§ Order for consideration, as amended, read.
§ 7 pm
§ Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I seek your guidance or ruling on the way in which we shall conduct our proceedings this evening. One of the difficulties lies with the decision whether the Bill should return to the House for further consideration in the light of the impending ruling by the European Court of Justice in the Leybucht bay case, which is recognised by the Government to be a similar matter. It is recognised also that that case is relevant because the promoters have sent a lawyer, as have the two Departments concerned, the Department of the Environment and the Welsh Office, to observe the proceedings of the European Court.
I ask for your ruling, Madam Deputy Speaker, because two material considerations will make this evening's proceedings less comprehensive and less well informed than they should be. First, we do not have an English translation of the proceedings of the European Court. Indeed, we shall not have one for another 10 days. That is what I am told in the letter that I received from the Treasury Solicitor of 11 February, which reads:As requested I enclose a copy of the opinion of the Advocate-General in French.I would not wish to trouble you, Madam Deputy Speaker, or other hon. Members with any quotations in French, which would not technically be in order. The letter continues:We are having the opinion translated into English, but the translation will not be available until the end of the month.It is explained that, unlike the French and German versions, the English translation will not be an authorised version.
As I have said, the promoter and the sponsoring Departments—the Welsh Office and the Department of the Environment—recognise the relevance of the proceedings of the European Court and have sent lawyers, at public expense, to observe them at Luxembourg. The public, including my constituents, have paid for that. The lawyers observed the proceedings on 5 December and heard the Advocate-General's verdict.
When the House receives the Bill back from Committee on 18 February, it does not seem too much to ask that we should ensure that our consideration of it is fully informed. We should adjourn consideration until a proper translation of the proceedings of the European Court is available to us. As the production of the translation will coincide with the day on which the final judgment will be delivered—the Advocate-General's opinion is usually about 90 per cent. of the European Court's final opinion—an adjournment would enable us to take into account the verdict in our consideration of the Bill. It is thought that the verdict will be highly favourable to the objectors' case, and it should have a bearing on our consideration of the Bill.
§ Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)
The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) has referred to an opinion of the Advocate-General, which was prepared for the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in the course of a case which the hon. Gentleman rightly said related to the proposed 68 development of the Leybucht bay in Germany. The document in itself does not have a direct bearing on the consideration stage of the Bill that we are discussing this evening. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to deploy the opinion in arguing that we should not proceed with consideration of the Bill, I shall be able to hear him. But I must tell him that all the documents that are directly relevant to our consideration of the Bill are available.
§ Mr. Morgan
Further to my point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I tabled a question last week because I was promised the document in question on 12 November by the Secretary of State for Wales. As nothing happened in the intervening three months, I tabled another question, which was answered on Thursday of last week. I asked the Secretary of State for Wales,pursuant to his reply of 12 November 1990"—he has promised that an English language translation of the Advocate-General's opinion would be placed in the Library shortly or as soon as possible after it was available. My question continued:"Official Report, Column 49, when he will place in the Library an authorised English language version of the Advocate-General's opinion on the Leybucht bay case heard at Luxembourg before the European Court of Justice.This is material, Madam Deputy Speaker. If it were not, I would not detain the House. The Secretary of State replied:An English language version of the Advocate-General's opinion prepared by the court is unlikely to be available for some time. However, I understand that an English language translation prepared by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will be available very shortly. I shall be placing a copy of this in the Library of the House."—[Official Report, 14 February 1991; Vol. 185, c. 589.]What does the Welsh Office have to hide? Why has it not placed the translation in the Library so that we can read it? Why will it not do so until after the House has had a three-hour debate, during which we might be relying on our own attempts to translate the French, German or Dutch in which the opinion was originally written?
§ Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)
Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is my hon. Friend aware that the judgment concerns special protection areas under the EEC's bird directive, and that neither Cardiff bay nor——
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
Order. We are now entering into debate, and that turns on my response to the original point of order. Hon. Members are raising debating matters. The opinion to which the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) has referred is not material to our consideration this evening.
§ 7.5 pm
§ Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)
I beg to move, That the Bill, as amended, be now considered.
I am pleased to ask the House to give consideration to the Bill, which I hope will speedily complete its remaining stages through the House. It may be useful if I mention the Leybucht bay case, which was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) on a point of order. I appreciate, Madam Deputy Speaker, as you have said, that the opinion is not a document that is necessary for our debate this evening. It is important, however, for the House not to be misled. I am rather surprised that my hon. Friend referred to it. It appears that he has followed these matters with care and has read the 69 Advocate-General's legal opinion. He must now be aware that the Leybucht case is completely irrelevant to the Bill and does not help his argument.
I am surprised also that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West raised the language or languages in which the translation of the opinion is available. I am sure that he read the South Wales Echo On Saturday, and especially the article which set out liberal quotations from the opinion by opponents of the Bill. The opinion of the Advocate-General is that the Commission's complaints should be rejected. That is what he recommends on his interpretation of the facts of the case. He takes the view that the Federal Republic of Germany did not contravene the directive. He further suggests or recommends that the Commission should bear the costs of the disputing parties.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) has said, the Commission's interpretation of the directive is relevant as it applies to a special protection area, which Leybucht bay is but which Cardiff bay and the Severn estuary are not. He does not dissent from the view that the directive at article 2 is a balancing exercise, weighing up, on the one hand, the protection of birds and, on the other, public health and safety, economy, ecology, science, culture and recreation. I argue that in all the documents that are relevant to this evening's debate it can be demonstrated that matters of public health and safety, economy, ecology, science, culture and recreation demand the speediest possible passage of the Bill through the House.
I wish to repeat a simple plea. I ask that the House does not dash the hopes of my constituents for a better future, for a better environment and for better homes and jobs that meet their aspirations. I still retain the hope——
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I do not want to delay my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) for long, but perhaps I should tell him that I was in the Chamber on Thursday when, during business questions, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) asked the Leader of the House about the whipping arrangements for a private Bill. Most of us believe that unofficial whipping has been taken place on private Members' Bills for a considerable time. My hon. Friend was able to unearth correspondence from the Government Chief Whip in which he advised Conservative Members to vote in accordance with his instructions this evening on this piece of private Member's legislation. The Leader of the House said that he was not responsible for whipping, and we know that that was a correct statement.
Once a Conservative Chief Whip starts putting in writing instructions to Tory Members to vote in a certain fashion on private Members' Bills, the procedure for such Bills is broken down. Surely this is a matter for you, Madam Deputy Speaker. What steps are to be taken?
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
As the hon. Gentleman, like all other hon. and right hon. Members, knows, the Chair has a great many responsibilities, but concerning itself with what goes on in the Whips' Office is not one of them. I was in the Government Whips' Office for far too long to want to involve myself in such things now.
§ Mr. Michael
I am glad to be able to say that it is not a matter for me either. It is a matter for the Government how they vote. However, my hon. Friends and I have sought to persuade others to support our view. I retain the 70 hope that opponents of the Bill will be satisfied now that it has survived an arduous passage thus far. I hope they will be satisfied with the many safeguards that have been built into the measure, and will recognise the need for the major investment that the barrage itself will bring and for the private investment that will be attracted.
§ Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)
Many of us in the Opposition have no objection to investment for the benefit of my hon. Friend's constituents. However, we have a slight difference when it comes to the expenditure of hundreds of millions of pounds by the Government, to what purpose, I am not sure.
§ Mr. Michael
It is for the Government's representative to defend their decisions on public investment. However, I am rather surprised to hear an argument against public investment which would be of considerable benefit not only to my constituents but to those of my hon. Friend also. I hope that the public benefit argument will persuade my hon. Friend to support me in the Lobby at the end of this debate.
§ Mr. Rogers
I represent a constituency which, measured by any socio-economic indicator, is one of the poorest in the United Kingdom. That being the case, I certainly do not have any objection to public expenditure. However, I do not want to see public money being poured down the drain—or the barrage, or whatever.
§ Mr. Michael
I do not want to get involved in a knockabout, but, like my hon. Friend, I represent an area in which there is considerable deprivation. I am sure that he recognises, for instance, the deprivation in places like Newtown—in particular, on the dockside. Having worked with unemployed people in that area, and previously in the Ely area, I am very keen that misery and unemployment such as we saw in the past should not be repeated. It seems to me that this investment is the best means of avoiding that situation.
Cardiff is a great city. It is a string of communities, each with its own character. Indeed, my friend, Councillor Paddy Kitson, who is chairman of the county's economic development committee, likes to refer to the area as a string of pearls and of opportunities. The barrage and the development will reunite Cardiff with its seafront. It will offer a future to communities that in the past have lived in dirt and have known poverty. It will offer a new lease of life to the old communities, and new communities will have a life of their own to complement those.
The barrage will help to protect the city against the threat of flood. Last week the Department of the Environment issued a publication that referred to the need to consider this matter in the context of the future of our coasts. The barrage will provide a positive opportunity in this respect.
One matter on which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West and I have agreed from the beginning is that the Crown water issue needs to be treated with great seriousness. I am satisfied with the findings that have been made to date. Even Woolworths gave a promise that satisfied the Committee. Subject to public consultation on additional work, and to the expert advice on the basis of which the Secretary of State will be asked to make his judgment, all developments to date in this regard have been reassuring.
71 In the current recession, we face difficulties. The figures that were produced by the economic appraisal cover a period of 15 to 20 years. It is very important that we should see early progress in this development, so that Cardiff may be the subject of successful regeneration. In the past, we have seen successful regeneration of the city centre, and I am proud to have played my part in that process, which was led by the public sector in partnership with the private sector.
A massive project like this cannot be evaluated and summarised in a few minutes—which is all that is available to me this evening. The local councillors have spent much time on all the issues involved. The barrage proposals do not have uncritical support from the elected representatives. The support has been, and is, critical, careful, sceptical and conditional.
§ Mr. Morgan
My hon. Friend has referred to the successful redevelopment of the centre of Cardiff. I agree that the evolution of the retail central area has been remarkably successful. Does he agree—my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) may well have personal knowledge of this matter—that the successful redevelopment of Cardiff city centre took place only after a major change in strategy? The original overweaning, over-ambitious Ravenseft development was thrown out, and a much more logical evolution of the existing centre was agreed on. A big development would have wrecked the town centre. That happened because the people of Cardiff rose up and said, "We do not want this big development. It will cost too much, and will take away the Cardiff that we know."
§ Mr. Michael
As usual, my hon. Friend has run off down the tram-lines. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), who at that time represented Cardiff, North, will recall the successful battle that led to the stopping of the Hook road. My hon. Friend equates two different issues. I was associated with the successful redevelopment of central Cardiff after 1974, and I believe that that project bears comparison with the redevelopment of south Cardiff. Both of those projects are based on a partnership between the public and the private sectors, involving an exhaustive examination of the issues, endeavouring to ensure that the public interest is properly served.
This Bill has survived the Select Committee procedures of both another place and this House. So long as the safeguards are in place, and so long as we test each piece of evidence to destruction, as we have done to date, local people will want the project to go ahead. The evidence, in terms of the provision of jobs and homes and of protection of the environment, remains overwhelming. That is true for my constituency in particular, but I submit that it is true for Cardiff as a whole—indeed, for south Wales as a region. It is for that reason that I return to my basic and simple plea to the House: do not dash the hopes of my constituents for a better future, a better environment, homes and jobs; support the motion and allow this Bill to make progress through the House.
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)
I apologise for intervening in a debate on a Welsh matter. I do so for one reason about which I shall be brief.
I should like to know a little more about the provision that is made in the Bill for fish passes, which are essential if the run of migratory fish on the River Taff is to be preserved. I am glad to see that that is mentioned as a significant factor. I look forward to being able one day to fish the Taff. I want the promoter and his colleagues to be frank with the House and, if there is time, tell us that they are confident that the works set out in the Bill will have the desired effect.
§ Mr. Michael
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that this has been the subject of very serious discussion since the earliest stages of the Bill—not least because my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), with his considerable interest in fisheries matters, made sure that was so. For that reason—with the best possible advice that could be obtained, and following consultation with fisheries interests—the pass has been built into the proposals to ensure a better future for the fish, as well as for humans, following the building of this barrage.
§ Mr. Onslow
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I have seen the provision in the Bill to build the pass, but I want to be sure that there is reason to suppose that the fish pass will work. The hon. Gentleman should know that some fish passes do not work. A great deal of money is spent on them and by the time that people find out that they do not work, it is too late. It is impossible effectively to restore a run to a river if the fish pass is deficient.
§ Mr. Michael
That is why there has been the closest consultation. It is a point which I have been careful to note in correspondence with the promoters from the early stages. We must ensure that the best possible advice is available and that a fish pass which will work is built.
§ Mr. Onslow
I am reassured to hear that. But I shall be mean and press the hon. Gentleman further. I should like to know what the fish pass is modelled on. Fish passes have been built in barrages elsewhere in the world but have not had the desired effect.
