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Mr. Evans: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that we must also explain how easy it is to get to Wales, particularly if people come to Manchester airport for north Wales? The links are very good there, but we must improve the links at Cardiff airport so that people can discover south and west Wales.
Lembit Öpik: Does the hon. Gentleman agree with the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) that, along with the important marketing campaign that he describes, we should think seriously about the benefits of having a regional structure for existing airports? We do not need much investment to finish off the campaign that he describes.
Chris Ruane: Absolutely. I agree with both points. We need international airports as well as regional airports in Wales. Again, I point to the example of Ireland. My family come from Oranmore in County Galway, where my uncle sold off fields for the development of Galway airport. There are also airports at Knock, Shannon, Kerry and Corkin fact, throughout Ireland. We should be developing such a network in Wales.
I worked closely with Click Cymru, which spent a great deal of time, effort and research developing the database and portal that I mentioned. It received enthusiastic responses from people throughout Wales, but its bid for objective 1 funding was unsuccessful and has withered on the vine, so a fantastic opportunity has disappeared.
A number of hon. Members have mentioned the importance of St. David's day, which I think should be a national holiday in Wales. We should have the day off, or perhaps the day after so that we could celebrate late on St. David's day and recuperate the following day. I think that there may be something of the Welsh methodist in us allI speak as a Catholicbecause we seem to have a negative attitude towards celebration. Or perhaps it is just laziness. What did we Members do, collectively, rather than as individuals or within our own parties, to celebrate St. David's day this year in the House of Commons? Perhaps we should develop a cross-party initiative to promote Wales in the House. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had a bit of a beano, or a soirée, in Gwydyr house, and we are thankful for that.
Again, we need to look to the Irish example. My hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, South (Mr. Jones) pointed out that the Dail in Ireland closes down for a week so that TDs and the Taoiseach can travel round the world to help to celebrate St. Patrick's day. That is not considered a freebie or a jolly: there is a database informing them who they are visiting, why they have been invited, who they are to talk to and what they are to say. The aim is to bring jobs and investment back to Ireland. We need to take a more structured approach to our St. David's day celebrations. I was pleased to hear that the First Minister was in New York
The Welsh Affairs Committee was told in evidence that the Taoiseach visits America with a list of people of Irish extraction, drawn from corporate America, whom he will meet and wine and dine, in the hope of getting a certain type of investment for Ireland. The Secretary of State and the First Minister should be doing as much of that as they can.
We also need to consider the use that is made of Welsh celebrities, such as Charlotte Church, Catherine Zeta Jones, Ioan Gruffyddwho incidentally was said by American women to be sexier than George ClooneyTom Jones, Shirley Bassey and Bryn Terfel. They are all proud to be Welsh, but we need a more structured and co-ordinated approach to taking advantage of their celebrity to promote Wales in America.
I turn now to a more contentious part of my speech. We must look carefully at the image of Wales being portrayed, especially in the UK, by certain sections in Wales. I am expecting hon. Members to intervene, but I will accept interventionsas many as are requestedat the end of these remarks. Over the past two years there have been a number of incidents of people speaking in strong and detrimental terms about what is happening to the language.
I am talking about people such as Eifion Lloyd Jones, who urged Welsh schools not to accept too many non-Welsh-speaking children. That includes my own daughter, who attends a Welsh-speaking school. In fact, it was the first Welsh-speaking school in the English language community in Wales, and I attended its 50-year celebration two years ago. In that school, 85 per cent. of the children are from families whose mother tongue is English, and it is doing a fantastic job. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] It is good to hear that agreement.
I know that Plaid Cymru Members have stood up to be counted and have criticised people like Eifion Lloyd Jones. They include the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, who is on the record in the House as having criticised Seimon Glyn for his racist comments last year. The hon. Gentleman said that the Secretary of State or his eminent PPS was passing up crib notes. These are not crib notes; they are notes that I have gleaned myself by typing the word "racist" into the computer and extracting about 20 different articles. Many of them are from The Guardian and other national newspapers, not just the Daily Post or the Western Mail.
Some Members have taken a principled stand. Again, I mention Dafydd Elis-Thomas, the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, who admitted that there was an anti-English feeling within Welsh language nationalism which risked deepening tensions between Welsh and non-Welsh speakers. That development has been roundly criticised by eminent non-political people in Wales, including the Professor of Judaism at Lampeter university, who was deeply disturbed by attacks on incomers to Wales. He said:
None of the articles that I took off the internet mention Ieuan Wyn Jones, whose views are hidden. He should look at the lessons learned by the Labour party when it was infiltrated by extremists in the 1980s. It took a principled leader, Neil Kinnock, to stand up and root out those extremists. He was straight with them and said, "These our rules and this is the way we operate. If you don't like it, get out." That is exactly what should have been done with Seimon Glyn; the problem should have been nipped in the bud and he should have been told by Ieuan Wyn Jones, "Any more of this and you're out."
However, Ieuan Wyn Jones failed to take such action; as a result, extremism has spread both within and outside his own party, which is detrimental to Wales and sends out entirely the wrong message to people in England, the rest of the UK and elsewhere. Why should an investor invest in north Wales when he is told, "Come in, invest and build your factor, but don't you or your children come into our communities. Even if you want your children to speak Welsh, we do not want them in our Welsh language schools as they will pollute the language." Entirely the wrong message is sent out to tourists. Why should they come to Wales when offensive signs are stuck up?