§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD MOYLE
My Lords, we are all grateful to my noble friend Lord Maelor for introducing his Motion this afternoon and grateful, too, to the Government for making the arrangements 1206 for this debate so soon after the publication of the Report on Welsh Affairs. My experience of Parliament goes back a good many years, and my recollection is that in another place we never had a debate until many months after a Report had been published, and by the time we Welsh Members had considered the Report we found that it was completely out of date and had no direct relevance to Welsh affairs. I hope that the Government will not weary in well doing and will not; be preoccupied with other affairs so as to forget the existence of Wales. And in that event we may hope to have another debate this time next year.
I want to say something about the Report. I commend the Government for their work, particularly for the industrial measures they have taken in Wales. The Government have attempted to do two things: first, to meet the decline in the traditional heavy industries of Wales by stepping up modernisation, particularly in the iron and steel industry; and, secondly, to provide for the rehabilitation to their former economic glory of the five ports of South Wales—Newport, Cardiff, Barry, Port Talbot and Swansea. At the same time they have been trying to combat the unemployment problem in Wales, which as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said, still persists, by seeking to reverse the declining trends in heavy industries, in steel and coal, and at the same time to develop a basis of diversified economy.
If I may refer to my own county of Montgomeryshire, the introduction of light industries there is something that I have never seen before in the whole of my lifetime. And I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who invariably is fair, that I thought he was slightly Party political when he charged the Government with having spent huge sums of money at the taxpayers' expense to reduce the figures of unemployment by a few hundreds. I do not accept that contention. For the last 50 years the economic life of Wales has gradually unwound. The disappearance of lead and of the textile industry means that something like the major measures of this Government are essential to bring about the desirable economic changes in Wales if we are to retain the population there.
I would say a few words about Welsh education. I accept the Gittins Report 1207 on the provisions made for bilingual teaching in Welsh and English. On this matter I do not share the fears of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. I think it is desirable, if the Welsh are to retain their pride in their own culture and in their own nation, that they should have the medium of their own language to express to their children their own culture, their own history and their own sense of pride. Of course I do not wish the Welsh to be confined to the life of a peasantry. I want them to learn English and to go out into the world, to enjoy not only the superior joys of their own language but also the joys of English literature, and an increased fulfilment of their own personalities through the medium of the English language, which is so essential if they are to earn a living on the same terms as other people.
I would refer briefly to Coleg Harlech, one of the few adult educational institutions that exist in the United Kingdom. The others are Fircroft, in the Midlands; Ruskin, at Oxford, and Hillcroft College for Women, at Croydon. These colleges, by voluntary effort, are doing a first-class job to provide for those young men and women who by economic circumstances or by the tyranny of the 11-plus examination were severed at an early date from further education, with a second chance. My noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder is a "second chancel". I myself, thanks to Fircroft, am the product of a second chance.
At Coleg Harlech we have 100 students studying, broadly speaking, the social sciences. Having been fortified in that field of education by a term of residential studies, they go out into the world. Only the other day I heard of a young bus driver from Aberdare, who, thanks to a little financial help from the Glamorganshire County Council, was able to get admission to Coleg Harlech. He won an open scholarship to Cambridge and there took a First-Class Honours Degree. He is still on the road to further academic honours. I am saying this about Coleg Harlech for this reason. The present Government, like the Conservative Government that preceded them, have made grants to the universities and voluntary schools, Catholic and Protestant, and to these adult colleges to which I have referred. 1208 But the anomaly is that, when it comes to building costs, while universities have a 100 per cent. grant, and voluntary schools an 85 per cent. grant, these colleges, including Coleg Harlech, receive only 50 per cent. I would say to the Government that if they want to defeat the Government of Plaid Cymru in Wales, they should consider increasing the grants to these adult colleges that are giving so many children of the working class a second chance, and bringing them up in terms of parity of esteem with universities and at least with voluntary schools.
Montgomeryshire, which is my own playing ground, has been pestered by a great deal of trouble in the last few years. The Clywedog Dam, the threatened damming of the Dulas Valley, the introduction of the Welsh Rural Development Board for the country farmers, are to the Montgomeryshire people incursions into, and a disturbance of, their way of life. Of course they are told, as they have been told in the Dulas Valley by the Severn Rivers Board: "You will be able to state your objections to the Inquiry." But they are not told that they must pay for their own legal representation.
