§ 4.2 p.m.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Sir Keith Joseph)
I beg to move,That this House takes note of the Report on Developments and Government Action in Wales and Monmouthshire for 1963 (Command No. 2284).
§ Mr. Speaker
Before the right hon. Gentleman proceeds, I think that I should say that I do not consider it right to select any of the Amendments to the main Question.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
On a point of order. This means, Mr. Speaker, that you do not intend to call the Amendment standing in the names of my right hon. and hon. Friends. May I submit to you, with respect, that if you did select our Amendment it would not in any way limit the debate, since it is in the form of an addendum to the Government's Motion, so that whatever is in the Government's Motion would still be debatable, plus whatever else is added to it by our Amendment?
If there are other reasons why you consider it right not to call it at this stage, would it be possible for it to be called, so that we may have a chance of voting on it, towards the end of the debate, so that there could have been a full debate on the Government's Motion?
§ Mr. Speaker
I have considered all these things and it might be of help if I explain the position. Suppose I were to call the Amendment to add words at the end of the main Motion. The debate, as from that moment onwards, would be confined to adding those words, which would have the effect of confining the main debate to the Labour Party's plans, and so on.
I do not think that that is the right course to take in the interests of the House. Everything that the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends want to say in support of the proposition that those words should be added can be said in the general debate, and if they wish to indicate their dislike of the general Motion to take note of the Government's Report, they can mark it by dividing on that.
639 I have considered this from the point of view of the interests of managing the debate in general and I have thought that it would be more satisfactory, in the circumstances, not to call any of the Amendments.
I have also considered the matter which the right hon. Gentleman has raised, of calling the Amendment at a later stage. That could be done, but I think that the general run of the debate would be easier for all concerned if we keep it general. That is my view.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
While accepting your Ruling, may I, with respect, put two considerations to you, Mr. Speaker? First, would you consider accepting the Amendment for the addendum immediately before ten o'clock, so that we may vote on it? Failing that, would you, secondly—since we tabled the addendum and have only recently had this information—consider accepting a manuscript Amendment to show that we do not approve of the Government's action and their handling of developments in Wales?
§ Mr. Speaker
I think, with respect, not the latter, but I might have a suggestion to make for an amendment of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment which would make it possible to make it work. I should not really consider these things while on my feet, although I will on this occasion. If the right hon. Gentleman were to phrase it so that it left out all the words in the Government's Motion—and then inserted the words he is seeking to add—we could then have a general debate without any difficulty. If that were acceptable to the House I would, without notice, accept a manuscript Amendment in that form.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
On behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I would like to express our thanks to you, Mr. Speaker, for finding a way out of this difficulty, because if we could not move our Amendment we would be placed in a difficult position; that of having to vote against taking note of the White Paper, and it is most unusual to vote against taking note because the House, obviously, always takes note, even if it does not do anything else.
In the circumstances the proposal you have made—and presumably it can be 640 discussed behind the Chair, through the usual channels—will get us out of this dilemma.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said, although I would not like to abandon for all time the proposition that the House cannot refuse to take note of something if it regards it with sufficient disgust.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I had anticipated with some relish a vigorous debate today and I am glad that the bad drafting by the Opposition of their Amendment is not to deprive us of this chance.
Wales today is a country of booming industrial growth. There are areas still with their problems, but fewer than ever before this century. The number of people in insured employment in Wales has risen and this means that despite the decline of employment in mining, agriculture, slate and other older industries, such as the steel and tinplate works of West South Wales, and the unfortunate closure of some factories, Wales has gone on creating new jobs which have far more than offset those lost.
Unemployment in Wales has been steadily declining over the last year and has been getting closer to the national average. In May the figure of unemployment in Wales as a whole was 2.3 per cent., the lowest since September, 1961. Unemployment in the development districts, at an overall rate of 3.6 per cent. in Wales, is the lowest since they were designated four years ago. The number of unemployed in the black spots is shrinking and the outlook for all the areas where there is still above average unemployment is improving.
It is possible for hon. Members on both sides of the House, while agreeing that these trends are all encouraging and to be welcomed, still to point out that in individual places there is much to be deplored. I do not for a moment wish to be thought complacent if I identify both some of the achievements and the things that still need to be done. To begin with, let us take the extraordinary transformation which has been occurring before our eyes at Milford Haven. Here we have had the dramatic creation, within a few years, of a major world oil 641 centre, bringing enormous benefit in the short term, while the construction is going on, to the whole of Wales and, in the middle and longer term, leaving a substantial endowment of permanent jobs, many of them of a craft nature, for the people who live in and near Milford Haven.
On the south side of the Haven we have the Regent Oil Refinery, which has employed 3,000 construction workers and which is already employing 90 permanent staff. That number will grow to about 250. There has recently been announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power the fact that the Central Electricity Generating Board intends to start a new oil-fired power station at Pembroke, at a cost of about £70 million. That will employ a large number of people for its construction, while at the end of the day it will provide between 400 and 500 permanent jobs. Still on the south side of the Haven, there is the advance factory which was let some years ago to Firth Cleveland, and there are prospects of further employment there. Unemployment on the south side is now down to 2.3 per cent.
On the north shore, where unemployment is still running at about 8 per cent., we have recently had two very good pieces of news: first the intention of the Gulf Oil Company to construct an oil refinery at a cost of about £12 million, which will provide employment for about 200 people; and, secondly, the decision by Dowty Seals Limited to take the advance factory which the Government are building there and which will provide, in the first place, jobs for 70 people, with increasing prospects.
I agree that those two figures—the 200 and the 70—do not sound enormous against a scale of unemployment of 8 per cent. but, mercifully, the 8 per cent. means that the number of unemployed is about 420, just over half of whom are men, so that the extra jobs will make a very great difference indeed to the unemployment position there.
I turn from Milford Haven to the constituency of the hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes). While, there, we still have a well-above-average rate of unemployment, I know that he and all hon. Members will rejoice that the power station at Wylfa is not only pro- 642 viding a huge job force at the moment, during construction, but will provide at least 400 permanent jobs when it is completed. I was glad to notice that the C.E.G.B. has asked the Holyhead Technical Institute to organise a three-year course for future technicians at the Wylfa power station, and has, as a result, reduced its estimate of the number of permanent staff to be imported, as it is found that there is every prospect of training local people to take more of the permanent jobs. This must show the capacity of the Welsh people to respond to technical training, and so to fill these highly technological posts.
Also, on Anglesey there is the decision by the M.E.M. company at the Holyhead advance factory to more than double its labour force. As the House will know, the Government recently announced their decision to build a further advance factory, at Llangefni. These are just two examples, but it is fair to say that the prospects of all areas in Wales with any labour available are getting substantially better.
Let me give one or two quite dramatic facts. Every one of the 322 Board of Trade factories in Wales is let except—and it is a big exception—the Pressed Steel works at Swansea. The House will wish to know the latest position of those people made redundant by the closing of the plant there—
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr Tydfil)
Has the Minister forgotton Dowlais? There is an excellent Board of Trade factory there that has not been used, except in a temporary sense, for the last 12 or 14 months. It is the ex-B.S.A. factory.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I hope that I have not been inaccurate. I will check whether I have not confused temporary use. I may say that unemployment in the hon. Member's area is 2.8 per cent., which is very slightly above the national average. However, I do not want to mis-state anything, so I will check up. Perhaps I have confused temporary use there with permanent use.
I was about to tell the House about the 1,500 people who were employed at Pressed Steel. I am told at 4 p.m. yesterday there were 212 of these people still unemployed—107 men and 105 women. I do not want to minimise this in any way, but I think the fact that just on 643 1,300 of the original 1,500 have obtained new jobs shows the buoyant demand for labour in the area.
The second fact I should like to give the House is that applications for industrial development certificates in April and May of this year show a substantial increase. They are nearly double the number of industrial development applications made last year. But perhaps the most encouraging thing of all is that during the last six months there has been a much increased pace of applications for industrial development certificates in the remoter towns in the western half of Wales. Advance factories have been let at Blaenau Ffestiniog, Aberystwyth and, of course, Milford Haven; and a large shoe firm has taken on Government factory space at Ammanford—all areas that tended to be neglected by manufacturers in the past. This new trend is virtually a break-through in a general and persistent problem.
I want to turn from the general industrial unemployment position to some aspects which normally—and rightly—worry the House a good deal. Perhaps I may start with youth employment. We all expected a difficult time as the bulge passed through the schools and sought jobs. The fact is that, despite the bulge, for the last two years young people have been rapidly absorbed into jobs, except in one or two particular areas such as Port Talbot and Neath. At the moment, the numbers of unemployed young people in Wales represent approximately 1½ per cent. of the boys and about 2 per cent. of the girls in insured employment.
The vacancies for boys and for girls are more than double—for Wales as a whole, it is true—the number of boys and girls unemployed. I am not suggesting that boys and girls can travel an indefinite distance to work, but in Wales there are, in fact, 3,000 vacancies for boys and girls, and rather under 1,400 boys and girls unemployed. I hope that these remaining young people will shortly, either in their home towns or within reasonable travelling distance of them, find the work they need and want.
§ Mr. John Morris (Aberavon)
Can the Minister give the recent percentage 644 figures for Port Talbot and Neath, as there is a very serious problem there?
§ Sir K. Joseph
If I am fortunate enough to catch your eye at the end of the debate, Mr. Speaker, I will seek to give the hon. Gentleman that information. I do not have it with me now. Of those who left school at Easter of this year, still reflected in the bulge, there are just over 100 unemployed, which represents just over 1 per cent. of the total number of school leavers.
Turning from youth to one or two of the other problem areas of unemployment, there is still a position that must worry us with regard to the over-fifties. I appreciate the very strong feelings there are on this subject on both sides of the Chamber, and I appreciate the difficulty these people find, once they lose a job, in getting another. The count of unemployed by age groups is made only twice a year. In January of this year, those over 50 comprised about one quarter of the total unemployed. Since then, unemployment in Wales has fallen very substantially—by about one-third—and I would hope that the over-fifties among the remaining unemployed have at least not worsened their position. But we shall have to wait until the next bi-annual count to see that.
Within the over-fifties, and within the numbers of those who, whatever their age, find difficulty in getting employment, we must have great concern for the disabled. Remploy is doing a splendid job in Wales, as elsewhere, but the problem of the disabled in Wales is that the remaining—I mean no disrespect if I call them "pockets" of disabled potential workers, are now so scattered and individually so small in number that it does not seem sensible to attack the remaining problem by means of Remploy. My right hon. Friends and I have therefore thought that possibly the best next step is to ask the county welfare authorities to use their powers to open more sheltered workshops where they can, by the nature of things, deal with the smaller and more isolated pockets of disabled.
As a result of the initiative of my right hon. Friends, I know that Glamorgan is very seriously considering opening an additional sheltered workshop, and I know that Monmouthshire is also con sidering the same point—
§ Mr. G. Elfed Davies (Rhondda, East)
How does the Minister reconcile this statement with the fact that in Rhondda there are still more people on the disabled register than Remploy employees in the three factories?
§ Sir K. Joseph
That is an interesting question. I will follow it up with Remploy. We all respect the judgment of the Remploy people in these matters, and I am sure that they have good reasons for their present limit.
The House will welcome the news that Austin, which also runs a factory near Bargoed, employing over 400 disabled, proposes to open a factory largely to be staffed by disabled at Pengam.
I remind the House that school building in Wales is expanding considerably. With about £3.5 million spent on school building last year, the estimate for the next two years runs at £5.4 million, an increase of 50 per cent. The House will realise that I cannot go through each social service in turn, but that I pick out, without particular discrimination, a number of features in Wales on which to comment.
The next subject on which I should like to touch is transport. It is very good news for all of us that the work on the eagerly awaited Severn Bridge may be completed earlier than the contract date of December, 1966. In anticipation of this, work is being speeded up on connecting roads and the structures on either side of the bridge. The figure for capital expenditure on the construction side of transport in Wales gives an impressive picture. In April last year, work was in hand on 88 trunk road schemes, of which the final estimated cost was £6.3 million. Now very much more is being done. In April this year 119 trunk road schemes are in hand, involving work estimated to cost in total no less than £26.6 million, or more than four times the relevant figure in 1963.
We all know that some unprofitable railway lines have had to be closed, but the decision of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport to retain passenger services on the Central Wales line between Pontardulais and Craven Arms has shown that, despite heavy losses, railway lines will be maintained where necessary to avoid hardship and to meet social needs. My right hon. Friend is pressing ahead with his search for a satisfactory solution 646 to the rural transport problem. An inquiry team has been set up to examine the possibilities of improving transport facilities in the Montgomeryshire survey area and the first meeting is being held this month under the chairmanship of the Transport Commissioner for Wales and Monmouthshire.
§ Mr. Tudor Watkins (Brecon and Radnor)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, while we are waiting for the result of this survey, acute transport problems are arising in mid-Breconshire and Radnorshire because of the curtailment of bus services? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will respond to my letter to him and will receive a deputation.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I will gladly talk to the hon. Member about this, but I hope that he will realise that while we could have chosen that area for the survey work which is now being done, in Montgomery-shire, to see how we can improve transport facilities for the people living and working there, that survey will be of great value also to the whole of Wales.
Tourism is a great Welsh industry, but one in which there is much more scope and more competition from outside Wales. The House will be glad to recognise that the Welsh Tourist and Holidays Board has done notable service to Wales in deciding to seek more research to enable it to make a more vigorous and effective attack on this large potential market. The Board is in the process of reorganising itself and the Government have made a grant of £40,000 to help in essential research services.
In this brief survey of industry and employment in Wales I might be permitted, after two years in the great office which I am privileged to hold, to make a general comment on enterprise in Wales, both private and public. As far as I can see, it is still true that the top management tends to be in a large number of cases English and Scottish. I think that it will be generally acceptable if I make the comment that Wales, for reasons which are historical, has not had long experience of prosperity.
I would hope that the Welsh people will be soon so familiar and at home with industry and commerce and with the risks, the difficulties, the opportunities and the scope which industry and commerce offer that they will be confident of their capacity to prosper. At that time 647 I am quite sure that Wales will supply its fair share of management in Wales and will return the compliment to England and Scotland. We shall then have a situation where as high a proportion of the Welsh are managing English and Scottish concerns as the proportion now of English and Scottish managing Welsh concerns.
§ Sir K. Joseph
Certainly, and there is no reason why it should not happen again.
All this makes the background for the first comprehensive and published attempt to predict Welsh employment and economic change so as to bring to Wales as much forward planning as is compatible with the competitive world of rapid changes in which we live. I am proud that during my time in the Welsh Office the Department should have been charged to prepare a plan for Wales, to place public investment and to guide private investments where we think they are most needed, to forestall decline and to sustain growth. The plan will need regular reviews as time validates or invalidates the assumptions on which it will be based. I hope that the first plan, which will, of course, deal within itself with different areas of Wales and their needs, will be ready next year.
Perhaps this is where I should refer to the problems of Mid-Wales. The Beacham Report, the value of which we all acknowledge, is the latest but by no means the least of many reports on Mid-Wales. For the immediate future the Government's reaction to it has been to authorise further Government or Development Commission built factories in Mid-Wales. This is the immediate future, for the strategy for Mid-Wales must await the completion of the studies which are now in hand. Not only is the Welsh plan under consideration but regional studies are now being prepared for the North-West and the West Midlands, and the co-ordination of these three studies is vital.
This is of supreme importance to a number of Ministers and is especially the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development. 648 I well understand the impatience of Wales as a whole for strategic as opposed to tactical decisions to be made for Mid-Wales, but since, for the first time, studies of Mid-Wales, within Wales as a whole, and of neighbouring regions are now very near completion it must be sense to await their issue before deciding on strategy.
After all, it is the relationship with other areas that is vital for Mid-Wales. Any dramatic change of prospect for Mid-Wales must have implications for other areas near Mid-Wales itself. This is why I say that while I understand the impatience on this issue, Mid-Wales will do far better from the strategic considerations which will arise early next year when these three plans are available.
I am sure that the House will share my particular desire to say how valuable we all regard the work of the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire. I benefit a great deal from studying the notes of its discussions and we all value each of the reports that the Council produces. There is an infinite field of study which the Council takes as its own, and the services of skilled, conscientious and enthusiastic Welsh people on the Council are something from which we all benefit greatly.
It is not possible, and I am sure that the House would not wish me, to try to cover all the social services, but I have, naturally, taken housing so as to be able to give a progress report to the House. As has already been stated by the Government, we are determined to see to it that by 1971 there remains no housing shortage in Wales and that all the houses designated now or in the intervening years as slums will by then have been cleared.
I must give the House a few figures. We recognised in 1961 that there was a shortage of about 50,000 houses for Wales. At the same time, there were about 30,000 unfit houses and there were about 9,000 houses then standing in 1961 which were either temporary or built of aluminium which needed to be replaced. Therefore, the total minimum need was 90,000 houses. Between 1961 and 1971 we reckoned that a further 30,000 houses would become unfit, and then we had to allow a figure—and we chose 55,000 on 649 the basis of present trends—to provide extra houses for the growth of households between 1961 and 1971. Therefore, the total need for the decade, to achieve the purpose which I have stated, is about 175,000 houses. This is a minimum figure, because, inevitably, during a decade a number of fit houses, which we cannot estimate in advance, have to be replaced to make way for roads, schools and other essential buildings.
The picture is that in 1961 in Wales there were completed about 12,500 houses, in 1962, 15,000, and in 1963 the bad winter caused us to slip back to 14,000. To achieve our objective, therefore, by 1971 we have to reach and maintain an annual completion rate of 19,000 houses from and including 1966. I am glad to say that this year we look like building 17,000 houses; 7,345 were completed by the end of May with 18,000, a record figure, under construction. All these annual achievements have been and are being about evenly split between private enterprise building and council building.
A point that the House will wish to know about is whether this spurt from 15,000 to 17,000 gives us cause to hope that we can reach the essential 19,000 target 18 months from now. I must tell the House, the local authorities and the building industry candidly that while we can hope for some further production from improvements in productivity and from the streamlining of existing methods, we shall need some contribution from system building if, with the existing craft force in Wales, we are to reach the target of 19,000 house completions 18 months from now.
It is not only house building which is going on. There is a massive programme going on in Wales of power stations, roads, schools, colleges, clinics, hospitals and industrial expansion. In housing, is there any wonder that labour-saving methods are needed badly? System building of the low-rise variety—that is two and three storey housing—above all, can play a real part in reaching the Welsh housing target. The very fact that so many Welsh housing authorities are doing more than they have done for years must not make them think that by carrying on with existing methods alone, however vigorously wielded, they can reach this vital figure. The only hope 650 for real acceleration from the present large building programme is to make a larger use of system building.
After what I have seen of the vigour being applied to the current programme and the increasing enthusiasm to achieve higher lasting standards, I am confident that local authorities and others will respond increasingly to the scope that labour-saving methods now provide. There is good news from here and there in Wales. The local authority for the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) is at present seeking approval for a scheme of 100 or so factory-produced houses. But one must recognise that labour is not the only restricting factor when it comes to house building. Land is equally important and is particularly vital in Cardiff, including land for private building. I hope that more land will be available in the Cardiff area from the examination that is now going on.
The techniques and methods of management in connection with house building move so fast that it is hard for the 168 different housing authorities in Wales to keep in touch with the best that is available. That is why I am glad to report that the seminars, which were started as a result of the debate that we had in the Welsh Grand Committee, nearly two years ago, have been of great help. Twenty-one of these seminars have now been held and all the Welsh housing authorities have been involved, with 700 to 800 elected and official members exchanging views. Some, indeed, have appreciated them so much that they have suggested that such seminars should be a regular feature of housing administration in Wales.
Obviously, three set subjects have cropped up constantly in these discussions. The first that I will mention is finance. The subsidy arrangements for the moment benefit Wales, and I think this is now generally reognised. What has been put to me during the review of housing subsidies is the hope that Welsh costs and housing conditions will retain their advantage in the future. Certainly, the seminars have led to a valuable exchange of methods and management in connection with finance for the housing programme.
The second subject that has cropped up continually in these seminars has been housing standards. I am glad to 651 say that more and more councils are engaging private architects, if they have no architects of their own, and lay-outs and house plans are more and more coming into line with modern thinking. The segregation of pedestrians and vehicles is now no longer a novelty. The Parker Morris standards, with partial central heating and much more adaptable house design, are now fashionable. The architects' branch of the Welsh Office has been and is being reinforced. People are becoming enthusiastic for designing and building for the higher standards of today and tomorrow.
This is, therefore, a most opportune time to announce that arrangements are being made to form a Civic Trust for Wales. This has come about through the initiative of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies, who is the President of the Civic Trust, with the encouragement of my noble Friend the Minister of State for Welsh Affairs. Mr. T. Mervyn Jones has agreed to be the Chairman, and the names of the other members will be announced in the near future. I know that all who are interested in improving the quality of the environment of Wales by the promotion of better design and higher standards will warmly welcome this information.
§ Mr. Watkins
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider appointing to that body someone with knowledge of National Parks?
§ Sir K. Joseph
I will certainly invite the Civic Trust to bear that suggestion in mind. It will be the Civic Trust's body and not mine.
Some authorities are preparing for joint action among themselves to get the maximum benefit from their own initiatives. They have in mind getting benefit from standardisation, from joint programmes, joint administration for tenders, joint employment of system methods and from the sharing of staff and expertise. As a result of all these different factors, Welsh housing has gained a great momentum. The immediate target is 19,000 houses a 652 year. But let no one think that that will be enough. It will suffice to end the shortage by 1971, allowing for the great growth of population and the even more rapid growth in households that prosperity, younger marriage and longer life generate. It will suffice to end the shortage by 1971 and to replace 60,000 of the older houses by then. That will be a great blessing.
But any analysis of the vintage of Welsh housing stock shows that even 19,000 houses a year will be too few for the job that needs to be done. The House may like to know the vintage of housing of different periods in Wales. In 1961, 30 per cent. of the houses in Wales were over 90 years old; another 30 per cent. were between 50 and 90 years old; 15 per cent. were between 20 and 50 years old; and 25 per cent. are post-Second World War. That shows clearly that the rate of new building in Wales dwindled between the wars.
It may be of interest to the House for me to make a guess of what the vintage may be in 1971 of a substantially larger housing stock. By then there should be 22 per cent. of the houses still over 100 years old; 25 per cent. will be between 20 and 50 years old; and 53 per cent. will have been built since 1920. This will represent in itself a big achievement. We shall have moved to 47 per cent. over 50 years old instead of 60 per cent. And we shall have moved from 40 per cent. to 53 per cent. of houses under 50 years old. This will represent a great rejuvenation of Welsh housing stock.
But, in terms of figures, in 1971 there will still be over 200,000 houses in Wales over 100 years old and over 200,000 in Wales between 50 and 100 years old.
A very large proportion of the older housing will be unfit or becoming unfit. With shortages cleared, from 1971 Wales will have to keep pace with growth and to use the rest of its building resources to replace its old stock. It may help the authorities, the building industry and the building materials producers in Wales if I try to put the scale of housing needs as clearly as I can.
Welsh house building, private and public, is accelerating fast. This will be a record year. There lie ahead at least 30 years of further acceleration. We shall complete 17,000 houses this year, 20 per cent. up on last, and our target is 19,000 653 a year from 1966 to 1971, and we are on schedule to reach it. By 1971, we shall have overtaken all shortage, but we will have a mass of older houses unacceptable to the communities of the future, some worn out, some not capable of adaptation to the standards which the new and still more prosperous generations will expect.
Once we have reached our 19,000 target in 1966, we must begin our climb towards the next target. I cannot now realistically give a precise figure for that target. I can only indicate that it will need to be at least 19,000 and that from 1971 we must think in terms of at least 20,000 houses a year, about one-third to keep pace with growth and the rest to replace old, worn-out dwellings. If we can keep that up, then, in the mid-1990's—as long away as that—except for those houses of historic and architectural importance and the best of the older houses which can be brought up to and maintained at modern standards, all houses in Wales will be modern. This is the task ahead. The building industry and suppliers and clients can plan with confidence on a rising programme for the rest of the century. We are working up well towards the five-year programme, but we can now see that this is only the first phase of what must be a 30-year programme to make Wales thoroughly well housed.
There is more to housing than new houses only. While new building is vital, we must improve what stock there is by installing modern equipment in all houses which are solid enough to take it There has not been bad progress in Wales so far. Of all privately-owned houses in Wales, 8 per cent. have been or are being improved with grants, which compares favourably with the Great Britain figures. Improvement grants are now running at about 6,000 a year.
As hon. Members know, in a Bill now before the House two large changes are being made. First, the area concept of improvement is given reality and, secondly, the local authorities are being given powers to create within their own communities improvement areas within which compulsory powers will be available to compel landlords to improve where persuasion does not work. I very much hope, and I am sure that the whole House does, that as soon as these powers 654 are available, they will be used vigorously by all Welsh local authorities.
A second and subsidiary point about housing is that more and more it is vital that the elderly should be well served by special housing arrangements, both by one and two-bedroom dwellings and by flatlets with the welfare subsidy available from the county, with privacy for the occupant in his own dwelling, but with the security and comfort of a warden at 1he end of the bell.
This is an encouraging housing picture, showing the impetus that Welsh housing has now achieved and prospects for the future. The reports which I get show that there is a great deal of enthusiasm on the part of local authorities and private builders and a general air of optimism about the future.
I have spoken of the industrial and some of (he social service trends in Wales at the moment, and very encouraging they are. Now the Welsh people are invited to exchange the achievements of 12 years of Tory government for a series of panaceas which appear in a booklet which is not even officially within the Amendment. I do not know whether the House realises what it would mean to Wales if we were to return to the detailed controls that Socialist planning suggests as an answer to Welsh problems.
It cannot be said that great revolutions are needed to employ the bulk of the Welsh people. We know that 97.7 per cent. of all those in Wales who wish to work are in jobs, with rising earnings and expanding employment prospects in all areas of Wales. It cannot be necessary to change altogether the free communications between Government and industry, which the Tories regard as essential, for the straitjacket which we once knew.
For the edification of the House, I here produce the Board of Trade Journal for July to December, 1947. I have before me some of the realities which follow from the sort of planning which is recommended in "Signposts to the New Wales". Here, we might have a situation in which the planning arrangements for the country as a whole, within which, I gather, there is to be a Welsh plan, would lay down for each industry, if the experience of 1947 is any guide, targets for exports for each commodity.
655 I have a long list. Pianos: £65,000 worth were exported in the fourth quarter of 1946 and the piano industry was given a target for 18 months later of £35,000 more. I can give other examples all through two pages of the Journal. I am drawing attention to this, because I think that we all recognise—[Interruption.] I am not sure whether this was at a time when the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) was at the Board of Trade.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
As the Minister is giving these detailed targets, is not this exactly what N.E.D.C. is doing for industry up to 1966? Does he not have the N.E.D.C. Report which shows the details given industry by industry?
§ Sir K. Joseph
The N.E.D.C. Reports postulate a 4 per cent. growth rate in the national performance and draw the implications for industry without imposing targets.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Let us try to argue this fairly. Is it not true that the N.E.D.C. Reports give the figures for every major industry based on the 4 per cent. growth target?
§ Sir K. Joseph
There is all the difference in the world between saying what exports are involved for the nation as a whole if the 4 per cent. growth rate is to be maintained, which is what N.E.D.C. does, and spelling it out, as was done by the Socialist Government, giving an export target for each component of each industry. What I am commenting on is the arrogant unreality of that time in spelling out in a world of intensely rapid competitive change, as was the case in 1947, what each industry could make and sell abroad.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
Has the right hon. Gentleman entirely forgotten that at the end of 1945, when Lend-Lease was cut off by the Americans and when the whole of our export trade had been cut to almost nothing by the war and by the Lend-Lease system, we had to take the most emergency measures to get exports up, and that it was necessary for a lot of industries, including the piano industry, to get exports up and, indeed, to have 100 per cent. exports at that time without which we could not have bought our raw materials and food? Does he 656 forget that it was as a result of those policies, however unpleasant they had to be, that we got our exports above the pre-war level by 1948?
§ Sir K. Joseph
The right hon. Gentleman has done me the compliment of intervening, but he has given a very partial answer. These so-called targets were paper exports, and why we were able, under a Socialist Government—
§ Sir K. Joseph
Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the Government's housing programme is paper houses?
§ Mr. Callaghan
The Minister has told us that he has got to 17,000 houses and hopes to get to 19,000 houses—without telling us how—by 1966. If this is not a paper programme, I do not know what is.
§ Sir K. Joseph
It is not a paper programme that this year we shall build between 360,000 and 370,000 houses which, I am sure, rejoices all hon. Members. It is not a paper programme that in Wales we have now reached 17,000 and are on our way on schedule to our target of 19,000.
I was wanting to comment further on the intervention of the right hon. Member for Huyton, because what happened after the war was that we were able to increase exports because all our main export competitors were out of action. They were either defeated, like Germany and Japan or they had been ruined by the war, like France, the Low Countries, and Italy which was also defeated. Therefore, analogies from those days are unrealistic.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I introduced them because we are asked to accept that detailed planning for Wales, within a detailed national plan, is the solution to the problems of Wales. For the edification of the House I am trying to point out the difference between Socialist planning and Tory planning which has produced just on 98 per cent. employment in Wales today.
The picture in Wales today is of booming industrial growth, with rising 657 employment, rising earnings, rising expenditure on social services, and a rapidly accelerating housing programme. This is not the time for change. Wales is doing well. Wales will do better under the Administration which has done so well during the last 12 years, and I ask the House to take note of the Report.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I understand that after consultation with Mr. Speaker it will be in order, and will not restrict the debate, to move a manuscript Amendment which has been considered and found to be within the rules.
I therefore beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:approves the Labour Party's plans for Wales as set out in 'Signposts to the New Wales'".This is the last opportunity that we shall have in this Parliament of considering Welsh affairs. There was a time when we were able to discuss Welsh affairs on only one day each year. But now, thanks to the initiative of my right hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) and other of my hon. Friends in having the matter considered by the Select Committee on Procedure, we have more opportunities—and we hope to have even more in future—of discussing in detail in the Welsh Grand Committee Government action and developments in Wales.
It seems to us, therefore, that in this last debate on Welsh affairs on the Floor of the House before the country is called on to pronounce—not just to note—on the activities and actions of the Government, and, at the same time, to pronounce on the Labour Party's constructive policies for future developments in Wales, it is appropriate to present to Britain our plans for the future of Wales.
I have noticed that in recent weeks and months right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite—due, no doubt, to a sense of defeatism—have been much more anxious to learn the policies and plans which a Labour Government will put into effect when they come into office in the autumn than to put forward their own. I think, therefore, that we should gratify their wishes by telling the House this afternoon, and through the House 658 the country, our plans for the future of Wales.
We have considered every aspect and every problem which confronts us in Wales. We have done it by looking to the future, and learning from our experiences in the past. This afternoon I shall concentrate on some of the features set out in "Signposts to the New Wales", and I have no doubt that during the course of the debate my hon. Friends will deal with aspects with which I shall not have time to deal.
I begin with the proposals for changes and improvements in our constitutional arrangements for dealing with Welsh matters in the Government and in Parliament. Among our Welsh people there is a widespread and deeply-felt desire for a fuller recognition of, and an enhanced status for, Wales within the Government and administration of the United Kingdom. I emphasise those words, because I am sure that the desire of the overwhelming majority of our people is not for separation, but for fuller recognition and enhanced status within the Government and administration and Parliament of the United Kingdom.
I should like to try to explain to the House what I consider to be two of the major reasons for this demand, which everyone knows has the support of almost every section of opinion in Wales. First, we share with Scotland and the North of England what has been the theme of many debates in the House in recent months. Wales, and particularly its industrial areas, shares with Scotland and the north of England the experiences of the last 30 to 40 years.
I once heard my famous compatriot, David Lloyd George, describe these areas as the diamond fields of Britain. They were founded on the coalfields, and they made an immense contribution to the building of industrial Britain in the nineteenth and earlier part of this century. Indeed, it can fairly be claimed that were it not for these areas and the contribution which they made, Britain would not have become the workshop of the world.
The areas were built up following the first great industrial revolution, and we are now at the beginning of a second technological and industrial revolution 659 which could seriously affect them. There is a fear in these areas—and it has been expressed by my parliamentary colleagues from Scotland and the North—that as this new technological and industrial revolution speeds up, and as we tend to lose our magnets, the coalfields, to attract them, industries will develop in other areas, with the consequent movement of population to the conurbations and to the South-East. Unless we assert our claim to a rightful place in the economy and life of the country, these old industrial areas which did so much for Britain in days gone by will be in danger of becoming economic and industrial backwaters.
These regional problems must be dealt with, and I am sure that they will be when a Labour Government comes into power in the autumn. A Labour Government will take steps to ensure that these areas are not neglected, because it will be a bad day for this country if these communities, with their rich heritage of culture, begin to decay and die. For that reason we in Wales believe that we should have fuller recognition and a new status within the Government of the United Kingdom.
For generations the ordinary people of Wales have struggled bravely to retain their identity and to preserve their language, the culture which is dependent upon it and the institutions associated with it. They have struggled for many generations against the full force of the Establishment. They fought against it, and in modern times they have fought against all the influences of the modern media of mass communication. For that reason, as the Minister knows, there is a demand in Wales for fuller recognition and an enhanced status within the Government of the United Kingdom.
In "Signposts for the Sixties" the Labour Party, which, for 30 years, has enjoyed the confidence of the majority of the Welsh people—I will repeat that if the Minister did not hear what I said.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Nevertheless, it will be all the better for my saying it again.
For 30 years the Labour Party has enjoyed the confidence of the majority of the Welsh people, who have returned 660 a majority of Labour Members at every General Election during the last 30 years. The Labour Party, which will win more seats in an even more decisive victory in the autumn General Election, regards itself as a trustee for the people of Wales. We believe that it is our duty to acknowledge their desire for fuller recognition and for enhanced status, and to seek to meet it.
We therefore propose that the Labour Government which will be returned in the autumn shall appoint a Secretary of State for Wales, with a seat in the Cabinet, with executive authority over a number of Departments and overall responsibility for Government actions, policies and plans in Wales. He will be assisted by a Welsh Office, fully equipped. Whatever steps have been taken by the Minister in this matter, we shall welcome and use. The Secretary of State will also be assisted by other institutions which are to be set up, as I shall show during the course of my remarks.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that I am sympathetic with the point of view that he has expressed about the desire to give Wales a greater sense of participation in the Government, but will he explain why it is that he, who was a member of the Administration that was returned 18 years ago, was then pledged to work for a separate Welsh Parliament? Why has he gone back on that idea?
§ Mr. Griffiths
The hon. Gentleman can make his speech when his time comes. He is never short of opportunities to speak in these debates.
I now turn to a consideration of the economic and industrial problems of Wales. This afternoon, the Minister said that Wales now has a booming economy, and that everything there is doing well. For a moment or two I want to examine that suggestion. I want to look at Wales as it is today and at all the economic and technical changes and improvements that have taken place or are taking place, and I want to see when we can learn some lessons from them. I hope that the House will be able to learn, and I believe that the country will also learn, from the experience that Wales has gained in 661 recent years, in the transition from an old to a new economy.
It is important that we should understand this if we are to make plans to meet the consequences of these changes, and make the new economy strong. I want to put two vitally important considerations to the House. First, it is vitally important to anticipate technical and economic changes, and to prepare plans in advance to meet them, especially when those changes involve the redeployment of labour on a large scale and, therefore, have not only serious human consequences but serious community consequences. It is essential to do everything we can to anticipate these changes, because unless we do so the transition period from the old to the new economy may bring chaos.
We have seen how rapidly these changes take place, and on what a scale they take place. Let me take two examples, from two basic Welsh industries—coal and tinplate. During the period from 1948 to 1964 the number of workers employed in the coal industry in Wales—South and North—fell from 134,000 to 80,000. The number of workers in tinplate and sheet steel fell from 17,000 to 5,000. Because of all the changes in fuels, technology, automation and industrialisation that took place in those 16 years, in two industries alone we lost 66,000 jobs. This shows the scale at which these changes are taking place, the rapidity with which they are taking place, the human problems that they throw up and, therefore, the paramount importance of the creation of machinery, plans and policies to meet them in advance.
I can tell the Minister that somewhere in the files in his office there is a report which has never been published. We used to refer to it as the Lloyd Report. It was published in the early 1950s and it set out clearly all the consequences of the changes in rationalisation and mechanisation in the sheet steel and tinplate industry. Although the report was never published, some of our friends served on the Committee, and I can say that if the Government had taken account of its recommendations some of the consequences that arose in the late 1950s and the early 1960s in parts of Wales—especially West Wales—could have been avoided.
We must try to anticipate all these changes and prepare for them, and I am 662 glad that in our plan we are creating the necessary machinery, as well as setting out policies and plans by which we shall seek to anticipate these changes, so preventing what has happened in many areas of Wales in recent years.
Secondly, we have learned from our experience of the decline of our old economy. The Minister may not know it, but the Labour Government had something to do with the transition to the new economy. He might have been gracious and paid tribute to one man who, perhaps more than anybody else, was responsible for this transition, through the Distribution of Industry Act—the late Hugh Dalton. His mother came from Wales, and he had great pride in Wales. We share the pride at what has been done in Wales, with all the changes that have been taking place and the new industries that have been established, together with the new life that they have brought to the Welsh people.
I want to say a word about my own industry—the coal industry. Twice it has had to lace periods of transition, and adjust itself to new situations. On the first occasion the mines were owned by private owners—from 1921 to 1947. For most of that period I was privileged to be an officer in the Mineworkers' Union, and for part of that time I was its president. I saw the number of men employed in the industry in South Wales fall from 270,000 to 150,000. I do not want to go over all that happened in that period: I merely ask whether anyone is proud of it. Is the Minister proud of the part that his party played in it? Do any of the hon. Members opposite remember the part which they played in the happenings in Wales in 1929 and 1930?
Then, in 1947, there was another adjustment and a move to nationalisation. The mining industry in Wales, as elsewhere, was nationalised and there was a great transition. Had the industry been confronted with such a change while the coal mines were still under private ownership there would have been chaos, strife and poverty. The vital rôle played by public ownership in this transition provided abundant proof of its importance.
I come to the second and perhaps the greatest testimony to the booming Wales 663 of which the Minister spoke. I refer to the giant sheet steel and tinplate plants in North and in South Wales. There is Margam, Trostre, Velindre, and now the Spencer works. I pay tribute to our good friend Henry Spencer, who passed away recently. Does the Minister claim that these works would have been built without the massive investment of public money? The right hon. Gentleman is aware that had the steel barons had their way, none of these plants would have been in Wales at all.
When I first came to the House I represented an area confronted with a threat which had existed for a century. The old tinplate works and the old craftsmen in Wales, with their great abilities and skills, were to be superseded by new crafts and premises built elsewhere. The whole of south-west Wales would have been left derelict.
§ Sir K. Joseph
The right hon. Gentleman would not deny that it was a Conservative Government who made the decision to build the last of these plants in Wales.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Let me be fair. It was also a Conservative Government which received a deputation whose members included all the Members of Parliament for Welsh constituencies of all parties. It was led by David Lloyd George, as he then was, and Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister. This stopped Richard Thomas and Baldwin from leaving Wales for ever and I give credit for that.
The steel industry is in Wales because of massive sums of public money which have been spent. In a few months' time, at the General Election, when we debate the question of steel, as the Minister will know, we shall be able to provide an answer. The new steel industry has been built with public money. An important part of the industry is still under public ownership and when public money is used to build an industry we believe it to be in the national interest that the industry should be publicly owned.
The third rôle in which public ownership, or rather a combination of public ownership and private enterprise, can play a part in building the new Wales can be indicated by figures. At present, there are 350 Government-owned factories 664 in Wales, most of them are operated by private owners. They were built by the Government with public money and provide employment for 65,000 people. I say, therefore, that in the new economy now emerging in Wales and its further development in the years ahead, a vital part will be played by public ownership and by a combination of public ownership and private enterprise. I declare with pride that in what has been done already, and in the present measure of success, as well as what we hope to do in the future, a vital part has been and will be played by public ownership and by a combination of public and private ownership.
In addition to the national plan which the Labour Party will produce there will be set up an industrial planning board to be integrated with the Government's machinery for planning. It will work in close association with both sides of industry. It will promote Government policies and study economic growth and expansion. In association with this industrial board we shall set up a board for Wales. It will have special functions, as well as working in close association with the national board. It will have responsibility for studying trends and foreseeing the needs of particular areas in the Principality which are affected by change. It will visualise the need for new industry and ensure that the powers which are possessed by the Government—they are possessed by this Government and the future Labour Government will also be able to exercise them, if they are not removed in the meantime—are properly exercised.
We must have a sensible geographical distribution of industry. Looking to the future, will anyone maintain that there is any part of this island which is too far away for the location of industry? Are we to stand idly by and allow the population to continue to move into the great conurbations of the south-east of England, with all the consequences for communications and transport systems and everything else? Who will count the social cost of allowing industry to move into one area and away from another? What will happen to those areas from which industry is moved and to those areas where there will be so many industries that communications and transport systems will be overloaded?
665 As happened in 1945, and with the experience of the past, a Labour Government will pursue a vigorous policy to ensure the sensible distribution of industry over the whole country. We in Wales will play our part. Wales has much to give to Britain in work and service. We shall train our own executives. On visits to Wales the Minister, when in my company, has expressed deep concern at seldom meeting a business executive who is a Welshman.
From what I have read in the Press I understand that the Minister lives in Chelsea. Perhaps one Saturday morning, when he has a few minutes to spare, he will go to Kensington High St. and look at the premises of John Barker, one of the country's great and successful commercial undertakings. He might even find out who managed it for more than a generation, and, if he does, he will discover that it was the son of a worker from Wales.
I know the difficulty; I have lived with it. For more than a generation every boy and girl of ability in Wales, or most of them, were driven from their land. I look to those men from Wales that I have met all over the world. We from Wales are as good as any other people in the kingdom. Our native ability and talent is as good, but we have not had so good a chance as some. The chances are better now than they used to be, and I am confident that many Welsh people, both in and out of the Principality, will provide enough drive, energy and ability to build-the new Wales.
§ Sir K. Joseph
The right hon. Gentleman spoke about a planning board which his party would propose. Will he tell the House in what way that board will be different from the plan which is being prepared now by the Welsh Office and by other Government Departments?
§ Mr. Griffiths
We shall be able to say when we see the plan. I thought that the Minister would say something more about what he has said before. During our debates in the Welsh Grand Committee he has told hon. Members who represent constituencies in Wales that he is building up an economic sector in the Welsh Office, but he has not said a word about that today. Perhaps he will tell us how many are to be employed in that connection and what will be their jobs. He has told us 666 that he is preparing a plan. We shall see that when it comes.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman should get away with that. The phrases which he used to describe the purpose of the planning board were synonymous with the phrases I used to predict the future as far as possible, to forestall decline and to sustain growth. All those objectives are shared. In what way will the board be different? Will it have different plans or do anything different, or will we be given its detailed targets?
§ Mr. Griffiths
The detailed targets are those to which my hon. Friend referred. For what other purpose have they been set up by the Government? The Industrial Planning Board will be the medium for carrying out plans and policies.
I only mention two things. First, we shall use, and we shall be justified in using, the powers for granting or refusing industrial development certificates, we believe, much more efficiently and much more strongly than the present Government have used those powers, in order to get a proper distribution of industry. The second thing is that we shall be able to establish in Wales new industries under public ownership. There are still Government-owned factories in Wales which are empty and which represent public investment that is not being used. I hope that we shall use them, and that we shall use them, as now, in combination with private enterprise. But where that proves to be impossible I hope that we shall use them as public enterprises in order that the industrial life of Wales may increase.
§ Mr. Griffiths
To make what the country needs.
Those needs will change and develop in the yeans to come. We shall have the beginning of new industries of all kinds, but who can foretell what will be the new industries in five or 10 years' time? We are certain that there will be new discoveries and inventions. We know that the research teams working for the Government are frustrated because their discoveries are not used either by private enterprise or the Government.
667 I will not speak at length about the problems of the countryside—I leave it to the Welsh Grand Committee to do that—but I would like to join the Minister in paying tribute to the authors of the Report on Depopulation in Mid-Wales which has confirmed what every other report has stated for many years past. It confirms the diagnosis of the problem of the countryside, which we state in "Signposts to the New Wales", and the policy which we have outlined there. The facts are as clear as they are tragic. I will put them simply before the House.
In this area, covering five counties in the heart of Wales, the population has been declining for generations. It is still declining. Indeed, it is now declining at a more rapid rate than ever before. Not only is the population declining but it is becoming an ageing population. The proportion of the population in Mid-Wales under 44 years of age is 5 per cent. less than in the United Kingdom. The proportion of those over 65 years of age in Mid-Wales is 20 per cent. higher than in the rest of the United Kingdom. The income per head of the population is nearly £100 a year less than that of England. The area is depopulated, impoverished and left with an ageing population.
Much has been done, I agree, and the Minister will find that in Mid-Wales the name of Tom Williams is revered for what he did for agriculture. Forestry has played a very big part, but we have come to the conclusion, and we believe that we are justified in doing so, that agriculture and forestry by themselves are not enough. We believe that there is need here for a new focal point of growth that will bring new life, new energy and new hope to Mid-Wales. We have put forward our views and I am very glad indeed to find that the Report on Depopulation in Mid-Wales supports our proposals. These are some of the proposals we put forward.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Yes, a new town.
We have said that when we become the Government we shall examine the situation with a view to legislation. [Laughter.] The Minister laughs. I would say to him that he is about to begin a long period in opposition. He is one of the ablest 668 men on the benches opposite, but may I say to him that a period in opposition will not do him any harm. He will learn tolerance and humility and will be all the better for it.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I take the rebuke if it is deserved. I only ventured to laugh because the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins) has made speeches in the House on several occasions to the effect that the thing that is not needed for Mid-Wales is a new town.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I speak for my colleagues and my party.
Having considered this matter very carefully indeed, and realising the contributions that can be made by agriculture, forestry and local industries, we believe that the situation is now so urgent, and has gone so deep and so far, that without a radical solution it is impossible to stop the drift and to bring new life to Mid-Wales. For that reason, we put forward the idea of a new town.
I have spoken for longer than I intended and I know that many of my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite wish to make their contributions to the debate, and I want to listen to them. I would say one thing to the hon. Gentleman who was trying to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker. I have read the terms of the addendum of hon. Gentlemen opposite and I warn him that he is in danger of deviating from the path of the fount of the Tory Party, the Western Mail. May I invite him to read the editorial in the Western Mail, published on 23rd April last year? It said:This is no panacea, but it is an honest attempt to solve the problems of Wales.In that spirit, as an honest attempt to drive Wales into the future, to learn the lessons of the past and to apply the principles of the Labour Party to the developing and economic life of Wales we commend it to the House. Both parties will appeal to the Welsh people in October and I have no doubt that the majority of them will say that this is an honest endeavour on our part and will return a Labour Government to carry it out.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)
May I, first, very humbly apologise for not being able to stay throughout the debate? I have a long-standing 669 engagement which I cannot break. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has been good enough to refer to the Western Mail. As he knows, I come from North Wales and we have the Liverpool Daily Post. The Western Mail, which is printed in Cardiff, takes a long time to appear on our breakfast tables. In fact, I do not think that it could appear on our breakfast tables at all.
The late Professor Gruffydd, to whom I was very deeply attached, once described the Welsh day in Parliament as the annual saturnalia of the Welsh Parliamentary Party. As I understand it, in the old days there was a lot of fun in the times of the Saturnalia, but we get slightly more than our fair share of belly-aching from the other side on these occasions.
I think that the story that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Welsh Affairs had to tell was a very good one, and so is the Blue Book upon which his story was based. The policies have worked out very successfully. There is this positive rush forward in South Wales and—this is something I am particularly glad about, and it has not happened before—industrialisation is spreading in North Wales. It is spreading all through Anglesey, as it has always been in Flintshire, and is still increasing. What we are getting, and what we have always wanted, is a diversification of our industry. The curse of Wales in the past is that it has been too dependent on extractive industry, such as coal. I believe that we are now getting away from that steadily and rapidly.
Both Front Bench speakers referred to the question of management by Welshmen. I add to that not only management but ownership and enterprise by Welshmen. We had a very distinguished case in Flintshire of Jones Bailers, which, unfortunately, sold its business. This was a firm which was managing its own show, having started it up. There is rather more to this than the simple idea that people must always be affected by poverty and by difficulties of environment. The tradition in Wales was that the really clever boy became a minister of religion, a doctor, a lawyer, or a banker. It was just the same in 670 England. It was not quite respectable to be in industry.
These things are changing rapidly. Now that management is so much more technical and calls for a much higher degree of education, I hope and believe that the clever Welsh boy and girl will tend not so much to put an exclusive value upon the old professions in which generations of clever Welshmen have worked. I believe that we are dependent on really clever boys and girls being willing to go into industry. That is the way we shall get ahead.
One reason why things have gone fairly satisfactorily in Wales is that we have now got the right ministerial set-up. I believe that a Minister for Welsh Affairs, assisted by a Minister of State permanently working in Wales, is by far the most efficient way of doing this. What do we really want from our ministerial set-up? Surely we want to ensure that, in the general development of Britain as a whole, we in Wales not only get our fair share, but get a bit more as well. I believe that this set-up is the best way of ensuring that. It is absolutely all right to have as much administrative devolution as is efficient, but when right hon. and hon. Members opposite were in power the old idea of a Secretary of State for Wales was mooted many times Not only was Lord Attlee against it, but Aneurin Bevan, if I remember rightly, was powerfully opposed to it, on the ground that it made a piece of administrative nonsense.
It is all very well to compare us with Scotland. First, Scottish law is different and necessitates much extra legislation. Secondly, I do not believe that the Scottish set-up is at all efficient. It encourages the most deplorable conduct on the part of Labour back benchers. I think that the boredom of Scottish Questions is one of the most ghastly things in the House. I remember that in one of my ministerial jobs I had to answer after Scottish Questions. I was then promoted to another job. I thought, "This is wonderful. I will not have to answer my Questions after Scottish Questions and I shall not have to listen to Scottish Questions". Hon. Members may believe it or not, but the House altered the date of Scottish Questions and I still had to answer Questions after them.
I believe that the reason why so few Scotsmen have played a great part in 671 the House and in the government of Britain as a whole is very largely that they have been so stuck at pumping away at their own affairs all the time.
§ Mr. Birch
If the hon. Gentleman stayed in Wales, it would be much more respectable and he would not ask so many tiresome and silly questions.
The reason why I believe that the administrative set-up of a Secretary of State is inappropriate for Wales is partly that the law in Wales is the same and it would be time-wasting, and, also, that it would mean another 14 days in the post. Therefore, I hope that the idea of a Secretary of State for Wales will not be put into operation.
I should like to end by saying a few words on a situation which has arisen in my county. I say these words because the situation does not concern merely my own county. It would have an effect on any reorganisation of local government boundaries. We have heard nothing about that today, but I suppose that they will be reorganised one day. I refer to the proposal which apparently has been adopted by my county council to have sixth-form colleges. This would mean a number of students of 16 and a little over being educated in small, bilateral colleges. It means cutting off the opportunity for very many people to go to a university. Practically every grammar school and bilateral school teacher is against this. It has caused much pain and trouble.
The reason why I say that it is important in the context of the whole of Wales is that, once this is done, it will not be easily undone, especially if Flintshire and Denbighshire are amalgamated, as has been proposed. Therefore, I ask my right hon. Friend the Miinster for Welsh Affairs to have a word with his colleague the Secretary of State for Education to see whether anything can be done. It is very doubtful if anything can be done, but I am frightened of an irrevocable step which might cause great difficulties in the future.
That is all I have to say. I do not want to keep so many great orators from their task. I end by congratulating my right hon. Friend.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards (Caerphilly)
The speech of the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) was one of the most curious speeches that we have heard from him for many years. When his name appeared on the Order Paper at the head of an Amendment, I thought that he would be saying something about that Amendment. When I read it I thought that the Ministers would be putting on peshytyns to safeguard themselves from the blow which might come from behind. Peshytyns are the leather protection that hauliers use underground to protect themselves from unnecessary blows.
The right hon. Member for Flint, West has invariably attacked his own Front Bench and I think that in his Amendment he meant to do the same—launch an attack on his own Ministers, including the Prime Minister. However, there is to be a General Election this year and I can only assume that discretion played a great part in what the right hon. Gentleman said and did not say this afternoon.
The Minister for Welsh Affairs opened the debate with a very good review of what has taken place in Wales. One would be very jaundiced indeed if one did not recognise that tremendous changes have taken place, particularly in South Wales. I intended to congratulate the Welsh Central Office on the major parts of the Minister's speech. One of my hon. Friends sitting beside me said during the latter part of the Minister's speech, "Why does he spoil it with a bit of political propaganda?"
Do the Government claim credit for what has taken place in South Wales? Is it an expression of Tory policy? If it is a result of planning or of Government interference, what is the addendum doing on the Order Paper in the name of the right hon. Member for Hint, West and other members of the Conservative Party in Wales? It condemns Government interference; it condemns Government planning.
When the Minister was describing all these changes, I, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), thought that he was remiss in not mentioning the fact that the major part of those changes were due to Hugh Dalton and his implementation of the 673 Distribution of Industry Act. It has to be remembered that the changes that have been effected in South Wales in particular are those which were brought about by the Distribution of Industry Act, operated by a Labour Government.
The Tories say that they do not like to believe in Government interference. They are the doctrinaire people, who, in practice, although they abolished the Distribution of Industry Act, brought in the Local Employment Act, which did the same thing on a small scale as the Distribution of Industry Act did on a wide scale. In that sense they are tipplers and not really topers.
I followed closely what the Minister had to say. It seemed to me that the Government had behaved like jobbing builders. When the storm blows a slate off a roof, the jobbing builder comes along, sticks on an asbestos sheet and waits for the next storm to blow another off, when what is necessary is an entirely new roof or a new house. The Government have jogged behind events and not anticipated them.
My right hon. Friend asked what had been happening economically in South Wales in connection with the conurbation covered by the coalfield. That is a great extractive industry, and, no matter how efficiently it may be run, the time comes when the coal has been extracted, the seams have been exhausted and that employment no longer exists. This happens inevitably to an extractive industry like the mining industry. Like my right hon. Friend, we have seen the contraction of this industry. What the right hon. Member for Flint, West would have us do in connection with Government non-interference is what happened in the 1930s.
I remember meeting with my noble Friend Lord Hall, the then Conservative Minister of Labour at the Ministry of Labour. I was then, like my right hon. Friend, a miners' official. We begged then that work should be taken to the people and not the people be driven away to the work. We were discussing with him the labour transfer scheme, whereby 100,000 people were driven from South Wales to places around London and away from their home towns. That was taking the people to the work. We reversed that with the Distribution of 674 Industry Act by taking the work to the people.
Apparently the Minister has now come to the conclusion that that is necessary because he has set up planning sections in the Welsh Office to try to anticipate what will happen to industry and to take measures not only to provide new employment, but even to relate the housing programme to the location of new industry. In that sense, I would say that the Minister—I have to pay him this tribute—who has been showing so much energy in connection with these problems, is trying to make up in two years for what the Tories failed to do for 10 years in Wales.
Previous Ministers for Welsh Affairs were very genial men, but they had none of the dynamic that the present Minister has shown in dealing with the problems of Wales. But I would say to him that he is inhibited, first, by the policies of his party. That is the main thing. Hon. Members opposite do not believe in general deployment of the population in order to use the maximum resources that are available in the country. They have allowed the drift to the South to go on; they abolished the Distribution of Industry Act; they have put in this little bit of a thing, the Local Employment Act, and now the Minister finds for his planning purposes that the Local Employment Act will not be adequate to carry out the plans that his planning commission is advising.
Unless the Government implement those plans, what has been done will be merely an academic operation. I do not know how the right hon. Member for Flint, West can imagine that these plans can be carried out without Government interference, Government control, and Government direction. Surely the importance of getting these plans out is to indicate what has to be done. When we know that—do they leave it there? or do the Government step in to see that those plans are operated?
The Minister came to my constituency recently, and saw a very good housing scheme. Afterwards, he was taken to a row of houses called Harp Terrace, built about 80 years ago. A man who lived in one of those houses called to the Minister, "Come in and have a look at this". He took him into his house, 675 which is in an exposed position. This man, who has a collapsed lung, through gassing in the First World War and whose other lung is affected by pneumoconiosis lived with his wife. They had tried to make a real home of the place. It was decently furnished and the walls had been nicely papered, but the paper was coming off. The man then took the Minister to the outside ty-bach, pulled the chain and the water and the sewage ran all around. The Minister said, "Horrible." The Minister left, and I talked to my constituent. He said, in his way, "Anybody would think that he had built that housing estate. What I forgot to tell him was that as a result of his Government I am paying double rent for this place, which he calls horrible".
The right hon. Gentleman must remember that local authorities are the instruments in the physical rehabilitation of our valleys in South Wales. Many of the local authorities are endeavouring to carry out their housing schemes with staffs which are completely inadequate. Surveyors are asked to do the work of architects and town planners, work for which they have never been trained. While there have been some excellent schemes in South Wales—the great Lansbury Park scheme, an imaginative scheme which the Minister has commended—many housing projects in South Wales look as though they are planned on the image of the old and do not show the vision which they ought to show in this connection.
For the physical rehabilitation of these industrial areas authorities must be large enough to have the resources with which to do the job. Little authorities cannot carry out great schemes; they have not the technical management in their offices and elsewhere. If we are to have a new Wales, it cannot be done within the limitations of the present local government structure. These are matters in which both the Welsh Office and the Minister should have been showing far greater leadership than they have shown. If we want a new Wales, if we want Wales to attract and encourage all sorts of new industries, we must ensure that we can provide the amenities in Wales which obtain in many of the large cities in this country. That is a great task.
676 One thing which holds Wales back is the interest rate, and another which has made things worse is the Rent Act. Had it been possible for the Minister to tell the Secretary of State for the Home Department that the housing shortage would not be cured in Wales until 1971 and that the Rent Act ought not to operate until 1971, we should never have seen some of the awful effects of that Act.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned many good things, but in some cases he did not face up to the problems. Local authorities which could have bought land 10 years ago for £80 an acre now have to pay very much more; the most recent case in the valley is one in which £5,000 an acre was paid for land. The landlord has done nothing for the land, but he has scooped up this great sum of public money which the local citizens will have to find through their rents and rates. The Minister said nothing about that. The rate of interest and the price of land are vital questions if we are to have the physical rehabilitation in South Wales to which we are entitled.
That is how it appears to me. In South Wales, we have had great changes. But South Wales will need continual attention. The contraction of the mining industry raises problems which will be with us for a very long time. The Minister ought to recognise that the Government must play an ever-greater part in dealing with these problems and must leave private enterprise less and less to do exactly as it pleases.
In his magnificent speech, my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said that Wales had never returned a majority of Tory Members in living memory. The experience of South Wales has been such that he can be sure that at the next General Election Wales will not help to return a Tory Government.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Mr. David Gibson-Watt (Hereford)
I make no apology for taking part in the debate today. I am glad that it has not been relegated, as sometimes has been the case, to the closing day of a Session. We have a very full attendance here today, not only of Welsh Members but of others who, for various reasons, have found seats beyond the boundaries of Wales.
677 In the few remarks which I make this afternoon I should like to refer to what my right hon. Friend said in opening the debate. My right hon. Friend has two great responsibilities—one, a general responsibility for housing and local government in England and Wales and the other a very special responsibility for the Principality. He is the fourth holder of this office—an office which was set up by a Conservative Government some years ago.
In orchestral parlance my right hon. Friend may play the musical instruments of the United Kingdom office with great ability, but it is no insult to him if I say to him that I prefer to hear him playing the Welsh harp. The tune which he played today must certainly commend itself to all who love Wales. I was glad to hear the right hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) pay tribute to the dynamic which the Minister possesses.
I wish to refer not so much to the Report, "Signpost To The New Wales," which is an interesting document although produced in an election year, as to the Report on the Depopulation of Mid-Wales, a subject of which I may say, with humility, I have some knowledge. It is a problem which has affected this part of the Principality for many years and it is high-lighted in the Report which we have before us. Problems arise which affect not only this part of Wales, but other rural parts of England, including my own constituency on the borders of Wales.
A point which is brought out very clearly in the Report concerns the settlement pattern referred to, in particular, on page 5. It is true that to provide services for isolated farms and villages it is necessary to find a greater amount of money; this is necessary to keep up the high standards of education, health care and other services which we rightly value. If we are to retain those standards, we have to consider drastically what the future pattern of village settlement should be.
I listened to the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), as usual, with delight, although I did not agree with what he said. I shall always remember his method of addressing the House. It was a joy to see him in 678 his place. But, with great respect to him, I do not agree with his views about a new town for Wales—and I will tell him why. I do not doubt for a moment the intention behind the proposal, but I do not think that it will cure our problems.
If we are to create a large new town somewhere in Mid-Wales, near Llandrindod Wells, or Newtown, or Welshpool, or wherever it may be, a town the size of Aberystwith, of 10,000 or 15,000 people, what is it to do? Will it attract to it many people from outside? Will it hold the population in the country districts? I do not believe that it will. I believe that it will do just the reverse. A town of that size would do the reverse of what we should all like to see done.
I believe that we should strengthen the existing village communities. Towns and villages of hundreds or upwards of 1,000 people could well be strengthened, either by the addition of some form of industry or by the support of part of the tourist industry, which is so valuable to Wales. I believe that if that could be done we should see scattered all over Mid-Wales what we might refer to as growth points. In my opinion, if that could be done we should go a long way towards holding the population as it is today and perhaps attracting others.
The isolation and the spread of the settlement pattern also make it extremely difficult for those who see high and improving living standards, not only through television but through their own eyes and who live in a country which today, thank goodness, enjoys a very high level of full employment. In particular, the wives recognise that facilities for shopping and other facilities in the country districts are not as good as they see elsewhere.
Here we come to the problem of rural transport. I believe that not a great deal divides hon. Members on this subject. It has been necessary in certain cases for railways which were carrying very few people to be closed down. But if that is done, then it is very important that the rural bus services should not only continue, but should be increased in efficiency in the interests of country people. It is said that a large proportion of the people today own motor cars, and 679 of course this is so; an increasing number own cars and that, again, is a mirror of the prosperity of the country.
But there are still a great number who have not motor cars. Many of them are old people. Are all the old people to live in towns, or are some of them, as I think they rightly should, to remain in the smaller villages and more isolated habitations? My right hon. Friend should continue to impress on his right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport the necessity for looking after this vital part of the Principality's problems. I very much welcome the news which was given to us today about the inquiry team into rural transport.
Planning, too, can have a great effect on the building of houses in counties such as those in Mid-Wales. The policy of the planning committee of one county varies very much from the policy of the planning committee of the next county. For example, the policy of the planning committee of Radnorshire varies very much from that of the Herefordshire planning committee. In Radnorshire, we encourage people, subject to good design, to build houses sometimes in isolated places. The attitude adopted, on the other hand, by the Herefordshire planning committee, just over the border, is that we should have an increase in house building only in areas which are already served by water and sewerage—only where those facilities already exist in the village.
These are totally different outlooks. If, in Radnorshire, we had adopted the same policy as that of the planning committee in Herefordshire, we should not have many of the houses which we have now. This is not to condemn Herefordshire, but merely to say that the situation is entirely different in Mid-Wales from that further down the more cultivated valleys. The policies of our planning committees, which quite rightly must be given every individual freedom, should be encouraged in such a way as to allow sensible development.
I pay tribute to the Mid-Wales Industrial Development Association, which has done a lot of good work over the years, and, in particular, to Professor Beacham, although he is no longer with the Association, who ought to be congratulated on having made many bricks without straw 680 and in my opinion having done a great job.
I wonder, too, whether, in connection with the question of population in Mid-Wales, we place quite enough stress upon the employment possibilities of the forestry industry. We know that employment in agriculture is decreasing. I do not believe that it will go on decreasing at the rate that it has done over the past year. There will come a time when we get to a certain level below which we will not sink.
But what about forestry? Is is argued in the Report that by 1970 the Forestry Commission will have 160,000 acres of State forests and that there will be 50,000 acres of private woodlands. The Report suggests that the number of men employed in them will be about 1,900 in the Forestry Commission woodlands and 500 in the private woods. I believe that to be an underestimate and that the numbers will be higher. I believe that the ratio of one man to every 100 acres will be much larger when the woods come to fruition, especially when we include those employed in the processing plants and the necessary transport services.
Having once been a member of the Forestry Commission National Committee in Wales, I should like, in passing, to say how glad I am to see the continuing good relations which exist between the Commission and farmers in Wales. There are, of course, difficulties, but they are kept to a minimum and in perspective. There is a place both for sheep and for trees, bringing great possibilities of employment in the Central Wales counties.
I do not wish to detain the House long. Other hon. Members from Welsh constituencies have a greater right than I have to speak in this debate. I believe, however, that the problems of industrial South Wales are very different from those of rural Mid-Wales. We have seen great efforts and great successes in the South Wales area which have changed the picture which the right hon. Member for Llanelly today looked back upon and described so vividly. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman had looked rather more to the future. At the same time, that situation of the past is one which we never wish to see repeated. As I say, the situation in the county districts is totally different and 681 requires a quite different type of approach for its solution.
I believe that we must rely much more upon growth points and that we must continue to think of the tourist industry in an enlightened manner. If we are to have a good tourist industry in Wales, greater emphasis should be placed upon roads going east and west rather than those going north and south. My right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) tells us that it takes a long time for the Western Mail to reach his breakfast table from Cardiff. Of course it does, because the roads from Cardiff to the North and air communication are not a particularly strong feature. If we are to get the tourists into Wales, the lateral roads are extremely important to us.
The figures which my right hon. Friend the Minister gave to us today of the state of employment of our people in Wales and of the State of housing which is already in progress or in the pipeline represent a picture of which any Government could be proud, a picture which has continued in a crescendo and which has been ably helped by the noble Lord in another place, Lord Brecon. I remember well, when Lord Brecon was appointed Minister of State for Welsh Affairs, the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) saying, "Who is this man? He is only a county councillor." All I can say to the hon. Member today is, "Some councillor, some county".
The success of what Lord Brecon has done in Wales in helping my right hon. Friend and his predecessor has done a great deal to help the Welsh people of today and the Welsh children of tomorrow.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
I do not wish to be diverted by the closing remarks of the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt), whom it is always pleasant to hear. The Tory Party is not very well represented in Wales in numbers—I am not speaking of quality—but of its numbers it has produced a singularly small proportion in this debate today.
We meet to discuss the programmes on which we will appeal to the electorate in the autumn. No doubt what the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs said today was the programme on which the Tory Party propose to seek the support of the electors 682 in Wales, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), in a very moving, characteristic and courageous speech, spoke for this side of the House.
The Minister has been very lonely on the Government Front Bench ever since the debate started. That is another indication of the changing times, because I recall Welsh debates when Ministers who were answerable to Wales were present. We are not discussing housing and local government alone but the whole field of Government activity. When the Minister rose to speak today, his right hon. Friends on the Front Bench fled as though he had typhoid. He was left with one Under-Secretary, the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, who left after 20 minutes looking quite ill. Now, the right hon. Gentleman is fortified by the Navy, having beside him his hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, and a Whip. It may be that this is an indication of the changing times.
I was disappointed this afternoon by the Minister's speech. I did not think that he was quite himself. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman's ability—we take that for granted; he would have no business to be occupying his position if he was not able. We know that he is a very able young man, but he is usually so ebullient and confident. He never gives me the impression of being a man who is not sure of himself. Today, however, the very subjects that he left out of his speech told me how uneasy he was. I want to bring his mind back to some of the things which are in our policy and in his.
We heard nothing this afternoon of the property-owning democracy—or is this for England only?—of which hon. Members opposite have spoken so much in their propaganda, but to which the right hon. Gentleman himself is the chief impediment in Wales. When he has stood at the Box and defended not only the operation of the leasehold system, but the charges that are made by Western Ground Rents to leaseholders in Cardiff, he has been responsible for encouraging the most unscrupulous ground landlords to impede the spread of a property-owning democracy in Wales.
683 The Minister knows that there are four things that he avoided in his speech. No doubt, there are others, but there are four of which I am mindful. This afternoon, he avoided the fact that he has completely failed in Wales, as in England, to stop the scandal of a runaway increase in land prices. Indeed, he and his right hon. Friends started the runaway by the Town and Country Planning Act, 1959. The right hon. Gentleman knows also that he has given to us in Wales a runaway increase in rents and rent charges, and that it was his right hon. Friends who gave the green light to landlords to exploit their opportunities under the 1957 Act. He knows also that by his speech on Welsh day two years ago, which is well remembered in Wales, he has given the green light for owner-occupiers to be held to ransom.
The Lord Chancellor, when he served in the House of Commons as Attorney-General, took part in a debate on leasehold reform. Speaking on behalf of the Government, he insisted that when people bought their house they were under an illusion if they thought it was theirs as long as it was leasehold. "They are tenants", he kept saying, as HANSARD recalls. I am pleased that in "Signposts to the New Wales" we are able to tell the Welsh owner-occupiers that at long last the leasehold battle is won and that we will introduce a Measure entitling every owner-occupier who is subject to the blackmailing demands of finance corporations to be allowed to own his own home. This is a giant stride forward towards a property-owning democracy, and it is this side of the House that has been the champion of the little owner-occupier, of the man who has a stake in the country through owning his own home.
I realise that there are hon. Members opposite who get excited because the land commission which we propose to set up will rent land or lease it, which ever term one prefers, to people who wish to build houses. I do not wish this afternoon to go into the whole of our housing programme, but I would say this to the House, and if my voice could reach Wales I would say it to the Welsh people—
§ Mr. Thomas
I will see to that. My hon. Friend and I walk step by step in the City of Cardiff and we shall walk back step by step here in the autumn. I am grateful for his help.
I would say to the Welsh people that under Labour's plan for a land commission to be given authority to buy all building land when a local authority is about to give permission for development, there is a new opportunity for house owner-occupiers. No longer will their houses be leasehold. Their land will be leased, but not the house. Today, the house is leasehold, but that will belong to the history book after we are returned to this House, because under Labour's plans the owner-occupier will never lose the ownership of his house. Whether the lease is to be renewed or not, he must be paid the market compensation for it.
§ Sir K. Joseph
Will the hon. Member agree that under the Labour Party plan the house would involve a rising rent, reviewed every few years?
§ Mr. Thomas
I am talking about owner-occupiers. I am saying to the Minister—I hope that I have not misunderstood him—
§ Sir K. Joseph
The hon. Member is saying that under the Labour Party's land commission plan people will be able to occupy houses on leasehold land because there will be no more freehold land. Will he agree that a fuller description would involve telling the House and the country that those occupiers will have to pay a rising rent for the land and the house, or the land alone, reviewed every few years under the land commission plan?
