Page last updated at 18:42 GMT, Thursday, 25 February 2010

Hain warns of "complacency" in face of far-right threat

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain
Peter Hain warns of "complacency" in the face of far-right groups

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has warned against "complacency" in the face of what he called "racist, fascist" organisations.

Mr Hain said all of Wales must stand together to resist the likes of the Welsh Defence League (WDL) and the British National Party (BNP).

During a Commons debate on Welsh affairs he praised communities which had opposed far-right demonstrations,

Both the BNP and the WDL have denied being racist organisations.

In October last year, about 200 people gathered to protest about a demonstration against Islamic extremism by the Welsh Defence League (WDL) in Swansea.

It led to the cancellation of another planned WDL protest in Newport later that month.

Mr Hain said: "The people of Wales have resolved that the rise of racist, fascist organisations must be stopped.

"These far-right groups first tried it on in Swansea, then abandoned their vile demonstration plans in Newport and Wrexham in the face of decent, concerted community action.

"But we must not be complacent. Whenever the so-called Welsh Defence League and the British National Party threaten our decent, tolerant communities in Wales we must all stand together to resist them."

People in Swansea protesting against the Welsh Defence League

A wide-ranging debate also found Mr Hain claiming government schemes had helped Wales weather a "very tough" recession.

He also accused the Conservatives of being "evasive and unfair" in relation to Wales and said if elected they would hold an emergency budget by which Wales would be the "biggest casualty" in terms of cuts.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan rejected that claim as "hypothetical rubbish", argued Labour had "let Wales down" by losing control of Wales' finances and claimed her party would tackle the deficit.

She said: "Labour's legacy is the loss of nearly 50,000 manufacturing jobs since 1998."

Ms Gillan said for devolution to work, politicians at Westminster and Cardiff must work together, so a Conservative Welsh Secretary and Prime Minister would make him or herself available to answer questions in the assembly on a regular basis.

Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price argued Wales needed to focus on developing manufacturing and science industries.

He added: "I'd like to see the World Expo, the World Fair come back to the UK some time soon. It hasn't been back in the UK since 1862... Why not bring it to Wales ? Why not have the Wales World Expo?"

According to Mr Price, a bid for the expo to come to Wales should be supported with central government expenditure.

Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire) called on the UK government to set a date for a referendum on further powers for the Welsh assembly before a general election.

He said: "I'm not clear... whether, if this was postponed and there was a Conservative government, whether that necessary procedure would be put in place."

Meanwhile, the Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire attacked the assembly government for failing to upgrade the main road through his constituency.

Stephen Crabb MP insisted the A40 is "woefully inadequate", especially considering that Wales needs to attract private investment.

The Welsh Assembly Government is responsible for motorways and trunk roads.

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