In a speech at Cardiff University’s Business School, the Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb set out how the Government’s radical programme of decentralisation and devolution within the United Kingdom presents a challenge to Wales to harness the opportunities for innovation and growth.
The Welsh Secretary said:
Wales is already punching above its weight on the global stage and in recent weeks Cardiff has reminded the world once again why it is such a vibrant and exciting capital city for visitors from all over the world. But in the future we will have to constantly look upwards and outwards to compete with fast-growing economies overseas as well as with other parts of the UK.
Last week the Chinese President made a historic visit to Manchester to strengthen ties between the Northern Powerhouse and China. The leader of one of the world’s largest economies saw a city where civic leaders have seized the opportunity of more powers and devolution to shape the growth of their city in the 21st century. Wales has a new competitor within the UK.
All across the UK, we are driving economic growth by pushing power downwards – decentralising decision-making and backing it up with real economic and financial powers to harness innovation.
He went on to say that the city of Cardiff has the potential to become one of the most dynamic and vibrant European cities in the decades ahead.
Here in Wales we have a young capital city that is innovative and entrepreneurial. It sits at the heart of a city-region that is home to almost half the entire population of Wales and is projected to grow by 26 per cent over the next 20 years.
Cardiff is on the cusp of something great. Our capital city can use its position as a fast-growing challenger to become one of the best places in the world to live, visit, study and do business.
But there is a real danger that Wales’ economic potential is paralysed by never ending constitutional debates. Spending years locked in prolonged debates about the finer points of devolution will not help us address the productivity challenge or the skills gap.
So this is the chance for politicians in Wales to make our nation’s economic future our number one priority - and recognise that devolution must be aligned with a clear economic vision. The pursuit of more powers cannot be an end in itself.
Because nations are looking outwards; cities are redefining their role; businesses are innovating; and companies are trading and investing in multiple countries 24 hours a day.
We are competing in the 21st century. And the world won’t wait for Wales.
Read the full speech