15 March 2001

Q1 Alison Halford:

Does the Minister intend to review the Assembly’s approach to risk management strategies to take on board the recommendations in the recent National Audit Office report on the Cardiff Bay Barrage? (OAQ10313)The Minister for Finance, Local Government and Communities (Edwina Hart):

The Cabinet has carefully considered the Audit Committee’s report on the Cardiff Bay Barrage, which was published on 15 February 2001, and, under Standing Order No. 12, has responded to the Committee today. The Cabinet response will be available on the intranet and it will be for the Audit Committee to consider the full response. On the general issue of risk management, following the issue of the Turnbull report, the Parliament in England and the devolved administrations are committed to the development of risk management strategies by 31 March 2003 at the latest.

Alison Halford:

As the report indicates, the present in-house system of financing such large-scale projects as the Wales Millennium Centre does not give us sufficient guarantee of staying within budget and on time. Will you urgently consider an alternative, such as employing expert private firms with proven track records, to save millions of taxpayers’ money?

Edwina Hart:

I will answer your question in two parts. As for the projects in which the Assembly is directly involved, arrangements are in place in many areas to address identified risks and the Assembly is developing a comprehensive risk management strategy framework. As for Wales Millennium Centre Limited, which is a private company that is looking to the public sector for support in its development, you will know that Jenny Randerson, as the Minister for Culture, Sport and the Welsh Language, is trying to get some clarity on the capital costs and on the concerns raised by all parties about the revenue implications for the centre.

Owen John Thomas:

Given that the target to achieve fresh water impoundment in Cardiff Bay, 1 April, is only two weeks away, what news do you have on that? As Cardiff City and County Council, rather than Thames Water, was appointed to maintain the barrage in the bay, can you confirm that the expected £3 million saving will be made and that the work involved is largely benefiting local firms and their staff?

Edwina Hart:

I am responsible for matters related to risk management. I do not have detail on the framework regarding Cardiff Bay, as it is not within my portfolio. Alun Cairns: Do you agree that the Cardiff Bay Barrage project has been successful for the whole of Wales and do you believe that for the whole of Wales to benefit one of the Welsh Development Agency’s strategic objectives should be to target Cardiff Bay and use it as a magnet to attract inward investment to benefit all of Wales?

Edwina Hart:

I do not want to stray into the portfolio of the Minister for Economic Development in responding to Alun’s comments on the WDA. However, I agree that the development of Cardiff Bay has been an excellent example of marketing Wales to the world; the Assembly is located in the bay and if the Wales Millennium Centre project were established, it would be useful in boosting Cardiff’s image. There is no doubt that there has been a revamp in the bay that will directly benefit Wales in the long term.

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