Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Hain puts Wales on the map

Wales is well-used to being compared to deprived parts of the UK in the competitive poverty stakes but now it appears the comparison has gone worldwide.

Secretary of State Peter Hain compared Wales with Rwanda in the Commons today while insisting Wales is still a wealthy country.

He told Tory MP David Jones: "Do you not agree, that compared with Rwanda and most countries in the rest of the world - most countries in the rest of the world is the point I was making if you'd not chosen to take that quote out of context - that Wales is indeed still a wealthy country?"

According to UN statistics, in 2005 77 per cent of Rwanda's population lived below the international poverty line of 80 pence a day, less than seven per cent of the population have a telephone and just one per cent are internet users.

Wales has also escaped the genocide and civil war that hit Rwanda in the early 1990s.

What Peter Hain said is, of course, true - Wales is a relatively wealthy country - but many would regard the comparison between with Rwanda as meaningless - unless, of course, he knows something about the Welsh economy that we don't.

UPDATE 1620: Peter Hain statement:

"Frankly, I could have chosen my words more carefully. Of course no one is suggesting that Wales has ever suffered from poverty on the same scale as in Africa.
"My point was that home repossessions and job losses in Wales are, thankfully, at a much lower level than under the disastrous recessions of the 1980s and 1990s when Conservative Governments were in power."

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