Ramsay: Business Minister’s team turns down committee invitation

On the day Business Minister Edwina Hart gave a speech claiming ‘Wales means business’ at a St David’s Day lunch in London, it has emerged her officials have turned down an invitation to give evidence to an Assembly committee.

The Enterprise and Business Committee – along with the Welsh Affairs Select Committee – will take evidence on the economic benefits of ports and airports in Cardiff next Thursday.

While UK Government Department for Transport officials will attend, the Welsh business minister’s team has now turned down an invitation.

It follows a declined invitation to give evidence to the Welsh Affairs Select committee by the minister herself last year.

In her London speech, Mrs Hart today announced a new strategy for Financial and Professional Services in Wales. Last week the First Minister announced his support for a ‘Financial Transaction Tax’. Without global agreement, that would hit the financial services industry in the UK disproportionately hard.

Shadow Minister for Business, Nick Ramsay AM (pictured), said:

“I am sorely disappointed that the minister’s officials have today decided they won’t be attending next Thursday’s committee.

“The ports and airports inquiry being conducted is vitally important, with implications for the wider economy in Wales. This would have been a chance for the Welsh Government to put its views across, explain its policies and provide very useful evidence.

“The baffling decision – which has also come at very short notice despite an initial invitation a month ago – should be looked at very carefully by the minister.

“In her London speech, Mrs Hart said Wales is open for business. How, when there seems to be such an obvious disconnect and lack of enthusiasm to co-operate?

“Her talk of developments in financial and professional services is welcome, but confusing, given the First Minister’s support for a Financial Transaction Tax. This would hit the sector incredibly hard and wipe out a number of the potential benefits.

“I hope the minister acts on much of today’s rhetoric, stops stalling on enterprise zones, and improves her co-operation with others.”