Wales politics

David Jones: Economy prospects 'significant' in 2013

David Jones MP
Image caption David Jones became Welsh Secretary in a September cabinet reshuffle

Welsh Secretary David Jones says there are "significant grounds" to believe that Wales' economic prospects will improve "significantly" during 2013.

In his new year's message, he said announcements on rail electrification and a new nuclear reactor showed that Wales was "open for business".

He said one of his priorities will be to strengthen links between the UK government and the Welsh government.

The Clwyd West MP took over from Cheryl Gillan as Welsh secretary in September.

Mr Jones said continuing to strengthen relations between Westminster and Cardiff Bay would benefit the people of Wales.

He said: "Wales needs its two governments to work together."

Mr Jones said that although 2012 was "a golden year for Great Britain" it also "underlined that we are not immune to the uncertainties faced in the global market".

He said the commitment to electrify the rail network from Cardiff to Swansea and the south Wales valleys meant Wales was benefiting directly or indirectly from almost £2bn modernisation, the "most significant infrastructure announcement for Wales for decades".

The agreement in principle for the Welsh government to have access to capital borrowing powers was a "major development," he added.

The extra £227m in capital funding the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced in his autumn statement means the Welsh government has an extra £674m during the current spending review period, he said.

A future for nuclear generation on Anglesey was highlighted by the Welsh secretary as his "number one ambition".

"I was therefore delighted to welcome Hitachi's commitment to invest in new nuclear in Wylfa B," he said.

"The site will play a major role in securing the nation's energy supplies and will be a key driver of economic growth, bringing between 5,000 and 6,000 construction jobs to north Wales, as well as up to 1,000 well paid, high quality employment opportunities once the site is operational."

'Important milestones'

A business case for the electrification of the rail line from Holyhead to Crewe was also under discussion, Mr Jones said.

"We will not achieve results overnight - the next rail investment period is still some years away - but we must start now to ensure the business case meets the same rigorous standards of the south Wales case, and to ensure that north Wales is able to put forward the economic advantages that such an investment would undoubtedly bring."

Looking at the economy as a whole, he added: "There are significant grounds to believe that Wales' prospects will improve significantly over the next 12 months. However, there are still some important milestones to reach."

Mr Jones also noted that the Silk commission on devolution had begun the second part of its remit, to review the current powers of the Welsh assembly, with a report due in spring 2014.

He added: "I join with my ministerial colleagues at the Wales Office in wishing everyone a happy and prosperous new year."

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