§ Mr. Morgan
I am pleased to see the right hon. Gentleman here. I can even detect the slightest hint of a Welsh accent when he speaks. The problem is not only the fish passes. In August during periods of low flow when oxygen levels are low sewin—sea trout, for those who are more familiar with the fishing industry outside Wales—make their first run. That causes a particular problem because it is the period of minimal oxygen levels. The fish swim up the River Ely into my constituency. There are about three miles of narrow river channel from the edge of the lake after the fish will have to negotiate the fish pass. They then go up the River Ely to Ely weir. They have begun to do that only in the past two years because of the construction of sewage works further up the River Ely. We are expected to believe that when those sewin travel up the River Ely through my constituency in August at periods of low rainfall and therefore low oxygen, a mobile oxygen machine running underneath them will preserve the oxygen levels as they traverse the long, narrow river channel until they reach the better oxygen levels under Ely 73 weir. Anyone who believes that the sewin will not be disturbed by the distinctly odd feeling of having an oxygen machine running a couple of feet underneath them does not know about the fishing industry. I shall be interested to hear my hon. Friend's expert opinion on the matter.
§ Mr. Onslow
I am not sure that I am the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend or that I am an expert. It is the first time that I have ever heard of the oxygen machine of which he speaks.
§ Mr. Michael
Perhaps I can help the right hon. Gentleman. I said that the matter was under detailed discussion with the fisheries interests and the National Rivers Authority. Agreement has been reached on water quality and a fish monitoring programme, which is well under way. There is agreement in principle on the design of the fish pass. Discussions are continuing to ensure that the fish pass is the most effective possible. I refer the right hon. Gentleman to discussions in Committee which went into the matter in some detail. I shall be interested, when he has had an opportunity to read them, to hear any further points that he has to make.
§ Mr. Onslow
Again, I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I am anxious not to delay the House, but I am equally anxious that assurances are given in our proceedings in the House, rather than taken on trust.
I notice that clause 69(6) of the Bill contains a provision which may have escaped the notice of the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan). It says:When so required by the rivers authority the undertakers shall discharge water through the high-level sluices of the barrage for the passage of migratory fish.That may be of some help in this context, although it will not necessarily help much once the fish have passed through the barrage. That is another matter to be considered.
I am serious about these matters because estuarial barrages are a great obstacle to migratory fish. It is no use pretending otherwise. So that the fish can complete their life cycle, smolts must be able to get downstream to the sea without damage. I see nothing specific in the Bill that requires the undertakers to make provision for that. I should be more content if I could see some written evidence, rather than having to take an assurance across the Floor of the House. I cannot reasonably ask for that this evening. I promise the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) that I am trying to be reasonable. I do not seek to press him.
§ Mr. Onslow
I am glad to have that assurance and I look forward to seeing the evidence. Until I have such evidence I shall be reluctant to allow an irrevocable measure to be passed and implemented.
I have an additional reason for being unhappy about the Bill. Elsewhere in south Wales there are threats and projects to put estuarial barrages on other rivers around the Welsh coast. The Usk is one of which I am aware. I should be surprised if it were possible easily to convince a committee that the run of salmon on the Usk could be preserved once the barrage was installed.
I am not being dogmatic. I do not seek to be obstructive, but if a river is lost to migratory fish through the construction of a barrage, the barrage will not be taken 74 away so that the fish can come back. We need to know about such matters before we make decisions, rather than find out about them afterwards.
§ Mr. Alan W. Williams (Carmarthen)
I did not take a particular interest in the Cardiff bay barrage when I first heard about it several years ago. My interest was aroused when I watched the video provided to every Member of Parliament by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds two or three years ago. Just one viewing of the video convinced me that there were major environmental problems with the barrage. In particular, wading birds and migratory birds use the mud flats at the site and the proposals would take away their habitat. That film, entitled "Half a million dunlin dinners", would impress anyone who is interested in the preservation of species of birds.
The other argument which convinced me of the danger of the barrage is the problem of the nitrates and phosphates which the Taff and Ely would bear if the barrage were built. An ideal site for eutrophication would be created. In our debates on the Bill in the House the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies), who is not with us tonight, outlined in detail the strong environmental objections to the barrage.
But my main reason for speaking against the Bill is its prohibitive cost. I am not adverse to public expenditure. Labour Members believe strongly that public expenditure can be used to stimulate private expenditure. But we must consider cost-benefit and value for money. In our earlier debates a cost of £82 million was given. But, as my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) said in the previous debate, the true cost will probably be four or five times that. We could be spending £400 million or even £500 million of public money. I grant that there will be a multiplier effect. The investment may be multiplied five or even 10 times. But with the economy in its present state, a recession or even a slump looming and public services in their present state, I wonder whether that level of investment is justified and would have sufficient benefits to the economy and in terms of jobs.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) circulated to all Welsh Members a feature from the South Wales Echo describing the scheme and some of its effects and advantages. It estimated that the investment would trigger £2,000 million of private and public investment. The £400 million put into the scheme would be multiplied by five. Over a period of 10 or 15 years it was estimated that 24,000 jobs would be created. That is impressive. It would be marvellous for Cardiff and the people who live within a 20-mile radius of the project. But at a cost of £2,000 million for 24,000 jobs, we are talking about £80,000 per job created. I wonder whether public money could be used more effectively. In a boom, the private sector may look to the service industries, up-market housing and the type of leisure facility that the scheme would provide—as in the docklands area in London—but times have changed. We are no longer in that brief period of economic miracle; we are in recession. Will private money follow the public money? I do not think so.
Last week, in an economic debate in the House, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) quoted a Conservative Back Bencher, 75 talking about present unemployment, who said that some of the jobs which are now disappearing, because of the recession which is hitting the south and the south-east so hard, should perhaps not have been jobs in the first place. In a sense they are yuppie jobs. But those are the sort of jobs that we should be trying to attract to Cardiff. Considering our present economic climate, will that type of job be provided?
If the Bill is passed, my main worry is that the scheme ignores the real needs of Wales. If £400 million of public money is available to invest in Wales, let us not invest all of it in Cardiff and depend upon a trickle-down effect spreading to the valleys, and perhaps as far as my constituency. Many constituencies in the valleys, and in west and north Wales, are in a state of deprivation. That £400 million must come from somewhere. It will come from cuts in other parts of the Welsh Office budget. That money is needed in the health service, for housing, for agriculture and to create better-paid jobs throughout Wales.
I am certain that if we had a Welsh assembly to allocate the resources of the Welsh Office—I hope that we shall before the end of the decade—and if that assembly were debating this proposal this evening, it would not let it through because it is a poor way to use public money. The scheme was wrong in 1988, when I attended my first debate on it. Frankly, given our present economic situation, the project is crazy.
§ Mr. Gwilym Jones (Cardiff, North)
I am glad of this opportunity to speak, but I assure the House that I shall try to be brief and I shall explain my reasons in my few remarks.
I share the attitude of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael). I have what I think are well-founded hopes about what will be achieved by the Bill when it is finally enacted. I do not share the reservations of the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams) about the use of public expenditure, nor about the fact that there will merely be a trickle-down effect for the rest of south Wales.
I am confident that these large sums of public money will be more than repaid because of the way that they will improve south Cardiff, the economy of south Cardiff and of south Wales. The money will be repaid because of the way it will increase the capital value of property and rental values. At the end of this very large equation, I am sure that the balance sheet will show a decidedly healthy profit for all those who invest in it.
I do not agree with the implied criticism of there being a mere trickle-down effect. I think that there will be a natural evolution, and that the scheme will benefit all of south Wales. That benefit is likely to flow in a tangible form to points as far away from the capital city of Wales as Carmarthen. The transformation of Cardiff will reach out, and will make the capital city of Wales the dominant city in the western quarter of Great Britain, overtaking Bristol and placing us in a higher ranking. Of course the hinterland—the rest of south Wales—cannot be separated from that.
It is significant that the scheme is the one feature that does not seem to have been affected by what we refer to as 76 the recession, or downturn in growth of the economy. In south Wales, I keep hearing about the amount of interest that exists in the redevelopment of south Cardiff, and no one has been dissuaded. There is so much positive, keen enthusiasm that it is the bright spot in the crown.
The reason why I wish to be brief tonight is that I detect a real feeling of exasperation in my constituency and elsewhere in Cardiff as to why the Bill has taken so long to proceed through the House and the other place. I often meet people who ask me to explain why on earth it is taking so long. Why is this the third parliamentary Session that we have been considering the scheme? I do not want to frustrate proper examination of the Bill, but the feeling in Cardiff and elsewhere is that surely, by now, the House should have spent enough time to enable it to come to a final conclusion—ideally a final conclusion that will allow the Bill the barrage and the redevelopment of south Cardiff to proceed.
I must take this opportunity to say how hard everyone involved in the Bill—the promoters, south Glamorgan council and Cardiff bay development corporation—have worked to provide such a thorough well-thought-out package which is of proven advantage to the capital city of Wales. Everyone concerned has also taken every opportunity to examine all the questions and to try to respond to all the doubts.
One aspect that I have not been greatly involved in is the one that my right hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) mentioned—fish passes and how they will be affected by the barrage.
The promoters of the Bill are determined to ensure that every reasonable step is taken to overcome or to assuage any and every objector. As a representative of the capital city of Wales, I can take pride in knowing who is involved with the Bill, both on the council and from the Cardiff bay development corporation.
I have no wish to detain the House unnecessarily, nor do I wish the House or the Bill to be detained unnecessarily. The Bill is excellent. It represents so many of our hopes that it deserves to succeed. I hope that it will succeed. I hope that we will approve the Bill this evening and that we will speedily move on to bring the scheme to the proper conclusion that it deserves, at the earliest possible opportunity.
§ Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd)
Like the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones), I shall be brief. Many of my constituents would not greatly care if a decision were taken to build a barrage and if Cardiff decided to flood itself—if that happens. I do not share those views, as I am fond of docklands Cardiff and always have been. I entirely agree that there is an umbilical cord linking the coalfield and the docks which will never be broken.
However, I and my constituents find it strange that suddenly such a large sum of public money—whether £82 million or £500 million, another figure which has been quoted here tonight—can be found and be made available for the sort of scheme that we in Pontypridd are familiar with in many ways. We should like to develop our town centre, and to build a ring road to take away traffic, which would improve the quality of life for people in the town and attract jobs to Pontypridd. We do not seem to be able to find that sort of money. I wonder why. I do not know whether the money is going to Cardiff. Perhaps the Welsh 77 Office think of the barrage scheme as a flagship investment for the future. I am wary of flagship projects—I remember that the poll tax was the Government's flagship project and we all know what happened to that.
I am dubious about the scheme, but if Cardiff wants to do it that is its business. I should have preferred Cardiff to debate the matter at a public inquiry, rather than using the back-door method of a private Bill, but that is another matter.
§ Mr. Michael
It should be made clear that, as my hon. Friend may be aware if he takes his tongue out of his cheek, because navigable waters are involved, this is the only procedure that can be followed. The one thing on which we can unite in the House is that the private Bill procedure is unsatisfactory and needs to be changed. I think that it is being more unfair to me and to the promoters than to the opponents, but that is a matter for debate.
§ Dr. Howells
I thank my hon. Friend, who is always most constructive. Regardless of that, a great many people in south Wales feel wary about the proposal because it seems that large sums of public money will be used to prime the pump of the south Cardiff economy. I hope that many people in my constituency will benefit as a result. I have asked the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett), through parliamentary questions, how many extra jobs would be created as a result of building the barrage, and how that number would compare with the number that could be created if the barrage were not built. There is no quantifiable figure. All kinds of theories are possible, but there are no figures that mean anything.
The promoters of the Bill might care to consider what would happen if, instead of a trickle up from Cardiff, there was a trickle down from somewhere like Pontypridd if we began investing in it. I sense that we are not investing in Pontypridd because it does not have the appeal to big business that the Cardiff bay investment may have. That may be right. Geographically, Pontypridd is much smaller. We do not have the space or the mud flats to flood. It is a different kind of community. Not only does Pontypridd feed a population down to south Cardiff, but it also feeds the waters which will be dammed by the barrage.
There has been talk about what will happen to the fish runs. I should like to know what will happen to the sewage runs which will go into the lagoon created by the barrage. I ask Welsh Office Ministers to take the message to the Secretary of State for Wales and to the Prime Minister that at any time they like they may come to my constituency, and I will guarantee them a huge audience if they will dive head first into the River Taff and show their confidence in the quality of the water by swimming in it. When either the Secretary of State for Wales or the Prime Minister does that, I shall be more than glad to support the Bill because it will mean that the waters of the Taff are clean.