§ Mr. Thomas
The Minister is needlessly worried and needlessly excited. This is not involved in our proposals. We propose long-term leases for owner-occupiers. Today when a lease is running out the blackmailing by unscrupulous finance corporations means that unless the owner-occupier accepts the terms of the ground landlord he loses his house altogether. We are going to see that this will never happen again. Absentee ground landlords who have cheated the Welsh people of their birthright, and who only come to Wales to collect their profits, will find that when we have a Labour Government we are 685 going to fulfil our pledge to end the present system and to ensure that no more will there be leasehold houses as we know them today.
Leasehold land—well, that always belongs to its owner, but today if a lease runs out the owner-occupier has to put his house into a fit and proper state of repair before the ground landlord will accept it, and he can have a bill for hundreds of pounds before the landlord takes the house away from him, and if he fails to accept the terms he can only stay in the house which he bought if he pays the full economic rent. This issue alone is going, I believe, to give the Welsh people cause to turn in greater numbers than ever to the Labour Party.
I leave the subject now—
§ Mr. Hugh Rees (Swansea, West)
Before the hon. Member leaves the subject may I ask him a question? He did use the phrase "long-term leases" Could I ask him one question? How long?
§ Mr. Thomas
Not at present. The hon. Gentleman can ask it, but I am not going to answer it, but I can say this to him, that our people, owner-occupiers, under "Signposts to the New Wales" will be dealing with public authorities and not private combines, and the public authorities will be answerable to this House and we shall be able to see that the duration is of a reasonable time. I would have thought that hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House who signed the leasehold petition which I started two years ago, when 60,000 of the Welsh people rallied to the petition, would welcome this great stride towards the independence of the Welsh people from the finance combines in London. We do not hear the hon. Gentleman often, but when we hear him, he is interesting.
I turn now to another aspect of this problem. The Minister is responsible for the housing programme of the Government. Twenty years after the war, in affluent Britain, we are told how greatly we have advanced. For the purposes of greater accuracy, if I may quote a very distinguished Member of the House, I have taken the trouble to contact the local authority at Cardiff, to find out how many families we have who are still waiting for homes of their own. There are over 4,000 families in Cardiff on the waiting list. 686 There are nearly 1,200 old-age pensioner families of two on the list. If we work on the principle on which, I understand, Government Departments do, of an average of four to a family, two parents, two children very often, we work out a total in Cardiff today of 20,000 people waiting for houses.
When we bear in mind that tenants of houses do not come on the waiting list, only sub-tenants, and that nobody is allowed to be considered for a house under the local authority scheme till he has been on the waiting list a year, and that no one who has not lived in Cardiff for three years can get on the list at all, and that there is a continual screening of the list, then we realise that the figure is nearer 30,000 than 20,000 of people waiting in the capital city of Wales for decent homes in affluent Britain where the Conservatives give us such a good standard of living.
The fact is that housing was held back through the nineteen-fifties, and that is still playing havoc with our people. In the capital of Wales there are 76,455 households. Of these, 9,000 families have to share baths with other families, and 13,825 families have no fixed bath at all. How well off we are. How far we have come when one out of every five of the people in the capital city of Wales cannot even claim the luxury of a bath in their own homes. There are 10,907 households sharing water closets with other families, and 1,409 households have no water closet. I presume that they have the old earth and bucket system. These are the figures from Cardiff from where I received them yesterday from the local authority.
This does not present the whole of the picture. My hon. Friend and I are regular with our "surgeries" at which we meet our constituents, and we find that this serious problem is aggravated by the fact that evictions take place even from these hovels every week under the 1957 Rent Act. People who have lived twenty and thirty years in the same house and who have reached an honourable old age find all of a sudden that their security is gone. The Minister knows that the responsibility for this is with that Ministry. It was the deliberate Government policy of the 1957 Act, which allowed greater facility for evictions. If the Minister wishes to deny this he may.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I am puzzled by the hon. Gentleman's figures, his saying that 687 some of these people have been twenty or thirty years in the same house, because, of course, I agree there was block decontrol after 1957, but creeping decontrol, which is what is going on to some extent the whole while, cannot affect people who have been protected by rent control for twenty or thirty years, it seems to me. That is why I am a bit puzzled.
§ Mr. Thomas
I did not say they were protected by rent control—not since the Act; but there are people who have lived in their houses for thirty years who have found their houses decontrolled. When the Measure went through 21,000 houses in the City of Cardiff overnight became decontrolled, and since then another 10,000 houses, through movement of population, through death, through unhealthy pressures which have taken place to get people out so that the landlords can sell houses, with the result that nearly 50 per cent. of all the tenanted property in Cardiff is now completely decontrolled. The right hon. Gentleman is not an unfeeling man, and if he came to my surgery he would find, every week, that there are decent people reduced to tears and abject misery by the Rent Act.
May I refer briefly to the rents being charged in property that becomes decontrolled. People are paying £3 for a room, and the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) knows this well. We have been able to reduce the pressure of a family in every room in a great many houses due to the 1961 Act. The local authority is moving in to squeeze them out. But, even so, there are people who have to pay more than half their wages in rent. Surely that is far too high a proportion. Is this the Wales about which the Minister wishes to stand at the Box and boast? We need a new Wales, but we will not have it until we have new men and new ideas.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I should be grateful if the hon. Member would send me any cases of which he is aware of householders paying half their earnings in rent. I do not believe that that is accurate.
§ Mr. Thomas
I will send the Minister such cases as I have. No doubt he will be pleased to come to the Box and apologise if I prove to be right. 688 Lastly, I wish to deal with the cost of land in the City of Cardiff. The Cardiff City housing authority tells me that in 1951 it was buying land at approximately £151 an acre. This was the existing use value, usually the agricultural value, under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947. Of course, account was not taken of its value as housing land. The Government have altered all that. They have taken away the powers of the 1947 Act. The most recent large purchase of land for housing in the city was made in December, 1962, to February, 1963, and concerned 71 acres at Trowbridge Road, Rumney, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). I am told thatThis land varied considerably as far as situation, levels and drainage were concerned and the price averaged at £2,500 to £2,700 per acre"—an increase of nearly twenty times during the life of this Government.
The Minister knows that the mortgage pool from which capital finance is drawn, including that for housing, is increasing. I am told by the City Treasurer:However the effect of funding much of our short term loans in accordance with the recent Government White Paper, and borrowing all new moneys for housing at the same rate—that is, 6 to 6⅛ per cent.—will be to raise the mortgage pool rate substantially in 1964–65, that is if market rates continue at their present levels.He is an optimist. Market rates are going up.
I was surprised by something that a spokesman for the Government said when announcing Government policy in a housing debate in another place on 17th July—and I think that I am in order in quoting from what was said in another place if it is a Government statement of policy. Lord Hastings stated:… I make no apology for introducing what I have to say about land prices by emphasising that there are advantages in higher prices."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 17th July, 1963; Vol. 252, c. 226.]He is a very clever man, because the only people that I know of with whom the advantages lie are the profiteer, the speculator and the people who have no social conscience.
689 The Minister will know that recently there was a sale in Cardiff, at Culver-house Cross, of some farm land which the local authority did not believe should be used for housing. The Minister believes that the man in Whitehall knows best. Against the united will of the Cardiff Planning Committee, he allowed three speculators to make a fortune of £75,000 overnight. The right hon. Gentleman went over the Committee's head.
The Minister has gone over the heads of the Cardiff City authority on the question of industry going to the area. It was sought to bring to North Cardiff, at Llanishen, industries which would provide apprenticeships for our young people. Instead, the Minister has told the elected representatives of the people there that he prefers a company which will bring warehouses to the area. It is a coincidence that the company is a subsidiary of Western Ground Rents. The right hon. Gentleman seems to have a predilection for Western Ground Rents. I say to him: when October comes we in Wales in general and certainly we in the City of Cardiff will fight on the positive proposals set out in "Signposts to the New Wales". But we will also expose the dreadful record of what has happened to our people in housing.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), I felt that the speech of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government was properly confident and properly gave emphasis in the enormous achievements of recent years. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) was quite right to call attention to shortcomings and grievances, as, indeed, was the right hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards). Nevertheless, I think that my right hon. Friend was justified in painting the broad picture which he described as one of booming industrial advance and prosperity in the Principality.
We read in the pamphlet entitled "Signposts to the New Wales":In six short years, the post-war Labour Government laid the foundations on which all subsequent social and economic progress in Wales has been built".I do not know why those years are described as short years. In fact, they 690 included a leap year, and they were just as long, and no shorter, than any other six-year period. But it is strange that, after claiming for Labour all the credit for subsequent social and economic progress, the pamphlet then seeks laboriously to establish that since those years there has been comparatively little significant social and economic improvement in the Principality. We are asked to believe that, bright-eyed and eager-faced, the Welsh people moved forward spectacularly under the inspired leadership of the party opposite and then sank back into comparative inertness under its Conservative successors.
The writers of that pamphlet, in making such claims, could have acknowledged that long before 1945 a great Welshman, David Lloyd George, did a fair amount in the social welfare sphere; that industrialists like Lord Davies of Llandinam laid more industrial foundations than any politician; that some really vital decisions to create special areas and industrial trading estates were taken before the war when the foundations of the Treforest Trading Estate were laid; and that our own postwar economic progress owes as much to the influx of Jewish refugees from Hitler's Europe as it does to the actions of any Government Department.
But what is the true and accurate picture of these post-war years? Only six weeks or so ago I received a visit from a family who emigrated to Canada from my constituency in 1949. They have come back at three-yearly periods ever since. They told me that the improvement over the last seven or eight years was the most spectacular that they had seen. They were astonished, they said, by the variety and the architecture of our new schools. They were tremendously impressed by the growth of new industry in many parts of the Principality and by the increasing house and motor car ownership.
§ Mr. Gower
I have only recorded what they told me, so I cannot say.
My right hon. Friend the Minister was quite light in calling attention to one of the most useful indices of industrial prosperity, namely, the comparative figures of people in employment and 691 those in search of jobs. Almost 1 million people are now in registered employment in the Principality. In reply to a Question last Monday, I was given the figures for unemployment. Last month, the number of unemployed in Wales had fallen to 22,666, while the number of outstanding vacancies had risen to 11,021. In the whole of the Barry Employment Exchange area, which extends outside my constituency into the constituency of the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. A. Pearson), the number of unemployed had fallen to 476, while outstanding vacancies reached nearly 200.
Although it must be acknowledged that there are still problem areas and pockets of unemployment—I think that my right hon. Friend admitted this—the general picture in the Principality is one of intense industrial activity and, in many parts, of substantial demand for certain categories of skilled employee.
The process of improvement is continuing. I had evidence of this in reply to another Question which I put a few days ago to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade. My right hon. Friend gave the amounts already approved under the Local Employment Acts of 1960 and 1963. In Wales they total £8 million, to provide about 10,000 additional jobs. Apart from that, of course, many of us have evidence, weekly and monthly, of the steady growth of existing industrial undertakings. In my own constituency, I can instance the growth in the past 10 years of the Distillers Group of companies and the continued expansion of the Midland Silicones undertaking.
It is encouraging to note that, at present, as my right hon. Friend said, our house-building rate has reached about 15,000 a year, and it is to be raised to 17,000 a year. About half of the houses are being built by local authorities, my right hon. Friend told us, and about half by private builders for private occupation. According to the best advice available to his Department it appears that about 95,000 new houses will be needed in the next five years. As my right hon. Friend has said, it is planned to raise the annual house production rate eventually to 19,000.
692 The inference to be drawn from "Signposts to the New Wales" is that this job could be made much easier by the setting up of the proposed Land Commission. In a country like ours—I am speaking now of the whole United Kingdom—a thickly populated country of limited size, land is a problem. The pressure on what is available has grown steadily and probably will continue to grow. Therefore, I make no complaint that the Opposition are considering this question, as my right hon. Friend has been considering it, although I wonder whether the proposed Land Commission will make land available more quickly and more economically when it is needed.
In the first place, the Opposition have always tended to exaggerate the element of land cost in the total cost of a house. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West did it in his speech. In the second place, I fear that a Land Commission carrying on the detailed negotiations might delay and hinder rather than accelerate and facilitate the provision of building land when it is required.
I attach a lot of importance to the various forms of industrial building and system building to which my right hon. Friend referred. I must declare an interest because I am a director of a civil engineering company which does this kind of work. However, I believe that the very pressure on the orthodox forms of house construction make it imperative for us to make greater use of industrialised building techniques.
The announcement by my right hon. Friend of the setting up of a Civic Trust in Wales is very important because, however successful we are in building houses, we are not, I deeply regret, building them beautifully. It is sometimes tragic to see a wonderful site, as I have seen in many towns in South Wales, planned to accommodate, perhaps, hundreds or even about a thousand houses, and then to see the unimaginative style in which, in far too many cases, the building is done—sometimes in rows resembling the terraces of 30 or 40 years ago, at other times with the most ordinary forms of semi-detached construction. One does not need to be a specialist in architecture to feel that this is not the best that our architects can do. One of the chief 693 requirements is to improve not merely the quality of our building but the architecture, the beauty and the symmetry of it, because we are not really giving our people something of which they can be proud from that point of view.
I trust that the House will bear with me if I mention now a matter of urgency in my own constituency. I do not apologise for referring once again to the future of Barry Docks. I do not know whether those who drew up the Report on Developments and Government Action in Wales and Monmouthshire, Cmnd. 2284, were humorists or were guilty of some witty irresponsibility, but I am truly astonished that the section of the Report dealing with the ports, paragraphs 679 to 687, on pages 111 and 112, contains references to Penarth Harbour, reference to the "Welsh" port of Lydney, which is in Gloucestershire, but no specific reference to the Port of Barry. This is quite astonishing.
I trust that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Welsh Affairs will not take it amiss if I stress vehemently to him, to his Department, to the Welsh Office and to anyone who had anything to do with the preparation of the Report that this is an unjustifiable omission.
The Report fails to refer to the one port in the whole of the United Kingdom which was singled out by the Rochdale Commission for a recommendation for possible closure which has been subsequently condemned by events, discredited by results and achievements, and disproved by the statements of heads of industries closely connected with our docks in South Wales.
Nearly two years have elapsed since the Rochdale recommendations were first made known, in September, 1962. Since then, a great deal has happened, almost all of it creditable to Barry Docks and illustrative of their value. We have learned from the British Transport Docks Board that Barry Docks are more economical to run and maintain than most of the other ports in the Bristol Channel and the docks owned by the British Transport Docks Board in South Wales. We have learned from the same source the information, which was not available to the Rochdale Committee, that our docks at Barry are viable and involve the British Transport Docks Board in no 694 operational cost. Indeed, they have even reported a small profit.
Again and again in the last two years we have been reminded of the value of the deep-water entrance and the value of the availability of deep-water berths at Barry. I mention these points because the Rochdale Report stressed in more than one place the importance of deep-water entrances and berths in the sort of ports which the Committee wished to create in the future. The fact that Barry is not as dependent on the tides as most of the neighbouring ports has led companies like Geest Industries, Limited, importing perishable fruit, first to establish themselves at Barry and (hen to expand their activities. Since the Rochdale Report, the docks trade at Barry has steadily grown and is now 30 to 40 per cent. more than it was two years ago. Geest Industries, Limited and other companies, including several oil companies, have further plans to expand their installations at Barry Docks, but some of them are held up because of uncertainty.
During the past 18 months, Sir Arthur Kirby, Chairman of the British Transport Docks Board, has publicly declared the desire of his Board to continue to make use of the splendid facilities and the excellent labour force in the docks at Barry. A so-called master plan has since been drawn up by the Docks Board, British Railways and the National Coal Board under which coal shipments are now being concentrated at Barry and Swansea. Lord Robens himself has been an enthusiastic supporter of this plan.
Accordingly, it can rightly be claimed that, despite the Rochdale recommendations, State industry and private industry alike foresee continued and expanding use for the docks at Barry. The Rochdale recommendations have been overtaken by events, and the only effect of those recommendations, an injurious effect, has been to hold up developments and extensions planned by a number of firms. Therefore, I call for an early announcement by the National Ports Council that it agrees with so many others in giving the docks at Barry the right to go ahead which they so richly deserve.
I apologise to the House again for raising this subject, but I am sure that 695 hon. Members will realise that it is one of supreme importance to my constituency, particularly to the 2,500 or so men and their families who derive their incomes directly or indirectly from employment in and around the docks. I feel that I am quite justified in raising it in this debate.
Some years ago, when a Conservative Government was first returned, I hardly thought it possible that Wales would improve generally to such an extent as is now apparent. We still have our difficulties, we still have pockets of trouble, but even these are being tackled. As my right hon. Friend made clear, even in the more remote areas it is possible now to seek to guide industries which formerly had to be put in areas of high unemployment. We are making progress in many other directions, too, particularly in housing and welfare. Therefore, we are entitled to say that it would be unwise to divert our energies now from methods which have proved so successful over many years and which promise to make Wales not merely not one of the depressed areas but one of the more prosperous of all parts of the United Kingdom.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ Mr. T. W. Jones (Merioneth)
I shall not follow the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) in his line of argument, although I am certain that, if he will listen to my speech, he will be a much wiser man about affairs in Wales at the end of the next 14 minutes or so.
Wales is pre-eminently a Socialist country. If the people of England were only half as advanced in their political thinking as the people of Wales, we should wipe out the Tory Government not for the next five years, but for the rest of the century. Indeed, we should not have seen a Tory Government in Britain since the year 1922. Of the 36 Members representing Wales in the House, 27 belong to the same party, the Socialist Party. The Welsh Labour Party has now set a target for the next General Election, not the retention of the present 27 seats—that is taken for granted—but the capture of the remaining nine.
The Tory Party has never understood Wales, or, rather, the people of Wales have never understood the Tory Party. 696 Therefore, I am very glad that today's debate affords us an opportunity to declare to our own people in the Principality what we on this side intend to do for them after the October election. We intend, as a matter of priority, to bring new vitality into the rural areas of Mid-Wales in particular.
Mid-Wales comprises Breconshire, Radnorshire, Montgomeryshire, Merionethshire and Cardiganshire. What a very sorry spectacle the area presents. Once, even within living memory, it was thriving. For the past 60 years it has suffered from persistent depopulation, with the result that today large parts of it are totally denuded of population. Why have the people left? They have gone in search of work.
The Government say that their first priority for assistance must be areas of unemployment and that Mid-Wales cannot, therefore, be placed among the areas of first priority as there is no unemployment there. Paradoxical as it may sound, there is no unemployment there because there is no employment there. Had the people remained in that area when the industries closed down, it would have had the highest incidence of unemployment in the kingdom, but these sturdy folk are not prepared to live on the dole and they have left their land in search of livelihood elsewhere. As a result, the area has become derelict.
It is just at this point that the policies of the Tory Party and the Labour Party differ fundamentally. We believe that the acute depopulation in Mid-Wales, resulting from unemployment, means that the area should be placed in the same category for assistance as the areas of unemployment. I will quote from "Signposts to the New Wales" and I am glad to see this passage:Labour believes that radical action is needed to revitalise the central area of Wales.The Labour Party will accomplish this by bringing suitable industries to the area. This will be done by financial inducements to industrialists. Contrast that with a statement made by the Minister for Welsh Affairs last week to the Chairman of the Mid-Wales Industrial Association. The right hon. Gentleman said:I cannot at this stage hold out hope to you of financial inducements to industrialists 697 of the kind provided in areas of high and persistent unemployment, which must have priority.
§ Sir K. Joseph
Why does not the hon. Gentleman go on with his quotation from the pamphlet? Is he in favour of the proposed new town, or does he agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins) that a new town would not be good for the area? On which side is he on?
§ Mr. Jones
If I am to give my priorities, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins). I am not so keen on the idea of a new town, but that is something that, in the Labour Party, we are allowed to discuss and vote on, and, having done that, to bring the matter here to the House of Commons. What the Minister said last week to the Chairman of the Mid-Wales Industrial Association shows the vital differences between the policies of the two parties.
We will do something else. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade was in my constituency last week. I went there to meet him. I never trust any Minister to come to my constituency without my being there. He was asked whether the Government would direct industrialists to Mid-Wales and replied, "No, neither this Government nor any alternative Government". That is fair enough. His answer was correct. There is no power of direction. But the right hon. Gentleman will know that the last Labour Government devised means of getting over this difficulty. It refused in many instances to grant industrial development certificates to industrialists wishing to expand in the Midlands and around London. The result was that when they were offered certificates on condition that they went to South Wales they gladly went there and are still there today—hundreds of them.
I am pleased to note in this pamphlet—I am surprised that the Labour Party is charging only 6d. for it—that the next Labour Government, which will be elected in October, will repeat that and will not allow these people to expand in the South-East of England, within the coffin that has been referred to so often in this House.
As my hon. Friends know, I am called upon, for a certain reason, to read my Bible and this week I was struck by a phrase in the Book of Judges, for it was 698 so apt. Of course, I was reading it in Welsh, which is better than the English translation. It read:And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites …I will only have to change two words there and I will have a glorious text for my election sermon—"And Mid-Wales was greatly impoverished because of the Tory Government".
What had the Midianites done to reduce Israel to a state of abject poverty? They did just what the Tories are doing in Mid-Wales. In the first place, they destroyed the flocks and herds. That is the very thing that the present Minister of Agriculture has been doing ever since he took office. The hill farmers of Mid-Wales have suffered as a result of the Government's agriculture policy.
Then the Midianites stole from the Israelites their camels—their means of transport. That is exactly what the Minister of Transport has been doing in Mid-Wales. Indeed, only this week there was a big meeting at which the right hon. Gentleman was begged not to rob Mid-Wales of its means of transport.
The Midianites also made the Israelites pay high rent and this is where the Minister of Housing and Local Government comes in as a result of the Rent Act. But the story does not end there and my sermon will not end there, either. We learn that Gideon came along and swept the Midianites away. October will come and we will sweep the Tories away.
I doubt whether there is a country in Europe more blessed by natural beauty than Wales. That is very true in North Wales, particularly in Merionethshire. I note with gratitude that the Government are giving the Welsh Tourist Board a grant of £40,000. Although I express my gratitude for what they have done, I think they could and should have done better. The Government of Eire considered what should be done to induce tourists to visit Eire and decided that it would be best to work through the Irish Tourist Board. What did they offer the Board? £40,000? Of course not. They offered £5 million. How much better it would have been for our Government to help the Welsh Tourist Board on a much bigger scale to bring people from 699 England, Scotland, Ireland and from across the oceans to Wales.
The prerequisite of a flourishing tourist trade is transport facilities. To enjoy the natural beauty of which I have spoken, tourists must be conveyed to it. But what do we find? The desire of the Government is not to provide these facilities but to deprive us even of those that are there. That does not make sense to me. People who have travelled all over Europe agree with me when I say to them that there is not a superior stretch of natural scenery to be found in Europe than the one between Llandudno Junction to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Thousands of people every year go on that train to enjoy the view. One cannot see it so well from the road.
But Dr. Beeching has decided to close the view. Fortunately, the transport users' consultative committee, on the ground of hardship alone, has decided to recommend that the railway be not closed. Now the final decision rests with the Minister of Transport. The other line, from Ruabon to Barmouth, takes tourists to the National Park.
I say that it would be an act of lunacy—and I am weighting my words—to close these two lines. I have called the Minister of Transport many names from time to time and I would not like to charge him with being a lunatic, but I say again that it would be nothing short of lunacy to close these two lines and thereby destroy the tourist industry of North Wales. It would be an unpardonable sin against society.
There is another Amendment. It is signed by three stalwart Welshmen with three very typical Welsh names—Birch, Box, Gower. I was pleased to note that the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) is beginning to take an interest in Welsh affairs. He has spoken this afternoon—it might have been his maiden speech as far as Welsh affairs are concerned.
