Page last updated at 18:05 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 19:05 UK

Brown's cabinet meets in Cardiff

What Gordon Brown said he learned from the visit

Prime Minster Gordon Brown and his top team of ministers have travelled to Cardiff for the first meeting of a British cabinet in Wales.

The meeting came as the Transport Secretary Lord Adonis confirmed a £1bn plan to electrify the rail line between south Wales and London.

The Conservatives described Mr Brown's visit as "a shallow attempt to pretend that Wales matters to him".

The Lib Dems said it would not replace "real engagement" with communities.

Plaid Cymru welcomed the electrification of the rail line, but said it followed its pressure to change plans to electrify the track between London and Bristol only.

South West Wales AM Dai Lloyd said the change followed "an immense amount of work" by party leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, who is also transport minister in the Welsh Assembly Government.

Cabinet meeting in Cardiff
The cabinet meeting at the Swalec Stadium, Glamorgan's cricket ground

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, the prime minister said the rail electrification would make the service "world class".

He said it would also be a greener and more reliable rail link.

'Railways are back'

"It just shows that railways are back and that the investment in railways will pay off for the future," Mr Brown said.

As well as the cabinet meeting, ministers also took part in a series of meetings and events throughout south Wales.

Lord Adonis told the BBC the massive railway investment involved would be worth it.

He said: "With the electric trains you get a quieter, cleaner, more reliable and much cheaper train which benefits passengers and it also benefits the taxpayers because it's much cheaper to keep an electric railway going.

He also said the investment would pay for itself over a 40-year period and that there would be no impact on fares.

It is the sixth time Mr Brown's cabinet has met outside London, since it began a tour of locations around the UK last September with a visit to Birmingham.

Trips to Leeds, Liverpool, Southampton and Glasgow followed, before this visit to the Welsh capital.

At a question and answer session for several dozen youngsters at the Millennium Stadium, Mr Brown sang the praises of a young entrepreneur who uses rap music on MP3 players to teach GCSE courses.

Fledgling company

Nathan Dicks, 25, is hoping that top-level political backing will help transform his fledgling company into a potential world-beater.

With an unscripted question Mr Dicks grabbed Mr Brown's attention by asking for his backing in rolling out his music education scheme across the UK.

Mr Brown agreed to take a closer look at the ideas behind his company with a view to giving it a boost.

Mr Dicks's Cardiff-based company, called Re-Wise Learning Ltd, seeks to turn an obsessive interest in music among teenagers into a learning tool.

A key part of GCSE syllabuses are put to music in the belief that youngsters will learn crucial lessons while doing anything from revising, watching TV to walking down the road.

Mr Dicks briefly outlined his scheme to Mr Brown as a smile broke across the prime minister's face as the details emerged.

He urged Mr Brown to help, saying: "If you heard any of the music that you listened to when you were 14 you would remember the lyrics without having to try."

Mr Brown said: "Let's get the details of it to see what we can do." He added approvingly: "He's very entrepreneurial isn't he?"

Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said: "The prime minister has barely visited Wales since he took office - and since Conservatives beat Labour in Wales at last month's European elections we're surprised he wants to come at all," she said.

"This is a shallow attempt to pretend that Wales matters to him.

"If Gordon Brown thinks (the) visit will persuade people to forget that Labour is to blame for the difficulties facing Wales today then he will be very disappointed."

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams described the event as stage managed and said it would not "replace real engagement with Welsh communities and meaningful reform of our damaged democracy".

Print Sponsor

Brown has faced 'difficult year'
22 Jul 09 |  Politics
Brown defends spending policies
16 Jul 09 |  Politics
Expenses reform is right - Brown
16 Jul 09 |  Politics
Brown defiant on Afghan equipment
15 Jul 09 |  Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific