|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Simon Thomas (Ceredigion): My hon. Friend mentioned the Wales European Centre and embassies. Does he agree that we should also consider the British Council and its work in promoting Wales abroad? Does he share my anxiety that it has no worked-out programme for promoting devolved parts of the United Kingdom? Many people abroad learn about the activities and culture of the United Kingdom through the British Council. They would never know about the Welsh language and culture through the current programme.
I want to consider trade and industry, especially the creative industry. Three industries are based in my constituency. Ceka Tools was originally a German company, which was relocated to Pwllheli, and is now a substantial importer and exporter of hand tools and other goods. It has recently extended its market to Ireland. Instead of continually looking to the east, it has taken advantage of our excellent links with Ireland.
Sain records has developed a body of Welsh music on tape, disc, CD, video and DVD. It has a substantial list that it sells to the United States. It is very successful and is branching out locally and opening a shop in Caernarfon to sell its goods.
Hufenfa De Arfonthe South Caernarfonshire Creameryhas recently won an export reward. It is based in the west of my constituency, far from centres of population, yet it makes a cheese called Monterey Jack to an American recipe, which it manages to export to America. I am not sure what the English idiom is
The creamery is doing well because it has a basic sense of entrepreneurship to which I referred earlier in respect of state industry. Lest anyone doubts that such entrepreneurship exists in the Welsh language as well as the English language, I recently attended the creamery's annual general meeting with Carwyn Jones from the National Assembly for Wales and Dafydd Wigley, my immediate predecessor. It was successful and interesting and conducted entirely through the medium of Welsh.
On a lighter note, there is a story circulating in my constituency that we have a large French creamery in south Caernarfon. Some tourists saw a milk tanker carrying the name "Hufenfa De Arfon" and wondered, because of the way in which they pronounced ithouvenva d'arvonwhy a French company was based in south Caernarfonshire. We therefore have real and imagined international links in Caernarfon.
I am sure that all hon. Members were glad about the launch of Cyfle CymruOpportunity Waleson 22 April. It is the largest e-commerce initiative of its type in Europe. That will give Welsh business and commerce an advantage in exporting to and working in other countries. Cyfle Cymru will provide a wealth of opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises to extend their businesses and work up niche export markets.
The international image of Wales and Welsh business will increasingly be sourced locally in Wales to the whole world. I heartily subscribe to the principle of thinking globally and acting locally. I note that Cyfle Cymru's site is entirely bilingualno narrow monoglotism there. I sincerely hope that many hon. Members will attend the London launch of Cyfle CymruOpportunity Waleson 21 May.
Many companies in my constituency are associated with the television production industry. I was told recently that that industry had succeeded in creating up to 800 jobs in an area where jobs of such quality are scarce. It has
The 800 jobs are vital and the success of the industry depends on secure funding, which needs to be extended when necessary. I was therefore glad to meet the chief executive of the North Wales Film Commission at my constituency office. Again, he is selling Wales hard, especially north Wales locations, to the film industry. He has achieved notable success in attracting major Hollywood productions as well as domestic UK and Welsh productions.
There is an interesting and varied picture of international links in trade and the creative industry in my constituency. Those links need to be supported and we look forward to their providing many more high quality, high value jobs in the future.
In reference to the three principles that I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, I note that the difference between Plaid Cymru, as a nationalist party, and the other parties in this place is that our prime purpose is to represent Wales. I am certainly proud to do that.
Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore): I welcome the opportunity to take part in this important debate. I also welcome the unanimity across the Floor of the House today in representing and putting the case for Wales. I should stress, however, that we are also here as United Kingdom Members of Parliament, so as well as putting the case for our own communities and for Wales we must put the case for the United Kingdom. I do not see a schism in those concepts.
If I may, I shall tread on dangerous ground by talking about Wales, the Welsh, tourism and the whole question of image and identity. These issues are crucial as we reach a turning point in Wales. We have gone through years of massive restructuring in industry involving the loss of the coal mining industry, and the turbulence in the steel industry at the moment. We can see the restructuring going on. This is a time of change and of pain. Out of that, however, will come opportunity and challenge.
We need to achievein the House, in our communities and as a Welsh nationa clear confidence in what we are about, what we see ourselves as, and where we see ourselves going as a nation. If we can reach some degree of agreement on that, we shall have achieved a lot today, and we can take that message forward. This is not a political point. We need coherently and consistently to present the idea that we are not going to whinge when whingeing is not necessary. We should present the case that Wales is a nation of winners and of potential. We can do things as well as or better than anyone else. We in this House are aiming to present that case.
Why is this important? First, it is important for business. Some good points have been made this afternoon about business and entrepreneurship. It is vital that we change the culture and give people the structures and the confidence that will enable them to take forward
Inward investment is important, but, as has rightly been pointed out, it is not the be all and end all. It has, however, been a great help and we have been very successful in attracting it. We should not turn our backs on it, but we also need to encourage our own small businesses and self-employed businesses to set up, to take on small numbers of people and to build from there. That is not to say, however, that they should set up in their own region and then move to a location where production costs are cheaper or the wages are a quarter of those in Wales. We have seen that happen before, and we have to encourage them to stay.
It is also important for society and the community that we agree on some kind of identity and cohesion. Sometimes, when we are considering the technical details, we underestimate the idea of having shared goals and aspirationsa vision that enables people to say, "Yes, the politicians in the House, the Assembly and throughout the land are saying that this is what we want. We want to bring our children up in the areas where we live because the politicians are trying to provide these opportunities and this vision." The vision thing can easily be dismissed if we concentrate only on the nuts and bolts. If we forget about the vision thing, however, and forget about where we want to be in 10 or 15 years, it will all fall down and cease to be worth while.
Mr. Prisk: Without wishing to engage in gratuitous back-slapping, I entirely agree with what the hon. Gentleman said earliernot least because he was agreeing with me. Does he agree that it is at the heart of this matter to move from a culture of dependencyin this case, economic dependence on one employerto one of independence and confidence? I endorse his comments about change, and I wonder whether he would agree with that suggestion.
Huw Irranca-Davies: Indeed, the hon. Gentleman is right. There is always a danger in relying too much on a single employer, which is why we need diversity in the economic community as much as in the cultural community. The Welsh Development Agency has been making strides in that direction, but it must go further. The Secretary of State will no doubt continue his discussions with it to ensure that there is a network of approaches in the business community rather than too much reliance on just one.
I want to speak specifically on tourism, which has been much discussed today. There is a subtle difference, which has not been mentioned, between the identity of a person and a nation and what is presented as a tourism product. Much has been said about kicking out the old stereotypes and getting rid of the idea of turning us into a heritage nation. As a chap called Hewison once said, "Who wants a nation when you can step off the plane from Heathrow and walk into a Disneyfied theme park of heritage and castles?" We must accept that many people want thatthey come here because of the pageantry, the industrial heritage, the castles, the legends and the mythsand that it is an essential ingredient of tourism, even though it is not necessarily what we are now.