I come to the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Box). When I saw his name there in the middle, sandwiched between the other two—and he can have the consolation that the best part of the sandwich is always in the middle—I was reminded of the experience which a friend of mine had the other day. He wanted to 700 buy a pony and he went to the horse market. There he saw a delightful little pony and he said to himself, "This is the one I must have". On each side of the pony was a huge carthorse. He said to the auctioneer, "Do you mind removing those carthorses for me to have a good look at the pony?". "I am sorry", said the auctioneer, "I cannot do that; you see, that pony cannot stand on its own legs and has to be supported".
We have just heard the hon. Member for Barry, who, I am sure, has notions of one day becoming the Archdruid of Wales.
How these three can presume to speak on behalf of Wales passes my comprehension.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Rees (Swansea, West)
I will not attempt to follow the vein of the speech of the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. T. W. Jones). In the Welsh Grand Committee he takes us on our journeys to the Holy Land and around the Mediterranean, and he has not disappointed us in any way today. I can only say that he has given me fair warning not to buy horses in Merioneth. Later in the summer he will be coming to my constituency to what is probably the premier event of the calendar in Wales, the Royal National Eisteddfod. In fact, he will be taking a prominent part in the Gorsedd ceremony.
He will be taking part along with many other people who are exiles from Wales and who come back once every ten or twenty years to the Eisteddfod to meet their friends and their relations. They will see in Swansea a modern improved town, a thriving community, a community which has everything set to give them a welcome and to give them a worthwhile welcome at the Eisteddfod. What many of them will find interesting is that some of their memories of Wales, which will have been stoked up by various messages and tales of gloom over the years from the Wales, of the depression, are misleading and that Wales today is a very different place.
Much of what has been said today has been in a depressing vein, about people departing from Wales, people going away. It has been accepted by some hon. Members opposite that Wales is in a state of change and development. Too 701 often we in Wales are our worst enemies, because we hark back to the bad, old, difficult times of the depression and we tend to make many of our English colleagues in the House and outside begin to wonder whether it is worth ever going to Wales. Unless we can breed confidence and a desire to go to Wales, so that people can see what we can can offer, our task of building Wales—I do not say rebuilding, for we are well on the road, but continuing to build Wales—will be made that much harder.
Today we are debating a Government Report which sets out what has happened in Wales over the past twelve months. We also have a pamphlet, which seems to be selling more cheaply in North Wales so that I will have to go there to buy it. This is probably due to r.p.m., but I should explain for the benefit of the hon. Member for Merioneth that it costs 9d. It sets out what the Labour Party would do if returned to office.
It starts by analysing the problem which lies ahead. It begins by referring to, first, the loss of jobs caused by the continuing contraction of some of our traditional industries and the failure of the Government to provide on an adequate scale for the new industrial development; secondly, the loss of population; thirdly, poor housing. This is the basis of its analysis.
Let us consider the loss of population. In fact, over the years the population has increased. Volume 9 of the Digest of Welsh Statistics shows that in 1911 the population of Wales was 2,421,000. To come slightly more up to date, in 1951 it was 2,599,000 and in 1962, 2,651,000. That is the total population of Wales. I agree that within that population there have been decreases in certain counties—Breconshire, Caernarvonshire, Carmarthenshire, Merioneth and Montgomery, in other words, a certain section of mid-Wales.
§ Mr. G. Elfed Davies
What the hon. Gentleman is not remembering is that in parts of counties where there has not been depopulation in general there has been depopulation in some areas. For instance, the population of the Rhondda has been reduced from 167,000 to 100,000. How would he deal with that problem?
§ Mr. Rees
If the hon. Member asks the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. W. Padley), he will find that there has been a greater percentage increase in the population of Bridgend than in any other part of the British Isles, but there is not a vast population in that area. That is only a stone's throw from the Rhondda Valley. If hon. Members opposite think that Wales should be jammed solid with people never moving, they are on the stoney road to ruin, because they are not moving with the times. They have to accept that if people are prepared to move their homes and their place of work, we will then be in a position to rebuild on land which has been used before. Until we can do that, we are absolutely stuck.
I accept what the hon. Member for Rhondda, East (Mr. G. Elfed Davies) has said about the drift from his community, but there has been an increase in the population of the County Borough of Swansea, a decrease of population in Merthyr Tydvil, and an increase of population in Cardiff. These are shifts within Wales. It is no good saying that Wales as an entity has lost population and then make plans on that analysis. One has to see where the shifts have taken place. If we are to tackle industrial depopulation in the urban areas, we will have to tackle it with a weapon and an approach totally different from those used for tackling rural depopulation. I have been diverted, but the analysis that there has been a depopulation in Wales is not borne out by the facts.
§ Mr. Goronwy Roberts (Caernarvon)
Surely the point is that while there have been movements of population within Wales, particularly from the countryside to the town, in the ten years to which the hon. Gentleman has referred there has been a very small increase in population, by no means equivalent to the natural increase which we had every right to expect; and while the English population in the same period has increased by more than 4 million, to 54 million, the Welsh population has increased by only 54,000 which is about 5,000 a year.
§ Mr. G. Roberts
The Minister says that that is wrong. It is an increase of 54,000 over the ten years to which the hon. Gentleman referred.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. We shall get into confusion if we seek to amend an intervention in the middle of somebody else's speech.
§ Mr. Rees
I do not want to go into the detailed figures. Those are the figures given in the Census of Population.
I am going into the basic principle, and I cannot be convinced. I was told this two years ago when we had a certain problem in Welshpool. I was told that because the population there had not increased as much as the population in the rest of the country, there was a decrease in population. To my mind, if we are counting heads, if the numbers have increased, irrespective of the percentage, the population has increased. Therefore, to base one's analysis of the problems that one has to face on a basis of depopulation is false, and this is one of the mistakes that I see in this Report which we are asked to consider today.
I come now to the question of the loss of industry. Of course there has been a loss of jobs in industry. Many jobs have been lost, but the insured population of Wales at the moment is higher than it has ever been. The bulk of these people are in employment. It is therefore fair to say that over the past twelve years there has been a substantial increase in the number of jobs available in Wales.
I am the first to say that these jobs are not necessarily sufficient, and that we want more. Indeed, I am in the unfortunate position of having empty a large modern, up-to-date plant on the edge of my constituency which is becoming in effect the biggest and best advance factory that is available in the country. We want to see it filled.
It is no good basing a policy on the assumption that we are losing jobs in the traditional industries, unless we are prepared to look at the reasons for that loss, and decide whether we want to keep that number of jobs in those industries. There has been a substantial loss of jobs in the agriculture industry. In 1948, 38,300 people were employed in that industry in Wales. In 1951 the figure was 32,500, a drop of 5,800 in three 704 years, or about 5 per cent. per annum. By 1962 the figure was down to 22,000, which means that the drop continued at a rate of 3.5 per cent per annum.
That decrease may well be regretted by some people, but it is no good flying in the face of facts. During that period there was an increase in the use of tractors on farms in Wales, from 27,000 to 43,000. There was also an increase in the use of milking machines, from 9,000 to nearly 18,000. The first figure was for machines, and the second in installations. There was also an increase in the use of combine harvesters, from 200 to 1,400. If there is an increase in mechanisation, we must expect to see a drift from the land and from these areas.
No doubt people will say that we should provide industries as anchors to keep people in the towns and in the communities to keep them going. That is a valid point. It is a worthwhile sentiment to put forward, but let us recognise that something has been done. Recent figures show that 9,000 sq. ft. of factory space has been made available in Portmadoc; 5,000 sq. ft. of additional space has been made available as an extension to an existing factory which was an advance factory in Cardigan; work has started to provide 10,000 sq. ft. of factory space in Bethesda; 10,000 sq. ft. of space are to be provided in Llangefni and Welshpool; and 20,000 sq. ft. have been provided and let in Milford Haven.
Those figures do not mean the end of the road. They do not mean the last word on the matter, by any manner of means. We must not, however, base policies on the assumption that nothing has been done. If one starts from that position, one sees the problems in Wales from a different angle.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Rhondda, East has left the Chamber. We have lost jobs in the mining industry which is the staple form of employment in his constituency, but that has happened for geological reasons—the coal was worked out—for technical reasons, and because of competition from oil and other forms of energy.
If we are going to ask our miners to continue to do their work, we must give them modern tools and all the latest aids of mechanisation. Without doing that it may well be possible to keep up the job 705 numbers, but if we do mechanise and improve conditions within the mines, inevitably we reduce the number of jobs available. I think that that is desirable and that the miners should be able to take advantage of all the latest mechanical developments.
I turn now to another traditional industry, metals. Swansea at one time was the metal metropolis of the world. The number of men employed in this industry rose from 80,000 in 1948, to 81,500 in 1951, and in 1962, the last year for which I have detailed, that figure had risen to 88,000. This is a traditional industry which is not declining. It may be argued that the industry could expand at a faster rate, and that we need more men in it, but we must accept that the industry is not declining.
Engineering is another traditional industry of Wales. In 1948, it employed 36,000 men. By 1951 that figure had risen to 37,500, and in 1962 it was 50,000.
There has also been an increase in the number of men employed in the chemical industry. In 1948 it employed 19,000 men. In 1951 it employed 22,000 men, and by 1962 the figure had risen to 24,000. What is interesting about the 1962 figures is that branches of the chemical industry which were not even mentioned in 1948 and 1951 were employing as many as 2,000 or 3,000 men. This is the pattern about which we ought to be talking. We ought to be talking about the shift of jobs within industries which will be the staple industries of this country in the second half of the twentieth century.
If we can convince people that Wales has a great future, they will be prepared to go there. If they think that it is some kind of museum, that it is a place where the old-fashioned industries are preserved merely to maintain the status quo in the number of men employed, we shall never attract them. It is not good enough merely to say that factory sites are available. It is not good enough merely to say that funds can be made available from the central Government, or that loans can be obtained from some other source. To encourage an industrialist to go to an area, we must give him confidence and make him believe in the economic future and prosperity of that area.
Let us look next at this confidence in the matter of personal savings in Wales. 706 Wales has always been a thrifty country because it has never had a lot of money. If one looks at the two curves for 1945 to 1951, and 1951 to 1963, both in National Savings and in ordinary savings, one finds that the confidence of Wales in the Administration is most illuminating.
In 1945 we had just come to the end of the war. People were savings conscious. Savings groups were at their peak, and everybody was talking about National Savings. In Wales at that time, those who were committed to National Savings were saving 7s. 1d. per head per week. In 1951 this figure had dropped 3s. 2d. In 1963—the last year for which figures are available—the figure had risen again, to 7s. 5d. There is the same pattern with gross savings. In 1947–48—the earliest year for which I can get total figures—the amount saved was about £14 15s. per head of the population. In 1950–51 the figure had dropped to £12 15s. per head, but by 1962 it had risen again, to £24 per head of the population. This shows that the prosperity of Wales, linked as it is to that of the whole of Britain, is directly connected with the degree of confidence in the Administration. Unless there is that confidence industrialists will not be persuaded to go to Wales to provide the necessary employment.
We must look one stage further, and not be reluctant to take advantage of outside capital. We must woo industries and private capital. The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) was fair enough to indicate the importance of a partnership between public and private enterprise in Wales. I welcome this, because it has not been said by hon. Members opposite for a long time. That is what my right hon. Friend is providing for in his economic statistical unit, which is set up in the Welsh Office in Cardiff. It will provide information about areas where this work can go hand in hand.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) is not here now, because he made much of the leasehold problem. If any hon. Member on this side of the House were to sit down without mentioning that subject he would be jeered at by hon. Members opposite. But the policy of the party opposite in this respect is not as white 707 as the Persil whiteness it is made out to be. I do not doubt the integrity or the sincerity of the hon. Member for Cardiff, West in his argument for leasehold reform. I hope that he, in his turn, will not doubt the integrity or sincerity of my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Box) and myself when we introduced a Bill for a measure of leasehold reform which contained certain protections.
Nevertheless, the hon. Member said that the party opposite was committed to a policy of leasehold reform, and wag-his finger to the cheers of his hon. Friends, he said that once the Labour Party came in after the next General Election leaseholders in Wales need have no fear about their right to purchase their freeholds. That is a bogus prospectus. It is no good hon. Members opposite shaking their heads. In the case of half the leasehold property in my constituency the freehold is vested in the public authority, which will not sell although it has been asked to.
§ Mr. W. E. Padley (Ogmore)
The system of leasehold to which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West referred was the system under which, at the termination of a lease granted by a private landlord, the house reverts to the ground landlord. This party has never committed itself to the idea that there should never be leases. It has committed itself to the doctrine that there should never be a leasehold system under which houses revert to the ground landlords on the termination of the leases. That was my hon. Friend's point.
§ Mr. Rees
I can appreciate the desire of the Opposition to throw a smoke screen over the issue, but it is no good their talking in that vein.
Let us consider the leasehold system as it now operates. The Labour Party tells us that it wants to wipe it out. At present Welsh local authorities controlled by the Labour Party are creating the very kind of lease which the Labour Party says it wants to wipe out, and are refusing to sell the freeholds. Let us have no more of this humbug, and this talk about there being different forms of lease. It is all eyewash, designed to deceive the people of Wales. 708 Let us consider the idea of a Land Commission. If, as hon. Members opposite say, they want a certain measure of recoupment of betterment, the argument is one of degree rather than of principle. Although the hon. Member for Cardiff, West denied it, if this is to be done through a land commission there will have to be a revision clause in respect of the ground rent during the course of the lease. If that is not provided for they will not get the betterment, and so will not protect the land values.
If there is a revision clause, what happens when a leaseholder builds his house for £2,000 or whatever it is and then, at the end of 10 or 15 years, the land commission, under the revision clause, asks the owner to pay what he regards as an exorbitant ground rent? If he does not like it, the only thing he can do is to get out of his house—and what difference is there between having to leave a house when the freehold is owned by a private landlord and having to do so when it is owned by a public landlord? There is no difference. I may be wrongly interpreting what hon. Members opposite are saying, but if that is so it is only because we have so far failed to find out what they really mean. If they really want leasehold reform in Wales let them come here in a clean sheet and tell us exactly what they mean.
I now turn to the clear-cut question of the Welsh people taking pride in owning their own homes. In "Signposts to the New Wales", the Labour Party says:Labour intends to encourage more home ownship by means of cheaper facilities for borrowing and repayment of loans".Here I must apologise to the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) for not having informed him that I was going to quote something that he said. However, he said it when he visited my constituency and it has been quoted in the House before, and made public, so I am sure that he will not think me discourteous in referring to what he said on 10th March in reply to Mr. Breach, Chairman of the Building Societies Association. In the last paragraph of his reply he spelt out his theory, and said:As you will see, however, we are not, as your questions assume, proposing to introduce through the public sector some special or discriminatory form of subsidised loans for houses or house purchase.709 Perhaps the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), who is closely connected with the financial ideas of the party opposite, will tell us a little more about the way in which the Labour Party will provide for this cheaper borrowing and repayment of loans. Perhaps he will tell us whether it is to be in the immediate future or in the long-term future.
If we are not given a little more information the people of Wales will be asked to give a blank cheque to the party opposite on the strength of a pamphlet which is nicely got up and beautifully laid out, and contains grand, verbose wording but still does not tell us a lot. It is no good hon. Members opposite telling us that the Government are much more interested in finding out what the Opposition's policies are than telling the country what the Government's policies are; our policies stand on the ground; they are there for people to see. They are there for people to see. People who are kind enough to come to my constituency, can see an example of our education policy in the shape of an expanding university. We can see evidence of the hospital building programme in concrete, steel and bricks. If people wish to see the industrial wealth of Wales, it is apparent. Our housing programme is represented by many properties.
We have heard much today about housing, the cost of housing rents have been quoted in one way and another. I am old-fashioned enough to believe that local authority housing should be made available at subsidised rents to those in need. I do not believe that those who are not in need should necessarily be thrown out of a local authority house because they have been fortunate enough, or diligent enough, to attain a situation where they are no longer in need, but I do believe that they should pay a fair economic rent and not a subsidised rent.
There are local authorities in Wales which operate rent rebate schemes. There are other local authorities which do not, and before they criticise a policy which I believe has worked and has achieved results, let them examine their own policy to see whether they are making proper use of the houses which they hold in trust for their ratepayers and for the public at large.
710 Until people can be sure that houses owned by local authorities are used properly, I do not think that they should blame my right hon. Friend—as did his predecessors in office who have done a vast amount to ensure that we are becoming one of the best housed nations in the world. Local authorities are being enabled to tackle the ghastly slum properties which have been referred to, and we would all wish to see that happen. The housing stock of the country is such that there is a tangible expectation that people will be able to move from the slums. Ten years ago that was just a pipe dream.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Roderic Bowen (Cardigan)
I do not propose to follow the final observations of the hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Hugh Rees). I wish to comment on what he said about the policy of the Labour Party regarding leasehold enfranchisement. I have a measure of sympathy with his observations. A leasehold enfranchisement policy would be far healthier if it were directed at ground landlords as a whole. I consider it utterly wrong to draw a distinction between a ground landlord who is a private owner and one in another capacity. The evils of the long lease abide equally whether the ground landlord happens to be a private owner, a public corporation or a local authority. To that extent I identify myself with the criticism of the hon. Member for Swansea, West, but I wish to add another comment.
One finds leasehold enfranchisement advocated in "Signposts for the 'Sixties", but no attempt to define in a precise way the terms on which a ground lessee will be entitled to purchase the freehold. I think it would be a valuable service, particularly to the ground lessee who is thinking of buying his freehold, if more specific guidance were given about the precise terms on which he will eventually be entitled to buy his freehold interest. I mention that point in passing.
In the earlier part of his speech the hon. Member for Swansea, West talked about population changes in the Principality. He seemed to suggest that it was a question of "swings and roundabouts", that the population in one 711 industrial area had increased and another had gone down, and that there was nothing to worry about. I wish to direct the attention of the hon. Member to the position in Mid-Wales.
There is no question of "swings and roundabouts" in Mid-Wales. Throughout this century there has been a steady drop in the Mid-Wales population as a whole. During the whole of the period this drop amounted to 17 per cent. In England and Wales there has been an increase amounting to 42 per cent. and in Wales as a whole the increase has been 36 per cent. The drop in population throughout this century has been accentuated during recent years. The average decennial loss since the turn of the century has been 2.7 per cent. and for the period 1951–61 the loss has been nearly 4 per cent. There is not the slightest indication that this will discontinue, which means that there is a steady drain on the population of Mid-Wales. As was said by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), not only has there been a drain of population but an imbalance—if that be the right phrase—of age groups, with a very high percentage of elderly people.
It is quite clear that there is no prospect of arresting this decline unless there occurs a dynamic change in Government policy relating to this area. I was rather intrigued at the boldness of the civil servants regarding Professor Beacham's Report. It is clear from the preface to the Report that the Committee responsible for the Report consisted, in part, of civil servants. There is a phrase used in the preface:… together with professional officers of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.Those professional officers, with others, have declared categorically that "no time should be lost in determining Government policy on Mid-Wales". I interpret that as being a clear declaration that, to date, no policy has existed, and it is high time that there should be one. One thing is clear that if a reasonable standard of amenities and social facilities is to be maintained for the population which remains, additional jobs will have to be found quickly in Mid-Wales.
What is the position regarding the Government? The statement of the 712 Minister on 16th June in his letter to the Mid-Wales Industrial Development Association was a source of bitter disappointment to all who are interested in the problems of Mid-Wales. He indicated that the Government have no immediate intention of doing anything worth while regarding this problem. The Minister has been in possession of the Report since July of last year. In his communication to the Development Association he said that he was going to await the Welsh Study, which he hoped would be completed early next year, before making any announcement with regard to this Report. That is to say, it will be anything from two to three years before we can expect any action at all on the basis of the Report on the Depopulation of Mid-Wales.
I do not want to be cynical, but what are the facts? This is about the seventh report on the depopulation problems of Mid-Wales. After each report has been issued, another committee has been appointed and the Minister has said, "We must await the deliberations of the new Committee". This has been common form.
All that the Minister had to offer was the view that tourism and forestry could help. I do not want in any way to decry the value of tourism to Mid-Wales. I do not share the pessimism of the Report, but it would be wrong to think that the ills arising from depopulation will be materially affected by what happens in relation to tourism. The main source of employment in tourism is seasonal.
Nor do I want to decry the contribution which forestry can make, but this must be kept in its proper perspective. Between 1951 and 1961, 7,000 people were lost to agriculture in Mid-Wales. The contribution of forestry to fill that gap was 400. Thus, about only 6 per cent. of those lost to agriculture have been gained to forestry. The plain fact is that a smaller area was planted by the Forestry Commission in Mid-Wales in 1963 than was planted in 1962. The number employed by the Commission in 1963 was less than it was in 1962. I do not wish to decry the help which the Commission's activities can be, but it would be very wrong to suggest that they are anything more than a drop in the ocean in relation to the basic problem.
713 Perhaps the most ironic sentence in the Minister's letter to the Mid-Wales Industrial Development Council is this:I should like now to comment on three of the other conclusions of the report before coming to what, I think, may be the most fruitful field of activity, the further encouragement of the development of industry in the towns of the area.What encouragement has been given by the Government, for example in the last 10 years, to the development of industry in this area? The area has been competing, and will have to continue to compete in attempting to attract industry, with the rest of England and Wales.
What is more important, it will have to compete for industry with the development districts. What earthly prospect have the rural areas of Mid-Wales of attracting industry in competition with development districts? Development districts can offer industrialists all sorts of inducements which are denied to Mid-Wales—for example, grants for plant and machinery, preference in the allocation of contracts by nationalised industries and Government Departments, and the free depreciation system. Rural areas do not compete on equal terms, as things stand at present. They have to compete with areas which, under Government policy, are given distinct preference. Anyone who says that in these circumstances there is any real prospect of encouraging industrialists to come to the Mid-Wales area is shutting his eyes to basic facts.
I was very interested in what the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. T. W. Jones) said in his interesting and amusing speech. He referred to the "Book of Kings". I should like to know whether he was speaking the gospel—the Labour Party's gospel policy—because he went very much further than anything set out in "Signposts to the New Wales". According to the hon. Gentleman, the problem of depopulation was to be given the same priority as the problem of unemployment. In showing preference, in providing inducements, or in the operation of I.D.C.s in relation to industrial development, rural areas suffering from depopulation would be given equal treatment to areas suffering from unemployment. I think that the hon. Gentleman was right. I hope that the Opposition Front Bench spokesman 714 will confirm later that that is the Labour Party's policy. It is clear that, unless there is a change in the order of priorities, there is no prospect of attracting private industry to Mid-Wales.
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
The hon. Gentleman has been asking what the Labour Party's policy is and has been referring to the policy of the present Government. Will he now make clear where he stands? Would he give the same treatment to the Mid-Wales area as he would to development districts, in view of the present high level of employment there?
§ Mr. Bowen
I certainly would. To my mind, it is humbug to talk about introducing industry into Mid-Wales unless one is prepared to give Mid-Wales at least equal treatment to that given to development districts. Anyone who has studied the problem knows that there is no prospect of attracting industrialists to Mid-Wales if one cannot offer them at least equal terms to those which they are offered in development districts. It would be far more honest to say, "We abandon Mid-Wales for industrial development. We abandon any prospect of being able to stop the drift of population". If the problem of depopulation is to be tackled effectively, these areas must be given equal priority to that given to areas suffering from unemployment.
I do not mind whether it is done by extending the Local Employment Acts of 1960 and 1963 to these areas, or whether it is done in a way which is outlined in "Signposts". I do not mind, as long as it is done effectively and as long as the rural areas are able to compete on at least equal terms with other areas. During the last 20 years no valuable contribution has been made to the solution of the depopulation problem. I do not want to decry the fact that we have had a few advance factories and that there is a promise of one or two more. We welcome that, but does the employment of 50 women in Aberystwyth contribute to any substantial extent to the solution of this problem? Of course it is a help, but anyone who suggests that the problem can be solved in that way considerably underestimates the extent of the difficulties.
