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Wales Office minister opposed to HS2 being reclassified as an ‘England only’ project

Wales Office minister David Davies doesn’t believe that Wales should receive any Barnett formula funding for HS2. The Monmouth MP rejects a recent recommendation by the cross-party Welsh Affairs committee for the rail scheme to be reclassified as an ‘England only’ project. Unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales currently stands to receive no proportional payout via the Barnett formula as High Speed 2 (HS2) is seen as delivering benefits to both ‘England and Wales’. David Davies, who is Under-Secretary of State for Wales, told Business Live that: “Wales is going to benefit from it, firstly because the whole of the UK will get a benefit if we get our carbon emissions down and secondly it is a misnomer that the only people travelling on HS2 between the Midlands and London will be people from the midlands and London. There will be people there who will not use it and people in Wales that will. In addition to that, a lot of Welsh businesses can benefit from the tenders for doing the work and none of this takes away from the fact that the UK Government has been investing a lot of money into the railways in Wales, £1.5bn is going in over the next control period.”

£5 billion With the estimated cost of HS2 being around £100 billion, the Welsh Government would expect to receive around £5 billion in additional funds via the Barnett formula. A report carried out by the UK Government suggested that HS2 could be damaging for the Welsh economy, particularly in the south of Wales. Ed Gareth Poole of the Wales Governance Centre, responding to the David Davies remarks on Twitter, said: “This is a quite extraordinary from @UKGovWales on HS2. If decarbonisation was a priority you wouldn’t have stopped electrifying to Swansea. And that some Welsh people might use HS2 rules out funding? Welsh people drive on the M6, many Scots will use HS2: both get Barnett transfers.” The recent Welsh Affairs committee report stated: “We recommend that HS2 should be reclassified as an England only project. Using the Barnett Formula, Wales’ funding settlement should be recalculated to apply an additional allocation based on the funding for HS2 in England. We suggest that such a reclassification would help to ensure that Welsh rail passengers receive the same advantage from investment in HS2 as those in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

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