My Lords, I should like to ask the Government: Why not consider extending the facilities of free legal aid to those people, not merely in Wales, but elsewhere, when they are faced with similar situations? When, for example, their homes are threatened, when their way of life is threatened, why should they have to pay heavy expenses in order to see that they get a chance of meeting the promoters on equal terms in the sphere of the legal profession? I would say to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor that if in his law reforms he will include free legal aid in the situations to which I have referred, he will go down in history, in Wales at any rate, as Gerald Sant y'r Gwalia.
§ 4.13 p.m.
§ EARL LLOYD-GEORGE OF DWYFOR
My Lords, in rising to address your Lordships for the first time, I would ask for that indulgence which I believe is customarily granted to beginners. I should particularly like to thank the noble Lord. Lord Maelor, first for initiating this debate and thereby giving me the opportunity of making a maiden speech, and also for his kind words 1209 about my grandfather. I fear that I am going to disappoint him, but I cannot help feeling that the maiden speech in another place to which he referred perhaps did not reverberate as much as he might imagine. My Lords, I shall be brief and, I hope, non-controversial, though one cannot help thinking that. from an historical standpoint, it would seem that discussion on Welsh affairs in Parliament has not always been free from controversy.
I should like to refer to three separate aspects of life in Wales, some of which have already been mentioned in the debate. First, as a businessman, I have followed with great interest the discussions on new development and private investment in Wales. Having read the Annual Report for the year 1968. I thought that the part which dealt with new industrial development was very encouraging; and though the Report itself must inevitably now be out of date, the trend would appear to be continuing. I believe that on the most recent review of the position more than 50 per cent. of new factory floor space being applied for under industrial development certificates is on applications from firms already established in Wales. That is good news indeed, and it proves that it is from these enterprises in Wales that the new economic growth is coming.
But it therefore strikes me as even more anomalous that a businessman starting such a business, or wishing to expand his existing business there, and who needs medium-term finance, has no national banking organisation to turn to. I believe that this is not merely a matter of national pride, but a matter of straightforward common sense. There is a real and pressing need for such an institution in the Principality, and I believe it would remove one of those disabilities referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. In the first place, it would cater for the needs of those most closely concerned in this new development in the economic growth of Wales. Secondly, this economic growth would, I believe, of itself create confidence and thereby attract investment from overseas.
At the end of the First World War some 26 per cent. of the Welsh working population were engaged in the coal mining and metal mining industries, and some 6 per cent. were engaged in all 1210 other manufacturing industries. To-day that position has been exactly reversed, which is a tribute to the inherent skill and adaptability of the Welsh worker. Few countries, surely, could have undergone such a complete change on their industrial scene, from almost wholly basic industries to a wide diversification, and clone so with such tremendous success. That, I believe, is why such an investment institution would be viewed confidently from abroad, and why I believe it will come. It is reassuring to know that the finance panel of the Welsh Council have had the matter actively before them.
The second point to which I should like to refer is tourism in Wales, which in many rural areas, with agriculture and forestry, forms the whole basis of the economy. For far too long this industry was neglected in Britain as a whole, and rather viewed on the rough-and-ready basis that foreigners coming to this country must take pot luck. Things have improved somewhat, and the advantage to our trade position in the United Kingdom, as a whole, from overseas visitors is now well recognised. I believe that the figure for visitors to this country in 1968 was close to 3 million. But how many of these, I wonder, visited Wales. There are no turnstiles on the Severn Bridge, but I do not believe the figure was as great as it should have been. For instance, I see many American friends over here every year, and while most of them make a pilgrimage to Stratford-on-Avon, very few go a little further and see some of the most beautiful countryside in Europe.
One wonders why this is. It is possible that they have not been told about Wales in the first place, although I am sure that the Wales Tourist Board would refute this. More likely, I think, they have been depressed by the standard of accommodation available, which is not of a very high quality, and tourists the world over are becoming accustomed to much higher and more sophisticated standards of accommodation. It would seem to me imperative that high quality hotels, well sited, should be built in Wales, and that the level of loans and grants for this purpose should be raised from its present level. Furthermore, such building would not deface the countryside, as I fear sometimes do caravan sites, holiday camps and the like.
1211 One other factor which I believe bears on the tourist industry, as well as on other aspects on life in Wales to-day—and this has already been referred to in the debate—is roads. While many improvements have been made in this direction, I regret that there is no mention in the current Report of the need for a first-class North to South road. It can still take six hours to drive from Caernarvon to Cardiff, whereas one can go from Cardiff to London in a little under half that time.
