rail offer between Cardiff, Newport and Bristol.

And to support this ambition I want to highlight one particular issue: last Month, the Transport Secretary launched a consultation into the future of the Great Western franchise.

This franchise delivers services which are invaluable to Wales’ economy, its passengers and commuters, and plays a crucial role in connecting communities in the Severn Growth corridor.

The consultation offers the ideal opportunity to have your say on how we can maximise the potential of the franchise to benefit passengers in Wales – I encourage everyone here to contribute and if you look inside your brochure, you will find details on how to respond.

Conclusion

I am sure that everyone here today will agree that the value of connectivity between Cardiff, Newport and Bristol is clear beyond doubt.

I want this event to be the catalyst to the forging and strengthening of partnerships with innovators, inventors, job creators, local leaders, the devolved administrations, workers and consumers as we work together to make our country fit for the future.

As we move closer to our departure from the EU, more decisions about our economic future will be in our own hands – and it’s vital that we take them.

Our individual strengths are many.

But by pooling our resources, expertise and experiences, we can deliver ideas and projects that will not only benefit the cities of Bristol, Cardiff and Newport but the wider South Wales and South West England regions as well.

I started by talking about the Severn Crossings, and so it seems fit to end my speech with reference to a Welsh proverb which I hope our English colleagues in the audience will appreciate:

A fo ben, bid bont, which translates to ‘if you want to be a leader, be a bridge’ – so let’s use our bridge, our new-found connectivity to lead together and champion this great region.

I hope this event will give us all a stronger voice to promote our joint ambitions, and allow us all to take forward future economic and cultural opportunities that will deliver prosperity for the whole of the UK.

Thank you.

Alun Cairns – 2016 Speech to National Assembly for Wales

aluncairns

Below is the text of the speech made by Alun Cairns, the Secretary of State for Wales, at the National Assembly for Wales on 6 July 2016.

Diolch yn fawr Llywydd.

It is a privilege to be here in the Senedd chamber once again, following the opening by Her Majesty the Queen last month.

I remember this chamber fondly from my time as an Assembly Member. Return has caused me to reflect on how much it has changed since that time.

Since 2011, when this Assembly took on full law-making powers it has passed 28 Acts and numerous pieces of secondary legislation including innovative legislation about organ donation, about sustainability and about housing.

Llywydd, I want to talk today about the UK’s legislative programme and how it delivers security and increases life chances for people across Wales.

EU Referendum

But first, I want to touch on the vote to leave the European Union and what this means for us all.

The people of Wales and UK have spoken and we must act on that to deliver a managed exit from the European Union.

We need to show strong leadership and instil confidence in businesses and investors, Universities and Colleges, Charitable organisations and Local Authorities and to families and consumers alike.

We will remain full members of the EU for at least two years and having spoken to the leadership contenders, it is clear that Article 50 will not be invoked immediately on their election. This offers more stability to the economy and to those who benefit from EU support.

We need to use the interim period to prepare the nation for withdrawal. The Cabinet agreed to establish an EU Unit in Whitehall looking at all the legal, practical, regional and financial issues that need to be considered. I will work closely with the FM to inform the Unit as the UK negotiates to leave the EU. I will ensure Welsh interests are represented as the Cabinet agrees our negotiating position.

Talking negatively doesn’t help anyone. I am hugely impressed by the response from the business community in Wales. Phrases such as ‘Business as Usual’ and ‘re-birth of businesses’ came out of a recent briefing session I held, with my favourite, ‘Entrepreneurs thrive on change’ being quoted by one exporter.

And I want to ensure that the values which British society holds dear – the values of tolerance, of open-ness, of unity – are not seen as casualties of this referendum…

…that we re-double our efforts to support community cohesion at both a locally and nationally.

The British economy is strong: near record employment and a reduced deficit puts us in a good position from which to grow.

We are leaving the institution of the EU, not turning our backs on our friends, neighbours and trading partners in Europe.

I am optimistic about our future and of the Wales and Britain we must create outside the European Union.

I have committed to make UKTI resource available to open new markets and to use the Foreign Office to develop relationships further afield. The Wales Office stands ready and waiting to give that access across all Whitehall resource and expertise.

Legislative Programme – Security for Working People

Turning to our legislative programme, economic security is our priority. Good progress has been made over the last six years and I am the first to recognise that there is always more to do.

The Digital Economy Bill will modernise the climate for entrepreneurship and give everyone a legal right to superfast broadband. The Bill will support Wales’ key strengths in the technology sector to develop further.

The Modern Transport Bill will provide for driverless cars, spaceports and safety around drone operations amongst other policies. And the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill will simplify planning and put the National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory footing.

The Local Growth and Jobs Bill will promote home ownership in England and devolve significant additional powers to English Regions. This creates opportunities for regional economies in Wales to form strong partnerships but also highlights greater competition across the UK, which we must see as a positive challenge.

Legislative Programme – Increasing Life Chances

We are also determined to go further in tackling the barriers to opportunity.

Through the Prison and Courts Reform Bill will empower Governors to take forward innovation that our prisons need, ensuring Prisons will no longer be warehouses for criminals but incubators for changing lives instead.

The Children and Social Work Bill will make major changes to adoption to tip the balance in favour of permanent adoption if that is the right solution for the child.

And the Higher Education and Research Bill will cement the UK’s position as a world leader in research ensuring we maximise the £6 billion a year investment we make. Welsh Universities receiving more than ever and I know that the Cabinet Secretary for Education is discussing other matters relating to the Bill with the University Minister.

Legislative Programme – Strengthening National Security
Keeping our country safe in these challenging times is a priority.

The Counter Extremism and Safeguarding Bill will help Authorities to disrupt the activities of extremists.

The Investigatory Powers Bill will fill holes in our security apparatus so that we give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to protect the public in the digital age.

And the Policing and Crime Bill will take forward the next phase in Police reform while the Criminal Finances Bill will cement the UK’s role in the fight against international corruption and enable a further crack down on money laundering and those who profit from crime.

Alongside this we will bring forward a British Bill of Rights to reform the UK human rights framework, consulting fully with the Assembly on the proposals.

England-only changes

This legislative programme also makes further changes that will only apply in England, including reforming social work and giving more freedom to teachers in schools, as well as encouraging new universities.

I hope that you all will look on legislation that applies to England and seek opportunities from them. It may be by replicating it or by doing something very different but hope that we all recognise that the UK is our biggest market in which we are inextricably linked and associated with.

The closer communities work, co-operate, compliment and co-ordinate and even compete the better the outcomes tend to be, particularly in light of the referendum outcome less than 2 weeks ago.

The Wales Bill

My key aim for the Wales Bill is to ensure it delivers two underpinning principles for the future devolved governance of Wales: clarity and accountability.