715 I now turn to housing. The Minister mentioned the improvement of sound older houses. He has said clearly on previous occasions that he regarded this as a vitally important part of the housing programme. On one occasion he said, "We must modernise the decent older houses at an even faster rate than now." That is something which is important in the rural areas because we have a large number of basically sound houses, but they want a considerable amount spent on them if they are to be brought up to decent modern standards.
The Report goes on to refer to "pressing housing authorities to encourage more improvement work." What is the position in the rural areas? It is not a question of pressing local authorities to encourage more improvement work. That is not the problem at all. In the area in which I live, for example, there is no difficulty in getting applicants. The difficulty is to bring those applications within the compass of those which are permitted, as the system stands at the moment. Over 50 per cent. of the applications for discretionary improvement grants in my area had to be rejected last year. It is not a question of the local authority not doing its job and it is not a question of individuals, whether landlords or owner-occupiers not coming forward.
This is important because of the number of houses that we have which could be brought up to a decent standard and also from another point of view which the Minister touched upon that is to say, the shortage of suitable building labour in the country as a whole. This is particularly true of the rural areas. The labour force that we have there is far more adapted for carrying out tthe type of work involved under discretionary maintenance grants than in substantial housing programmes.
The local authorities find themselves, under the present regulations, having to reject over 50 per cent. of the applications. It is true that the local authorities are given very wide discretion but they tell me that the trouble is that the regulations clearly had in mind the position in urban areas. The position in urban areas involves, in the main, the conversion of large houses like old Victorian houses. Some of our local authorities in 716 the rural areas have got into trouble with the district auditor in respect of the discretionary grants which have been allowed. We are now creating an atmosphere in which they are inhibited in relation to considering applications for maintenance grants lest the district auditor should intervene.
I hope that the Minister will look again particularly at the practice notes he provides to local authorities. This is a source of bringing about improved housing conditions in rural areas which should be tapped to the full and it would be a considerable misfortune if full advantage were not taken of existing houses which could be brought up to a decent standard.
One other matter on housing in rural areas is the position of small boroughs which want to put through a sewerage scheme. Water and sewerage schemes, as everyone would concede, are an essential element of good housing conditions. What is the position in these small boroughs? There are in rural Wales boroughs where the product of a 1d. rate is anything from £100 to £200. If they are to put through a sewerage scheme the whole of that burden falls upon them. They do not qualify for any grant. Let me give one instance as an illustration.
The Borough of Cardigan is proposing to put through a much-needed sewerage scheme. It is technically a borough, but it is in the centre of a rural area and has more agricultural land within its boundaries than developed land. There are about 90 farms. To put through a sewerage scheme would involve that small borough in 2s. on the rates for the next 20 years. That has to be added on to a water rate of 2s., so, in fact, sewerage and water alone will mean 4s. in the £ on the rates. I hope that this question will be looked into, because it places a very severe handicap on small boroughs.
There is one other matter which I have raised time and again. That is the question of when we are to have a pronouncement from the Government in relation to an agricultural college for Wales. This is a very old chestnut indeed. A committee was set up in late 1955 and reported early in 1957. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food set up a working party which reported in 1960, and we have been told time and again that we were about to 717 have news as to the establishment of this college. The last thing that happened was that it was referred to the Welsh Joint Education Committee over 12 months ago and we still have no information about it.
§ Mr. J. Morris
It may be of some assistance to the hon. and learned Gentleman to know that I had a Question down today to the Secretary of State for Education and Science. The answer which the Under-Secretary gave was:My right hon. Friend is awaiting the recommendations of the Welsh Joint Education Committee, which is reviewing all full-time agricultural education below degree level in Wales.
§ Mr. Bowen
That is precisely what was said in April, 1963. It is the same procrastination that has been going on since 1957. The position has worsened in Wales in that time, because as from September this year the only place in Wales where one will be able to pursue an agricultural diploma is, under a makeshift arrangement, in a farm institute.
Compare that with the position in England and Scotland. England has seven institutions where a diploma in agriculture can be pursued, and Scotland has three. It is high time that the Government made up their mind about this. They have accepted the principle that Wales needs a college where an agricultural diploma can be obtained, and the whole weight of the evidence of one committee after another has been to the effect that Aberystwyth is the desirable location.
I would say, also, that the whole weight is against trying to get out of this by making some adaptations in relation to an existing farm institute. It is high time that the Government declared that Wales should have an agricultural college and accepted the advice which has been given time and again by one committee after another—that its proper location would be in Aberystwyth.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Box (Cardiff, North)
We are used, on Welsh day in the House of Commons, to fairly wide-ranging debates. Although, unfortunately, I was forced to miss the opening speech today, the ones that I have heard ranged fairly generally 718 over the whole of Wales. I was glad that I did not miss the amusing speech of the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. T. W. Jones). I have been called many things in my life, but seldom the meat in the sandwich. The hon. Member referred to the good old Welsh names of Birch, Box and Gower I dare to suggest that we could get a much meatier sandwich with good old Welsh names from hon. Members opposite—Abse, Callaghan, Donnelly, Finch, Foot, McBride, Padley and Soskice.
The hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) dealt fairly extensively with agricultural matters and matters affecting Mid-Wales, and I hope that I shall not confuse the issue when I say that I shall confine my remarks this evening to the current position and future prospects of industry and employment in Wales, with particular regard to the possible effect on such prospects of the Socialist policy statement as set out in "Signposts for the New Wales".
Certainly, it cannot be argued that the industrial scene in Wales at present is other than buoyant, bustling, confident and optimistic. Employment is just about at its highest level ever, and the opportunities of employment, particularly in the industrial areas—we recognise that there are also difficult pockets of unemployment—are demonstrated by the pages of advertisements of vacancies which appear almost daily in the local newspapers.
Gone, at least for the present, are the queues of unemployed school leavers, about which we used to hear a great deal. Now the situation has altered. We have the employers queuing to employ the school leavers rather than the other way about. As the summer term ends this year, the prospects for young boys and girls leaving school are better than they have been for a very long time. With more and more jobs in prospect in the future, the problem which we shall have to face in Wales is a shortage of labour, certainly in the industrial areas, rather than the surpluses of labour of the past. For the young people the problem is to get the jobs which offer the best prospects, or to train for the jobs which offer the best prospects, in the future.
I need hardly remind hon. Members that this transformation has not taken place overnight. It has been a gradual 719 process, a gradual evolution over 12 years or more, during which time the manufacturing industry of Wales has been developing at just about twice the rate of the rest of the United Kingdom. At the same time, we have reached the highly satisfactory state that the average manufacturing wages in Wales are at about the highest level of the whole of the country.
Much of this progress has undoubtedly been due to sound Conservative Government policies. In addition, various organisations have lent a hand. For example, in 1958 the Development Corporation for Wales was established under the chairmanship of Sir Miles Thomas and the vice-chairmanship of Sir Julian Pode. They have been tremendously successful not only in acting as a liaison between Government Departments, local authorities, and industrialists, both within and without the country, but also in publicising the many undoubted attractions which we have to offer in Wales. Their efforts have been further stimulated by the Local Employment Acts of 1960 and 1963, which have both played their part in bringing new opportunities to Wales.
Although a good deal of the prosperity of Wales still hinges on the heavy and traditional industries, such as coal, iron and steel, one of the outstanding features of recent years has been the diversification of the new industry which has come into our country. These industries include nylon, chemicals, textiles, oil and electrical plant to mention only a few. These are located in quite a number of different parts of Wales and are not necessarily confined to what we know as the traditional industrial areas.
Among the nationalised industries, coal has undergone a considerable transformation in recent years as a result largely of the expenditure of £90 million on a five-year plan which is due to end next year and also as a result of the enterprise of Lord Robens—I nearly said the private enterprise of Lord Robens—in regrouping collieries, and closing those which are no longer economically sound or which are running out of coal reserves. As a result of these policies, production has been increased without a similar increase in the cost of production. 720 Even though the south-western area is still in the red and still unfortunately suffers the highest accident rate in the whole of the United Kingdom, at least some attempt is being made to tackle these problems.
In mentioning the steel industry, I have no intention of repeating the arguments of the nationalisation debate of last week. As Wales contributes no less than 75 per cent. of the country's output of sheet steel, the whole of the output of tinplate, 30 per cent. of the output of crude steel and 25 per cent of the country's output of pig iron, the proposal of hon. Members opposite to nationalise the steel industry, as repeated in this policy document, is of vital and fundamental importance to Wales.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
Will the hon. Member give us the figures for the steels which he has mentioned which are produced by publicly-owned firms?
§ Mr. Box
Obviously, I am unable to give the figures for the publicly-owned firm. There is only one publicly-owned firm in Wales—Richard Thomas and Baldwin, which undoubtedly produces some of that 75 per cent. of the sheet steel but by no means all of it, since it has been in production for only 12 months or 18 months.
§ Mr. Padley
The second giant, the Steel Company of Wales, has a giant plant at Margam which was planned by the late Hugh Dalton, as a result of State planning with over £100 million of the taxpayers' money. It was not denationalised until 1957. Will the hon. Member not agree that the lion's share of the Welsh steel industry was built by State planning decision with the taxpayers' money and that only a part of it has been denationalised by the Tory Government?
§ Mr. Box
I shall be dealing later with the financial aspect of steel nationalisation, but I would rather not be diverted at this point from the course of my speech. No doubt I shall be able to deal later with the point made by the hon. Member.
During the debate on nationalisation last week, I was particularly interested in the remarks of the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. J. Morris). Referring to 721 the nationalisation of the steel industry, he said.It is bad for the industry to remain a political shuttlecock.It is quite obvious that we can find a cure for the steel industry being a political shuttlecock if hon. Members opposite will drop their claim to nationalise the industry.
The hon. Member went on to make a curious, and I consider sinister, reference in the next sentence, when he said:I am sure that when the time comes after the next General Election, no longer will it be open to the Tory Party to denationalise it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th June, 1964; Vol. 696, c. 1525.]I wonder what he meant by those words. Was he perhaps lifting a corner of the shroud of secrecy which Socialist Members seem determined to put over their plans for renationalising the steel industry, or was it an admission that if they have the opportunity the Socialists intend so to integrate and scramble the industry beyond recognition that if at some future General Election the electorate decided that they would prefer the industry to be denationalised, it would be politically impossible to do it? Does he mean, for example, that the Steel Company of Wales, in its present form, will cease to exist? If he does, then he ought to tell his constituents before the next General Election.
§ Mr. J. Morris rose—
§ Mr. Box
I have one or two other points to make if the hon. Member will contain himself.
In justifying the loss made by Richard Thomas and Baldwin, later in his speech, he referred to the loss of £4.7 million made by Colvilles in its first period after the opening of the strip mill. I am sure that he did not intend to do it, but it is a fact that he omitted to say that over a week before his speech was delivered Colvilles announced considerably improved profits for the six months ending 31st March last by comparison with the comparable period in the previous year. Profits before tax were about £2½ million, against losses of £1¼ million for the previous year. With typical Socialist logic, he demanded to know when the Government intended to denationalise Richard Thomas and Baldwin.
722 This touches on the point made by the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Padley). If one intends to threaten an industry, to depress the price of shares and to depress the chance of raising capital for that industry, it is not good enough then to turn round and to ask, "When will you denationalise it?" One creates a situation which makes it physically impossible to denationalise any industry while there is a threat of re-nationalisation. I will enlighten the hon. Member and tell him that the time that we shall denationalise Richard Thomas and Baldwin is when we are returned with a substantial majority after the next General Election, when the capital market for steel shares will improve considerably and when investors will gladly take shares in Richard Thomas and Baldwin.
§ Mr. J. Morris
I am sure that the whole House is obliged to the hon. Member for his attendance. One hon. Member opposite made a speech and went away shortly after 5.30 p.m. The hon. Member paid us the compliment of coming to the House after the debate had been going for two and a half hours.
Who is making the steel industry a shuttlecock but the hon. Member? Had he gone on to quote me in full he would have quoted the remarks of the advertisement by Stewarts and Lloyds, in which it complained of the uncertainty which prevailed in the company and said that the uncertainty arose because of the policy of the Conservative Party towards Richard Thomas and Baldwin.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)
Order. I know that the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Box) has given way, but it is not in order to make a speech within a speech. The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. J. Morris) should confine himself to asking questions of the hon. Member for Cardiff, North.
§ Mr. J. Morris
With respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I have no wish to challenge your decision, but the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Box) has asked me a question, and he demands an answer. Perhaps in a matter of seconds I may be permitted to reply.
As for the integration of the industry, I made the position quite plain in a debate on the Iron and Steel Board. I do not visualise that there will be an 723 independently organised S.C.O.W. after the next General Election. It will be part of the nationalised steel industry.
The hon. Member referred to Colvilles. Perhaps he has forgotten that his Government had to make a rearrangement of the financial debt which Colvilles owed to the Government because of its failure in the last few years.
§ Mr. Box
Regardless of what the hon. Member said, I still think that the Steel Company of Wales is likely to remain in the hands of private enterprise for many years to come. I remind the hon. Member that about two-and-a-half years ago Colvilles raised a considerable amount of capital from its shareholders at a price of about 57s. a share. These, shares have been down to 20s. and currently are about 31s. 6d. I ought to know. I was one of the unfortunate ones who helped to put up that capital.
Be that as it may, in Committee on the Finance Bill the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) made a number of highly colourful, highly publicised and, as it now appears, highly inaccurate statements and allegations against certain companies concerning their subscriptions to industrial and other concerns, which, he claims, were associated with the Conservative Party. In that list of companies which the hon. Member censured for not giving the information, he rather surprisingly included Guest, Keen's, which as hon. Members will know, is in his constituency. It would be difficult to find a more blatent example of base ingratitude than a reference to a company in the hon. Member's own constituency.
Guest, Keen's has for many years—60 years or more—provided well-paid jobs to thousands in the hon. Member's constituency. It did so in the grim days before the war and it has done so in the more difficult times since the war. It did so long before the hon. Member entered politics, long before he came to Wales and long before he represented Cardiff, South-East. I dare to suggest that it will go on doing so long afterwards as well.
Cardiff Docks has largely existed on the revenue obtained from Guest, Keen's imports of iron ore. It may well have been that Cardiff Docks would have 724 had to close but for that source of revenue. The Company is also a substantial ratepayer to the city. Often, we who have lived in Cardiff rather longer than the hon. Member look upon Guest, Keen's as the saviours of Cardiff, because the company has been there through thick and thin. It is all too easy to praise some of the new companies, such as Rover, which we welcome to Cardiff, and forget those old friends of ours.
Just because the directors of the company might happen to disagree with the hon. Member about what is best for the future of its employees and, indeed, his constituents, I hardly think that it was fair of the hon. Member to have included Guest, Keen's in this way.
§ Mr. Box
It was very unfair to include a company which is providing a great deal of employment to the hon. Member's constituents in a list of companies which he censured for some vague allegation of not answering shareholders' questions about whether the company subscribed to Aims of Industry, the Conservative Party, or some other organisation.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am still trying to understand the point. I gave a list. It was not a vague allegation. I had correspondence from a shareholder who wrote to me saying that she was unable to get satisfaction from Guest, Keen & Nettle-folds when she asked about its contributions to the Conservative Party. After all, the chairman of the company has recently been knighted for his party services. He is treasurer of the Conservative Party in Wales. It seems to me to have been a reasonable request on the part of that lady to ask what part of her shareholding funds was going to the Conservative Party. It has nothing to do with censuring the company, or with the employment that is provided.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The chairman of the company would not reply to a shareholder's question. How many times do I have to say it?
§ Mr. Box
Whatever the hon. Member thinks, we in Cardiff are grateful to Guest, Keen's for the part that it has played over many long years.
One fact which hon. Members opposite cannot dispute is that nationalisation tends to increase prices. I will willingly give way to any hon. Member opposite who may wish to mention any one item which has come down in price since nationalisation.
Unfortunately, if the steel industry is to be nationalised, the effect of that nationalisation will not be confined to the steel industry alone. It would increase not only the price of steel, but the prices of many of the articles that are made from steel throughout the country.
§ Mr. Iorwerth Thomas (Rhondda, West)
Is the hon. Member aware that by a recent decision of the Restrictive Practices Court the steel industry was instructed to abolish its fixed prices in the market and that the Court accused the steel industry of putting prices above world economic prices? This is an instance of the steel industry denying to consumers the benefits of its high productivity by keeping prices at certain levels. It was an independent court which condemned the steel industry for this practice.
§ Mr. Box
I had dinner with a group of German steel-makers last night and I assure the hon. Member that our steel industry is very competitive and competes well in the European market. I am glad that the Restrictive Practices Court is working so well. I assure the hon. Member that if the steel industry were to be nationalised, steel would not be selling at its present reasonable price.
This would be the effect of an increase in steel prices. The chemical industry, for example, uses 1 per cent. of the national output of steel and the increase in price would be bad for Monsanto, at Newport, and Ruavon and Distillers, at Barry. Electrical machinery uses 2.7 per cent. of the output and any increase would be bad for Aberdare Cables, of Aberdare, and its brilliant subsidiary, South Wales Switchgear, of Blackwood, Mon. The electrical goods industry, 726 including domestic electrical goods, uses 2½ per cent. of the national output of steel. The result would be bad for Hoover, of Merthyr Tydfil, and Sobell Radio and Television at Hirwain. Shipbuilding and ship-repairing use 4 per cent. of the national output of steel. The result would be bad for ship repairers, Bailey and Mountstuart, of Cardiff and Barry.
The motor industry uses a large portion—15.3 per cent.—of the national output. Bad for Rover's, of Cardiff, and B.M.C., of Llanelly. Wire ropes use 8.4 per cent. of the output. Bad for Excelsior Ropes, the Cardiff subsidiary of British Rope. Cans and boxes use 4½ per cent. Bad for Metal Box, of Neath. Forgings and castings take 4.4 per cent. Bad for Power Duffryn and for T. W. Ward, of Briton Ferry.
It would be bad also for the 370 engineering firms which operate in Wales and for many other industries which are forced to use steel as part of their main components. Other sections of the iron and steel industry use 3.9 per cent. of the output of the industry. Nationalised industries also play their part in that coal requires 3.4 per cent. and gas, electricity and water 1 per cent.
Therefore, we have the dangers of the vicious spiral of increasing prices. Increased steel prices would lead to increases in the price of coal and many other commodities. They would lead to increased costs of gas and electricity, which in turn would send up other prices also. When we remember that half the country's exports are based upon the steel industry, it does not need a lot of imagination to visualise what a disastrous effect steel nationalisation would have upon the export trade, as well.
Provided that there is no meddling and muddling by a Socialist Government, I view the future prospects of Wales as being brighter than ever before. The main reason for my optimism is that Wales has so much to offer that it need not fear competition from other parts of the country in the long term. We welcome the Government's efforts to bring increased employment to the North-East and Scotland. We have been through those difficult times. We are delighted, even if it means that one or 727 two industries which might have come to Wales have gone to the North-East and Scotland instead. We welcome the possibility of their sharing some of our prosperity.
The obvious attractions of Wales are bound to tell in the long run. What other country, what other region of the United Kingdom, can offer nearby supplies of coal, sheet steel, tinplate, oil, chemicals, timber and many other of the requirements of expanding and increasing industries? Geographically, we are at an advantage, too. Cardiff is now only 2¼ hours from London and the road distance between the two capital cities is diminishing daily as the M.4 gets under way.
With the Severn Bridge under construction this road programme will in due course lead to a considerable lowering of transport costs into and out of Wales. At the same time, the road from the Midlands to South Wales and the road from the Midlands to West Wales via the Heads of Valleys roads will also make a substantial contribution to the prosperity of those areas. I was pleased to see that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport announced only a few days ago that it is intended to spend no less than £60 million on improving road communications into and throughout Wales in the next five years.
The proximity of the South Wales ports and these dramatic improvements in road communications, and the availability of labour in some parts of Wales will commend Wales more and more to industrialists in the future. Even the development districts are for the most part free from the ugliness and squalor normally associated with places of need. On the contrary, some of them, as we have heard from some hon. Members today, are in the most desirable and beautiful parts tof Wales. It may well be that soon some of these problem towns, the tops of the valleys of which we have heard a great deal in past years, will find that they are entering a new era of prosperity when the Heads of Valleys roads are really completed. I read only recently that the Rhondda is facing a new era of prosperity in this respect.
There has been so much misconception about Wales in the past, and I am 728 afraid that there is a certain prejudice in some parts and in some minds still. These mistaken attitudes can only really be overcome by a visit to our country. It was reported recently that one industrialist, visiting Wales for the first time, said that he sensed an electric and dynamic atmosphere which, he said, had to be experienced to be appreciated. I think perhaps the best proof that this is no exaggeration is the fact that the hundreds of firms which have come to Wales since the war, some of them quite reluctantly, have settled down, many of them to expand and to employ larger and larger numbers of our people.
If a problem exists as a result of this new-found prosperity, and particularly in regard to the improved road communications into North Wales and South Wales, one can say that it is the future unity of Wales. With two-thirds of the population in the south, and the advent of the Severn Bridge, it is possible that Cardiff, some time in the future, may become the focal point, a sort of capital city not only for Wales but for the West of England as well. Certainly at the present time it is very much easier for people in most parts of North Wales to go to Liverpool, perhaps, to do their shopping than to come to Cardiff.
It may be, of course, that the solution to this problem lies in a further improvement in the internal roads. It would certainly help our tourist industry, and I am sure that this is just the sort of problem which is under review by the research and development unit of the Welsh Office at the present time, and perhaps we shall have some light thrown upon the position when we read its report next year.
However, the questions which we have finally to ask ourselves are these. Are we going to put this prosperity we have found at risk by paying any attention to the woolly-worded document "Signposts to the New Wales"? Hon. Members opposite set great store on having a Secretary of State for Wales. I wish I could agree with them, because I think it is a nice idea, but I simply do not see the point of creating a Minister without proper authority when we have a perfectly adequate Minister in the Cabinet, the Minister for Welsh Affairs, so ably assisted by the Minister of State. Some people say, "Scotland has a 729 Secretary of State. Why not Wales?" They are inclined to overlook the fact that the distance from London to Scotland is something over twice what it is from Cardiff to London and that the population is about double in Scotland, and also the number of Members of Parliament sitting in this House is about double as well. I look upon this as just another red herring, rather like the home rule policy which used to feature in the Socialist policy for Wales but which has now been dropped as it was found that it was not too attractive.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
The hon. Member said that a Welsh Secretary of State would not have proper authority. What authority does the Minister for Welsh Affairs have?
§ Mr. Box
At least he has a very important voice in the Cabinet and he can ensure that problems affecting Wales are properly ventilated at that level.
The other problem is that of the Welsh Planning Board, by which hon. Members opposite set great store. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East—I am sorry that he has left the Chamber—was more specific than the policy document, which refers to steering new industries to areas where they are most needed. In a debate on regional development on 4th December, 1963, the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East had this to say—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)
Order. It is irregular to quote directly from speeches made in the same Session of Parliament. If the hon. Member wishes to refer to what the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said, he must do it obliquely.
§ Mr. Box
I defer to what you say, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
During the debate in December last year, the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East committed his party to a policy of direction of industry quite categorically and without any reservation.
I claim that if we have direction of industry we must have direction of labour, too. I am confirmed in that opinion by the statement made by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East to the Labour Party Conference of 1962, 730 when he said: "Beware of direction of industry. It can lead to direction of labour, too". I see in this policy document that hon. Members opposite claim that the spectacular post-war developments in industry were built on public enterprise and financed by public funds. Yet the only steel company making losses in Wales—I hope that by now it may be making profits; however, the last report showed that it made substantial losses—is Richard Thomas & Baldwin, which is nationalised and financed partly by Government money because of the position forced on the industry by the threat of nationalisation.