§ Mr. Rogers
Might not it be better to invite the chairman of the National Rivers Authority to Pontypridd to swim in the River Taff? He could come with a dual purpose, because I understand that he is also connected with Associated British Ports, which has a very strong vested financial interest in the development of the barrage. He could kill two birds with one stone. I believe that they literally would be killed if they dived into the River Taff.
§ Dr. Howells
That is a remarkable suggestion. I am sure that the chairman of Welsh Water and the chairman of the National Rivers Authority have more sense than to dive into the River Taff at the moment because it is filthy, as is the River Ely, which would also flow into the barrage; indeed, it is even more filthy than the Taff. If they accepted the offer, they would both need their heads read.
§ Mr. Morgan
May I make an alternative suggestion? My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) may be alluding to the Prime Minister's well-known affection for HP sauce. If he sees the River Taff flowing past my hon. Friend's house, he will think that it is a river of HP sauce.
§ Dr. Howells
That is stretching things a bit.
There is a serious point. I cannot see the sense of building a barrage across two rivers when those rivers are filthy. I have never heard from the Government Benches or from any other quarter that the rivers will be cleaned before the barrage is built. I also do not believe the guarantees that I have had about the magic barge which will float on top of the lagoon and will clear the build-up of nitrates and phosphates which has been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams).
§ Mr. Michael
I do not want to stop the entertainment value of my hon. Friend's contribution, but I must make the point that associated with the building of the barrage is a proper means of dealing with the sewage outfalls into the bay. There is also the fact that what comes into the bay from the Severn estuary will be kept out by the barrage. I hope that I speak for my hon. Friend and myself when I say that we want to see a clean-up of the sewage outfalls into both rivers in the longer-term future, irrespective of the barrage.
§ Dr. Howells
I thank my hon. Friend. I am glad that he shares my wish to see the rivers cleaned. The problem is that I wish for many things, but it does not seem that they will come to fruition in the near future. I certainly do not see hard proposals for the cleaning of either of those rivers, any more than I do for the cleaning of the Severn estuary in general. I wonder whether the remedial construction works on the sewage outfalls which my hon. Friend has talked about will simply collect some of the sewage which will still flow through my constituency in both rivers and take it out as an expedient rather than make a real attempt to clean the rivers from source. It is a serious point.
If the Welsh Office is prepared to put public money into the barrage project, it should also think about the 500,000 people who live along the Taff and its tributaries who suffer from the filth and the litter that gather on the banks and from the fact that, as communities, we cannot face our rivers. When we talk of redeveloping our communities, we think of doing it as we did originally, by turning our backs on the rivers. It is a scandal that there seems to be one vision for south Cardiff, but quite another for the valleys. Only small sums seem to be available for projects in the valleys while there is a lot available for south Cardiff.
To return to the point I made earlier, there is an umbilical link between south Cardiff and the valleys. South Cardiff grew up entirely because of the development of the coal mines which were sunk along the banks of the Taff, the Ely, the Rhondda, the Cynon and the other rivers 79 which will feed into the barrage. It would be good if the project could help transform the coal communities which have been so cruelly run down over the past 10 years.
The promoters of the Bill should understand that development-led projects such as the barrage must take into account greater environmental considerations and not just the wildlife which will be affected within the boundaries of the project. They should take account of the fact that Welsh Water still allows raw sewage to flow into the Taff, the Ely and other rivers in south Wales, and that we cannot redevelop our towns using the rivers as focal points. I should like those rivers to resemble the rivers in the constituency of the hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North (Mr. Howells). I should love to see our rivers crystal clear, like those that I swam in as a child. That should not be a demand which is beyond our making.
The Government have allowed the water authorities enough leeway. They have allowed them to get off with so-called derogations for a number of years before they have to carry out the real remedial projects which are needed. The point is worth making on the Bill that if it is good enough for south Cardiff, it is good enough for the valleys. If there is an umbilical link, it should extend to all aspects of the project. The valleys should enjoy the kind of environment that the promoters say will be enjoyed by those who live around the lagoon and the barrage.
I do not want the project to fail if it can be proved to be good. On the other hand, I do not want it to eclipse what is desperately needed in the hinterland of south Wales. I want all the schemes to be carried out, but not in the next decade or the next century. The people of south Wales have suffered long enough from filthy rivers and from an environment scarred by industrial development and by slapdash development for so many years. It is time the Welsh Office began to regard the hinterland as an area which is as fit as south Cardiff for flagship development.
§ Mr. Keith Raffan (Delyn)
I did not intend to speak, but I was stimulated—perhaps "provoked" is a more appropriate word—to do so by the remarks of the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams). Although he may find it strange, I support the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), and, indeed, my hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist) and for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones).
Like the hon. Member for Carmarthen, I have taken a close interest in the Cardiff bay development since its conception. Like many hon. Members representing other parts of Wales, I have attended presentations organised by the Cardiff Bay development corporation, and have discussed the issues with the corporation. This visionary project will, in my view, transform the economy of south Cardiff, and will have a multiplier effect on the wider local economy. There is bound to be some delay because of the current economic downturn, but that will do no more than temporarily hold back the ultimate economic growth that the development will bring. It will make a major contribution to the economy of south Wales.
If the politics of envy are to enter into the debate, perhaps I am entitled—as my constituency is even further from Cardiff than that of the hon. Member for Carmarthen—to comment. Large sums of public money 80 have already been spent in my constituency, and in the whole of north Wales. I pay tribute to south Wales Members, who have, for instance, supported the massive investment in the dualling of the A55: such public-sector pump-priming makes a major contribution to the regeneration of the north Wales economy. An enormous amount—£500 million—has been or is being spent on the construction of the road. Public sector pump-priming has helped to establish a number of industrial estates in my constituency, in Wrexham Maelor, and in Alyn and Deeside—which, of course, are both represented by Labour Members.
We have seen how effective that public sector pump-priming has been in stimulating private sector investment, no more notably than in the constituency of the shadow Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones). It has brought about considerable development in, for instance, business parks, such as at St. David's, Ewloe. I am convinced that the same will happen in Cardiff. As Welsh Members, we are all surely entitled to take some pride in the revival of our capital city as a symbol of the Principality.
I appreciate the concern of hon. Members who represent the valleys about the deprivation and environmental pollution that confronts them. Nevertheless, I believe that it would be not only petty but unwise to obstruct and delay this project further. As I have said, as a north Wales Member, I have intruded in the debate with some trepidation, but I do not resent this massive investment in south Cardiff. I want to see the models and the presentation come to life; I expect a great and proud city to come to fruition through this major economic development. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North that this project will help Cardiff surpass Bristol, and act as a draw for the many companies that are now leaving the south-east.
The hon. Member for Carmarthen is, in a way, my hon. Friend: in the Select Committee, we have discussed the connection between Wales and the channel tunnel. The French have been investing massively in their infrastructure, because they expect the tunnel to help to develop the Pas de Calais. We on the other hand are concerned about further development in the golden triangle represented by London-Paris-Hamburg. I am very critical of the Government's lack of investment in infrastructure to meet the challenge of the tunnel. We have fallen way behind the French in terms of both rail and road investment.
I am glad that the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) agrees with me on this point. He was also a member of the Select Committee during that inquiry and he is a much greater expert on French affairs than I am: he visits the country so frequently. We must ensure that the necessary draw is created. I hope that the Government will also soon come to their senses and invest in the necessary infrastructure. I think that Cardiff has the potential to be a major attraction to companies post-1992, and after completion of the channel tunnel.
§ Mr. Alan W. Williams
The hon. Gentleman has interpreted my comments as representing the politics of envy. That may be partly true; but politics is the language of priorities, and I do not think that this development should be our number one priority now. We are running a massive balance-of-payments deficit, and we are in an economic recession. Surely public money should be going into manufacturing rather than service industry.
§ Mr. Raffan
The hon. Gentleman knows that I differ with him on this point, because I have done so when sitting next to him in the Select Committee. I do not believe in this distinction between the service and manufacturing industries; I want Wales to have a share of both. Indeed, I should dearly like more service industries in my constituency. I have been lucky that, as a result of the enterprise zone initiated by the Government and opposed originally by the Labour party, many new full-time male manufacturing jobs have been created in my constituency; but, in any local economy, there should be a balance between service industry and manufacturing jobs.
The hon. Gentleman is leading us up a cul-de-sac, distracting us from the main issue. He speaks of his contempt for "yuppie jobs", but not all service jobs are "yuppie jobs". The service industries must themselves be serviced, and jobs will, I believe, be created not only for yuppies but for many other people in Cardiff as the local economy is developed. That will result in an increase in wage levels, something that I would expect the hon. Gentleman to welcome.
We must make Cardiff more attractive. I think that the Cardiff bay development will contribute to the economy of not only the city but the whole surrounding area of south Wales, and will also improve the quality of life enjoyed by the local people. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North. Both Houses have considered the Bill for long enough and in enough detail, having debated such detailed matters as fish passes as we have today. It is time for the Bill to be passed, and for this development to be implemented so that the vision of the former Secretary of State, Lord Crickhowell, and many others can become a reality and the life and economy of our great capital city can be transformed.
§ Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)
As we saw in the debate in December 1989, there is always the danger of our slipping into a bad-tempered mode, because those speaking for or against the measure are mostly Welsh Members and are generally believed—at least by the opposite side—to be speaking on behalf of vested interests.
We in Rhondda, however, have no particular vested interest in the Bill's success or otherwise. We detect no envy in the Bill: if it is possible for the city of Cardiff to develop, we will support that wholeheartedly. Living in the hinterland as I do, with many constituents working in Cardiff, I see a spin-off for my constituency if Cardiff prospers; but I would prefer the money—various figures have been mentioned, but I believe that about £400 million is being put into the scheme—to be invested directly in areas whose need is far more urgent.
The proceedings on the Bill in this House, then in Select Committee and again here have demonstrated that the development of the city of Cardiff does not depend upon it. Development is taking place in the docklands area without the barrage. We are not against public investment in the docklands area. However, all that the barrage does is to create a lake. It will not create an acre of ground on which factories and offices can be built. All that it creates is a lake where people can moor their boats. This huge investment is designed to create a pleasant atmosphere in order to attract investment. However, investment is going on in Cardiff without the barrage.
§ Mr. Michael
I appreciate the fact that some of my hon. Friend's remarks have been good natured and generous. Does he accept, however, that some of the information that I provided privately, both to my hon. Friend and to other colleagues, shows that the barrage development will lead to investment and jobs that would not come to Cardiff without it?
§ Mr. Rogers
Yes, that is an interesting question. However, the development of Cardiff bay and the docklands area is continuing apace. My constituency is probably the cultural centre of Wales. If any of my constituents want to lay on a cultural programme, they have to use St. David's hall or County hall in Cardiff. That is right in the middle of the docklands area. It is a wonderful new development, which I applaud. The area in Cardiff that needed to be redeveloped was badly run down. At one time my brother was warden of the Central boys club in Cardiff. I served in the Army with many lads from the docklands area. I boxed in the same Army team as many of the illustrious boxers who come from that area. I know them well. The docklands area needed to be redeveloped. However, we do not want a barrage. No land will be created by it.
One wonders why the Bill is being backed so strongly by the Government. Why are they so anxious to pump money into it? The scheme was the idea of a previous Secretary of State for Wales, Lord Crickhowell. He is a director of Associated British Ports which owns 160 acres in the Cardiff bay area. The same ex-Secretary of State is now the chairman of the National Rivers Authority. When Cardiff city rightly submitted schemes to him to attract development money he said, "You can have the urban development corporation or nothing at all." Over the years the UDC has tried to fit its plan into the framework that was constructed at that time.
§ Mr. Michael
Does my hon. Friend accept that the first development—the creation of County hall, the flagship of south Cardiff—was undertaken by South Glamorgan county council?
§ Mr. Rogers
I do not disagree. I pay tribute to both Cardiff city council and to the county council. They are doing all that they can to develop the area. However, there is a huge private sector interest in the development which far exceeds any previous public sector interest in it. If it could be demonstrated to me that the barrage would add substantially to the land bank in the Cardiff docklands area, I should support it. However, it does not.
The valley communities of south Wales also need huge investment. Successive Governments have provided it. Coal tips have been reclaimed for industrial development. The valley communities accept that the land bank needs to be increased. However, the barrage will not increase the amount of land available in the Cardiff area for industry and offices.
If another scheme had been adopted, the environmental and geological problems associated with the barrage would not exist. It would have confined reclamation to the eastern side of the estuary. It would have added to the amount of land available and it would not have had the environmental implications of the barrage, including its impact on wildlife. Moreover, the citizens of Cardiff object strenuously to the possibility of ground water flooding their homes.