Timing

Second reading took place last week and the first day of Committee took place yesterday. I know there were concerns around the time allocated but on each occasion, the debates finished early, with much time to spare.

The second day will take place next Monday. And there will be further debate into the autumn as the Bill reaches Report Stage before Third reading. The whole process will start again when the Bill moves to the other place when their Lordships will undoubtedly show close interest and scrutiny.

Of course, I want this Assembly to pass a legislative consent motion and I am sure that the First Minister, the Presiding Officer and I will continue our warm discussions.

The Assembly Coming of Age

The Bill will devolve significant powers, provide clarity and accountability and underpins my commitment to devolution.

Constitutional Bills are not what comes up on the doorstep but it will allow the Welsh Government and the Assembly to focus on things that matter to people who live and work in Wales. Tax levels, the economy, health policy and education, energy projects and regeneration.

Single Jurisdiction

Llywydd, the debate on the draft Wales Bill, was dominated by the ‘necessity test’ and the inclusion of the test led to calls for a separate jurisdiction.

The test was believed to set too high a bar and calls were made for a lower threshold. But Llywydd, I have gone further, and removed the test entirely when the Assembly modifies the civil and criminal law in devolved areas.

As a consequence, many of the arguments for a separate legal jurisdiction should have fallen away.

However, I also recognise the validity of some of the points made. Therefore, I have included a clause on the face of the Bill that recognises for the first time that Welsh Law is made by the Assembly and Welsh Ministers within the single legal jurisdiction.

Distinct administrative arrangements also need to be recognised to accommodate Welsh Law and I have established a working group involving the Welsh Government, LCJ and UK officials. This will run in parallel with the scrutiny of the Bill.

The single jurisdiction gives confidence and continuity and I have never heard that a policy cannot be delivered because of the single jurisdiction. It offers business simplicity and allows Wales and Welsh legal firms to capitalise on opportunities in London and elsewhere.

The legal profession is one of Wales’ fastest growing sectors.
I am not sure what the additional regulatory burden, bureaucracy and risk to investors and law schools would achieve. This was accepted by opposition MPs yesterday.

The advent of Metro Mayors and devolution across England put us in greater competition for investment. I suggest that we don’t underestimate how risks would be portrayed by our competitors.

Delivering Clarity – Reserved Powers Model

At the heart of the Bill is the reserved powers model.

And we have cut a swathe through the reservations since the draft Bill was published in October.

The list in the Wales Bill has been streamlined with clearer and more accurate descriptions of reservations. I believe that, broadly, we have struck the right balance.

This reserved powers model will deliver a settlement that will make it clear to people in Wales who they should hold to account – the UK Government or the Welsh Government – for the decisions that affect their daily lives.

Powers for a Purpose

The Bill also devolves further powers – over ports and energy projects, speed limits, traffic signs and transport services in Wales.

….powers over fracking and coal mining as well as marine licensing and conservation.

Accountability

A key feature of a mature legislature, of a Parliament, is that it raises, through taxation, much of the money it spends.

The devolution of Stamp Duty Land Tax and Landfill Tax and the full devolution of Business Rates last year, are the first steps toward this and it is only right that a portion of income tax is devolved too.

The Wales Bill removes the need for a referendum to introduce the Welsh Rates of Income Tax.

There are practical issues to agree with the Welsh Government, particularly how the Welsh block grant is adjusted to take account of tax devolution and I will continue to build on our warm relationship and hope that delivering the much needed funding floor will give confidence to Members.

Conclusion

Llywydd, fel y nodais yn gynharach, mae’r rhaglen ddeddfwriaethol gymaint yn fwy wrth gwrs na dim ond datganoli yng Nghymru .

Mae’n ymwneud â mwy na’r cyfansoddiad, sydd mor aml wedi ymgolli cymaint ym Mae Caerdydd.

Mae’r rhaglen ddeddfwriaethol yn ymwneud â darparu diogelwch ar gyfer pobl sy’n gweithio ledled Cymru. Mae’n ymwneud â chynyddu cyfleoedd bywyd pobl ledled Cymru. Ac mae’n ymwneud a chryfhau ein diogelwch cenedlaethol .

Rhaid i ni nawr gyd weithio gyda’n gilydd , y ddwy Lywodraeth, i ddarparu dyfodol llewyrchus ac unedig i Gymru.

Diolch.

Alun Cairns – 2016 Speech on Wales in a Reformed EU

aluncairns

Below is the text of the speech made by Alun Cairns, the Secretary of State for Wales, at Liberty Stadium in Swansea on 19 May 2016.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for inviting me today to deliver my first major speech as Secretary of State for Wales.

And I am especially pleased to be able to do so here in Swansea – my home city, so close to the village of Clydach where I grew up.

And it is particularly special to speak at the home to the Swans and the Ospreys.

We are also of course in Landore, close to the heart of Swansea’s industrial heritage where the first copper works opened in 1717 and where, by the 1870s, one of the World’s largest steelworks was operating.

From its beginnings as a Viking settlement right through to its pivotal role in the industrial revolution, Swansea has been an ambitious and confident city, forging links with the wider world.

And this is what I want to talk about this morning– my vision of a Welsh nation which is ambitious, confident and outward looking, which capitalises on opportunities for economic revival.

As Secretary of State, I am passionate about seeing good things happen in Swansea.

Where the UK Government is driving exciting regional initiatives such as the Swansea City Deal and its innovative ideas for internets of energy, well-being and technology….

To the electrification of the mainline from Swansea to London as part of the largest investment in our railways since the Victorian era; or

Through to International business success stories such as Swansea-based Lumishore… recent winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise- developers of LED lighting for boats who export 40% of their product to Europe.

Swansea today is an outwardly ambitious city forging ever closer links to Europe and the world.

For this to continue I believe we need to be a strong part of the UK, engaging with Europe and the wider world.

And I want to explain why, with practical examples, that is so important. And why accessing the single European market and staying in the EU is so fundamental to that ambitious, outward looking nation.

Wales’s Own Challenges

Of course in Wales we face our own immediate challenges.

Most urgently, we face a crisis in our steel industry. You will be aware that much is being done and offered by the UK Government to attract a buyer and to support an industry that is part of our heart beat.

I should underline at the outset that I am limited in what I can say about steel because we are following a process…. A sales process in which I must – and am legally obliged to – respect the confidentiality of each party.

But let me say, at each and every stage – and even before matters came public, the UK government has been actively working with Tata to see through a sales process. At various stages we have had to stay quiet to respect confidences, in spite of the calls for public statements in the 24 hour news cycle.

The reality is we are working in a context where there is a global over supply of steel.

