Saturday, 29 May 2010

An Open Letter From Keir To Cheryl Gillan

This blog has decided to try and contact the new Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, in an entirely non-partisan way, to question her about the legitimacy of her not being granted membership to Cabinet Committees that make important decisions that relate to the people of Wales.

Though, somewhat cynically, not expecting a response, the least we can do is try.

Here is a transcript of the message:

Secretary of State,

I am writing to request that you make the case to your Prime Minister to have you given membership to more of the Cabinet Committees that deal with issues relevant to Wales.

I feel that having a representative for Wales on only one Cabinet Committee is a tragic under-representation of a significant part of the United Kingdom that is in particular need of economic and social assistance at this point in time.

As your Party Manifesto showed, Wales has only a 4% share of the entire United Kingdom economy. This, coupled with the fact that 30% of the Welsh working population is employed in the public sector, means that Wales is in a potentially dangerous position in light of the recent political and economic announcements.

I found it shocking that you were not given membership to two of the other Committees in particular: the Economic Affairs Committee and the European Affairs Committee. The reason for my shock is that these Cabinet Committees will make decisions in policy areas that are extremely important to Wales. Firstly, as I previously mentioned, Wales’ share of the UK economy means that Wales needs particular attention when considering Economic Affairs. Only one region, the North East of England, has a lower share of the UK economy than Wales so I think it is extremely important that you, as Secretary of State for Wales, should have membership on the Economic Affairs Committee. Just to highlight the regional disparity, the South East of England has a 14% share of the UK economy, London has a 21% share and the North West of England has a 10% share. In addition, the amount of people employed in the public sector in Wales is around 5% higher than the national average, meaning the public sector cuts are likely to be more damaging to Wales than they will be to the country as a whole. This, too, makes me believe that your place on this Committee should be essential.

The reasons that I think you should be granted membership to the European Affairs Committee are also, I feel, quite clear. Wales has benefitted tremendously from links to the European Union in recent years. Swansea, as I am sure you are well aware, has seen a significant rebirth of late and that has been largely down to EU funding. The development at Cardiff Bay, similarly, has been helped by EU money. Also, Wales has received around £1.3billion in recent years from the EU in order to boost the economic growth and prosperity in West Wales and the Valleys in order to try to close the gaps in regional prosperity. For our tourist industry, the EU has helped raise the quality of over 40 beaches so that they meet Blue Flag standards and has given business grants to Stena Line Ports so that it can develop ports in Wales to boost tourism and also trade in general.

I sincerely hope that you can give me a response to these issues and, at least, give me your thoughts on the arguments that I have raised. I feel these are incredibly important issues for the people of Wales and, as the representative for Wales in the Cabinet; you should have a key role to play.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Keir will seek the support of prominent bloggers to highlight this issue and will, of course, report back on any developments, whilst not expecting any at all.

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