Friday, 15 February 2013

An eloquence of them

There were 37 pages devoted to firms of solicitors and lawyers in Yellow pages for the Cardiff and West Wales region. All be it, my book was a bit dated but it seems clear we’re over-run with lawyers.  An eloquence of lawyers we have in abundance.
As an ordinary hack I’ve seen them in many guises over the years. The one thing they seem to have in common, apart from their eloquence of course, is they’re usually well heeled.

Now in half term week with little happening in the Assembly I decided to trawl through the minutes of some of our committees, yes, I know I need to get a life. But I happen to come across this exchange. A question by Dafydd El to Edwina Hart the Business Minister.
I am sure that you will be aware, Minister, that some established companies in the city are of the opinion that the support you provided during this month to Lewis Silkin to establish and develop its operation is considered as unfair competition and some sort of subsidy to a firm of lawyers from London to compete unfairly with companies from Cardiff. How do you respond to that, and will you explain clearly to the committee, and to any other interested parties, that this type of assistance is available to companies already based in the area? Enterprise zones are not just about inward investment.
 Edwina Hart: Enterprise zones are about enhancing job opportunities—the retention of jobs and additional jobs. If you are an existing company and you are in an enterprise zone—this is particularly key in Deeside, where we have some larger companies on the periphery—and you wish to expand your operation, what is available in the enterprise zones would also be available to you. I am also quite disappointed by some of the attitudes towards what we are trying to encourage into the Cardiff zone. It is a good zone in terms of the professional and financial services that we want to bring in, and they will be good-quality jobs. It is very important that the Welsh business community as a whole welcomes the development of the enterprise zones and recognises that we can make appropriate offers to Welsh companies that are already there if they are taking on additional staff.
[159] It is important to recognise, particularly in financial services, that companies sometimes outgrow premises and want to be in one centre, thereby bringing in additional jobs, and we will definitely welcome such companies if they want to relocate to the enterprise zone.
And what was the good Lord referring to, I hear you ask. A not insignificant grant to bring yet another law firm to Cardiff.  Lewis Silkin to be precise. The firm is coming to Cardiff with the help of a £160,000 business finance grant from the Welsh Government. 

Now not many will worry to much that there is another competitor to all the other law firms in Cardiff. Although all this competition doesn't drive down their fees. But that's a different story.
But as tax-payers we're entitled to ask whether dishing out our cash to fat cat law firms is a good use of public money.
Now Enterprise matters. Of course we wish all the Enterprise zones to succeed. But if syphoning public money to well-heeled law firms is what they’re about I’m not sure that they’re going to be doing much to get the Welsh economy moving.

1 comment:

  1. well spotted Gareth, your post proves you don't always need an army of researchers to uncover a juicy story. (BBC Wales, ITV Wales, Media Wales and the 30 odd opposition researchers in the Assembly take note)

    The Welsh tax payer and the other London law firm you quote are right to query this move by Edwina Hart, since Lewis Silkin still has offices in London and Oxford as well as this new subsidized Cardiff office. Perhaps im to cynical have Lewis Silkin got any Welsh Government business since they moved?