I strongly believe that our steel industry is better off as part of a single market – as a bloc we can act against steel dumping far more effectively than we could on our own – and where we can get the best deal for our steel industry in what is their biggest market. Although there are no guarantees, be in no doubt, our membership of the EU makes our chances of gaining that buyer and of defending our industry so much stronger.

Let me explain why:

First, access to the EU market is fundamental to any steel manufacturer – with 69% of all steel exports from Wales going to Europe last year.

Secondly, the joint action taken across Europe to defend our industry from steel dumping has led to steel imports from outside the EU fall massively.

We have pressed the European Commission for firmer, faster action against unfair dumping and we’re pleased that the EU has listened and acted on this. There are now 37 trade defence measures in place across Europe, with nine investigations ongoing.

As a result, Rebar and Wire Rod imports have fallen by 99% respectively, with similar number in other areas.

Third, membership of the EU is fundamental to simply attracting investors because of the benefits the single market of 28 countries brings.

And Fourth – imagine the action other member states could take if we were outside the EU.

We could be subject to the same tariffs that are now having a positive impact against cheap dumping; and Tata’s competitors in Europe would naturally frame the EU market response to suit their operations, rather than one that includes us.

And anyone who knows something about steel – Tata, the unions, investors or (dare I say) the government – all recognise the opportunities of the single market – negotiating around the table, rather than being spectators awaiting the impact of their decisions on our industry and our jobs.

So the prospects of saving the jobs at Port Talbot and across other Tata operations in Shotton, Llanwern and Trostre and across the UK are much stronger because of our membership of the EU.

Welsh Exports and the Single Market As well as supporting our Steel Industry, the EU is a major driver for the wider Welsh economy.

The single market gives British businesses access to over 500M customers – eight times the size of the UK market.

Businesses in Wales already recognise the value of these opportunities – the number of exporting businesses here is growing six times faster than the UK as a whole.

The value of Welsh exports for the last year available was £12.2Bn, equivalent to £4,300 per person, with the EU receiving 43% of all our exports and 11% of total Welsh output.

If there was ever any doubt, the EU is Wales’ largest trading partner and is the lifeblood of 100,000 jobs here in Wales.

The EU as an Investment Driver Our membership of the EU is also key to the UK in attracting investment – just look at the success stories of companies like Airbus in Broughton or Toyota on Deeside.

Airbus is home to one of the UK’s largest manufacturing plants.
The Broughton site employs over 6,000 people and in recent years it’s provided around £100 million a year in pay to Welsh workers.

It has spent around £120 million annually through its Welsh supply chain.

And over the last decade, the Airbus site has seen major investments totalling more than £2 billion in facilities and infrastructure improvements.

It’s a key part of the British economy making highly technical wings for all Airbus commercial aircraft, as part of a much larger global operation.

This high value, highly skilled work depends on Britain remaining competitive for business.

Paul Kahn, President of Airbus said: “If after an exit from the European Union, economic conditions in Britain were less favourable for business than in other parts of Europe, or beyond, would Airbus reconsider future investment in the United Kingdom? Yes, absolutely.”

And like aerospace, automotive is an expanding sector of our economy. It is interesting to note that Sunderland now exports more cars than the whole of Italy, and Wales is a crucial part of this supply chain.

18,000 people make car parts in Wales in more than 150 companies of all sizes. The CEO of the Wales Automotive Forum says that we make enough component parts to almost make a complete vehicle.

It is an industry that injects £3.3bn into the Welsh economy.

I was delighted that Aston Martin reinforced our position with an investment in my constituency – a project that was secured through both the UK and Welsh Governments working together.

Toyota, is the world’s top-selling carmaker – for four years running – Their plant on Deeside employs 540 people, creating 950 engines a day that are exported internationally.

Earlier this year, they announced a further £7 million investment in their North Wales plant – a further example of a Wales winning investment.

Investments like these at Toyota are fundamental to our economy. They highlight again and again the importance of the single market to their presence and their operations; saying specifically, “British membership of the EU is the best for our operations and… long term competitiveness.”

Airbus and Toyota are just two examples of what Wales needs to do more of – being ambitious, confident and outward looking in high end manufacturing sectors.

These companies operate in global industries whose success depends competitiveness. They feed on an integrated business model, with the ability to move products, people and ideas around Europe without any restriction.

The supply chains are relevant to us all.

There are a host of companies that thrive on such investments that in turn create wealth and prosperity.

They could be small engineering businesses or electrical operators, such as the ones I visited recently who supply TATA, though to those larger operators who supply Airbus and Toyota.

Take Toyoda Gosei, – not far from here, where the PM visited just two weeks ago. A Japanese owned supplier of car components, has invested over £65 million in their Gorseinon site.

The company’s workforce has grown from just 13 in 2010 to more than 600 on the back of the success in the automotive sector and supply chain. Today they supply Nissan, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota.

A clear demonstration of how large operators elsewhere in the UK have a major local impact. And the same could be said for Airbus

But Europe also offers other features that support other types of investments too. Take the European Investment Bank. It’s the world’s largest lending institution, owned by the 28 European Union member states. They raise the bulk of their lending resources on the international capital markets through bond issues – their excellent rating allows them to borrow at lower cost.

In 2015 they provided £5.6 billion to help deliver UK projects, contributing to £16 billion of investment – a record year.

In Wales projects in social housing, transport, energy, water and education have benefited for more than forty years.

Most recently the EIB was a major investor in Ford at Bridgend and Norgine at Hengoed.

But they were also key to one of the most exciting investments on our doorstep- Swansea University’s new Bay campus.

The stunning new £450m campus, which houses the College of Engineering and School of Management. In 2014 the Vice-Chancellor said: “This massive campus development is the largest university-led knowledge economy project in the UK and one of the best in Europe. It would not have been possible without funding support by the EIB (who) demolished the argument that the project was too big for Wales”.

It is one of the largest knowledge economy projects in Europe, providing internationally acclaimed academic-to-industry collaborative research opportunities. The development wouldn’t have been possible without such financial support.

The economic impact from the construction of the Bay campus alone is estimated at over £3 billion.

The EU Supporting Higher Education And Europe’s role in Higher education is much wider.

Cutting-edge investments have been made in Universities right across Wales. These institutions offer some of the best routes for individuals out of poverty and to growing the productivity of our nation.

Europe plays a key part in bringing together the Higher education networks, international academics, the research excellence and even the students who choose to study here.

Thousands of Welsh students have benefited from the Erasmus Exchange. A programme that was established in 1987 by Ceri Hywel Jones, a native of Port Talbot.

These investments go right to the heart of our local communities across Wales.

Bangor – The Institute of European Finance provides specialist consultancy and project reports. It houses Europe’s longest established and most comprehensive research library to banking and financial sector material.