On transport, hon. Members opposite fume about rail closures. But what alternative have they to offer? They refer to a plan as a panacea for our transport problems. They should be more specific. Do they intend to reopen the lines which have been found to be uneconomic and which have been closed in recent months? Do they intend to extend the railways of Wales? Or do they intend to sack Dr. Beeching if they get the opportunity?
Presumably hon. Members opposite are as united on this matter as they are on the future of the Welsh universities. At the last count, according to a Motion on the Order Paper, nine hon. Members opposite were in favour of federation of the universities and nine were not in favour of it. As always, the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. S. O. Davies) took a line of his own. This is one occasion—and there are many others—when the signposts are pointing in opposite directions.
Frankly, we are sick of the signposts, and I believe that when the time comes the electorate of the country, and not least the electorate of Wales, will prefer to reach their destination safely under the guidance of a Conservative Government.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Goronwy Roberts (Caernarvon)
This is the last occasion in this Parliament that we can discuss Welsh affairs on the Floor of the House. There will be an opportunity to discuss them in the Welsh Grand Committee during the next few days.
It is as well, I think, that this debate should have been concerned with broad 731 matters of principle. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has described with clarity and eloquence the main features of Labour Party policy for Wales, but it is difficult to gather from the utterances of hon. and right hon. Members opposite what their future policy for Wales is to be or what guiding principles they have on the subject. They seem to be eminently well satisfied with things as they are, economically, socially and administratively, and this, of course, is the quintessence of Conservative philosophy.
§ The Amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) does not help us very much, particularly as the right hon. Gentleman himself has seen fit to flee from the scene at a very early hour this evening. One would have liked to hear him develop one or two of the phrases in the Amendment, notably the phrase, "the Government's constructive policies". By a "constructive policy", do hon. Members opposite mean the destruction of a large section of the railway system of Wales, mostly in areas of high unemployment and depopulation, and conspicuously in areas which need new capital investment, certainly not the withdrawal of their few existing assets?
§ One would have liked to hear the right hon. Gentleman explain whether a constructive policy in regard to communications means a new improvement in the North-South road link, which is still very poor. We must be the only country the two ends of which are easiest and soonest reached if one goes out into another country first. After 13 years of this sunshine talk, why is it that we are the only country in Western Europe without the vestige of an internal commercial air service?
§ I pass to my second point. One would have liked to test the validity of the expression "constructive policies" against the glaring ineptitude of the Government in the face of the deep-rooted rural problems of Wales. One wonders whether the promoters of the Amendment have any idea what has happened in the Lleyn Peninsula, which, during the period of the present Government's power, has lost one-fifth of its population. In that period, repeated requests and pleas for assistance 732 to reinvigorate the economy of this populous peninsula have been turned down.
§ Have the promoters of the Amendment the case of Mid-Wales in mind when they speak of the Government's constructive policies? As my right hon. Friend emphasised, this area is the very heartland of Wales, and it is dying on its feet. During the past ten years, it has been investigated and reported on time and time again. Ten years ago, my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins) and I were engaged in a debate on a magnificent report on how to put things right in Mid-Wales. The answer we got then, like the one we get now, was "We must have another Report". So we have been thrown from one report to another for ten years and more.
§ The Minister for Welsh Affairs, replying to the chairman of the Mid-Wales Association, has already made quite clear that this main concession to the demands of the people of Mid-Wales is that they should wait for another report, the All-Wales Survey, which may be published next year. It is true that he has made one or two suggestions. For instance, he has suggested that tourism, the holiday industry, may save Mid-Wales. I wish that the Government would get away from the idea that tourism is a panacea for our economic difficulties in rural Wales. Our summers are beautiful but brief.
§ Mr. Roberts
We are getting on. I read the right hon. Gentleman's letter to the chairman of the Association as urging very strongly that tourism might go a very long way indeed to solve the problems of Mid-Wales.
§ Mr. Roberts
I am interested in a constituency which is very much in Mid-Wales, and I can tell the House quite firmly that tourism in the rural areas of Wales, as in the rest of Britain, is at best an economic additive, never a solution for unemployment and depopulation. Because of its strictly seasonal character, it throws up serious questions in relation to National Insurance and unemployment benefit. After 733 two or three summers, hundreds of workers in the Lleyn Peninsula are denied unemployment benefit because they then automatically become seasonal workers.
I pass to my third point. In his letter to the chairman of the Association, the Minister referred also to afforestation as a possible help towards the solution of our problems in Mid-Wales. We must be very careful about this, too. The Report on Developments and Government Action of which we are taking note reveals the significant fact that this is a declining industry in rural Wales. The year before last, there were 3,400 forestry workers in Wales. Last year, there were 3,200. The fact is that under present policies, the "constructive policies" mentioned in the Amendment, the decline in forestry is inevitable as the amount of plantable land becomes scarcer and automation increases. This is a declining industry. It could be an expanding one and make a significant contribution to the solution of the problems of areas such as this.
If the Welsh forests not only produced the timber but also processed it—and that is an all-important condition—then that really would constitute an attractive policy. At present, the trees are planted and tended by a handful of Welsh workers and the matured timber is exported from Wales to provide work in congested English conurbations where there is already plenty of it. If the Amendment means anything constructive in regard to areas like Mid-Wales, it will mean that the afforestation programme of the next ten years, which is to be a substantial one on the uplands of Scotland and Wales, will be married to the processive industries in these areas.
My third point concerns the question of the content as well as the amount of industry in Wales. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite may feel that they are riding high on the crest of a fairly full employment position in Wales, and no one will deny that unemployment there has generally declined. We all rejoice in the fact. But a constructive policy should—again to borrow a phrase of the Amendment—ask not only whether Wales is securing a fair share of industry but whether it is securing its fair share of 734 the right kind of industry, the modern expanding growth industries.
It is a fact that more than a quarter of our workers are employed in declining industries. As compared with the Midlands and the South-East, our share of these modern growth industries is perilously low and we may find that the consequences of this will have to be faced in the next five years or so. The position at the moment in a period of boom is quite good, but we should all look a little below the surface of the employment position in Wales and ask whether, in the next five to ten years, the declining industries of which my right hon. Friend spoke so remarkably will not be joined by other industries which now we believe to be sound.
It is because of the imbalance as between one type of industry and another, the preponderance of the older, declining type of industry, that our population is almost static. On this point I wish to re-assure the Minister, who interrupted me when I intervened in the speech of the hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Hugh Rees) and said that I was giving the House wrong figures. I said that over the ten years from 1951 to 1961, the population of Wales had only increased by 54,000. The correct figure is 52,000—just 2,000 worse than I thought. The comparable figure for England and Wales had, I said, gone up by about 4 million. Actually the figure is less than 4 million. It is 3½ million.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I was not quarrelling with the hon. Gentleman's figure for Wales but with his figure for the growth of Great Britain, which is well under 4 million.
§ Mr. Roberts
I accept the right hon. Member's explanation of why he intervened in the way he did. I do not think that the House will regard as a major exaggeration my statement that the growth figure was 4 million instead of 3½ million. The fact remains that Wales is not retaining its natural increase. Almost the equivalent of the natural increase has been drained away to the modern growth industries in the large conurbations of England, leaving behind a gradually ageing population, and this accounts in part for the fact that the percentage of apprenticeships in Wales is so much lower than for the rest of Britain—24 per cent. compared 735 with 43 per cent.—and is declining every year.
We have not enough of that type of industry which automatically creates apprenticeship and training schemes. That will have to be put right if we are to retain even in our populous areas, even in the industrial areas, let alone in rural Wales, the young, vigorous, adaptable and trainable workers.
I would like to end on a note rather less controversial. My right hon. Friend described to the House the new arrangements we propose for the administration, the ministerial control, the better government of Wales when we are returned in October. I hope that hon. Members of all parties, in the House as in Wales will welcome this reform and will move together to build together a new edifice on a durable base. The recruits to the Civil Service will have to make proper arrangements for the Welsh Grand Committee and the publication of Estimates and other information about the Principality. This is a work which we must co-operate without distinction of party to do properly. I am sure that in Wales itself there is the greatest possible agreement in favour of this move.
Some Welshmen would like to go further and some not so far, but the mass of the Welsh people are behind the policy enunciated by my right hon. Friend. I hope that the next debate on Welsh affairs on the Floor of the House will be opened by the Secretary of State for Wales.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. W. G. Morgan (Denbigh)
Appreciating as I do how late the hour is, I shall cut down the few observations which I wish to make. All I want to say relates to the problems of rural Wales and to some extent I want to follow what has already been said by the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen).
I want, first, very briefly to join issue about some of the observations made in the Labour Party pamphlet to which attention has been drawn. By courtesy of the Opposition, I have been presented with two copies, one in Welsh and one in English. I was sorry to see a glaring grammatical error on the cover of the 736 Welsh one, but perhaps it lends point to my urgings to my right hon. Friend to give greater assistance to Welsh language publications, although this was hardly the type of publication which I had in mind.
Unfortunately, a grammatical slip is not the only mistake which appears in this pamphlet. There are some allegations which cannot bear examination. I have never decried the assistance given by hon. Members opposite to Welsh agriculture during their period of power, but they must be fan to us about our own achievements in that respect.
On page 12 of the pamphlet, they paint a very gloomy picture. They claim that rural industries are declining and that housing, roads and electrification have lost their momentum under a Tory Government. Of course, rural industries present a difficult problem, but I was interested to see in the Report on Development and Government Action in Wales that the Rural Industries Bureau is doing so much to assist that there are now about 2,000 firms connected with it. I very much welcome the undertaking given in the Welsh Grand Committee by my right hon. Friend to the hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes), and myself that this matted would be further discussed.
The pamphlet does not pay any tribute to the enormous amount of rural electrification work which has been done. It does not say anything about what has been achieved under the provisions of the Agriculture (Improvement of Roads) Act, 1955. My only regret is that the life of that admirable Statute has not continued very much longer.
Last, but not least, it makes no reference to the very important Small Farmer Scheme. It says:Wales is a country of small farmers, and we recognise the vital contribution which they make to our culture as well as to our economy.So do we, and a great deal has been done under the terms of that scheme. More than £5 million has been committed in grants and nearly 8,000 farm business plans have been approved.
I do not have time to say anything about the Welsh Water Board, as I would very much have liked to do.
737 There are just two other matters to which I should like to refer. I do not agree with the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan that the Government should extend the privileges of development districts to areas like Mid-Wales. That would be an unrealistic policy.
§ Mr. Morgan
It is a little late to go into details. I accept the general principle put forward by my right hon. Friend in the Welsh Grand Committee on that. If one spreads aid too much, it becomes less effective, but I ask my right hon. Friend to consider the possibility of strengthening the work and the finances of the development commissioners who have done such sterling work.
I ask him to bear in mind particularly three kinds of areas—small towns; and I have one in my constituency—where there has been a sudden and dramatic increase in unemployment due to closures of small local industries, other towns where there is a threat of unemployment because of local government reorganisation, and, last but not least, those areas where there is concealed unemployment as a result of the ravages of depopulation.
I wish to associate myself with what was said by the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan about the agricultural college. This is not just a matter of prestige. It is an important factor for keeping within the Principality those graduates who otherwise might, and do, become lost to Wales. As the hon. and learned Gentleman said, this is an old chestnut. I remember raising the matter in a corresponding debate two years ago. It has been referred to in the Welsh Grand Committee, and I therefore ask my right hon. Friends to expedite their decision on this matter, and to make it a favourable one.
In conclunsion, I ask my right hon. Friend to pay attention to the few matters which I have been able to raise in my short speech.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East))
My time is even shorter, so I shall confine myself to three points. I should like to have had the opportunity to take up the argument of the hon. Member for 738 Cardiff, North (Mr. Box) on steel prices. I have never heard anything so insolently dishonest as his argument about the list of firms, in which he took an unproved hypothesis and erected upon it a towering edifice of non sequiturs. I have not time to go further than that tonight.
I should like to ask the Minister to pay attention to something which concerns us acutely in North-East Wales, and that is the whole question of the canalisation of the Dee and a possible causeway crossing from the Wirral. The Government have so far refused to make a contribution to the investigations needed in this matter and I hope that we shall not have to wait until the Welsh survey, for which everything is being held up, before we get further assistance in this matter.
There is one other matter which is of considerable interest and concern to my constituents. The Minister mentioned one or two matters of social policy, but he was highly selective. He talked a great deal about targets. What has happened to the targets for hospitals in Wales? We in North-East Wales expected to have a hospital in the programme in the quinquennium beginning 1966. In the recent Hospital Plan, published last month, there is no mention whatsoever of this hospital. Our inquiries show that this hospital has been put off to some unspecified time after 1974. This has happened at the same time as the Liverpool hospital programme has been cut down.
I have a letter from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry concerning Chester hospitals the other hospitals on which we depend, in which he said:… despite the opening of a new outpatient department the Chester hospitals are pretty hard-pressed. For this reason, the building of a new comprehensive hospital is planned for the area. But until there is further development also in areas that have become used to looking to Chester, there is likely to be some pressure, to an extent unpredictable, from them which may make for waiting lists longer than we should like.This is official euphemism Waiting lists are long, and we would like to know when we are to get our new hospital.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
The; Government must be very grateful to us for having put down our Amendment. I do not know what they 739 would have done without it. Hardly any Government speakers—wherever they may be at the moment—have discussed the Government's Report. What they have been discussing is our document, "Signposts to the New Wales", and on behalf of my hon. Friends I would like to thank them for the advertisement that they have given us. None of us feels discomforted at their attempt to analyse the document. We are grateful to them. At one stage it seemed to me that we were having a trailer for the Queen's Speech next October.
I suppose that it is a measure of the decline in the morale of Government supporters that they should feel it hardly worth while to discuss their own plans for the future but should spend their time discussing ours. We have no objection. We are only too glad to have provided constructive proposals for the future, which, however controversial, are well-placed and will restore a sense of dynamism as well as social justice to Wales.
I hope that I can say without fear of contradiction—I think I can, in view of the absence of hon. Members opposite—that this has been a good debate—better than we have had on a number of Welsh days in the past, because it has ranged fairly widely, and because a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House have attempted to look ahead in order to see how Wales is likely to emerge from the present transitional phase.
I know that I am speaking for everybody when I say that we are all glad to see my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (Mr. L1. Williams) back in his place, looking really fit again.
There is one small point I want to make. Although I am sure that the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) will not regard it as small, I hope that he will be grateful to me. I agree entirely that Barry Docks should not be closed, despite the recommendation in the Rochdale Report. I was never convinced by Rochdale on this. However good he may have been on a number of other matters in his analysis of the subject and about possible developments in Barry, I thought that it was an extremely superficial Report in this respect, and what has taken place in Barry over the last year has disproved the forecast of the Committee. I hope 740 that the National Ports Council will not feel obliged to follow the recommendations of the Committee in a matter of this sort. The sooner the issue is settled and Barry is given a clear indication that it can go ahead and expect to develop its trade the better for Barry and for the whole of South Wales.
I do not take the view that this country is over-docked. This has been a popular and conventional view, but the Dutch do not look at these matters in this way. If anybody gives them a strip of water which has a depth of more than 6 ft. they will quickly transform it into a first-class waterways system. I am sure that we can do the same, and if we have the increase in foreign trade that is likely to come about if the great new proposals for growth come to fruition we shall need our docks. I believe that as a matter of principle, and not on sentimental and nostalgic grounds, we should resist the closure of docks. At any rate, the onus of proof should be placed upon those who want to close down the docks. We should not take a short-sighted view of the matter. In Cardiff we are on the verge of great developments in the port—at least, I hope so.
I want to make two or three points fairly quickly. The first concerns housing. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), in a speech which was packed with fact and informed with passion, made a good case about the situation there today, as all those of us who are familiar with Cardiff know, whether we be city councillors or Members of Parliament. I use Cardiff as an illustration not because I wish to make constituency points—they can be made on other occasions—but because it is illustrative of the situation in which we are placed.
During the last 10 or 12 years the accent of the Government's programme has been on building houses for sale, even though it has been known officially that the majority of the people there are unable to afford those houses. Time after time, at public inquiries, the case has been made on behalf of the Cardiff City Council that two-thirds of those who need houses cannot afford to buy them. Therefore, local authorities must bear the strain of providing these houses.
We can argue about rent rebate schemes and the rest of it. Cardiff 741 happens to have a differentiated system, but I need not go into the details now. I see no credit in that for the Government. I believe it a major mistake on their part that over the last 10 years they have discouraged local authority building of houses and have encouraged private building of houses in an undue proportion. No one could possibly argue that if two-thirds of the people wanting houses in Cardiff are unable to afford the cost of purchasing a house, it is a sound, wise, humane, just or compassionate policy to deny them those houses because the resources are being diverted to the building of houses to sell.
The Minister has a split mind on planning—I will come back to that later. The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to know quite whether he believes in targets or not. I wish to take up his analysis of the future for house building. He told us—the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong—that he hopes to complete 16,000 houses this year—
§ Mr. Callaghan
And 17,000 houses this year rising to 19,000 houses in 1966. That is an increase from 14,000 last year, which, of course, is a very large increase. It amounts to 25 per cent. in a matter of three years, from 14,000 to 19,000. The right hon. Gentleman wishes to maintain that increase right up to 1971 at least, and perhaps beyond—
§ Mr. Callaghan
Or even higher. So we are to have an increase of 25 per cent. in the next three years and this is to be maintained well beyond 1977, and maybe even higher for the rest of the century. I think I have the proposition. Well, what has the right hon. Gentleman been doing? He tells us that the number of houses completed last year was 14,000 and that was a 742 bad year because of the weather. In 1962 the figure was 15,110. In 1953, 10 years ago, the figure was 15,550 and so we have actually had fewer houses built in 1963 than were built in 1953. Now, suddenly, the right hon. Gentleman says we are to have an increase of 25 per cent. in three years and indeed we are going to get the figure even higher during the rest of the century. What has he been doing? If he could start it now, and get an increase of 25 per cent. in the output of houses in Wales during this period of three years, why has not he done it earlier? Why is it that from 1953 to 1963 the building industry has been static—indeed its output declined and then went back again?
This is a serious criticism which the right hon. Gentleman will have to meet. He will have to tell us what it has been about the building industry which prevented this increase of 25 per cent. from taking place 10 years ago. If he can achieve a 25 per cent. increase in the period from 1963 to 1966, why could not that have happened in the period from 1953 to 1956? If that had been done, and if there had been a 25 per cent. increase, we should have another 40,000 houses in Wales by now. So the right hon. Gentleman must forgive us if we are a little sceptical about these pre-election promises that come along at this late stage. It has taken 10 years for the right hon. Gentleman to move on this basic figure of 15,000 houses.
The Minister says that he hopes to get these houses out of the new system building methods because the construction industry, as at present organised, will not do the job. I agree with him, it will not. One of the criticisms which must be made of the Government is that over the last 10 years they have failed to enlarge the construction industry in Wales so that it could cope with the burden which the right hon. Gentleman now wishes to place upon it.
Time after time we have raised in the House the question of the disparity between the number of apprentices in the building industry, as well as in other industries, in Wales and those in England. There are fewer openings for apprentices in the building industry, as well as in other industries, in Wales and those in England. There are fewer 743 openings for apprentices in Wales today, and there always have been. The Minister could have got his increase long ago out of the basic construction industry, never mind these new methods of industrialised housing. He could have got the increase out of the basic construction industry, if the apprenticeship system in Wales had been encouraged.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Box) seemed to think that the employment position among young people was improving. I can only tell him that the Youth Employment Committee in Cardiff does not agree with him. The chairman, Councillor Coakley, who will be known to the hon. Gentleman, and the deputy-chairman, Councillor Bella Brown—the hon. Gentleman will recognise both these names; these people happen to be members of his party—in their report for the year ending 30th September, 1963, which is the last which has been published, say this, in contrast to the hon. Gentleman's optimism:The figures are taken from the records of the section dealing with unemployment benefit and National Assistance grants and show, unfortunately, that the employment position has been slowly deteriorating over the last five years.If the hon. Gentleman cares to read the second appendix, to which these councillors refer, he will find that the number of unemployed young people has increased every year since 1958.
§ Mr. Box rose—
§ Mr. Callaghan
I shall not give way. The hon. Gentleman took 35 minutes. I shall take only 20. If the hon. Gentleman had taken a reasonable time, I would have given way. The hon. Gentleman can read the report and see for himself. Then he can write his answer to the Western Mail.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The hon. Gentleman apologised for that, but he kept most of us sitting here for 35 minutes while he made a few comments that we could well have done without. The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that I started at 10 minutes past nine to 744 give other hon. Members an opportunity to speak.
The next point is the question of what can be done by way of reduced interest rates and the relaxation of other charges for those who wish to purchase their houses. This point was raised by the hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Hugh Rees). Local authorities will certainly be given fuller access to the Public Works Loan Board than they have had during the past few years. This access has been denied them, although the Government have now, rather belatedly, allowed them to return and borrow from the Board. Local authorities will be allowed the Public Works Loan Board rate of borrowing. This will help them in their approach to building houses for rent.
As to the rest, there are a number of propositions here which we will want to examine, with a view to implementing them. I offer them to the party opposite, because, although the party opposite put this in its manifesto, it will not do it any good. People have become used to the party opposite by now and do not believe what it says. First, the City of Cardiff has already adopted a proposal voluntarily that we should want to see extended—that is, offering those who purchase their houses 100 per cent. loans, plus their legal costs. The legal costs have often been a very great difficulty.
Next—I must rush over these points—we would certainly want to see the system examined to secure the compulsory registration of land, which in itself could save a considerable sum, probably £20, on the cost of every house. Thirdly, as regards interest rates generally, we shall follow a general policy of the reduction of rates, and house owners will be able to borrow at the general rate which will be good enough for the Government's own credit. We will enter into discussions with building societies about that matter. [Interruption.] The building societies can be used as agents in this matter. There is no reason at all why they should not be.
§ On the question of leasehold, I deal, first, with the point which has been raised about local authorities which own the freehold themselves. One or two hon. Members have raised the point, in a paroxysm of passion, that it is wrong 745 to differentiate between local authorities which own freeholds and private landlords which own freeholds. This point was raised particularly by the hon. Member for Swansea, West. I am impressed by the hon. Gentleman's criticism; there is much in what he says. We should want to examine this point very carefully. If we do so and decide that local authorities, too, should offer the freeholds to their tenants, will the hon. Gentleman join us? Will he then withdraw his criticism? I believe that the Labour Party has to look at this matter very seriously.
§ One of the advantages of a debate of this sort, is having this trailer to our Queen's Speech because it enables us to modify our proposals in the light of the very genuine criticisms that have been made. Although my hon. Friends will not expect me to anticipate the Queen's Speech, I think that I ought to say now that there is a very strong case being made out for putting local authorities on the same basis as private ground landlords.
§ I turn to the question of the Land Commission, and I address my remarks again to the hon. Member for Swansea, West who made a very interesting speech on this subject. I think that I have a convert in him anyway, because I imagine that after the next election he will probably be joining the Swansea Labour Party. On the question of the Land Commission, I put this to the hon. Member and any other hon. Members who have raised the matter: surely they can see the difference between someone who is a tenant in a house belonging to the ground landlord, and someone who owns the house which cannot be taken away from him, even though the land is Crown held. Surely that is clear to anybody.
§ At the moment, under the present leasehold system, anyone who believes that he has purchased his house finds when the lease runs out that it reverts to the ground landlord, and he becomes a tenant in his own property. It is this weakness in the system that the Government have failed to remove despite protests from this side of the House time after time.
We propose to make the so-called tenant the owner in his own property, and if the land on which the house is 746 held becomes Crown held that makes no difference at all to the security of his possession of the house, which will remain as long as he is in possession of it and, indeed, as long as the house stands. I can be no clearer than that at the moment. The debate will go on, but I hope that I have cleared up some of the difficulties that have been raised.