83 It is not wise for politicians to set themselves up as experts. However, politicians must have a reasonable knowledge of any issue if they are to understand the arguments. When I read the plethora of documents that were pushed towards us when the scheme was first mooted, I was struck by the lack of research into issues such as ground water. I understand that the Select Committee asked for a second opinion. However, it was not sought and the report was published without that additional information being made available.
When I queried that at the presentation, the promoters treated me in a most hostile way. I thought to myself that something must be wrong, so I looked further into it. I wondered why they had been so hostile to my question. I read the report again and found that the technical implications of the scheme had not been properly thought out. The initial report contained such phrases as, "When the full appraisal has been completed." It was then that the flooding problem for some of the homes in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) became a real issue. That possibility still exists. According to the technical appraisal, no viable solution has been found.
It serves no purpose to say that, if we cannot have it, nor can Cardiff. That is a self-defeating argument. The whole area of Cardiff and south Wales needs investment and development, however that takes place. If development in Cardiff benefits the valleys, that will be to our good. However, £400 million of public money will be spent on the scheme and the benefits will accrue to private business. No real public interest will be served. That money is being invested because of the private interests of Tory politicians, who sucked the city councils and county councils into the scheme by giving them no options in the beginning.
I object to the building of the barrage. If there were a Cardiff Bay Bill and £100 million were being invested in the Cardiff bay area, I should support it 10 times over. But as long as it is a badly founded and ill-thought-through Bill for a narrow sector of private interest, I shall oppose it.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Bennett)
As the House knows, the Government have a substantial interest in the Bill's objectives.
The barrage proposal has been the subject of detailed and wide-ranging studies. We have given these careful consideration, weighing in particular the economic and environmental aspects. Our conclusion is that the case for the barrage is strong, in view of the substantial economic, recreational and other benefits that will arise, not just for Cardiff but for the wider area of south Wales. This view was not seriously challenged by the majority of the Committee which examined the Bill in detail last year.
The Committee heard a great deal of evidence on ground water and, understandably, sought a number of undertakings from the promoters before allowing the Bill to proceed. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State also gave an undertaking that, in considering the further work on ground water requested by the Committee, he would satisfy himself that all the relevant economic, 84 technical and safety criteria could be met before giving consent for public funds to be used for constructing the barrage.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist) told the House on 17 October 1990, to assist him in that task, my right hon. Friend has appointed an eminent specialist, Mr. Roy Stoner, director of the Institute of Irrigation Studies at the university of Southampton, as an independent expert adviser. The House should be aware that Mr. Stoner has broadly endorsed the approach taken by the promoters' consultants in carrying out the further work. Copies of Mr. Stoner's report have been placed in the Library of the House. For its part, Cardiff Bay development corporation has confirmed that many of Mr. Stoner's suggestions have been taken on board and has given assurances that the remainder will be incorporated in the further studies.
§ Mr. Rogers
I understood that, on 14 May, the Select Committee appointed Dr. John Miles to act as a second opinion on behalf of the objectors to the barrage so that the Committee could ensure that the objectors would not be flannelled by the consultants being paid by the Cardiff Bay development corporation. Dr. John Miles was not given the opportunity of providing that second opinion on the interim report. Those are the facts that I have been given; if the Minister says that they are not true, perhaps he could say what happened to Dr. John Miles' report because the publication of the interim report came out of the blue and its contents have not been verified by a second independent opinion.
§ Mr. Bennett
I cannot comment on what the hon. Gentleman says about the Committee, but Mr. Stoner is producing an independent report for the Committee as a result of the remarks that were made by the Committee in its final report. It will ensure that all the concerns put forward by people in Cardiff during the Committee stage are taken into account.
The report on the further ground water studies and the promoters' response are expected to be submitted to my right hon. Friend by the end of August. They will be placed in the Library of the House. Interested parties will be able to make written representation to my right hon. Friend about the contents of the documents over a three-month period.
That takes account of the matters raised by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers).
§ Mr. Morgan
Will the Minister, in the course of his prepared statement, refer to the reasons for not allowing public hearings or meetings? Why is he allowing only written statements after the Committee discussed public consultation? The concept of simply sending letters to the Secretary of State is a narrow definition of public consultation. The Committee promised public consultation. The Chairman of the Committee is present and may be able to elaborate on what the Committee had in mind. The Secretary of State interpreted it as letters only, but I do not think that that is what the Committee intended.
§ Mr. Bennett
The submission of written comments is a well-established method of consultation and is used for hospital and school closures. Publicity and guidance on the arrangements for representations will be issued nearer the time. The Committee that examined the Bill was not specific about the arrangements that will apply during the 85 three-months consultation period. I am satisfied that the submission of written comments strikes the right balance between a thorough examination of the issues and the need to come to a decision without undue delay. The independent adviser will have all the written representations before him and will be able to take them into account in his report to my right hon. Friend.
Once my right hon. Friend has considered the report of the further studies, the promoters' response and the representations made to him in the light of Mr. Stoner's further advice, I expect him to be able to announce his decision on public funding and the final position of the protected property line in the early part of 1992.
The Government have already made available or announced very significant funding for the corporation—over £190 million to the financial year 1993–94. Provided that my right hon. Friend is satisfied that the criteria in respect of the further work on ground water can be met, we intend to honour the long-standing commitment that the cost of the barrage will be met by the development corporation with the assistance of grant-in-aid from the Welsh Office.
I hope, therefore, that the House will allow the Bill to proceed to its remaining stages.
§ Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. In the Minister's one and only contribution to the debate, I thought that he would at least inform the House about the wider public expenditure consequences of the Bill. The Minister bothered to write to individual Members, including me—[Interruption.]—and he should have developed the case about the Bill's public expenditure implications.
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
That is an important matter for debate, but it is not a point of order for the Chair.
§ Mr. Rogers
Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I know that the Minister finds this matter amusing. He muttered that we did not ask him. During my speech, I referred at least four times to the huge sums of money being invested. The Minister adds no dignity to his office or to the House by refusing properly to answer questions on the most crucial issue in this debate. We shall take his silence as an ominous sign that the amount of money being spent is as huge as we said it was.
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
Order. These are matters for debate and those are not points of order for the Chair. Members who have not yet spoken can raise those matters as the debate progresses.
§ Mr. Rowlands
Further to the point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I should like to make a further request and ask the Minister to seek to catch your eye to tell the House what he has stated in correspondence about the nature and character of the public expenditure implications of the Bill.
§ Mr. Ian Grist (Cardiff, Central)
The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) could simply quote the Minister's letter, which contains the explanations. Hon. Members who have not seen it may he interested in it.
I am delighted to be the third of the four Cardiff Members to support the Bill. I came to Cardiff about 28 years ago, and I remember seeing the docks run down and the increasing dereliction of the area. The transformation now taking place and which the barrage promises will make the city world famous again. It has taken a long time to reach this stage, which is a great shame. We would have come further down the road but for some rather wayward opposition to the Bill.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) became a Member in 1987. This measure had already been launched by then. He took his time in finding his Opposition to the Bill and, having heard voices, decided which way to go. I regret the fact that some valley Members have followed a beggar-my-neighbour, envious approach. The hon. Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) is an honourable man. I enjoy reading his comments on Sunday and treasure his company.
§ Mr. Morgan
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist) made some rather unparliamentary criticisms of my motivation for opposing the barrage and said that I had heard voices. I should have liked to put him firmly in his place, but he did not give me an opportunity to do so.
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
Order. It is my duty to listen to genuine points of order, and I must do so. I was under the impression that the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist) was coming to the end of a sentence and was about to give way.
§ Mr. Morgan
The hon. Gentleman said that I had heard voices and had taken my time before opposing the Bill. I remind him that the Cardiff Bay development corporation was formed in April 1987. I became a Member in June 1987. I read all the evidence that had been presented to the House of Lords and, within hours of finishing reading it, made my decision and openly declared my opposition to the Bill. In what other way does the hon. Gentleman suggest that it would be proper for a Member with constituency interests to make a decision on a private Bill? Does he go along with the Conservative party Whip, as Ministers always have, as evidenced by the Conservative party Whip of 7 February, which I have in my possession?
§ Mr. Grist
That is what I believe. The hon. Gentleman overestimated the opposition in his constituency, which 87 was shown in local elections. The seats were won by local candidates who opposed Labour party members who were against the development.
The Bill does wonders for not just Cardiff but south Wales. Cardiff is the capital. It includes St. David's hall and a great new shopping centre. It is the biggest city in Wales and is a magnet for the area. Roads radiate from it. As I am sure the hon. Member for Pontypridd remembers, development of the A470 was stuck in the 1970s, until the Government built it. That road provides access for the hon. Gentleman's constituents and others. A journey to Merthyr Tydfil on the A470 now takes 35 or 40 minutes. New roads in the area have created a close-knit community. The fame and wealth that this development will bring to south Wales will spill out. The hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) will have more people going to the Rhondda heritage centre because of the fame of south Wales. Other people will learn about the advantages of the valleys and the opportunities available to them.
The Bill is not just about south Cardiff, although, heaven knows, it is about reviving that part of the city that has fallen on bad times.
§ Mr. Rogers
I fail to follow the hon. Gentleman's argument. The Rhondda heritage centre is undergoing construction, before the building of the barrage, and the A470 was built 10 or 15 years ago. It is nonsense to suggest that those developments might take place in the valleys because of the Bill or to try to tie them in to the Bill.
§ Mr. Grist
If the hon. Gentleman is telling me that the Rhondda heritage centre has been completed and that it no longer needs money to support it, I am sure that the Welsh Office will be interested to learn that. I do not believe that the development has been completed. It still needs support.
The hon. Member for Pontypridd talked about space. If he knew Cardiff, he would know that it is ringed by the bay in the south, the M4 in the north and putative green belts to the west and the east. We need the new land that will be opened up by this development. The barrage will bring a focus to south Cardiff. It will give value to the land and attract industry and investment. It will bring 30,000 jobs and 6,000 houses. Those houses will not be just for yuppies, whom the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams) goes on about. A quarter of them will be for social housing. There will be a housing mix, just as happened in the Tarmac development.
The hon. Member for Pontypridd would like to know what the water standards will be. The water near the dock which the county council built will be the type of water in the bay. One would not necessarily want to fall into it but it would not do any great harm if one did so. Fish live in it, birds use it, boats manoeuvre on it and there are displays there. The barrage will bring similar development.
If Opposition Members turn down the Bill, they will be looking a gift horse in the mouth. They will not succeed in defeating the Bill, but they will muddy the water. They have not appreciated the evidence given to two Select Committees. Both Select Committees set a precedent by going to Cardiff to hear the views of the people and to see for themselves. That was a new step. No similar Bill has lasted so long and had such close attention paid to it. It has been supported by members of all parties. The hon. 88 Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) is far from alone in his view, although it may have sounded that way this evening. He knows that the Cardiff city council Labour party and county council Labour party overwhelmingly support this development. I am afraid that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West gets things wrong every time on this issue.
§ Mr. Morgan
On what evidence does the hon. Gentleman say that the Cardiff city council Labour party supports the scheme?
§ Mr. Grist
The hon. Gentleman knows his party well. If the local Labour party opposed the Bill, he would say so.
The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney is a sort of Public Accounts Committee stand-in on this issue. I cannot understand that, but I believe that if he were still the Member for Cardiff, North, as he was between 1966 and 1970, he, too, would support this development.
§ Mr. Rowlands
The hon. Gentleman's assumption is incorrect. I had the privilege of serving Cardiff, North when I fought an equally grandiose nonsensical city centre scheme. Fortunately, it was heavily modified, and it led to sensible evolution of Cardiff's development. My approach and attitude to these proposals is very much the same.
The hon. Gentleman called me a sort of mini-PAC, and he was right. Unlike Ministers, we have not had statements. I received a letter signed by the Under-Secretary of State but obviously written by the hon. Gentleman. I hope to read it out later. The letter gave us some insight at least into public expenditure, but we have many questions to ask about it. I was astonished at the facile speech by the Under-Secretary. It did not develop those issues.
§ Mr. Grist
I thought that the hon. Gentleman was beginning to get into his stride. He knows that the public money that has gone to his constituency shows a smaller private return than will go into the Cardiff scheme. This is one of the best returns on public money available in any development in south Wales. In all his criticisms of this investment, the hon. Gentleman should remember that fact.
§ Mr. Rogers
I accept the hon. Gentleman's faith in his arguments because he was the Minister responsible for working out the public investment figures. As he is obviously an expert, having lived with the problem as a constituency Member and as the responsible Minister, will he tell us what return is expected from the £435 million which will be invested?
§ Mr. Grist
I should happily go over it with the hon. Gentleman afterwards. The total is £335 million, which shows how far out the hon. Gentleman was with his figures. Often, we accept low returns to rebuild town centres, to encourage housing development or a shopping centre or to clear a tip site. Such development may have a low return, but it is necessary to build up an area and to make it more attractive and available to new industry.
