The House of Commons was unusually in agreement last Monday when the Prime Minister made a statement about the appalling situation in Israel and Gaza. This was followed by Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday when both Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer were united in their condemnation of the horrific terrorist attack by Hamas. Obviously, everyone will agree that the military action taken by Israel must adhere to international law and civilians must not be targeted. But the atrocities carried out by Hamas means the defeat of this terrorist militant organisation is the only way there can be a scintilla of peace in the region. For once, I am glad Sir Keir was in full agreement with the Prime Minister on this point. Some people marching around with pictures of paragliders would do well to consider they appear to be supporting the torture and murder of Jewish people in Israel.
Somebody has suggested in the letters page of the Abergavenny Chronicle that I should spend more time discussing housing, the NHS, economic growth and sewage pollution. I devote a lot of time on these pressing issues and will be happy to do so again via this column. The reason I can’t influence the health service in Wales is because it is devolved entirely to the Welsh Labour Government. Ministers in Cardiff Bay do not answer to the Secretary of State for Wales, Parliament or even the Prime Minister. We are a separate nation where the NHS is concerned - and the results are not good compared to England. Now it seems the Welsh Labour Government has been fudging A&E waiting times. Housing is another issue for the Welsh Labour Government. With 20 times the population of Wales, England builds 30 times the number of houses. These figures are easily available to view on the website of the Office for National Statistics. River pollution has been in the news again after Welsh Water admitted illegally spilling untreated sewage at dozens of treatment plants for years – and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) failed to prosecute. I am sure most people think this is something to do with MPs in Westminster, partly because of untruths by Labour activists. But again, it is devolved to Wales. The Welsh Labour Government sets water quality targets and NRW, its largest sponsored body, has to enforce them (or not). Welsh Water, a not-for-profit company, also comes under the jurisdiction of the Welsh Labour Government. I do, however, have some say over economic growth and was involved in the recent UK Government announcement of a £500m grant to invest in a new electric arc furnace at Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant, which will enable greener steel production and keep steelmaking in Wales for decades to come.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 25 October 2023 and Abergavenny Chronicle on 26 October 2023*