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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.
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.
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.
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
Some Members have looked at the subject of our debateWales in the worldchosen 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 intereststhat 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.
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
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.
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 choiceor even worsefor 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
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:
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.