I turn to the question of planning. The hon. Member did not refer to what I regarded as one of the most important pages in "Signposts to the New Wales". On page 21 it states:
Our first major task will be to expand Britain's industrial production in which Welsh industry plays a vital part. The success of Labour's plans for social advance depends on this.
We shall try to ensure that progress in Wales is steady and continuous in every field. There must be an end to the 'stop-go' policy that has played havoc with our economy—and with people's lives ….
Our plans will come to maturity at different times. Some of our policies—such as leasehold reform—will be implemented as soon as legislation can be prepared and passed. Others, such as overtaking the backlog of housing, will take longer."—
The Minister himself gave us a period of 30 years this afternoon.
The pace at which we advance will depend on the success of our National Plan for economic expansion and the general increase in prosperity that will result.
§ This is absolutely the key to everything that is to be done in Wales, Scotland, the North of England or anywhere else. It is upon this test that the Government stand condemned. It is all very well for the Minister to come here boasting, three months before an election, that unemployment is at a low level and that industry and manufacturing is booming. Does he not remember that in 1961, in 1962 and in the early part of 1963 we had blast furnaces that were not at work in the steelworks in Cardiff and that the steel works in Port Talbot were working for a long period at 65 to 70 per cent. capacity? He must think that people have very short memories if during the lifetime of a Government they have to put up not only with a pay pause but in many cases with industry running at only 60, 65 or 70 per cent. of capacity—as was happening month after month in the steel industry—and then are expected to be bamboozled three months before 747 the election by his saving that Wales is booming.
§ I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is much of a planner. I agree that he is in a difficulty. Certainly he has had a more fortunate job than his predecessors. We have had four Ministers for Welsh affairs, and they have all been very active in their work. They have run errands of State up and down Wales. There has not been a five-barred gate from which we have not seen Lord Brecon peering, and we have seen him often looking learnedly and knowingly at a universal mill in some steel works or other. But Ministers must not confuse busyness with usefulness.
§ What has happened to all these Ministers except the last right hon. Gentleman is that they have been doomed to act in the middle of an industrial system in which the Government did not believe in industrial planning. The Local Employment Act failed as a means of dispersing industry. The very document which we had on South-East England showed that quite clearly. They have failed in their policy for the disperal of industry because they would not take up the idea of planning soon enough. They have confronted us as a nation all together—not just Wales but the whole United Kingdom—with very great problems arising from the over-concentration in South-East England. We say to the right hon. Gentleman that if his predecessors had taken this problem in hand much earlier we could have had the apprenticeships in Wales which are necessary and we could have had the industrial strength which would have saved Mid-Wales.
§ There have been discussions whether it is right to employ the Local Employment Act to overcome the depopulation of Mid-Wales. I do not think that the machinery is of such importance, whether it is the Local Employment Act which should be used or some other Act. What is important, and what we must do and what a Labour Government will do is to ensure that measures which are equivalent to those contained in the Local Employment Act are used for this purpose. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Denbigh (Mr. Morgan) when he says that this is not a realistic thing to do. I have never thought it unrealistic 748 if necessary to schedule the whole of Wales. This could be done, and the cost would not be formidable.
§ If we had a proper dispersion policy we could see that we stopped this continuous drain of population which is taking place in Mid-Wales. There could be a new town, growth complexes—call them what you will; I do not much mind. But I am certain that there needs to be an infusion of fresh blood into the heart of Mid-Wales if it is to thrive and survive. There is no doubt that measures can be taken if the Government are ready enough to achieve it.
§ There are many more things which I should like to say. For example, I should like to carry on the argument about planning. Perhaps I may say a few sentences about it. For some years I was not converted to the idea of a Secretary of State for Wales, but I came round to this view seven or eight years ago, and I believe it to be right because, especially in more recent times, there has been a great deal of haggling and horse trading going on in the Cabinet. I was bitterly dissatisfied with the length of time it took to get the Severn Bridge. The Prime Minister is here—we are grateful for his attendance—and I cannot remember whether he was in the Cabinet at the time. But I know that as initially planned by the Ministry of Transport, the Severn Bridge was to precede the Forth Bridge. This was the original intention. But because, in my view, of the presence of the Secretary of State for Scotland in the Cabinet, Scotland got the Forth Bridge ahead of the Severn Bridge.
§ I am not arguing whether that was right or wrong. What I am saying is that the argument was never properly put and that there was no Welsh voice at the time carrying weight in the Government in respect of the timing of these projects. I believe that the Secretary of State for Wales would carry a substantial voice in the Cabinet, as he should. I also think that it would be possible for him to combine in himself this regional planning which is necessary and which is growing in importance.
§ The Minister seemed to think that planning was 1946. It is not 1946, it is 1964. Planning involves two considerations which cannot be met on a local basis. It involves both employment policy and the 749 physical planning of land and resources, including transport. These two things can best be done, in my view, by having the type of organisation, through a planning board, which is proposed in "Signpost for the Sixties".
§ I end with a final point in relation to the proposal which we make that we should have the opportunity, either in partnership or by ourselves, to have public enterprise taking part in strengthening the economy of Wales, as it has strengthened it so much in the past. "What are they going to build?", asks the Minister. "What will they make?" This is the argument which he always uses, and I will give him one illustration, because he might come back to the subject tonight, as he did in an intervention in the speech of my right hon. Friend. It is an example from an industry of vital importance to us in Wales—the steel industry.
§ Control in the hot strip mills is based on work carried out some years ago and patented in the United Kingdom. The patent was then properly sold—I make no complaint of this—on licence to G.E.C., a United States company. It took out a licence and exploited it and succeeded in fitting a number of mills with the control. As a result, G.E.C. has become recognised internationally as experts in computer control of hot strip mills. When we wanted to institute both this control and the computer system into our first automatic hot strip mill in this country, we had to buy both control and computer from the United States—on an invention originally patented in this country. When the right hon. Gentleman asks, "What are they going to build? What are they going to make?"—this is the sort of thing. A British company—I make no complaint about this—thought at the time that it was not worth their while doing this job. Somebody must take a chance on these things. If we had taken that chance it would have been far better for us.
§ This has been a very good debate. It has enabled us to develop our policies. The whole debate has been about Labour policies, and we look forward to the opportunity of translating them into action in the autumn.
§ 9.38 p.m.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I should like to reply to the debate. Right hon. and hon. 750 Members opposite have today accumulated a great deal of kudos. They have shown an arrogant certainty of the future, electorally as well as in planning, which will redound on their own heads. My right hon. Friends will still be on this side of the House come the end of the year.
Before I deal with a number of the general issues which have been raised, the House will wish me to answer several of the detailed points which have been put to me as questions. Before I do that, however, I must with all humility apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) for the undoubted omission of any reference to his constituency in the Docks Section of the Report on Wales and Monmouthshire. This is a serious omission. I take the blame myself. It is my fault. My hon. Friend was for a moment out of the Chamber when the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) came to his support as to the future of Barry Docks. All I can say is that my hon. Friend the Member for Barry is a formidable champion of the docks in his constituency and he makes a formidable case or their behalf.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), who explained to us that he had to go, asked a question about educational policy in the County of Flint. The House will excuse me since my right hon. Friend has put down a Question to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Education and Science on this subject for next week.
The hon. Member for Rhondda, East (Mr. G. Elfed Davies) picked me up, quite correctly, concerning the number of severely disabled in his constituency. I have checked and it is true that in Rhondda there are no fewer than 73 Section 2 disabled—that is, disabled who are so seriously disabled as to need sheltered employment. As a result of the hon. Member's intervention, I must now go back to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and discuss with him whether there is scope for an approach to Remploy. The House will recognise that the initiative already taken by the Government with Glamorgan County Council which is leading to its consideration of a sheltered workshop is very relevant to the 73 disabled in the Rhondda.
751 The hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George), who did not have the good fortune to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, particularly asked me to refer to the Royal Ordnance Factory at Pembrey, in her constituency. It is true that there are plans for a run-down there. I cannot predict the future in this case but I believe that if conditions remain as buoyant as they are now, there are very good prospects for maintaining employment in the hon. Lady's constituency.
The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. S. O. Davies) intervened in my speech and pointed out that the Dowlais factory was not fully employed on productive work. I was at the time talking about Board of Trade factories. I do not wish to quibble that this is a Ministry of Aviation factory. It is not engaged on productive work. It is used for storage and was taken over for this purpose to release space for production by Hoover in its neighbouring factory in Merthyr Tydvil.
The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. J. Morris) asked me about youth unemployment at Port Talbot and Neath. I can tell him that the figures for Port Talbot fell from 163 in May this year to 122 in June and in Neath from 73 in May to 36 in June. While the figures are still disquieting, the trend is very encouraging.
The hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) made a number of complaints about the administration of discretionary grants in his constituency. I must inquire about these and write to him. He and my hon. Friend the Member for Denbigh (Mr. Morgan) both linked forces to press upon the Government the Welsh Agricultural College. I must remind the House that this is now the subject of a Report which is being made to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science by the Welsh Joint Education Committee, which is taking into account a wider field, including the several farm institutes which are not at present fully used.
The hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) mentioned a project which is not familiar to me. She said that the Government had refused to grant aid research into a project on the Dee. I wonder whether the hon. Lady 752 would be good enough to write to me with details.
That has discharged my obligations on the detailed questions that were put to me.
In his brisk wind-up, the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East teased the Government speakers during the day with concentrating heavily on "Signposts to the New Wales". There are two reasons for this. First, the Government's activities in Wales and Monmouthshire are massively set out in the Report we are discussing. I for my part, in a speech which, I apologise, was lengthy, commented on the trends, the achievements and the needs of Wales in the light of that Report. That is the first reason why my right hon. Friends were quite right not to repeat what is already before us.
The second reason is that "Signposts to the New Wales" is so filled with evasions and ambiguities that it is necessay to probe to see what is at issue in the House today. We are debating not merely a simple Motion to take note of the Report. That has been sought to be amended so that before the House is really a choice between the policy which is the background to the Report, with all its achievements, and the policy represented by this, such as it is, policy document.
Before I turn to the alternatives represented by that document, I want to pick up a detailed point—an effective one until it is answered—made by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East in his wind-up speech. He engagingly egged me on to compound what he thought was my folly. Saying that if we had managed to achieve 15,000 houses a year two years ago and might this year well complete 17,000 houses a year, and are proud that in two years' time we will complete 19,000 houses a year, the hon. Member sprang the trap of asking how it was that as long as ten years ago we had completed 15,000 houses. What the hon. Member fails to recognise, or, at least, to reveal to the House, is that for the first two or three years when the Tories came to power after 1951 housing and industry were our top priorities, as was justified by the needs of the time. Gradually, over the years, we have fed into our priorities education, health, roads, and a continuing programme of 753 power stations and industrial expansion. It is just because the party on this side of the House does believe in priorities and recognises that everything cannot be done at once that we are superior, and will be recognised as superior, in our wisdom to the Opposition who promise anything the moment anyone wants it.
§ Mr. Callaghan rose—
§ Sir K. Joseph
I really have not much time.
I turn to "Signposts to the New Wales". I ask my hon. and right hon. Friends to have some sympathy with the Opposition in their preparation of this pamphlet. So much of what they, in their new found wisdom, and sometimes—let me give them credit—in their previous wisdom, think ought to be done for Wales and therefore want to include in their policy statement is already being done by this Government. And so they are in some difficulty how to find out what they can do with any new policy, when so many of the things they want to do are already being done.
Take, for instance, the talk by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), in his eloquent speech, of the need to predict the future in this changing world so as to forestall decline and sustain growth. That is exactly what is the purpose of the Welsh Office, now charged with the responsibility for a plan for Wales. That is exactly its purpose, and it was started nearly two years ago. The use they make of their wish for planning when it comes to industry I will deal with later.
Then there was the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. T. W. Jones), whose speeches are always most enjoyable, and who was seriously telling the House that the Labour Party not only proposed a location of industry policy but spoke, as though it were a sudden pew discovery by him and his hon. Friends, that, in congestion like that in the Midlands and the South-East, we should refuse industrial development certificates so as to force, as it were, employers to look for alternative areas. But that it just what the Government have been doing year by year, and so successfully. The fact is that the Annual Reports of the Board of Trade show just how much the refusal of I.D.C.s in the South-East and the Midlands 754 has assisted in invigorating development districts all over the country.
I was in some sympathy with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Merioneth when he, again allied with my hon. Friend the Member for Denbigh and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cardigan, urged that areas of depopulation should rank for I.D.C.s as areas of unemployment, but the fact is that if we did that we should weaken the help to unemployment areas, and what the Government have done is to give help to the depopulation area of Mid-Wales—not as much as to the development districts, but much more than if it were not suffering from depopulation.
I can assure the hon. Gentleman the Member for Merioneth after his rhapsody on the landscape view from a railway that railway closures decisions are made by the Government and the Minister of Transport consults me on the Welsh ones.
There have been a number of comments, arising from the policy pamphlet, on housing, education and health, and I can only say, in answer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East, that the Government have already done as much as resources permit. It was indeed noticeable that the Opposition have gone for a housing programme of 400,000. This they announced some six months after this same target had been adopted by the Government.
So some of their proposals are already being carried out and many of the proposals in their policy are already being done. It serves their purpose often to ignore altogether the achievements of this Government. They refer to a lower tempo in rural Wales, forgetting altogether that in rural housing and rural services we have reduced the number of rural houses without direct water supply from 32 per cent., which was what it was when we came to power, to 10 per cent. now, and the same splendid progress applies to rural roads, rural electrification—though it is not so true, alas, of rural drainage. As for their objective to provide full employment, it has virtually been achieved. In Wales, employment is running at 97.7 per cent. of a rising population.
For the rest, some of the party opposite's proposals are actually damaging to Wales. Take the proposal put forward by the right hon. Member for Llanelly about a Secretary of State for 755 Wales—I know that the right hon. Gentleman holds this view sincerely. The implications would be a more limited career prospect for the Civil Service and a more limited voice for the Minister concerned in the Cabinet. Assuming that personalities are equal, I suggest that a Minister who speaks for a large Department has slightly more chance of getting his case put or heard than a Minister who speaks for a much smaller Department. This is a fact of life of which hon. Members opposite should take account before they overcome, as the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East evidently has overcome, their scruples.
There are big issues which are disputed between various members of the party opposite. There is the famous issue of the new town for mid-Wales. The right hon. Member for Llanelly says firmly "Yes". His hon. Friends the Members for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins) and Merioneth say equally firmly "No". I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt) had some jolly wise things to say about the whole question.
There are other proposals in this policy statement which have been thoroughly compromised by the Opposition. Take the proposals on pages 18 and 19 to have very many more teachers for Welsh schools. We know what happened when a working party set up by the Opposition actually produced some ideas about how to get some more teachers. The Press conference was attended by all the paladins of the Labour Party and yet, as soon as the proposals came to light and there was uproar from a section of the Opposition in this House, the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) disowned the whole idea. It is some nerve to put before the House suggestions for improving teacher-supply in Wales—
§ Mrs. White rose—
§ Mrs. White
Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that his party is budgeting for 50,000 teachers short in 1970? How will he cure that?
§ Sir K. Joseph
The hon. Lady's party had a little mouse of an idea which it promptly disowned because it feared that it might be unpopular. It would certainly not have done more than scratch the problem.
I want to come to some of the most interesting evasions in this policy pamphlet. The most interesting of all is the ambiguity brought out respectively by the speech of the right hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) and by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Hugh Rees), which was quite excellent. I refer to the ambiguity about the interest rate on page 17 of the document.
The history of the interest rate story over the recent months is this. In his speech at Swansea several months ago, the Leader of the Opposition spoke of excessive interest charges and the burden on local authorities and owner-occupiers. He went on to say that under a Labour dispensation local authorities would borrow money—I do not have the exact words, but I think that this is the sense of it—at the rate of interest represented by the power of the Government to borrow, which, being translated into layman's English, I take to be the Public Works Loan Board rate. That was the pledge made in the right hon. Gentleman's Swansea speech, and it was repeated in a speech in Leeds a few weeks later.
The House will agree that the Public Works Loan Board rate is only very marginally different from the normal market rate. Yet, despite those speeches and that very limited pledge, we read a series of advertisements by the Labour Party speaking simply of lower interest rates. We find the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) writing in papers of lower interest rates. We find all over the country spokesmen of the Opposition pledging lower interest rates. I am sure that the people who spoke and wrote like that did not realise that all that the right hon. Member for Huyton had pledged on behalf of his party was Public Works Loan Board rates, which, as I say, are only marginally different from market rates. I cannot see that that pledge justified the advertisements or the speeches.
757 Today, we have had the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, with all his interest in financial questions, coming before the House with what I can only say must either be disingenuous candour or a failure to understand the real issues. He said in a rapid reference—and I appreciate his courtesy in limiting the time that he took—that the help that the Labour Party would wish to give to the people concerned with houses, either local authorities or owner-occupiers, might take the form of lower interest at the Public Works Loan Board rate, which we all agree is only marginally different, or, he said, it might take the form of 100 per cent. loans, including legal charges. The effect of 100 per cent. loans, if the supply of houses does not increase, is simply to put up demand and, in the classic words of the hon. Member for Fulham, cause too much money to chase too few houses and put up the prices.
Then the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East passed rapidly over the question of a lower general rate of interest—and quite rightly, too—because he well knows that, with the demand for capital in an investment hungry-world and with our situation depending upon exports, no one in the House can pledge, on behalf of either party, what the general rate of interest will be in the future.
The fact is that the only firm pledge by the Leader of the Opposition was to borrow and to lend at the Public Works Loans Board rate, and this has been translated most misleadingly in advertisement, speech and writing to give the impression to the public of specially cheap interest rates for housing for local authorities and owner-occupiers. If the point needs to be clinched even more, we have the correspondence between the Building Societies Association, through the chairman of its Council, Mr. Breach, and the right hon. Member for Huyton. We have the right hon. Gentleman's letter of 7th April, 1964, which my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West has already quoted. I should explain that Mr. Breach, puzzled by all this ambiguity, had asked what, in fact, the Labour Party had promised; whether it promised lower interest rates, as in its advertisements, or promised merely the P.W.L.B. rate, as in the speeches of the 758 Leader of the Opposition at Swansea and Leeds.
The right hon. Gentleman's letter of 7th April to Mr. Breach ends quite categorically:As you will see, however, we are not, as your questions assume, proposing to introduce through the public sector some special or discriminatory form of subsidised loans for house purchase".All I can say is that, if this sort of presentation were put forward by a commercial firm, the Opposition would shriek with horror at what they would regard as thoroughly dishonest advertising
Alas, I have not time to deal with the other ambiguities and disingenuities in this pamphlet. The House is now asked to choose between the solid policies represented by the Report which we are debating and the spurious evasions of "Signposts to the New Wales". On the one hand, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North said so clearly in his robust speech, we have solid progress on every front, economic, industrial and social. Wales is a land of booming industrial growth, and no one has denied this today. On the other hand, we have the proposals put forward in the Amendment, proposals which are mainly either carried out already or are being carried out; on the other, proposals which are actively damaging in some cases, or proposals which are evasive, ambiguous or downright misleading.
I am sure that, faced with this choice, the people of Wales, if the facts are put before them, will have but one choice. [Laughter.] If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite descend to the level of misrepresentation that they have done over interest rates, then the facts are not being put before the people. This is the choice, and I hope that the House will support the Motion overwhelmingly.
§ Mr. Speaker
As I accepted, at about four o'clock this afternoon, a manuscript Amendment which affects the matter, I think it fair to ask the House to give attention to the way in which I have to put the Question.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question: —759
§ The House divided: Ayes 201, Noes 128.761
|Division No. 119.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian||Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Grosvenor, Lord Robert||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Gurden, Harold||Neave, Airey|
|Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham)||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard|
|Balniel, Lord||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Barter, John||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Batsford, Brian||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Partridge, E.|
|Bidgood, John C.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Percival, Ian|
|Bingham, R. M.||Hastings, Stephen||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Bishop, Sir Patrick||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Pitman, Sir James|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hirst, Geoffrey||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Bossom, Hon. Clive||Hobson, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Pounder, Rafton|
|Bowden, Roderic (Cardigan)||Hocking, Philip N.||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Box, Donald||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Quintin||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Holland, Philip||Pym, Francis|
|Boyle, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Hooson, H. E.||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Braine, Bernard||Hopkins, Alan||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir Walter||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.||Rees, Hugh (Swansea, W.)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Renton, Rt. Hon. David|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Buck, Antony||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Rippon, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey|
|Burden, F. A.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Iremonger, T. L.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Carr, Rt. Hon. Robert (Mitcham)||James, David||Sharples, Richard|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Jennings, J. C.||Shaw, M.|
|Chataway, Christopher||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Shepherd, William|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Cole, Norman||Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John|
|Costain, A. P.||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Coulson, Michael||Kershaw, Anthony||Speir, Rupert|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Kimball, Marcus||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Crawley, Aidan||Kirk, Peter||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Crowder, F. P.||Leather, Sir Edwin||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Dance, James||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne).|
|Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F.||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Teeling, Sir William|
|Doughty, Charles||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Temple, John M.|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Alec||Longbottom, Charles||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Drayson, G. B.||Longden, Gilbert||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|du Cann, Edward||Lubbock, Eric||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Elliott, R. W. (Newc'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||MacArthur, Ian||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Farr, John||McLaren, Martin||Turner, Colin|
|Fisher, Nigel||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Foster, Sir John||McMaster, Stanley R.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Freeth, Denzil||Maddan, Martin||Walker, Peter|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Maitland, Sir John||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Gammans, Lady||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Gardner, Edward||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Whitelaw, William|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Maude, Angus (Stratford-on-Avon)||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||Mawby, Ray||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Wise, A. R.|
|Goodhart, Philip||Mills, Stratton||Woodhouse, Hon. Christopher|
|Goodhew, Victor||Miscampbell, Norman||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Gower, Raymond||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Green, Alan||Morgan, William||Mr. Chichester-Clark and|
|Albu, Austen||Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)||Collick, Percy|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bowles, Frank||Corbet, Mrs. Freda|
|Barnett, Guy||Brockway, A. Fenner||Cullen, Mrs. Alice|
|Beaney, Alan||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Dalyell, Tam|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Callaghan, James||Darling, George|
|Bence, Cyril||Carmichael, Neil||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)|
|Benn, Anthony Wedgwood||Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Blyton, William||Chapman, Donald||Delargy, Hugh|
|Doig, Peter||Kelley, Richard||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Kenyon, Clifford||Redhead, E. C.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||King, Dr. Horace||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lawson, George||Reid, William|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Rhodes, H.|
|Evans, Albert||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)|
|Finch, Harold||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Ross, William|
|Foley, Maurice||Lipton, Marcus||Short, Edward|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||McBride, N.||Silkin, John|
|Forman, J. C.||McInnes, James||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|George, Lady MeganLloyd (Crmrthn)||Mackenzie, Gregor||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||McLeavy, Frank||Small, William|
|Grey, Charles||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Steele, Thomas|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Mendelson, J. J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Gunter, Bay||Millan, Bruce||Swingler, Stephen|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Milne, Edward||Taverne, D.|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Mitchison, G. R.||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Moody, A. S.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (RwlyRegis)||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Herbison, Miss Margaret||Moyle, Arthur||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Holman, Percy||Mulley, Frederick||Thornton, Ernest|
|Houghton, Douglas||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Warbey, William|
|Howie, W.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||O'Malley, B. K.||Weitzman, David|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oram, A. E.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Owen, Will||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Padley, W. E.||Willey, Frederick|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|Irving, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Pargiter, G. A.||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Pavitt, Laurence||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Peart, Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Prentice, R. E.||Mr. Ifor Davies and Mr. McCann.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Probert, Arthur|
§ Main Question put and agreed to.
That this House takes note of the Report on Developments and Government Action in Wales and Monmouthshire for 1963 (Command No. 2284).