Cardiff Met has received 27 million Euros for schemes involving student and staff mobility to enhance teaching and learning, over 10 million Euros from the European Structural Funds to help with enterprise and commercialisation projects for local businesses, and over 2 million Euros for dedicated research projects.

Trinity Saint David in Carmarthen, Lampeter and Swansea will receive £2.4 million of EU funds to develop the skills of employees through the Institute for Work-Based Learning.

These projects are central to that goal of an ambitious, confident, outward looking Wales.

Welsh Farming

I’ve already highlighted steel, manufacturing and HE so let me touch briefly on a totally different sector.

Seafood and agriculture. Industries that are both important to Swansea and to Wales. The EU receives over 90% of agriculture exports from Wales.

That’s 98% of dairy exports, 97% of lamb, and 92% of beef.

Leaving the EU could see tariffs of up to 70% imposed on our produce and would put the foundation of many local economies at risk.

Furthermore, Welsh beef, Welsh lamb, Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes and Anglesey Sea Salt have protected status under EU laws. No company or region can seek to reproduce those products elsewhere or pass them off as substitutes.

Welsh farmers could lose hundreds of millions of pounds on lamb and beef exports if we weren’t able to access the single market.

I think it is fair to say that we could look to other markets. What about the US?

And we have a special relationship -but that does not necessarily break down trade barriers. Yet in spite of our relationship, we exported zero welsh beef or welsh lamb to the US last year.

Be it steel, automotive, HE or agriculture – leaving the EU would be a leap in the dark that Wales can’t afford to take -against the security of unfettered access to the single market and the role that it plays in attracting investment, along with our dependency on exports.

Conclusion

So, that is the positive case I would make for Wales staying in the EU.

I am not here to advocate the status quo either.

I am sure that there is recognition that Europe has to change to tackle the challenges ahead.

And that is what the Prime Minister achieved with his deal in February.

A recognition from European leaders that it must adapt to the needs of different nations and by delivering that special status for the UK.

….That allows us to steer clear of the aspects of the EU that just don’t work for Britain – things like the Euro, open borders or the prospect of ever-closer union.

Along with an emergency break option on access to our benefits.

But ultimately, we have a strong voice at the heart of Europe so we can influence how it meets the challenges of migration, terrorism and maintaining the free market rather than simply reacting to their actions and their decisions.

If we’re not around the table, we could be on the menu.

This is the case for Wales being stronger, safer and better off in a reformed EU.

The benefits of membership affect all of our lives – from supporting investment in infrastructure and education to manufacturing, agriculture and social programmes.

From the breadth of Europe to the heart of our local economies.

Just as Swansea has been making its mark on Europe and the world for several hundred years, my vision for Wales is of an ambitious and innovative country that looks to the opportunities that Europe and the wider world create.

This is a positive case for remaining part of the EU and its access to the single market.

Let us confidently and proudly ensure our voice and influence is heard.

Alun Cairns – 2016 Speech on Welsh Devolution

aluncairns

Below is the text of the speech made by Alun Cairns, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales, at the Capita Devolution Conference in Cardiff on 28 January 2016.

Introduction

Thank you Sir Paul for that introduction and indeed for chairing this event today. I am very pleased to be here to set out how the Government is meeting its commitments to devolve more powers to the Welsh Government and the Assembly.

This is an exciting time for devolution in Wales and across the UK though it is fair to say that my party were not natural devolutionists at the outset.

But, once the Welsh people had given their view in the 1997 referendum, we embraced it with a determination to make devolved government succeed. As William Hague remarked, good generals don’t fight yesterday’s battles.

And since then, my party has become a party of committed devolutionists. In Wales and elsewhere in the UK we are making historic changes to how the country is governed; devolving decision making closer to the communities affected by those decisions.

But before I talk about the future, I want first to reflect on how we have got to where we are today.

The Story So Far

The Assembly of 1999 was of course a very different place to the legislature we have today, with very different powers.

Having been an Assembly Member for 12 years I am more than familiar with the limitations and the challenges of working in an Assembly under the various Government of Wales Acts. I hope to be able to use my experience as an AM with an understanding of its culture and expectations in a positive and constructive way in developing the new settlement.

It was not until the Government of Wales Act 2006 that the Assembly truly became a legislature.

Even then, despite the Richard Commission recommending full law-making powers two years before, devolving competence was subject to the convoluted and complicated Legislative Competence Order process that I think we all would sooner forget.

When the Conservative-led Coalition Government was elected in 2010, we stepped up the pace of Wales’ devolution journey. We took forward the 2011 referendum which saw full law-making powers devolved to the Assembly for the first time. We established the Silk Commission to engage with the public, businesses, and others in Wales, on the future of Welsh devolution.

The Wales Act 2014 saw the coalition government implement almost all the recommendations the Silk Commission made in its first report on fiscal devolution. We are devolving stamp duty land tax and landfill tax, proving the Welsh Government with new capital borrowing powers and taking forward the devolution of a portion of income tax.

Sir Paul’s commission turned next to looking at the Assembly’s powers and published its second report in 2014.

By then it had become clear to us all that the current Welsh devolution settlement was not fit for purpose. It does not do the job of providing a clear devolution boundary because it is silent in many areas and unclear in others.

The Silk Commission’s headline recommendation that Wales should move to a reserved powers model reflected the broad consensus of opinion across Wales.

But although the Silk Commission included representatives of the four main parties in Wales, those representatives had no mandate to bind their parties to the recommendations it made.

The St David’s Day process, which the Secretary of State led a year ago, identified which of the Silk Commission’s recommendations commanded the support of the four main political parties in Wales.

It is fair to say that the process was not easy but the Secretary of State was determined that Welsh devolution progressed on the basis of cross-party agreement

And whilst the views of the parties here in Cardiff are often widely publicised I think all involved in the process were surprised by the less publicised divergence between those views and the views of the same parties in Westminster.

This complicates the matter still further.

The outcome of this process became what is now called the St David’s Day Agreement and the Conservative manifesto for last year’s general election committed to implement that agreement in full.

We’ve wasted no time in getting on with that job.

We have already put in place a funding floor. This was something that had been shied away from in the 13 years leading up to 2010.

The significance of this should not be understated. When I was an AM, it took years for the Assembly to recognise the case of underfunding. It wasn’t until 2008 that the Welsh Government agreed to commission Gerry Holtham to conduct an investigation. Even then, the-then Chief Secretary, Andy Burnham, simply acknowledged the contents without any direction.

This government recognised that devolution could not operate effectively while the issue of relative levels of funding loomed large in the minds of public and politicians alike.

The funding floor will ensure that relative levels of funding for Wales will not fall below 115% of comparable funding in England. That is a real commitment and it is in place now.

