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Mr. Llwyd: I noticed that the hon. Gentleman did not refer to what the hon. Member for Clwyd, West (Gareth Thomas) said about incomers swamping Colwyn Bay and adding to pressure on social services. However, I have no truck with the kind of behaviour described by the hon. Gentleman, and neither does my hon. Friend the Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Thomas), who has just returned from the Le Pen protest in France. We are not signing up to any agenda of that description; we never have and we never will.

Chris Ruane: I accept the hon. Gentleman's assurance. As I have said, he is on record in the House of Commons as criticising Seimon Glyn on the issue.

There are other significant issues, including houses in multiple occupation in seaside towns, which my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, West (Gareth Thomas) has rightly brought into political debate. However, the language and terminology that we use to discuss that issue create a particular political climate. Preserving the Welsh language is important, as is preserving jobs in our rural communities, but we cannot develop proper policies on them if the language does not fit the issue, as has been the case. We need political unity to develop proper housing policies and make sure that finance and resources are available to spread the language. However, that has been made more difficult by certain sections of Plaid Cymru and the Welsh language movement.

Mr. Evans: I touched on that in my speech. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that while certain people say nasty, damaging and hurtful things, the message from our debate should be loud and clear to the people of the UK, particularly in England? They are extremely welcome to visit Wales, set up businesses and create employment there. Only a small minority of nasty people say damaging things; they discredit our country.

Chris Ruane: Absolutely. As I said, I am pleased that there have been comments from other Opposition parties in support of that.

In conclusion, if we work together as politicians and develop a political agenda to promote Wales within Wales, the UK and around the world, we are much more likely to achieve our goals than we are with a divisive political agenda in our own country.

4.56 pm

Hywel Williams (Caernarfon): I congratulate the Welsh Affairs Committee on its report. It is sad but not surprising that the report did not reach the House earlier. I recently took part in a debate on the equally important social fund report produced by the former Social Security Committee, and it languished for at least a year before being debated.

We are debating the Welsh report on a quiet afternoon when other events have drawn attention elsewhere; it is sad that attendance in the Chamber is thin. We have heard about ignorance about Wales and the Welsh language

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which seems to extend to BT. Recently, I dialled 192 and asked for a number in the blameless community of Garndolbenmaen. I was asked which country that was in; Members may be interested to know that I was dialling from Swansea.

Some Members have looked at the subject of our debate—Wales in the world—chosen the world rather than Wales, and decided to go elsewhere. It is sad that some of them represent Welsh constituencies. I note that the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. David) has departed, perhaps to hone his literary skills after receiving a blast from my hon. Friend the Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd). The hon. Member for Conwy (Mrs. Williams) is no longer in the Chamber. Contrary to her usual views, perhaps she has succumbed to the delights of Virgin Rail.

Our debate is about Wales in the world, not Wales or the world, a principle that has guided many people from my constituency for many years, not least the entrepreneurial slate traders who carried slates from Porthmadog, Caernarfon, Porth Dinorwig and elsewhere to all parts of the world in the previous two centuries. The principle also guides the thoughts of my party and progressive national bodies, as I shall explain later. In my constituency, we have a large Polish community, as some Members may know. We have a Polish retirement community, Dom Polska, in a rural part of Caernarfon, which is trilingual; signs appear in Polish, Welsh and English. The communities of Llanbedrog, Pwllheli and Penrhos have gained tremendously for many years from the existence of that retirement home, not least from the substantial employment that it provides.

I propose three guiding aims for looking at Wales and the world. We should be consistent in speaking as Welsh people with one voice, and we should speak up for Wales, not talk it down. The pictures that we should present should be true pictures of ourselves, unencumbered by narrow political considerations. Our primary purpose should be to represent Wales, not other interests—that is the principle of our party. We have far to go before those aims are achieved.

Tourism has been discussed by many hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy. In March, I attended a British Tourist Authority reception to mark St. David's day. It was a convivial evening attended by the Secretary of State for Wales, the Under-Secretary of State for Wales and the Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting, the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells), who is unaccountably absent. Given his ministerial interests and much-advertised internationalism, I would have expected to see him here at some point.

During that evening at the BTA, we heard many fine words, if to the accompaniment of some rather dodgy white wine.

