Welsh agency accused of using pounds 7m grants to aid Tories

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The Independent Online
THE Welsh Development Agency, already the subject of criticism by the all-party Commons Public Accounts Committee, was allegedly used to channel unlawfully millions of pounds of government money into areas with marginal Tory constituencies.

The accusation that grants worth more than pounds 7m were awarded to rural mid-Wales despite the region losing its status as an Assisted Area is made tonight in a BBC Wales documentary Week In, Week Out.

Welsh Office officials on the programme admit a 'technical' breach of the legislation but deny any political motivation.

Earlier this month, Glyn Davies, chairman of the Development Board for Rural Wales, resigned after a damning report over the secret allocation of housing tenancies. Last year, the WDA was attacked by the PAC for 'serious and inexcusable' breaches of control and accountability. John Redwood, Secretary of State for Wales, has announced a review of all Welsh quangos.

Jon Owen Jones, Labour MP for Cardiff Central, claimed the funding was continued after assisted area status was removed in 1982 to bolster support for the Tories.

'The rules have been broken. This was the same WDA money which should have been spent in more economically deprived areas of Wales, which are solidly Labour,' he said.