Thirdly, I should like to say a word or two about the Welsh language. I am not Welsh speaking myself, but I know this to be my loss. Though the Welsh represent only 5 per cent. of the population of the United Kingdom, by some miracle the ancient speech of the Britons has survived. The vitality of the language has withstood the severest of tests, tests of long centuries—some 19 of them—battling in turn against such powerful languages as Latin, French and English. May I take just one chapter in this long period? The Act of Union of 1542 and Henry VIII was, in my submission, in many ways an Act of great statesmanship, since it made Wales England's oldest ally and laid the foundation for her of good government; but by that same Act the Welsh language was banned in all official usage. Some forty years elapsed before Bishop Morgan's first Welsh Bible appeared.
To-day the language has not only survived, but is flourishing. Its literature is more versatile, and its students and readers are more numerous than ever. In spite of that, it is against this long history of denial and repression that one must see it. Adding to that the present-day influences on the language of mass media and the feeling of despair common to minorities throughout history, I think one can understand the line which has been taken by the Welsh Language Society. I am sure it is of great and urgent importance that the full intent of the 1967 Welsh Language Act be implemented as speedily as possible in respect of the public, official and legal life of Wales. If I might presume to quote further to your Lordships:Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom.1212 Still on the matter of language, I hope it may not be considered out of place if I say that, in my view, by his readiness to learn the Welsh tongue the Prince of Wales has endeared himself to all of us at Aberystwyth, both town and gown. I would say, in spite of anything which your Lordships may have read to the contrary in the newspapers, there is no doubt that the vast majority of Welsh people are looking forward both to his Investiture and his four-day tour afterwards, with the utmost pleasure and anticipation.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, it is my pleasant duty to congratulate the noble Earl on his maiden speech. As the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, and others have reminded us, he comes to us bearing a Welsh name that ranks high in Parliamentary history in this century. I doubt whether his grandfather would ever had sat on the Cross-Benches, but perhaps in the course of time the noble Earl may move one way or the other. I hope it will be to the Left.
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, there are many bearers of great names in this House; they come with great names. In the long run they rank high or low in the estimation of this House by their own personal attributes. It is my hope the noble Earl will come to rank high. He has made a good start, and I am sure that the House will join me in congratulating him sincerely, and in expressing the hope that he will be a frequent contributor to the debates in this House. I would thank, too, my noble friend Lord Maelor for securing an opportunity to initiate this debate, and for his characteristically racey speech in opening it.
The area with which I wish to concern myself in this debate is South Wales, and in particular the part which virtually exploded population-wise with the industrialisation of the 19th century: an industrialisation based on coal and steel, which caused narrow valleys to he congested with houses terracing up the sides, and the floors of the valleys to be taken up by canals, railways, narrow roads, and a clutter of industrial plant; an industrialisation as narrowly based as the 1213 valleys themselves in the sense that development stemmed from coal and iron, and not, as we have been reminded this afternoon, from a diversity of industries. That is an industrialisation which saw the population of South Wales increase from about 100,000 people at the beginning of the 19th century, to 1¾ million by 1921.
With the decline of the coal industry since 1921, and the movement of the steel industry from the valleys to the coastal region, vast problems of the employment of people have been created, problems with which Governments—and I say "Governments" in the plural—local authorities and others have had to struggle for most of the inter-war years, and since the 1939–45 war. These problems really have been enormous for the diversification of industry. The bringing in of alternative employments does not happen as the result of a speech or two, or the waving of a wand, but only by deliberate planning, the expenditure of vast sums of public money, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has reminded us, and by the creation of conditions which will attract industrialists, and also enable the newly-attracted industries to survive and expand.
Much has been done, particularly by post-war Governments to cope with the problem. There is an outstanding record of success here, not always appreciated by those not in possession of the facts. I can well imagine that when my noble friend comes to reply to-night she will remind us of some of the notable successes—not all due to this Government, or to the Government of 1945 to 1951. For example, the Hoover factory at Merythyr Tydfil; the I.C.I. fibres factory at Pontypool, and the Board of Trade industrial estates at Treforest, Bridgend and Swansea. The industrial estate at Treforest, for example, I know very well. It happens to be within the boundaries of my own town. I can vouch for the tremendous success that that estate has had, and the advantage that it has brought to Pontypridd and the other valleys which converge upon Pontypridd.
§ LORD BRECON
My Lords, will the noble Lord agree that the Treforest estate was one which was established by the Government of 1935–36?