Mr. Llwyd: It was not Welsh, was it?

Hywel Williams: No, but it was warm, to say the least.

Significantly, I soon found myself giving Wales the hard sell to some BTA executives. It was only later that I realised that it should have been the other way round: they should have been giving me the hard sell. However, they

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seemed interested, or at least polite. We heard fine words, and look forward to even finer action, especially as regards the recommendations of the report. In the past, the impression has wrongly been gained that tourism in the UK consists of a golden triangle to the east, and that the mountains of Eryri—Snowdonia—in my constituency are merely pimples on the body politic: or touristic, perhaps. I shall not go into any detail on where the pimples are to be found. That impression will be particularly wrong in future if the BTA lives up to its promises.

One of our priorities for tourism must be to promote the nature of the unique nature of the Welsh holiday experience, including ensuring the prosperity of the Welsh language and culture and of our unique take on the English language. Too many people forget that English is, after all, a Welsh language.

Another priority must be to address the transport problems that beset our country, not least north-south, by rail and by road. In my constituency we have the Cambrian line. Recently, when travelling on the west coast main line, I looked at the railway map and noticed that the Cambrian line was not there. The line went from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth; to the north there was nothing at all. I seem to remember that the last time I went in that direction there was a railway line all the way from Machynlleth to Pwllheli.

We must deal with training deficits in the tourism industry. Some good work is already in hand, as I have heard from my local colleges.

Lembit Öpik: Before the hon. Gentleman moves away from the rail network, does he agree, given that there is a lot of competition to take over the rail network, that an important factor in attracting people to Wales is the quality of the proposals to ensure that there is a truly national rail network across Wales, adding to what we hope will be an effective regional airport structure?

Hywel Williams: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. Certainly, the quality of the Cambrian line leaves something to be desired. The sum required to bring it up to a proper standard is relatively small, but it faces competition from other rail priorities. We want to ensure that it is given proper attention, because investment is needed for the loop that will increase traffic tremendously on the northern part of the line.

As I said, it is important to deal with training deficits in the tourism industry, and some good work is already in hand, as I have seen in my local colleges. However, we have far to go to reach the point where working in tourism services is more than a second choice—or even worse—for our young people. During my time at school and as a student, I spent many summers working in the tourism industry, and at that time such employment left a great deal to be desired.

Given the system of government that we currently enjoy, it is important to develop secondments between Welsh institutions and public bodies in our European and UK counterparts. I note that the Assembly exceeded its target of six secondments per year to European institutions. Will the Minister tell us what progress has been made in developing secondments with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office? Secondment is a two-way process. What progress has been made in training UK

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overseas staff about Wales to raise their awareness of the resources of its landscape, people, languages and culture? On the UK level, it is not only a matter of secondments to the Wales Office. What progress has been made as regards secondments to other UK Departments?

The vital sector of secondments to UK and international business will be of great help to Welsh business. On 26 October I received an answer from the Department of Trade and Industry in which I was told:

of every secondment from private business into Government and from Government into private business. However, I was given a long list of 341 companies that have taken or given secondments to the DTI. The only one that I could discover that seemed to have any Welsh relevance was the Prince of Wales's press office, which, with all due respect, is not the powerhouse of the Welsh economy or Welsh industry. I note that Arthur Andersen also figures in the list.

On 17 October, I asked the Secretary of State a question about business in the private sector seconding people into the Wales Office. His reply stated that the current arrangements mean that

Given the key role that international business and trade could play in developing the Welsh economy, that matter needs attention, and I look forward to hearing the Minister's response.

I want to refer briefly to the Wales European Centre, which has been debated this afternoon in another place. The Assembly's response to the report states:

This month, the Assembly office decided to pull out of the Wales European Centre and to set up a separate office in Brussels. Plaid Cymru condemns the decision to withdraw funds from the Wales European Centre. We acknowledge that changes are needed, but we are worried about the lack of prior consultation, whatever the First Minister says.

Sir John Grey is currently conducting a review into the workings of the Wales European Centre. Perhaps it would have been better to await its conclusions before acting without consulting. The way in which the matter has been handled is damaging to Wales's reputation in Europe.

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