We are also taking forward income tax devolution and in November the Chancellor committed to implementing the Welsh Rates of Income Tax without a referendum.

The draft Wales Bill, which was published in October for pre-legislative scrutiny, further delivers on the St David’s Day Agreement.

It provides a reserved powers model for Wales and it will devolve new powers over energy, transport, the Assembly, local government elections and many other areas.

The Changing Context: Further Devolution in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland

But all of this is not happening in isolation.

We are taking forward the Smith Commission recommendations for Scotland through the Scotland Bill, which is at Committee stage in the House of Lords.

We will implement the Fresh Start commitments for Northern Ireland.

And we are devolving powers to our great cities reflecting the need for responsive decision making at a local level on some key issues to reflect local needs. Manchester will soon have an elected mayor and we are agreeing City Deals for cities as far apart as Bristol and Glasgow.

The Chancellor also confirmed earlier this month his commitment to delivering a Cardiff City Deal. The £50 million we have committed to establish a UK national centre to develop semiconductors is a down payment on a City Deal we want to see agreed in time for the Budget.

But there needs to be wider recognition in Wales of the need to devolve decision making from Cardiff Bay. The case for Wales having different needs to other parts of the UK rightly generated the calls for devolution. The same logic also applies to the needs in different parts of Wales.

Where we Have Got to and Why

Since its publication, the draft Wales Bill has generated intense debate. And it has exposed some oft-repeated misconceptions about devolution.

Through the Wales Bill, we want to devolve more powers to Wales. But in establishing a new reserved powers model we want to see a clear boundary between what is devolved and what is reserved.

Clear boundaries so that policy makers and law makers who need to navigate the settlement every day understand who is responsible for what.

More importantly, clear boundaries so that people know who to hold to account for decisions on the services they use every day, be it the UK Government or the Welsh Government, the Assembly or Parliament.

It can’t be right that we have to go to the Supreme Court to get clarity on what is devolved or not devolved.

And it can’t be right that the focus of debate stagnates around the extent of Assembly powers not on what they want to achieve.

Much has been made of the consent requirements in the draft Wales Bill but to my mind, they provide flexibility for the Assembly to legislate but with a demarcation of responsibility between the Assembly and the UK Government.

It is absolutely right that the UK Government seeks the consent of the Assembly to make changes to the law in devolved areas. This happens regularly through Legislative Consent Motions.

Then surely it is equally right that the consent of a UK Minister should be gained to amend the functions of bodies which are accountable to the UK Parliament.

The UK Government has sought over 50 Legislative Consent Motions in the Assembly for UK Parliament Bills since the Assembly gained full law making powers in 2011. This is quite a regular and mature part of governance.

My logic is that it is only right that there should be a similar process when the Assembly seeks to change functions of reserved bodies.

But, that said, we understand the doubts and concerns about the Bill that remain and we are looking positively at the issues that have been raised.

And we are looking at the list of reservations. A reserved powers model for Wales was never going to be simple and the list of reservations was never going to be short – it isn’t for Scotland where more powers are devolved.

We are looking to reduce the number of reservations and to include only those where there is a good reason to do so. But the focus here should not be on the number of reservations, the focus needs to be on getting the devolution settlement right.

Finally, most of the debate around the draft Bill has been about the so called “necessity test”.

I recognise the concerns that have been raised about this issue..

I respect the views that have been expressed but let me make clear that this is not, as some would have us believe, a part of some Machiavellian plot to prevent the Assembly being able to enforce its legislation.

Rather it is simply to ensure that the fundamental principles that underpin the legal jurisdiction in England and Wales are not modified any more than they need to be for that enforcement to be effective in Wales.

We are looking at whether this aim can be achieved in a different way but the answer is not a separate jurisdiction.

The single jurisdiction works and has served Wales well for centuries.

A separate jurisdiction would be expensive with more complicated structures.

It is not what the legal profession in Wales wants – a profession that currently punches above its weight across England and Wales.

Be it from law schools based in London, Cardiff or Llandudno, there could be a risk that legal talent would desert law firms in Wales for better opportunities in London, Manchester or Birmingham.

And we do not want potential inward investors having to factor in a separate jurisdiction into their decision making when they are choosing between Flint and Farnborough or Llanelli and Lincoln.

We do not need a separate jurisdiction to make a reserved powers model work, nor do we need one just for the sake of being different.

We do not need a separate jurisdiction to make a reserved powers model work, nor do we need one just for the sake of being different.

I absolutely agree that Welsh legislation will continue to diverge and that the legal system must account for that.

There are well established systems in place to ensure that the justice system in Wales can react to changes in the law in Wales but we believe that these arrangements can be made more robust to reflect the distinct arrangements needed in Wales to take account of the laws made by the Assembly.

There are also some who call for a separate or distinct jurisdiction simply for Wales to be different; as if it is somehow an important assertion of Welsh identity to rebrand our courts.

They argue for an outcome without ever explaining why that outcome should be where we want to get to.

That is not how good policy is made and it would not deliver a clearer, stronger and fairer settlement as we are aiming to do.

It is the very opposite of devolving powers for a purpose and that is why I would argue for a different outcome; on the issue of the jurisdiction and for Welsh devolution more generally.

The Goal: More Accountable Government and More Mature Debate
We need to move the debate in Wales onto a more mature footing.

When the Wales Bill is settled, I want the focus of political engagement in Wales to be on policies, not on powers.

In the early days of the Assembly, policies were routinely implemented on an England and Wales basis, not so that Westminster kept control, but so that the best policy was delivered in the most efficient and effective way.

Sadly, that has happened less and less in recent years.

The boiler scrappage scheme is an example I remember from my time in the Assembly. Rather than agree to the scheme being implemented on an England and Wales basis, the Welsh Government asserted that it could implement its own scheme. By the time that it did, much of the momentum had been lost and the Welsh scheme was far less effective than the scheme in England.

The Help to Buy Scheme in Wales is another more recent example where a people in Wales had to wait several months for a rebranded Welsh version.

Are these policies different for the sake of being different?

On the other hand, there have been innovative policies in Wales in recent years..

Organ donation and carrier bag charges are just two examples.

I want to see a position where other parts of the UK are demanding the same changes in legislation where Wales has led the way.

The tax powers we are devolving offer a great opportunity for just this sort of innovation.

They offer the opportunity to make Wales a low-tax nation or even a high spending country if that is what the Government of the day would want to justify.

Sir Paul’s report highlighted that a penny cut in the higher rate would cost the Welsh Government around £12 million, less than 0.1% of their budget.

But it would set Wales apart as a nation that is prepared to be bold and innovative in its tax policies.

Alongside this, the devolution of tax powers offers a chance to cost the value of everything, rather than just measuring inputs.

