Page last updated at 07:21 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

MP in cross-border policy attack

Daniel Kawczynski
Daniel Kawczynski said he loved Wales and had spent holidays there

An MP claims English border towns are losing out because of the policies of the Welsh Assembly Government.

In a wide-ranging attack, Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski blamed a Shropshire hospital's annual loss of 2m on treating Welsh patients.

He also complained that business grants in Wales were tempting English companies to move across the border, and this was leading to job losses.

The assembly government has been asked to comment.

Mr Kawczynski said he loved Wales and spent his holidays there last year, but he accused the assembly government of creating "huge difficulties for English border towns".

I have to fight tooth and nail to secure life-saving treatments for my constituents
Daniel Kawczynski MP

One of Mr Kawczynski's criticisms centred on healthcare.

A lack of a general hospital in Powys means hundreds in the north of the county are treated in Shrewsbury, but the MP said the town's hospital was losing out.

He added: "The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital loses 2m a year as a result of the different mechanism whereby the Welsh assembly pays for treatment across the border.

"We have patients coming from Wales to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital who get life-saving medication to which my constituents in Shrewsbury are not entitled.

"I have to fight tooth and nail to secure life-saving treatments for my constituents that people from Wales get automatically in our hospital. That causes huge frustration and anger and divides our two communities."

Job losses

Mr Kawczynski was also critical of business grants in Wales.

"I have great concerns about the grants that the Welsh assembly gives to businesses, which are much greater than those that we can afford in England," he added.

"Those grants are uncompetitive and unfair. They lead to many Shropshire firms going just across the border to set up business."

He added that it was "leading to significant job losses in Shropshire".

"I am trying to say this respectfully, as the only English MP in a Welsh debate, but what I am trying to get across is this: I love Wales," said Mr Kawczynski.

"I am just trying to convey some of the problems and frustrations I have as a Member of Parliament representing a border town that is losing out in certain ways as a result of increasing changes between the Welsh assembly and our own Parliament."

Mr Kawczynski made his comments during a debate in the House of Commons on 26 February.

Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Opik, whose constituency neighbours that of Mr Kawczynski's, disagreed with his parliamentary colleague.

"From his comments, it's obvious that he's failed to grasp the basic fact that Welsh patients actually make a positive financial contribution to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital," said Mr Opik.

"If all these patients went elsewhere, Shrewsbury would have to cut its services. So every time Mr Kawczynski hears a Welsh voice in a Shrewsbury ward, he should be saying 'thank you' not 'go away.'"

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