89 The barrage is commercial investment by the country in the capital city of Wales. I cannot stress that too strongly. I should have thought that hon. Members would want to see a successful capital city. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney was quite right to say that the Ravenseft plan crashed when the pound was devalued because the then right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth had run into a bit of trouble. They had to pay £3 million in compensation——
§ Mr. Grist
It was £4 million, was it? That was when Councillor Ferguson-Jones used the money to start St. David's hall. Ultimately, more money had to be found, and the right hon. and learned Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) topped it up. We ended up with a magnificent concert hall, which reflected well on south Wales as well as on the immediate area around Cardiff. We can all be delighted that, at last, we have a world-class concert hall. I am sure that the hon. Member for Pontypridd occasionally attends concerts and other events in that hall. It is good for his constituency and for the immediate environs of Cardiff. The same will apply to the bay development.
I have no hesitation in supporting this highly imaginative, worthwhile and economic transformation of the city that I have the pleasure and pride of representing.
§ Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)
It is always interesting to follow the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist), with his new-found freedom on the Back Benches to speak for himself. I happily follow him down the history of the Cardiff centre development, which was nothing to do with the Government of the day but resulted from the economics and fundamentals of the scheme. The Cardiff central scheme was fundamentally flawed because it was a grandiose scheme. Huge assumptions were made that depended on enormous expenditure on a roadway, for which a huge part of Cardiff would have had to be knocked down. It would have meant destroying one aspect of the city's retailing sector. It was rejected not only because of the economics but because of the growing feelings of the people of Cardiff.
§ Mr. Michael
My hon. Friend and I were on the same side of that argument. That scheme involved the wholesale destruction of retailing, homes and communities, in direct contrast with the barrage scheme, which retains and benefits the existing communities as well as building new ones.
§ Mr. Rowlands
My hon. Friend tempts me to make a comparison. I suspect that I shall be able to show certain similarities in philosophy for that grandiose scheme and for the grandiose scheme of the Cardiff bay barrage development.
Since our last debate, I have taken the opportunity to revisit Cardiff bay. I express my gratitude to the chairman of the development corporation for his kindness and patience in explaining the nature and character of the vision of the development corporation and of some people in Cardiff. I fear that when he has heard my remarks he might feel that I have not drawn the conclusions that he would have wished from my visit, but, nevertheless, I understand the infectious enthusiasm that grows when a 90 grand, visionary scheme is presented. It is natural and instinctive to think that big is best. The same spirit was behind the original Cardiff central area proposals. I can remember the planners, like the chairman of the development corporation, saying how it was bound to be a winner and asking how anyone could dare suggest that such a grand visionary scheme could have flaws or was not the way for the city to evolve.
The same infectious enthusiasm has been expressed for the grand design of the barrage. I do not denigrate that. I understand and appreciate it, but we must not suspend our faculties. I did not do so when I was the Member for Cardiff, North and was placed under such pressure. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) will know that I was placed under pressure to be persuaded of the grand vision. I did not buy it then and I do not buy it for the Cardiff bay development. We should not suspend our critical judgment on the public expenditure consequences.
§ Mr. Michael
I appreciate the serious point that my hon. Friend is making. One should not be taken in by grandiose plans. Does he agree, however, that the development scheme for the centre of Cardiff which was carried through to fruition after the collapse to which he referred was imaginative, important and positive in terms of the development of Cardiff? Will he accept that we must compare the critical examination that we brought to bear on that scheme, when I was chairman of the planning committee, with the way in which many of us have approached this scheme—not uncritically, but critically and positively?
§ Mr. Rowlands
I am convinced that my hon. Friend is right that the scheme that evolved as a result of our turning our backs on the Ravenseft and Hook road schemes was sensible, imaginative and made Cardiff city centre such a pleasure to shop in, walk around and to listen to music in. Interestingly, what was decided evolved from existing development rather than from a large scheme being imposed.
Following my visit to Cardiff bay, I am offering my untutored impressions of the scheme. My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) said how much sensible development has been going on, and no doubt will go on, in this derelict area, with or without the barrage. The most striking impression of my visit to the site was the enormous amount of development that is happening irrespective of whether the barrage is to be developed. The Pengam site has been developed and there is housing development. I was told by the chairman and others that the developers were not selling the existing scheme on the promise of this Bill and that the development would proceed irrespective of the barrage. What will the barrage add to that?
§ Mr. Grist
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman was told just that. Naturally, anyone trying to sell the area and the development would stress that aspect. But does not the hon. Gentleman agree that everyone believes that the barrage will come and has taken that into consideration in investing in the area?
§ Mr. Rowlands
That is an interesting point. In that case, some people may be disappointed. They should not be making assumptions about what the House will decide. Remarks to the effect that we have spent too long debating 91 these issues show impatience with democracy, but patience is a vital quality of parliamentary democracy. If investors have made investments on that basis, they may well be disappointed. Who knows? As far as I know, however, the development corporation has not said, "Come and invest here because there will be a barrage." That is crucial. Even without the barrage, there has rightly been a large amount of exciting development.
§ Mr. Rogers
Does my hon. Friend agree that the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist) has grounds for his optimism that the Bill will be delivered eventually? After all, huge sums have been spent on promoting it-on inviting hon. Members to functions and asking them to come to Cardiff at public expense to see what is what. If the promoters do not get the Bill, they will have egg on their face. My hon. Friend should take account of the optimism of the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central, who is an ex-Minister once responsible for the Bill. Clearly, he knows something that we do not.
§ Mr. Rowlands
Who knows? We are crystal ball gazing. My hon. Friend has made a valid point, but I reiterate that a great deal of development has been going on and will continue to go on whether the barrage is built or not.
What is the extra ingredient that the barrage will bring? I can only give my own impression. It will accelerate interest and development in the area. It will generate hype around the sale of the land in the area for high-class commercial and residential development. A curious feature of the present scheme and of all the 1980s property boom schemes—including the development of London docklands—is that they require a huge dose of inflation. They depend on an inflationary boost being given to land prices, rents and commercial developments. It is most odd—indeed, it is nonsense—that the Government should preach that inflation is the greatest evil in the land while in Cardiff bay and London docklands huge inflationary pressure is placed on property prices and land values. I heard with bated breath how office costs in Mount Stuart square had risen from £2 to £12 per sq. ft.—as if that was a marvellous achievement. I suppose that some may regard increased land values and the rest of it as an achievement. But in Merthyr, wage freezes and cuts in manufacturing costs are what is preached, whereas down in Cardiff bay developers and companies are expected to pay another £10 per sq. ft. for the good of the Cardiff development scheme.
The 1980s were characterised by the nonsensical proposition that what is required is a property-led boom involving a degree of inflation way above retail price inflation. The hon. Member for Cardiff, Central shakes his head. I do not believe that, with a 1 or 2 per cent. inflation rate, any of the projects discussed in the report would survive for one minute. Behind almost every one of the schemes has been the assumption that—especially if one pours in large sums of public money—land prices, rents and the value of commercial developments will be lifted and that banks will therefore be attracted to the area to help people to borrow against assets inflated by that public investment. That is a curious feature of the 1980s and, thank God, I think that it is coming to an end. The rest of us, and the rest of the economy, have paid the price. For those of us in Merthyr and elsewhere there has been a trickle-down effect of property booms—whether in 92 Cardiff, in London docklands or in the south-east: jobs have been lost, manufacturing opportunities destroyed and investment cut and we have been charged punitive interest rates. That has been the effect of an overcharged property boom. The Cardiff barrage proposal is a late—I think, too late—example of that.
§ Mr. Grist
Surely the hon. Gentleman must accept that rising rents are a reflection of increased prosperity. After all, people have to be prepared to pay them. A firm does not pay increased rents just for the fun of it. It pays them because it recognises that there is enough business in an area to make being there worth its while. Rents are higher in Oxford street than in the outer Orkneys because there are more sales to be had. That is obvious.
§ Mr. Rowlands
Did not the Government conclude, after their experience of running such a boom in 1986–87, that it was a complete economic disaster? The hon. Gentleman has described exactly what went on in the south-east and other parts of so-called prosperous Britain. People were paying £200,000 for houses worth £100,000. They were taking out 100 per cent. mortgages. That is the very market that Ministers have been trying to crush since the 1987 election. The notion is that we must have a property-led boom with large inflation for the Cardiff bay and docklands development schemes to survive and flourish. The rest of the nation has paid the price for such economic nonsense and I do not see why we should endorse it by supporting the Bill.
§ Mr. Rogers
My hon. Friend has made an important point. I do not understand why the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist) does not realise that the people who suffer are those who pay and that the only people who reap the benefit of high rents are the landlords—the corporation, Associated British Ports and all the private interests. I see that the Minister is scoffing. Perhaps he can tell us who else benefits from high rents.
§ Mr. Rowlands
My hon. Friend makes a powerful and valid point.
Let me take the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central on further. He argued that there was a market which made it worth people's while to pay £12 per sq ft in Mount Stuart square when three or four years ago they were paying only £2. He said that that was a sign of increased prosperity. If that is so, why does not the private sector pay? Why should the public sector make a huge contribution to inflating land values, prices and rents in docklands? The Minister is an arch Thatcherite and, until the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central was sacked, I thought that he was, too. [HON. MEMBERS: "A Heseltini."] Oh, a Heseltini. In any case, he seemed dryish in character. But perhaps he is not. If the Cardiff bay barrage scheme is such a good scheme, and if we believe in the market, why should not it go ahead in the private sector? Why does not the development justify itself, rather than the promoters expecting the investment of large sums of public money to make it work? The basic test of such a scheme must be the degree to which it can sustain private sector investment.
§ Mr. Rowlands
I cannot attract this kind of private investment into Merthyr and Rhymney. The hon. Member for Cardiff, Central made an aside about the nature of our society, but land in Merthyr and Rhymney is not attractive enough to warrant such investment. It may have been attractive enough 150 years ago when we had the coal that provided the resources which created work for the Cardiff docklands in the first place. However, we cannot attract such investment in 1990.
Of course we need urban aid, but we do not need it to create inflation in our society. Urban grants or urban aid should not boost land prices or inflate house value; in my area because that would price the very people that we are trying to support out of the market.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth claims that the development will benefit everyone in that part of the world. However, I notice that 25 per cent. of the residential development will be social or low-cost housing and I accept that that percentage is slightly more than tokenism. However, the rest of the development is for the market and we know what the market means in terms of marina-style residential developments.
§ Mr. Michael
I am grateful that my hon. Friend has referred to that part of the development as being more than tokenism. The debate on the 25 per cent. of the development for social housing for rent, to which my hon. Friend referred, has been an important factor in the discussions involving people in the existing communities. Just as we want to see developments in Wales and just as my hon. Friend wants to see developments in Merthyr and in the other valley communities, we in south Cardiff—which has suffered like the valley communities—have a right to want jobs and the right environment for the future of our people. Are we on the same side of the argument in wanting to see public investment produce good returns?
§ Mr. Rowlands
We must ask how much that wily cost, how it should be financed and what kind of scheme we are talking about. I am sorry that I am now treading on the patch of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth, although he is inviting me to do that more and more. I have, to use a nautical term, been trying to steer a middle course. However, the barrage bay concept is not just to develop good, honest south Cardiff. The intention is to transport a London docklands-style yuppie development into Cardiff in an attempt to make the city greater than Bristol. We expect rather more for our city than what has been proposed around the marina-style development.
The development cannot be compared with low-cost housing in Merthyr. Having fought his battles, if my hon. Friend has managed to come out with only 25 per cent. of the development for social housing for rent in comparison to the total amount of public expenditure investment, he has not won.
§ Mr. Michael
My hon. Friend has been comparing the development with London docklands. The big difference in Cardiff has been the co-operation involving the development corporation in Wales in comparison to what has happened in London and elsewhere. Local councillors like Peter Perkins, the local council member in Grangetown, who is the deputy leader of the county council, and other local authority members have been supporting the scheme after examining it critically to 94 discover what it will do to present communities as well as to the future of Cardiff. Labour local authority members and others have given the scheme a critical and careful appraisal and that has led them to support it.
§ Mr. Rowlands
I bow to my hon. Friend's knowledge of the way in which the local politics of the scheme have been unfolding. I have no right to enter that argument. However, those of us who represent Welsh constituencies have a right to claim that developments of this kind have wider implications. Inevitably, we are drawn into arguments about priorities.
The essential character of the scheme and particularly that character of the scheme that will be "barrage dependent", to borrow a phrase from a Welsh Office letter, will not necessarily be for the average working folk—and I put it no higher than that. I do not believe that the amount of public expenditure is justified.
§ Mr. Flynn
Does my hon. Friend recognise that there are already huge areas of housing around the bay area including Channel view, Ferry road, Avondale crescent and the Hamadryad? There is already a huge amount of housing in place and that is far from being yuppie housing. All that housing will benefit enormously from the improvements that the barrage development can bring.