Tax powers alongside the Wales Bill will deliver a more mature debate about tax and spend and about policies and service delivery.

So how do we get to this outcome?

How We Get There – The Next Steps

Firstly, we will deliver the Wales Bill this year as we have promised to do.

The Bill will reflect issues that have been raised in the debate that has gone on since the Bill was published in October and it will take account of the pre-legislative scrutiny recommendations made by the Welsh Affairs Committee and by the Assembly’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee.

The Bill will deliver a new devolution settlement and significant new powers over energy, transport and elections.

It will also give the Assembly significant new powers over its own institutional arrangements.

But then there needs to be a response to these new powers from whoever forms the Welsh Government after the Assembly elections in May.

I want the Welsh Government to be ambitious about these new powers.

I want it to be innovative with these new opportunities.

And to show that it can develop policies that make a real difference.

We have had far too many policies that are different for the sake of being different.

Wales may need different policies to the UK but different parts of Wales may also need tailored approaches.

Only then can the debate move on from squabbles about powers to mature debate about services, taxation and spending.

And that is the goal of the UK Government, the Assembly and I hope the UK Government.

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning, this is an exciting time for devolution in Wales, and across the UK.

And in Wales this is not just an exciting time but a time of opportunity.

We have a chance to move the political debate forward in Wales so we are talking about the issues that really matter to people on the doorstep.

A chance to move on from complaints about Westminster funding to real debate about taxation and spending.

A chance to develop ambitious and innovative policies for Wales not for the sake of being different but to address the health challenges, the social care challenges and the education challenges we face.

That is my ambition for Wales. I hope very much that you share it.

Thank you.

Alun Cairns – 2015 Speech on the Welsh Language

aluncairns

Below is the text of the speech made by Alun Cairns, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales, at Cardiff University on 25 February 2015.

Introduction

Noswaith dda.

I’d like to begin my thanking the Wales Governance Centre for hosting this lecture.

The Centre has for many years played an important role in dictating and informing the political and constitutional debate here in Wales.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Cardiff University’s School of Welsh on their recent academic success.

For over a century, the School has contributed to the cultural life of Wales, producing many an eminent scholar and writer – not least one Saunders Lewis – who I’m sure would have followed our deliberations this evening with great interest!

The School has been ranked best in Wales and 7th in the UK for the quality of its research in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). Cardiff’s ranking sees it placed above Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol in terms of research excellence.

Congratulations to you Sioned and to all staff and students associated with the school.

Cenedl heb Iaith, Cenedl Heb Galon

I wish to outline this evening my own thinking on how we continue to protect and develop a strong future for the Welsh language.

You will notice immediately that I speak of the language’s future. The Welsh language is our greatest inheritance as a nation.

Despite all the pressures of the modern world, I am resolute that the language has a bright future – but ask whether our energies are being channelled in the right direction and on the right priorities?

The survival of a culture and a language are natural matters for Conservative concern. Yet it would be remiss of me not to recognise the contribution of countless Welsh men and women, from across the political spectrum, who campaigned so tirelessly to preserve our beautiful tongue.

Proud Welshmen such as Gwynfor Evans, Cledwyn Hughes and a whole generation of Welsh language activists. Foremost amongst them the late John Davies Bwllchllan and Meredydd Evans.

It would also be remiss of me too not to acknowledge the proud contribution of my own party, and to pay tribute to the late Lord Roberts of Conwy.

Wyn was one of my mentors and a tireless champion of the Welsh language – and a Welsh Office minister for 15 years – the longest uninterrupted spell of office in one department for any minister in the 20th century.

It is largely thanks to major campaigns from the Welsh speaking community we were able to achieve and establish major milestones in the development of the Welsh Language in modern times.

The establishment of S4C, the passing of the Welsh Language Act and compulsory Welsh language education up to Key Stage 4.

As a result, the foundations were set for the Welsh language to flourish during the latter half of the twentieth century.

And by the turn of the last century, the establishment of the National Assembly further cemented those milestones.

Its mere establishment broke ground on several levels but in language terms, it was the first bilingual legislature in the British Isles and I was proud to have been an Assembly Member from the outset.

Just a decade later came the 2011 Welsh Language Measure, which received unanimous support from Assembly Members – another milestone in the future development of the language.

UK Government’s Record of Support for the Welsh Language
Welsh speakers are rightly entitled to look to the UK Government for support too. That is why I am determined as a UK Government Minister to do all that I can deliver on that basis.

Whilst the Welsh language is a devolved matter, I am still passionately concerned about its future. I would be shirking my responsibility as a Welsh-speaking parent, if I did not contribute to this important debate.

A number of important policy areas remain reserved at Westminster. It is therefore only natural that we as a UK Government should be committed to the Welsh language and do all within our power to support its development.

The Wales Office works closely with other UK Government Departments to ensure they deliver Welsh language services in accordance with their Welsh language schemes.

The Secretary of State for Wales and I meet with the Welsh Language Commissioner on a regular basis to discuss current issues around the Welsh language, including the provision of Welsh language services by UK Government Departments.

I am thrilled to see Meri Huws present here this evening and want to pay tribute to her for the important tasks she conducts on all our behalf. We have developed a close working relationship in recent months, and long may that continue.

I am currently undertaking a review of Government services provided in Welsh to determine how they can better meet the needs of Welsh speakers in a reasonable and proportionate way.

To date, ten Government Departments have adopted Welsh language schemes, in accordance with the Welsh Language Act. These include Departments delivering key public services in Wales, such as the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions. The adoption of schemes has greatly enhanced the opportunities to access Government services through the medium of Welsh.

I was particularly pleased that the Cabinet Office just weeks ago agreed to our calls to adopt a Welsh Language Scheme.

Their role across all government departments and in digitising services will be central to enabling more people to make active use in Welsh a modern world of government services.

I am proud that the Wales Office is playing its own role in understanding more about Welsh speakers’ perceptions of the language.

We have commissioned an independent research project to learn more about the experiences of Welsh speaking users of Government online services. It is hoped that the project’s findings can help better inform the provision of future Welsh language services, and I would welcome your input.

The point I am making through highlighting these major milestones and less significant, but important current actions at Westminster, is to underline that the political and legislative debates have largely been won.

No serious politician or commentator is calling for the repeal of the Act, the Measure, of S4C or is opposed to Welsh language provision across UK Government departments.

It is right and important that the major milestones that I mentioned earlier and the subsequent political changes are recognised as great successes for Welsh Language campaigners. So many fights, often against the odds at times, have cemented those milestones for our nation.

Yet, I needn’t remind you that there was a decrease in the proportion of people who can speak Welsh nationally from 20.8% in 2001 to 19.0% in 2011 in the last Census.

