Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Jeff Rees, Karjaa, Finland

  I was born in Swansea in 1963 and moved to Finland in 1988. I saw your invitation to contribute to this enquiry on your website. Here is my evidence.

"UK" Ambassador represents Welsh tax payers in full Scottish national dress

  Every year the President of Finland gives a Grand Bill to celebrate Finnish Independence Day. Ambassadors from all over the world are presented to the President on this occasion.

  I congratulate the "UK" Ambassador on wearing full Scottish National Dress to the ball. It was an extremely clever way to promote Scotland to over half the Finnish population watching this occasion live on National TV. I remember the TV commentators explaining to their audience all about the Scottish National Dress he was wearing.

  This event clearly raised the profile of Scotland and Welsh tax payers are paying the ambassadors salary.

  Clearly we need to have our own full diplomatic representation—no one else can represent Wales.

"Promoting London and selling West End theatre tickets"

  I telephoned the British Travel Centre in Helsinki, funded by the British Tourism Authority to find out how then were promoting Wales. They were not, I was informed that when they got any brochures from the Welsh Tourism Board, they put them with the ones from Scotland and only mailed them to people and organisations that specifically requested them. They told me they were mainly concerned with promoting London and selling tickets for West End shows.

"The Welsh Office or what do they call it"

  This was the answer I got when I telephoned the commercial section of the British Embassy in Helsinki and asked for the name of the organisation responsible for promoting Welsh Exports. Then after a little consideration the embassy official suggested that I could call Trade Partners UK in London as they would probably know better.

  It's worrying for me and it must be for your constituents whose jobs depend on exports, that the primary source for a Finnish importer to find out what Wales has to offer does not know exactly which organisation is responsible for promoting Welsh exports. Obviously the memo from the UK Foreign Office informing UK embassies that since 1 July 1999 that the Welsh Office no longer exists has not yet arrived.

  Wales needs its own business links/export promotion organisation representing the exclusive interests of Welsh business. The jobs and wealth creation Wales must have can only be guaranteed when we do this for ourselves.

"No I have never heard of SC4"

  When I telephoned the British Council and asked how they were promoting Wales, they informed me that regional criteria was the last thing they considered in their decision to co-fund artists, indeed usually they did not know what region the artist came from. They had never heard of SC4. English language training resources are plentiful, if you want to emigrate to Australia or New Zealand you can do the English language proficiency exam at the Council.

  Cultural promotion, that is how others perceive the Image of Wales is too important to leave to people that do not have a passion for Welsh culture. Everyone I know has an image of Ireland in their minds that draws them as tourists in the millions. Our cultural resources are even better than that of Ireland, still no one knows about them because no one is promoting them.

  The UK Government has been very successful at promoting.

  So successful in fact that Neil Kinnock and Chris Patton are reported in the Finnish media as the EU Commissioners for England. The vast majority of people in Finland believe that Wales is in England.

  Given the opportunity I am keen to contribute my ideas as to the practical achievement of funding, goal setting and organising the promotion of Wales overseas.

  Please take action and make sure that our Assembly is given full control in the promotion of Wales at all levels overseas. The people of Wales can only benefit!

11 October 2000

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