§ Mr. Rowlands
There has been a great deal of development around the bay without the barrage.
I want now to consider the Bill's public expenditure consequences. The Minister came to the Dispatch Box and rattled through his speech. However, we expected him to consider the public expenditure consequences. Indeed, he wrote me a four or five page letter setting out those consequences following our last debate on the matter.
§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman expected me to consider the public expenditure consequences today. On 19 December 1989 and 17 October 1990 the former Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist), dealt with the matter. I sent the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) a nine-page letter on the subject on 13 December, but he did not reply. I assume that he was happy with it.
§ Mr. Rowlands
I was waiting for the opportunity to cross-examine the Minister when he presented the figures publicly. The Minister took the trouble to write to me because he thought that it would be helpful to have a detailed explanation and clarification following our earlier exchanges.
§ Mr. Rogers
Surely my hon. Friend should point out to the Minister that the locus of the Welsh Office in the argument is the public expenditure aspect. It is not the Minister's function to advocate a particular scheme, because this is a private Bill. The Minister's and the Government's input into this kind of legislation and discussion should involve the implications for public expenditure.
§ Mr. Rowlands
That is so. The Minister should have presented the public expenditure implications of the Bill that he has supported in this House.
§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
I thought that the hon. Gentleman wanted a debate on the Bill's principles. The 95 letter that I sent him on 13 December contains nothing new from that which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central had advocated previously.
§ Mr. Rowlands
He felt it necessary to place the expenditure implications on record. I would have been happy to curtail my speech if the Minister had set the matter out clearly.
Let us look at what was contained in the letter of 13 December. The Minister confirms that the cost related to the Bill started out at about £84 million. He later confirms that figures have risen substantially. The key part related to the proportions of public and private expenditure. He said in the letter that of the £547 million of barrage-dependent and public expenditure, £335 million was estimated to be public expenditure. That is more than three fifths of the total cost of the scheme.
§ Mr. Rowlands
I shall present the case and then readily give way to my hon. Friend.
As I have said, £335 million of the £547 million for the barrage and associated works which are described in the letter and appendices is assumed to be public expenditure. The letter states:The assumption in the January 1990 Update, which we would certainly support, is that there will be a greater degree of co-operation between the private sector and the Corporation".As a result, the Minister says that public expenditure will be £335 million. Will he assure the House that that proportion is correct, and that in six months we will not find a higher level of public expenditure? A huge number of assumptions are made about the proportions of public and private expenditure. The assumption of £335 million is based upon an increased contribution from the private sector. Will the Minister assure the House that that is the true ratio of public and private investment in the scheme?
§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
On a scheme of this size and duration, no Minister could give absolute assurances. The hon. Gentleman fails to understand that the figures of £547 million and £335 million do not take into account the consultants' estimates. We are talking about total private investment of more than £1,500 million, and that includes the cost of all the other developments that will take place. The Bill mentions £335 million of public expenditure which will generate about £7 of private investment for every £1 of public expenditure.
§ Mr. Rowlands
We are talking about what the Minister describes in his letter, which states:In summary, therefore, the most important and up to date figures at a comparable price base …Cost of constructing the barrage: £125.55 millionTotal cost of barrage strategy: £547.29 millionTotal estimated public sector cost: £335 million".That is what we are debating, and it is the basis on which the Minister reveals the ratio of public-to-private expenditure. Is the £335 million as a proportion of the £547 million an assumption or an assurance?
§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
The hon. Gentleman does not seem to understand what I said. I cannot give any assurance because I do not know how inflation and changes in the scheme might affect the figures in future. Over time there could be changes. The £547 million covers the barrage, the infrastructure costs, improved access, including the link road, and environmental improvements in the scheme. It does not include any private expenditure on housing and commercial developments. The scheme could have £1.6 billion of private investment. That is £7 of private investment for every £1 of public expenditure. The hon. Gentleman does not seem to understand that.
§ Mr. Rowlands
I understand it too well, and the Minister is trying to move to a wider point. I am asking about his letter, which plainly states that barrage-dependent costs for maximum development potential are £547 million, of which £335 million will come from the public sector. The letter states that the assumption in the January 1990 update is that there will be more private sector involvement in this barrage-related development scheme. It states:The assumption in the January 1990 Update, which we would certainly support, is that there will be a greater degree of co-operation between the private sector and the Corporation in bringing forward developments within the overall barrage strategy. This will result in greater private sector contribution towards investment in infrastructure and reclamation works … water features, Iandscaping and, possibly, car parking and light railway facilities. Clearly, therefore, this will have a beneficial effect on the public sector input and, as I have indicated during our exchanges"—that is interesting because those last words betray the fact that the letter was written by the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central, because the only exchanges I have ever had on this matter have been with the hon. Gentleman. The letter continues:it is estimated that the public sector will meet £335 million (in mid-1989–90 prices) of the £547 million total cost".I narrow my question and repeat it to the Minister. In the terms of his own letter, in which he statesthe public sector will meet £335 million (in mid-1989–90 prices) of the £547 million total cost … with the balance … from private investment",will he now give the House something more than an assumption? Will he give us that assurance? At least we now know that, according to the Government, three fifths of the total cost of the scheme at the moment is to be met by the public as opposed to the private sector.
§ Mr. Rowlands
No, I shall not give way because I am asking the Minister whether he will give us the assurance that that is the proportion of public to private sector involvement, as he described it in his letter.
§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
I shall give the hon. Gentleman this assurance. I am convinced that there are adequate safeguards to control public expenditure on the scheme.
§ Mr. Alan W. Williams
My interpretation of the Minister's evasiveness on this matter is that he cannot give an assurance. Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a danger that that £547 million will escalate and that the 97 costs involved could be £600 million or £700 million, most of which will come from the public purse? Given the recession that we are now in—and if we have another Conservative Government, we shall never get out of it—the £1,500 million that the Minister projected will never come and the amount involved will be more like £1,000 million. We shall then be left with a multiplier not of 7:1 but of 2:1, if that.
§ Mr. Michael
I am keen that we should all operate on the same figures. That is why I sought to intervene a moment ago. Although I do not want to interrupt my hon. Friend's interesting conversation with the Minister, I want to ensure that we are all making the same assumptions——
§ Mr. Michael
Yes, I am referring to the Minister's letter also. My hon. Friend knows that I have been given a copy. I am sure that my hon. Friend will accept that the £547 million includes the cost of the primary distributor road—the PDR—and the costs of a substantial number of other schemes. I questioned that at an early stage, because it seemed that all sorts of things, including the PDR, should not be included as barrage-related costs. We in south Cardiff have been waiting for relief for communities, such as Grangetown and Butetown, and for the building of the PDR. It has nothing to do with the building of the barrage, but I understand that it has to be included for legal reasons. Does my hon. Friend accept that the figure relating to the construction of the barrage, which is what we should really be concerned about, is £125 million of the figure to which he referred?
§ Mr. Rowlands
Yes, of course I accept my hon. Friend's last point because that is the direct cost of the Bill. However, the Minister's letter stated that barrage-dependent expenditure to maximise the full potential is £547 million. I am quoting the Minister's figures—not mine or my hon. Friend's. The Minister has said that £335 million of that amount is public expenditure. I am simply seeking a modest assurance from the Minister that at least that proportion, which I think is horrific, will stand. I have not received that assurance and I hope that the Minister is satisfied with the control mechanisms for public expenditure.
I should like to remind the House——
§ Mr. Rowlands
I know that my hon. Friend served on the Private Bill Committee, but I should like to develop my point a little and then I shall happily give way to him.
We are told in the same letter that there are control mechanisms in place in the Welsh Office to ensure that costs are well under control. Let us consider first the cost that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth has mentioned—the cost of the Bill itself. It started at £84 million—that is on the face of the Bill. At the same 1988 prices, the cost then rose to £113 million. Now, at 1989–90 prices, the cost is £125 million. According to the letter, the outturn cost is £147 million. I doubt whether the control mechanisms on which we are supposed to depend are well illustrated by that increase in expenditure.
§ Mr. Hood
I chaired one sitting of the Committee 98 examining the Bill, when we interviewed three Treasury officials. We asked about control, but the officials could not give us assurances. We already had high inflation then, and now we also have a deep recession. I asked whether the £547 million could rise to £600 million or £800 million, and they could not answer. That may help the point that my hon. Friend is making.
§ Mr. Rowlands
That is helpful. For all the words in the Minister's letter, the reality is that the control mechanisms are not effective.
I have a suggestion to put to the Minister which I hope that, with his great Thatcherite tradition, he will accept. Why do we not cap the public expenditure that will result from the Bill? That should appeal to the hon. Gentleman, who goes around capping everybody else. We could put into the Bill rigid public expenditure-capped limits on every item of expenditure. We could follow the channel tunnel principle, which he supports, so that, instead of having a public expenditure element in the Bill, the £125 million could be raised in the private market, as funds for the channel tunnel were. The Channel Tunnel Act 1987 has a section that forbids the use of public funds in the building of that tunnel. I have no doubt that the Minister supported, in his fervent Thatcherite way, that fundamental principle. If he believes in control mechanisms and the rest, will he support amendments to the Bill to introduce such rigid caps, so that at least the proportion of public expenditure to the private expenditure does not get out of hand, as it is doing now? That constructive suggestion should fall on welcoming ears now that the hon. Gentleman has been elevated from the Back Benches to the Front Bench.
§ Mr. Rogers
Many of us have not had the privilege of seeing the Minister's letter. Will my hon. Friend tell me whether there is any assessment of returns on the expenditure? The Minister has, quite rightly, said that, given the proportion of private expenditure—I presume that every penny of that expenditure is costed in for a return out—the public money going in will have little return. Does the Minister mention any return, or does he expect the development corporation to repay public expenditure when it makes its huge profit?
§ Mr. Rowlands
There are rates of return on investment to be found in the various documents.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth said that he did not think that the Butetown link should be included. Whether it should be or not, I have one point to make about it. The 1.5 miles of the Butetown link is to cost an estimated £95.5 million. I picked up the Welsh Office Government expenditure plan. In table 7.4 on roads and transport, figures are given for the new construction programme, the main trunk road programme and various other roads. Except for the Briton Ferry-Earlswood section, no other road has a cost per mile higher than the 1.5 miles of the Butetown link. My hon. Friend has done his constituents proud in achieving this fantastic commitment. I do not engage in the politics of envy when I suggest gently that 1.5 miles for £95.5 million is a cost that should raise an eyebrow or two. The equivalent of the Butetown link for developmental purposes in my constituency is a programme that comes within the trunk road programme. It is called the Pentrebach-Mountain Hare route, phase 2. I thought that 99 the cost of that programme was high, but I have learnt since how modest it was. It is clear that I shall have to increase my demands on Secretaries of State. The cost of the programme was a mere £4.4 million a mile.
We heard at long last great announcements from the Dispatch Box about the delayed Llanbradach scheme. Will the cost of that scheme be £60 million a mile? As I have said, the cost of the Bute link is £63 million a mile. It is said that it is part of a scheme, but it has cost a great deal of money. Even the Under-Secretary of State might raise an eyebrow if he were asked to think about £63 million a mile and the needs of Pembroke. There is other road expenditure that has to be taken into account. The cost per mile of the A55 has not reached £63 million. The Briton Ferry-Earlswood links with the M4 would not cost so much per mile.
Has there been a cost-benefit analysis of the one-and-a-half miles of the Butetown link? Has there been a 17 per cent. or 20 per cent. return? Bearing in mind the major links with the major arteries that we are rightly building in the Principality, it is extraordinary that the cost of a 1.5 mile link should be so enormous.
As I have said, I am not engaging in the politics of envy. It is only right, however, to cross-examine at considerable length when we come to the public expenditure implications of projects such as the Butetown link.
I am a great fan of the marvellous comedy "Only Fools and Horses". In the penultimate episode, Uncle Albert went missing. Rodney, the nephew, and Del Boy find Uncle Albert down Tobacco road, where he had been brought up. Tears were streaming down his eyes. That was his reaction when he saw the London dockland of today, the world from which he had come. He was understandably nostalgic, but it was a world that had to go. The nephew understood Uncle Albert's feelings. He understood the thoughts that were passing through his mind. As a member of the young generation, he was turning his back on the yuppie land of marinas and the dockland development that Uncle Albert had seen. The person who admired that development and considered it paradise was Del Boy. He stood before the development in amazement and, in effect, said, "This is Paradise. If only I could get my hands on one of the apartments and hang around for a couple of years, some Arabs would buy it from me at a greatly inflated price."
There are not too many schemes such as that which is to be seen in the dockland area of London, but I fear that the Cardiff bay barrage yuppie residential schemes are part of Del Boy development and Del Boy society. Such activity might have been a feature of society in the 1980s, but I do not believe that it will be part of the 1990s. That is why I shall vote against the further consideration of the Bill.
§ Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)
I must tell my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) that the Uncle Alberts and the other inhabitants of Tobacco road are very much in Grangetown and the docks area generally. They will not be thrown out.
Perhaps I should declare an interest as a relative of mine, the widow of my late brother, has recently bought a 100 house in Channel View road at a cost of rather less than £40,000. She has not moved into a new development. I am talking of council houses that were built in the 1930s. There is much older housing as well, which was built in the previous century. That is to be found in Ferry road. The housing in Avondale road was built in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Housing in the docks area, near the Hamadrayad, was built in the previous century. Some of the most recently built housing there is that which was provided to replace temporarily—in fact, most of the houses have become permanent—dwellings in the Madras street and Thomas street areas of Grangetown. Those could by no stretch of the imagination be described as yuppie areas; the reverse, indeed, is the case. It is the established community, not the yuppies, that will benefit hugely from improvement of the environment.
The great curse of the coast of south Wales was described by Tennyson in the wordsBreak, break, break.On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!".He was describing the haven under the hill—the haven was Penarth—and the tall ships that went by. Tennyson stayed in the Hanbury arms, which is in my constituency, in the last century. The problem then was the same as the problem now. This is not a beautiful area. For 18 hours a day the view is not of a reflecting sea or of beautiful waves; it is of a mudscape. Sadly, since Tennyson's time even the mudscape has deteriorated greatly. The mud is now heavily polluted.
My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) is absolutely right when he refers to the disgraceful way in which we have fouled our rivers over the past 150 years. Restoring those rivers, preferably to the state that they were in 200 years ago, must be a major cause. It is conceivable. I hope that I am not being too autobiographical when I say that, as children, we used to swim in the Taff, near the Penarth road bridge. I remember vividly the feeder, which was exposed. There are now buildings there. During the war, boys would dive for coins. The river was in a terrible state at that time, but it is now becoming a fish habitat once more.
There has been reference—how serious, I am not sure—to fish passes. This issue has arisen only very recently. I understand that Mr. Creswell, the National Rivers Authority's spokesman on these matters, gave evidence about fish passes. There was no challenge at the time, but another Bill will provide an opportunity for that. That Bill, which will involve my constituency, casts its shadow before it.
I understand that in the Usk, which has been rich in fish life for at least 10,000 years—there may be objection to that period—is still rich in fish life. The number of fish caught in the estuary of the Usk, which is in my constituency, is eight times as great as the number caught in the 100-mile stretch that runs through the countryside. There is a very strong vested interest. The most remarkable thing about the fish is that they have been so robust over the years. Some of them have managed to swim through the fouled waters of the lower Usk, whereas, for many years, they have not succeeded in the Taff or in the Ely. It is gratifying to see such an improvement in water quality.
A great deal has emerged from this debate. It has been much better tempered than many other debates. The question of water quality is, of course, paramount. I am told that the worst that we can expect is water quality such as is to be found in Roath park lake and Bute east dock, 101 which supports fish life and, at present, cormorant life. Although there is pollution there, it is not such that people find it disagreeable. At present, the great problem about the Cardiff bay area arises from mud held in suspension, which gives the water an ugly brown colour. There may be other reasons as well, but the principal one is mud in suspension.
While on a boat trip with my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies), I was fascinated to notice how nature had defied the experts. In the area, at least 20 cormorants have managed to survive, even though the water is not transparent at all. According to the experts, those birds should not be able to survive. Cormorants need to be able to see through water in order to fish. But nature tends—as the cormorants and other birds are—to be far more robust and better at looking after itself than many people suggest. There are many other examples throughout south Wales of birds finding other habitats.
There has been no mention of the measures which will be taken under the Bill to establish an alternative habitat. There is an exciting proposal in the area of Wentloog, some of which is close to my constituency. Such measures have been taken elsewhere. That development should be well worth while. Great colonies of birds have moved from Collister Pill, an area at Magor in the Monmouth constituency. Those areas were drained for agricultural reasons and the habitat of tens of thousands of birds was destroyed. The birds moved to a wholly artificial, man-made habitat at the Uskmouth power station. They settled there and feed on the mudflats. They breed on the Uskmouth power station land. They have adapted successfully.
There is much pessimism about the Bill. So many people fail to see that it is a magnificaent concept. We should feel excited about the scale of it and what it will do. It will make an enormous difference. Throughout the world—for example, in Australia and in Baltimore, in America—hugely successful schemes have been undertaken to allow people to enjoy living near areas of reflective water. The human species likes to live in such pleasant surroundings.
§ Mr. Rogers
Does my hon. Friend argue that we should spend hundreds of millions of pounds of public money to create reflective water?
§ Mr. Flynn
I am saying that the Bill has many advantages. My hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams) suggested that all the money was intended to create jobs; he calculated the cost of each job created. But the Bill has so many advantages that one cannnot pin down the value of the Bill to one.
There has been a generous spirit in the debate tonight. It is significant that no one accused anyone of having a beggar-my-neighbour policy, but certain hon. Members adopted a defensive attitude. As my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) said, we should all realise that prosperity as well as dereliction is contagious. We live in a single economy in south Wales. What is good for Cardiff will be good for Newport and the valleys. We welcome the £800 million investment in the valleys even though we may have been doubtful about some of it and the amount. We should like to see a great deal more investment spread to the valleys. They will benefit from the Bill.
102 Furthermore, Cardiff is our capital city. I have a special pride in it, in spite of being wickedly provoked on Saturday night when I attended the dinner of the Welsh Baseball Union. Welsh baseball is a splendid sport played only in the favoured areas of Cardiff, Newport and Liverpool. Welsh baseball is different from any other type of baseball. I was introduced to the assembled guests as, not the Member for Newport, West but the Member for Cardiff, Far East. In spite of that, I feel a loyalty to the Bill.
I see the proposed barrage as a most exciting development in south Wales. Of course, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) and others have rightly argued about the Bill and questioned it. The important matters raised, especially that of ground water and the history of the area, should be examined in great detail. If it is discovered that the worst fears of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West will be realised—we all hope that they will not be—the Bill and the entire project will be friendless in the House. I hope that that will not be the case.
§ Mr. Flynn
I shall take the hint.
I think that the right hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow), who intervened on the subject of fish passes, was being unduly pessimistic. Salmon are strong, resilient fish. They have survived. They go through waterfalls and all kinds of pollution. The great problem is that salmon need water coming down the rivers. They need sufficient rainfall. Global warming and our warm summers will cause them more problems than getting through fish passes, which are established and work well.
We look forward to the day when the many objectors, both serious and less so, are answered and we can stroll together along the magnificent banks of Cardiff bay.
§ Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)
I welcomed the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) when he said what a good-natured debate we have had this evening, throughout the entire three hours and especially on the Opposition side of the House, although there was one exception, when the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist) spoke. He rather surprised us all. He tried to exhibit mind-reading skills that we did not know he had. He was not trying to work out whether hon. Members such as myself disagreed with him, but our motives for doing so. I do not think that the House would function if we started to smear any hon. Member who disagreed with us by saying that they had heard voices. That was completely unnecessary. We all do our work in our own way and look after our constituents' interests. If the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central has a better way of looking after his constituents' interests than I have, no doubt the results will show after the next election. That is when the matter will be put to the test.
I can tell the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central how he would be right to say that I had heard voices and that that is why I am opposing the Bill. However, I did not hear voices in the sense that he meant. It was simply that I walked around my constituency in Pontcanna and met a pensioner, who told me that he had lived there all his life, he knew all the pensioners, and he knew that they did not want the barrage. However, that was not sufficient basis for deciding to oppose this measure.
103 The next stage in my decision to oppose the barrage came when I was called to meet Dr. Noake, who was paid for by Cardiff Bay development corporation, as a second-opinion consulting geologist engineer. He was educated and lives in south Wales, and is an experienced consulting geologist. I was asked to meet him because he had been working on the barrage proposals and their effect upon the drainage of the low-lying part of Cardiff west, Cardiff central and Cardiff south. He told me that in his opinion—he was paid for by the development company, but jointly chosen by it and the objectors, as it was thought to be the fairest way to operate—having studied the scheme, the geological contours and the way in which the water table operated, he thought that the low-lying areas of Cardiff would fail to drain in certain circumstances if the barrage were built and that that would have the obvious consequence of a rising water table.
A locally based, professional engineering geologist told me that there could be problems for draining the low-lying parts of my constituency and others, so again that made me take notice.
I then set to and I read the entire evidence submitted to the House of Lords and decided that as the Member of Parliament for Cardiff, West it was my responsibility to oppose the barrage because more low-lying residential areas are in my constituency than in that of the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central or that of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael).
The hon. Member for Cardiff, Central seems to object to this process. He seems to think that because I did not oppose the barrage on the first day I heard about it, I sacrificed my right to oppose it at any subsequent stage. That is obvious nonsense. One has to accumulate the necessary facts to form an opinion in the best way that one can as a Member of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman also seems to think that because I was the industrial development officer for the county of South Glamorgan I must somehow have been aware of the barrage proposal and must have favoured it before I came to this House. He forgets that I ceased to be the industrial development officer for the county in 1980, more than six years before the Secretary of State for Wales thought up this proposal. So any connection between my previous employment and my right to oppose the barrage on behalf of my constituents is a complete mystery to me. I will have to write to him when this stage is over to find out what he meant by hearing voices and whether he considers that to be a proper parliamentary remark for one Cardiff Member to make about another.
Apart from that, the debate has been good natured on all sides and there has been a great deal of understanding. The fact that we may differ and that we have formed our views in different ways does not affect our ability to put them on record for the purpose of trying to persuade our colleagues to vote for or against the barrage.
We are being asked to consider the Bill as amended by the Select Committee, which did its work thoroughly and diligently. My hon. Friend the Member for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood) signed a minority report. There were 72 petitioners overall—one of the many parliamentary records set by the Bill. Many of the petitioners were not well off. They were not corporations and they could not call for expenses and first-class railway tickets to London, 104 as we can and as companies can. Had they had to come to Parliament, they would have been put to considerable expense and might have prejudiced their jobs by taking time off. The Select Committee wisely accepted a request to hold sessions in Cardiff to let those petitioners appear, and it met for an entire week in South Glamorgan county hall. Something similar has happened only once before. We are grateful to the Select Committee for doing that and enabling many of my constituents to appear at minimum private expense.
What the Select Committee did was curious and highly innovative, and requires serious consideration. It approved the Bill but not the barrage. It said in effect, "We are not in a position to give the barrage the go-ahead. We accept largely the ground water case made by the professional engineering witnesses who appeard on behalf of the objectors." Those witnesses were Dr. John Miles, Professor Ken Rushton and Brian Connorton from Thames Water. By and large the Select Committee accepted the bulk of their objections to the work that has been done so far. In effect, the Select Committee said, "We are not willing to pass the barrage. We want to pass the buck on the final decision to the Secretary of State for Wales after more ground water studies have been carried out." Studies should be carried out over a full four seasons because measurements are being made of rainfall and its effects on the ground water table to try to get an impression of the process going on under the soil in Cardiff.
Most of the objectors in my constituency think that if the Committee was not ready to pass the barrage, it should not have approved the Bill. They wonder what the Committee meant by approving the Bill when it was not ready to approve the major works which the Bill would empower the corporation to do. I understand that that is why my hon. Friend the Member for Clydesdale signed the minority report; I am paraphrasing his views but he said that if the Committee was not ready to approve the barrage it should not send the Bill back to Parliament. My hon. Friend wanted the ground water studies to be completed so that the Bill would come back to Parliament to give the scheme the go-ahead only provided that the additional information warranted it.
§ Mr. Michael
Obviously my hon. Friend develops the chronology in accordance with his own views and his reading of the evidence. Does he accept that the decision of the majority of the Select Committee and the interpretation placed on it by experts and engineers, including the independent experts on whom I have depended, are reassuring and that the additional work which was to take place anyway was, as it were, the belt and braces in addition to the considerable safeguards in relation to ground water?
§ Mr. Morgan
If my hon. Friend thinks that that version of events is better than mine, perhaps I should read out Hydrotechnica's version, contained in the interim report that the company sprang on everyone in Cardiff—everyone of whom I am aware, at any rate—last Thursday. On page 2, we read:At the Commons Committee stage of the Bill, Proofs of Evidence were presented by Professor K. Rushton, Dr. J. Miles and Mr. B. Connorton, on behalf of the Petitioners, which were critical of the modelling work and which cast doubts on its reliability.As a consequence of this, Hydrotechnica was instructed by Cardiff Bay Development Corporation in March 1990 to 105 examine the modelling work performed by WEL, and the Proofs of Evidence, and to give an opinion. Hydrotechnica reported one week later accepting the competence of the Petitioners' advisers to comment on the work, and agreeing in large measure with the comments made. Hydrotechnica did however state '… we believe from our concept of the system that these conclusions'"—those of Wallace Evans—"'are essentially correct …'It became clear that the deficiencies identified in the modelling work needed to be addressed, and such action was undertaken by Cardiff Bay Development Corporation. The Bill passed the Committee stage, with the condition that Hydrotechnica should carry out further modelling over a 12 month period ending on 31 July 1991.I do not want to engage in a barren argument about whether my version is superior to that of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth. I rest on the Hydrotechnica version.