The collapse of Welsh speakers in the Welsh speaking heartlands was particularly worrying.

Carmarthenshire, long a bastion of the language, saw the greatest reduction across Wales – from 50.3% in 2001 to 43.9% in 2011.

Welsh is now a minority language in two of its heartlands, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion. Only Gwynedd and Anglesey remain where over half the population now speak Welsh.

Beyond the heartlands the situation is slightly more positive.

As expected, Cardiff continues to gain Welsh speakers. Testament to the old adage, “Ar Daf yr Iaith y Dyfodd” (“On the Taff, the language grew”).

Here in our capital, the number of Welsh speakers increased. Significantly, nearly 50 percent of Welsh speakers in Cardiff are aged between 15 and 44 years.

Such has been the growth in Cardiff that it now claims more Welsh speakers than the whole of Ceredigion.

Whilst the growth of the Welsh language in Cardiff and in urban areas is to be welcomed and celebrated, this cannot come at the expense of the “Fro Gymraeg” (The Welsh Heartland).

As vital as those major political and civic developments were for the status of the language, I cannot help but feel that we have reached a point where some of that positive energy, that campaigning hunger in favour of the language, has been lost.

Now that the structures that we fought for so many decades are finally in place, perhaps we have become somewhat complacent.

Yet, the Census data means that we should be campaigning more than ever – but possibly in a different direction.

The key point I am making is that those campaigns served far more than just a demand for the specific change in legislation or for the establishment of a television channel. They also reminded us of the importance of the language; of wider issues associated with it, how fragile it could be and how we had to fight to see it continue and flourish.

The legislative changes were important steps, but alone, or even combined, they didn’t take us to our destination. The campaigns had functions that were much wider than the specific end. They showed us the direction and relevance of that journey.

It is difficult to believe that many of those activists who took part in direct action 30 or 40 years ago are now part of the establishment. And that is a good thing.

But has a vacuum been created as a result?

Safeguarding the Welsh language can only be made a reality by recreating the drive and energy we showed to win those milestones.

We need to recognise that no government can simply legislate life into a language, a fact which was acknowledged by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg in their 1972 Manifesto.

So what should that energy be focussed on? How should we fill that Vacuum? What should be the subject of our campaigns?

Here are some of the Challenges we face.

First, education. It is widely acknowledged that Welsh Medium schools provide an unrivalled quality of education. Historically, academic attainment within these schools has been far higher than in English Medium Schools.

When I went to school in Ystalyfera just over 30 years ago, some of my classmates travelled almost two hours from South Gower to get to registration by 9am. The motivation and support for the language by such parents was so deep rooted, they were prepared to put their children through that arduous journey every day in support of the language.

Here in Cardiff, there are now 3 Welsh Medium Secondary Schools and 14 Primary Schools – with similar numbers in Swansea.

Who would ever have imagined that there would be thriving Welsh medium schools in the old Tiger Bay?

Crucially, these schools are playing their part in reaching and attracting children and parents from non-traditional Welsh speaking communities.

In Ysgol Pwll Coch, for example, 19% of pupils come from ethnic minority backgrounds. And the campaign for a Welsh medium school in Grangetown is further evidence of the demand for Welsh Medium Education in non-traditional Welsh speaking areas. And long may that continue.

This is fantastic news that we should rightly be celebrating. Yet, has the deep rooted motivation that gave us the determination to demand these new schools been lost?

The standard of education provided by Welsh Medium Schools needs to be at least as high, if not better than English medium – because we still need to fight.

Sadly, despite the best efforts of dedicated teachers, our education sector in general is lagging behind the rest of the UK and most of the Developed world in the latest PISA results.

This is the challenge.

What a turn up it would be if our campaigning energy ensured that Welsh Medium schools outperformed our counterparts across Europe in future rankings.

Those who take pride in the language tend to find expression for the language in cultural pursuits. We need to create similar opportunities for the language to flourish in other spheres – in technology, engineering, and in digital design for example.

Wales is behind other parts of the UK and Europe in introducing digital programming into the school curriculum – important skills where interchange between languages must be normal.

The demands for the skills and higher standards in education must form part of our campaign for Welsh Language as much as it does for better education. This is a way of channelling our energy and securing better education at the same time, resulting in a broader more sustainable basis in the interests of Welsh Medium education and for Wales as a whole.

Not only can these skills help power the Welsh economy, they can also create new and exciting opportunities to power the Welsh language.

My next point relates to S4C.

S4C has, undeniably, made an enormous contribution towards the creative industries in Wales, and crucially, to promoting the Welsh language. The channel is part of Welsh DNA.

Since it was established in 1982, it is estimated that S4C has invested over £2.2 billion pounds into the Welsh economy.

The channel has been protected from further budget reductions and that funding for S4C would be maintained at the levels set out in the Spending Review.

I hope people will recognise the significance of this protection against a backdrop of demands for savings in other budgets. The Government recognises the significance of this funding – and the importance of the channel.

I should also underline what I said to TAC at their AGM. Viewing figures, whilst not the only measure, are important. Relevance is key.

But specifically returning to the energy point I mentioned, Oscars and BAFTA successes used to be regular occurrences for S4C, along with world beating animation successes.

International achievements were all part of S4C’s hallmarks. What these accolades said about our confidence as Welsh speakers was probably more important than the awards for drama or technical excellence. These successes created a momentum that the language could thrive on.

I was delighted to visit Hinterland being filmed in Ceredigion recently. The excellence shown suggests that we are back on the right track again.

The Welsh Language and the Economy

This leads me to underline that the future of the Welsh language is fundamentally linked to the economy.

Some of you may recall the famous Cymdeithas yr Iaith slogan, Dim Iaith, Heb Gwaith” (famous campaign slogan from the 1970s “No Language, No Work”).

Young Welsh speakers are attracted from the Welsh speaking heartlands to Cardiff and major English cities, attracted by the urban lifestyle and enhanced employment opportunities.

In order to address the steady flow of young people leaving the Fro, there is a need to create employment infrastructure to enable our young people to stay or return to their communities.

Enabling young people, who are predominantly Welsh speakers, to remain in their local communities is absolutely critical if there is any chance of building the vibrant communities we all aspire to. I’ve already mentioned the importance of Education to this and digital technology creates more opportunities to realise this.

The recent decision by S4C to relocate its headquarters to Carmarthen opens up the possibility of strengthening the language in South West Wales, and of stimulating further economic development in the region.

There is no doubt that the use of Welsh language in the workplace has flourished in media companies following the establishment of S4C.

It could be argued that these companies are amongst the very few in Wales where Welsh is the primary language used in the business. Those employed in companies like Tinopolis and Telesgop live and work in local communities, thereby strengthening the every day use of Welsh in their communities.

Providing a robust local infrastructure to enable and support the language is essential. The Language Campaign must also be part of the campaign for better broadband, better mobile links and better skills development enabling more businesses to invest in the Welsh Language Heartlands.

It is encouraging that Welsh Ministers have established two Enterprise Zones in the Welsh speaking heartlands – at Wylfa in Anglesey and at Trawsfynydd, Snowdonia.

Our Universities have a role to play in promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, and potential careers in business, science and technology to Welsh speaking students and young people. I am pleased that the Coleg Cymraeg has grasped this challenge, and has developed the first Entrepreneurship course of its kind through the medium of Welsh.

We must also do more to promote the economic and community advantages of bilingualism to businesses.

The Welsh language has its own brand value that can bring potential commercial benefits to businesses. Whilst the use of Welsh is not widespread amongst Welsh firms, there are international companies that have utilised it as part of their competitive offering to customers, for example, global bands such as Ty Nant Water and Halen Mon use Welsh names to reflect the local origins.

Despite these examples, there needs to be a greater effort in encouraging other businesses to utilise the Welsh language as a competitive differentiator. I welcome the recent work of the Welsh Language Commissioner for highlighting the benefits of bilingual branding.

The growth of bilingual education has made great strides for the language. But as we were educated we must also continue to promote the language at a grass-roots level.

Beyond the classroom, traditional organisations and movements such as the Urdd, Merched y Wawr, Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin, Young Farmers’ Clubs, the National Eisteddfod and Papurau Bro continue to play a key role in the life of Welsh language communities.

The community vibrancy and activity generated by these organisations and others is absolutely essential to support and develop the Welsh language as a living language in our communities.

These organisations are the ‘drivers’ that breathe life into the language, offering a range of invaluable social and cultural opportunities for young and old through the medium of Welsh.

There is no lack of passion or energy in these groups to promote the language. We must do all possible to help them to reach new audiences.

I was delighted to see at first hand the work of Menter Iaith Caerdydd this afternoon, and to meet with Sian Jobbins and her team.

Promotion v Legislation

And before making my closing comments, I want to return briefly to the political and legislative points I mentioned earlier. As I said, the political and legislative debates have been won and I listed some of the actions that I am pursuing across UK government departments.

You would never believe just how depressingly low are the number of visitors to Welsh language content that is available on GOV.UK. To date, there have been only TWO, yes TWO, Welsh language applications completed for a Carers Allowance and there are several other examples I could share.

Of course Government support for the language can never be purely demand-led.

Yet in seeking to influence other Departments of the need to develop Welsh language services, my job as a Wales Office Minister championing the Welsh language would be all the more easier if I could demonstrate that Welsh speakers were not only crying out, but also using such services.

By far the most visited Welsh language page is the book a practical driving test service, attracting an average of almost 1000 page views a month.

Yet upon reaching the page, almost two thirds of visitors click back from the Welsh to the English version of the page. This implies that two-thirds of all visitors to the Welsh-language page prefer to transact with government in English, despite being aware of the Welsh language version.

This is clearly a challenge for more innovative action on behalf of the government but I think it is fair to say a challenge for all of us to make more use of the provisions that are available.

I do not want to a situation where all our energy for the language targeted at regulation, rather than at efforts to promote Welsh language usage.

I have been consistent in my view that there is a need to keep the role of promoting and planning the future of the language at arm’s length of the Government. It was with some regret that the Welsh Language Board was abolished. The Board’s emphasis was on promoting the language, not regulating the use of Welsh.

Challenging Perceptions

Individual, family and community responsibility as well as governments are central to the language’s future.

And so the final point which I wish to address this evening is that of challenging linguistic behaviour, particularly amongst our young.

Some of you will be familiar with the saying, “Better a slack Welsh than a slick English (“Gwell Cymraeg Crap na Saesneg Slic”).

There is a perception, well founded in my own personal experience growing up in the Swansea Valley, that there is far too much elitism attached to the language – the so called Crachach.

I want to issue a challenge to each and every one of us to do more to embrace and encourage Welsh learners, to be tolerant and supportive, especially those from traditionally non-Welsh speaking communities.

In this positive spirit, I also want to challenge each and every one of us – including myself, to use the language as often as possible.

We know that for historical, possibly cultural reasons, Welsh speakers have been reluctant, or hesitant, to use their Welsh when conducting official business.

It is a sad situation that too many Welsh speakers, especially the younger generation who have studied Welsh at school until they are 16 years of age, still do not consider themselves as Welsh speakers, or lack the confidence to use the language beyond the classroom and the playground.

This is where the Welsh Media has an important role to play in challenging linguistic patterns and building confidence to speaking, and consuming, the language.

I want to see the Welsh language community at the forefront of this innovation – using and developing new ways of attracting new audiences and surely this would lend itself well to the Welsh language, particularly to learners, and to a younger generation.

I want to see us continue to produce bold and exciting content that can appeal to Welsh speakers, such as Golwg 3-6-0 and the BBC’s new ‘Cymru Fyw’ services are trying to do.

I want to see the Welsh language flourish in social media spaces, on twitter, facebook, and Maes-e.

I want to see the language thrive on Local TV – a platform which can take programming even closer to local communities.

And why stop there? Now that we have the technology – why should Welsh speakers, including Government Ministers, give two separate interviews, one in English to Wales Today and one in Welsh to “Newyddion?

Isn’t it high time we considered dubbing or subtitling Welsh language interviews on English language news and current affairs programs – thus further normalizing the use of Welsh and boosting its prominence?

Perhaps I’ll leave that one for another day!

Conclusion

I have given my personal commitment, and that of the UK Government, to support the Welsh language.

I have also issued a challenge this evening to all Welsh people and to all who love Wales to champion our unique tongue.

As Welsh speakers we have a strong record in succeeding winning campaigns. Those campaigns until recently have largely focussed on legislative demands. It is now time to focus our unused energy to – * Demand the highest standards in education, not only in traditional subjects but also in matters demanded by the new economy.
* Ensure that the language to be at the forefront of technological advances in science engineering and technology.
* Deliver the best modern infrastructure links to our Welsh heartlands to diversify the economy and to enable Welsh speakers to stay or to return to their home communities.

All these are important for economic reasons but in our Welsh Heartlands, they are arguably more important because they are also the means of securing the future of the Welsh language.

Saunders Lewis in his famous ‘Tynged yr Iaith’ lecture warned of the impending death of the language.

It is time we spoke of the life of the language and activated ourselves to ensure its survival.

And so, on the eve of yet another mouth-watering 6 Nations fixture, may those stirring last lines of our national anthem ring out from this lecture theatre, and throughout Wales –

O bydded i’r heniaith barhau.