§ Mr. Morgan
No, I will not give way; I think that three versions of the same event are quite enough, with only 20 minutes to go before the witching hour.
§ Mr. Rogers
This has nothing to do with my expertise as a geologist. I have long given up that profession; my point relates purely to common sense.
It appears that the Bill will have a minimal effect on houses in low-lying areas as a result of ground water. Does my hon. Friend agree that it would be much better to get rid of all such possibilities by allowing the models to cover at least four seasons? Is it not foolish to proceed with the Bill in its present form, given the present assumptions about ground water?
§ Mr. Morgan
Let me make it clear that the proposal is to compensate for the damage being done by remedial work. It is anticipated that at least 1,000 houses may be affected by the waterlogging of basements, for instance, and my constituents do not understand why they should put up with such botheration.
There is a wider and more important point at issue, however. We are now being asked to accept the Bill without the barrage, but to take the barrage on trust when the additional ground water studies have been completed on 31 July. That is a unique parliamentary device: it is rather like General Colin Powell's words to the United States press corps the other day, when they were looking at the laser print. He said. "Trust me; I have had to change the photographs a bit to stop the Iraqis from understanding where we get our information from."
How much trust can my constituents—who constitute a large proportion of the objectors—put in the House and the Secretary of State for Wales, given that, since 7 February, we have had a document signed by the Government Chief Whip telling all Ministers to be present tonight to vote the Bill through in the Lobby—and also to procure the presence of all parliamentary private secretaries? They are the unpaid members of the payroll voters who hope for promotion next year. The Welsh Office will, apparently, be acting quasi-judicially at the end 106 of a planning inquiry, but we know that the Government have been whipping the Bill through on the quiet all the time.
§ Mr. Hood
As a Member of the Select Committee and as the individual who wrote the minority report, may I cast some light on my hon. Friend's comments about the Committee's views? The Committee unanimously accepted the evidence of Rushton and Miles. We would not have supported the Bill without the amendment backed by the majority which gave the final decision to the Secretary of State. Judging from the advice that we have been given by the Clerk, I do not believe that the Bill will proceed any further, whether or not the House supports it. There was gerrymandering. The Bill was not accepted because of the dangers. That was dishonest. Therefore, I cannot support it. I do not criticise the three other members of the Select Committee. They came to an honourable decision, but the advice we received and the evidence we heard led me to believe that the Bill would not be supported by the Secretary of State for Wales. We were advised that the Bill was flawed. That was the reason for the amendment. I hope that that will help my hon. Friend to develop his point.
§ Mr. Morgan
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Perhaps the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central will say that he heard voices, too. If he did, they were the right ones. His words will be warmly welcomed by a large number of my constituents whose houses are low lying and near to the river.
Additional ground water studies began after the Select Committee disgorged the Bill on 14 May. The Cardiff Bay development corporation said that as most of the work had already been started it would be completed by March. Luckily, the Select Committee was able to put that straight. The corporation was firmly put in its place by the Committee. It was told that the work would begin on 1 August 1990 and would end on 31 July 1991. Over a full 12 month period that allows readings to be taken from the boreholes of the rise and fall of the tide, heavy rainfall and drought. A large number of boreholes have been drilled in the three constituencies affected; furthermore, a few have been drilled in the Cardiff, North constituency.
Hydrotechnica's interim report was published last Thursday. The Committee appointed Dr. John Miles to give a second opinion and to act on the petitioner's behalf. It was felt that that would reassure them that the Committee had done its work thoroughly and that it would not allow the petitioners to be railroaded by Hydrotechnica or any other consultants. Consultants are pulled both ways—in one way by their professional reputations, which they want to protect, and in the other way by the fees that they receive from their clients and by their customer-client relationship.
In addition to the protection afforded by Hydrotechnica's good name as professional experts in hydrogeology and computerised modelling of ground water, Dr. John Miles was called in to give a second opinion. When he was asked whether he had read the interim report and had been given a chance to comment upon it, he said that he had not—that he had not been told that it was to be published and that therefore he had been given no chance to comment upon it. The report was therefore published for public relations purposes just 107 before the debate by Cardiff Bay development corporation. It told Hydrotechnica that it needed a report before this debate but Hydrotechnica was told not to show it to Dr. Miles in case he said that he wanted certain alterations to be made to it, or that he disagreed with it. The interim report was not shown to that second opinion, Dr. Miles, who had been appointed by the Select Committee to look after the interests of the ground water objectors.
That is no way to deal with the Select Committee's views on the ground water objections to the Bill. That is a poor advertisement for the trust that my constituents, who have ground water objections to the Bill, can place in the way that the Cardiff Bay development corporation works. It does not seem to appreciate that the Select Committee wanted evidence from other geologists and engineers as well as its own evidence. The corporation should read a few texts on philosophical humility. It should have realised that when the Select Committee told it that it wanted the corporation to appoint consultants and to refer everything that its consultants proposed to a second opinion, it ought to have done so and then made use of that second opinion instead of ignoring it. It should not have tried to go behind his back just because a big debate was to take place in the House of Commons. It is similar to what happened when the Prime Minister was Chancellor of the Exchequer. He cut base rates by 0.5 per cent. on the last day of the Labour party conference and the last working day before the Conservative party conference. The right hon. Gentleman thought that that was a clever move, but it has rebounded because markets have lost faith.
I am concerned that the same process will occur again. My constituents who object to the Bill may ask, "What trust can we put in this elaborate structure that the Select Committee created to defend our interests? One need not worry about Hydrotechnica and the Cardiff Bay development corporation railroading you, because there is Dr. John Miles." The development corporation did not consult Dr. John Miles when it wanted to bring out an interim report.
Dr. John Miles, Professor Rushton and those of my constituents who object to the Bill will probably tomorrow—unless the cold weather holds it up—sink boreholes in certain parts of Cardiff to act as a double check. Professor Rushton is one of the world's great experts on computerised modelling of ground water behaviour. Boring holes is the only comeback they have against the development corporation's underhand behaviour. I do not criticise Hydrotechnica—the firm has an immense reputation—but all consultants are pulled by the attraction of fees while obviously having to consider their professional reputation.
Economic arguments have been made for the barrage. We heard a great deal about the promises of huge numbers of jobs in the Cardiff area. We even heard that the development may in some way skew up the pattern of development in south Wales because too many jobs may accrue in Cardiff and not enough in other areas. We have heard that the development may make Cardiff bigger than Bristol, double its size and make it an important European capital city of the 21st century.
The Cardiff Bay development corporation's record on job creation is abysmal. The corporation existed in prototype form from about February four years ago, so it 108 is virtually the corporation's birthday. More than £100 million of public funds has been given to it and it has acquired many sites. During a period that included a considerable boom in industrial investment, by British standards, the development corporation has managed to contribute only a new Volvo garage to Cardiff's economic life.
That is a poor return for four years of effort. It is a taster of the incompetence and overweaning behaviour that will characterise the corporation's behaviour. It does not have to abide by the rules governing local authorities and because it has been a favoured child of the Government. Therefore, it is not able to bargain and to negotiate in the same way as people who live in the real world. It is neither in the private sector, because it is publicly funded, nor in the public sector, because it does not have democratic accountability. One tends to get the worst of both worlds.
Four years of effort have given rise to one imported car garage—just the sort of thing that will put Britain back on the right track to economic growth. If any hon. Member knows of a development to which the development corporation has managed to give birth, I should be pleased to amend my statement. My understanding is that Bay Track Volvo in Cardiff bay is the only project that the development corporation has managed to get together in four years.
We have not heard the Government's solution to the problem of the highly nutrient-rich water of the bay. My hon. Friends the Members for Newport, West and for Cardiff, South and Penarth said that the water quality of the bay will be as good as in Roath park lake, which is surrounded by some of the most attractive housing in Cardiff, and in Bute dock. However, it is far more nutrient-rich than Roath park lake and is a far shallower environment than Roath dock, which has steep sides. Large mats of algae will form, as they did last summer and the summer before last in the shallow feeder lakes into Roath park, which had to be removed in lorries. When mats of algae are allowed to decay they give off an anaerobic stench, and that will be a characteristic of the bay. It is accepted by the bay's promoters and their water consultants that mats of algae will form in the summer, when people will expect to be able to toddle around and enjoy Cardiff bay at its best. During the fine weather, unfortunately, the eutrophication and the low oxygen levels——
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put, That the Bill, as amended, be now considered:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 189, Noes 17.110
|Division No. 68]||[at 10 pm|
|Alexander, Richard||Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)|
|Amess, David||Bevan, David Gilroy|
|Anderson, Donald||Blackburn, Dr John G.|
|Arbuthnot, James||Boswell, Tim|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Bottomley, Peter|
|Arnold, Sir Thomas||Bowis, John|
|Atkins, Robert||Boyes, Roland|
|Atkinson, David||Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Brandon-Bravo, Martin|
|Bellingham, Henry||Brazier, Julian|
|Bright, Graham||Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)||Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Howells, Geraint|
|Burns. Simon||Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Hughes, Roy (Newport E)|
|Carlisle, John, (Luton N)||Hunt, David (Wirral W)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Irvine, Michael|
|Chapman, Sydney||Jack, Michael|
|Chope, Christopher||Jackson, Robert|
|Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth)||Janman, Tim|
|Clark, Rt Hon Sir William||Jessel, Toby|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Conway, Derek||Key, Robert|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)||Kilfedder, James|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)|
|Cope, Rt Hon John||King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Couchman, James||Kirkhope, Timothy|
|Cox, Tom||Knapman, Roger|
|Crowther, Stan||Knight, Greg (Derby North)|
|Dalyell, Tarn||Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)|
|Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)||Lang, Rt Hon Ian|
|Davis, David (Boothferry)||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Devlin, Tim||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Dixon, Don||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Lilley, Peter|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Dunn, Bob||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Durant, Sir Anthony||Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas|
|Eggar, Tim||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)||McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)|
|Fallon, Michael||MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Maclean, David|
|Fookes, Dame Janet||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Forman, Nigel||McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael|
|Forth, Eric||Mans, Keith|
|Foster, Derek||Maples, John|
|Fox, Sir Marcus||Marshall, John (Hendon S)|
|Fraser, John||Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)|
|Glyn, Dr Sir Alan||Martin, David (Portsmouth S)|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||Maude, Hon Francis|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick|
|Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)||Meale, Alan|
|Grist, Ian||Mellor, Rt Hon David|
|Ground, Patrick||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn||Michael, Alun|
|Hague, William||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Moss, Malcolm|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Moynihan, Hon Colin|
|Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)||Needham, Richard|
|Harris, David||Neubert, Sir Michael|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Hind, Kenneth||Norris, Steve|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|Howard, Rt Hon Michael||Paice, James|
|Patnick, Irvine||Steen, Anthony|
|Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)||Stern, Michael|
|Patten, Rt Hon John||Stevens, Lewis|
|Portillo, Michael||Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)|
|Powell, Ray (Ogmore)||Summerson, Hugo|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Raffan, Keith||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Redwood, John||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Riddick, Graham||Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)|
|Ridsdale, Sir Julian||Thorne, Neil|
|Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm||Trippier, David|
|Roberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy)||Trotter, Neville|
|Robertson, George||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Roe, Mrs Marion||Vaz, Keith|
|Rumbold, Rt Hon Mrs Angela||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Ryder, Rt Hon Richard||Walker, Bill (T'side North)|
|Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas||Waller, Gary|
|Shaw, David (Dover)||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Shelton, Sir William||Wareing, Robert N.|
|Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)||Wells, Bowen|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Wheeler, Sir John|
|Shersby, Michael||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Skeet, Sir Trevor||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)||Wood, Timothy|
|Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)||Yeo, Tim|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Speller, Tony||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Squire, Robin||Mr. Gwilym Jones, and Mr. Paul Flynn.|
|Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)||Rogers, Allan|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Rowlands, Ted|
|Cryer, Bob||Short, Clare|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)||Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)|
|Fearn, Ronald||Spearing, Nigel|
|Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Lamond, James||Mr. Alan W. Williams and Mr. Rhodri Morgan.|
|Mahon, Mrs Alice|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ It being after Ten o'clock, further consideration of the Bill stood adjourned.
§ Bill to be further considered on Thursday 12 February.