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, I thought I had fallen over myself to say 1214 that the Governments from both sides had done a good job of work in this connection. I am bound to say that I think the best job has been done by the Labour Government—of course I say that. There are exciting prospects, the prospects of the new Board of Trade industrial estates at Bridgend, Kenfig and Swansea. But perhaps the most interesting of all in this complex of change is the area of Llantrisant, where part of the Royal Mint is already in operation, and a vast expansion is projected. I regard the area of Llantrisant as a part of the development which must take place on the coastal plane, and adjacent to the mouths of the valleys, some of which, or some part of which, will become inevitably and inexorably dormitories for the employees of the industries established in that and comparable places. In this general connection I support the plea of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that all development will not be concentrated on the coastal plain. There is still room for factories in some of the valley communities, and especially on sites rendered derelict by the closure of collieries. But this must be as a part of a deliberate policy, based on an evaluation of the social and human investment which otherwise might be wasted.
Much has been done, but the existing rate of unemployment demonstrates how much more needs to be done before a satisfactory state will exist in South Wales. Total unemployment in June, 1968, stood at 3.8 per cent. Male unemployment was 4.6 per cent.; and even though migration is running at the rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a year, taking into consideration likely future changes in the coal and steel industries it is estimated that there will be over the next few years an annual need for the creation of some 13,000 new male jobs. That is a tremendous task, my Lords. I must say that I did not think the figures of new jobs created recently were quite as high as those which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, mentioned. The figure I have given, of 13,000 new male jobs, is at a rate three times more than the estimated rate of new male jobs created in the period from 1963 to 1966. And I am concentrating here on male jobs for, I think, an obvious reason.
1215 I think that when my noble friend Lady Phillips replies she will rightly tell us of the great increase taking place annually in Government expenditure on financial assistance to industry. That sort of expenditure will have to continue in an upward direction for many years to come. But financial assistance and the provision of factory space are not the only ways to attract industrialists to an area. They are attracted, too, and strongly, by the general environment in which they, and perhaps the key workers they will have to bring with them, will have to work and live. This is important. Environment is a matter of physical conditions and the general mental atmosphere prevailing in the area. I believe that in South Wales the physical environment is capable of exciting improvement, with the clearing away of man-made ugliness, the removal of tips in some instances, or their transformation into an acceptable part of the landscape. That, I believe, coupled with high standards of design in new buildings, would show that the valleys of South Wales are capable of becoming again areas which will impress by their inherent natural beauty rather than by the drabness of their heritage of the coal and iron age.
In this context I particularly welcome the new tool provided in the Housing Bill that is now before another place: for the first time it will enable Government grants to be made towards the cost of tidying up and improving the environment of groups of houses. The use of grant for this purpose will, I think, provide a useful aid to the local authorities in South Wales to do something which so badly needs to be done. In this connection, I look forward eagerly to the experiment, in which the Welsh Office and the local authority are co-operating, in the Aber Valley, demonstrating that the use of such money in this way can bring about a major improvement. This is to take place in the valley which runs from Caerphilly to Senghenydd, through Energlyn—a place not unknown to someone who will later be speaking in this debate. The Valleys are an exciting challenge to the architect and landscaper, but the necessary transformation cannot be accomplished just by the enthusiasm of a few visionaries, the professional expertise of the architect and 1216 the engineer and the powers of Government, central and local. It cannot and will not be accomplished unless the people want it, and are prepared to strive for it with patience and, above all, with determination.
I said something of that sort when I was privileged recently to open a conference in Cardiff of the Institution of Civil Engineers. The papers presented to that conference on the civil engineering problems of the South Wales Valleys should be made compulsory reading for everyone in central and local government and everyone capable of using the information which they contain. I read them, I must admit, with a feeling of stimulation and excitement beyond anything I have experienced for very many years. These papers made the possibilities of improving the physical environment of that part of Wales seem boundless, and somehow I feel that we must all rise to the challenge of these papers.
The other part is what I have called the general mental atmosphere prevailing. I am an Englishman who has been privileged to live happily in Wales since I was fifteen years of age. In the fifty-six years since then I have spent what I suppose has been the thinking part of my life, and have been moulded by the atmosphere in which I have lived, in a town at the foot of the Rhondda Valley. Many years ago a Welsh professor said to me, speaking of the Welsh as a people, "We are a peculiar people"—and of course he used the word "peculiar" in the sense of being different from the rest. Since then I have been looking for the differences, and such as I have been able to find have seemed to me to be due to environment rather than to anything innate in the characteristics of the Welsh people.
As I see it, nationhood is really a sort of group sentiment, based not on physical kinship or blood tie, but rather on the occupation of a country with climatic conditions inducing a definite mode of life, traditions that gradually come to be shared in common, and on social institutions and organisations. Of great importance in this connection is a separate language, even if that language is not generally used. That, of course, would apply to Wales, but they have a separate language of which even those 1217 Welsh people who do not speak Welsh are inordinately proud. When speaking of Wales we have to realise that this nationhood feeling is a factor to be reckoned with; and to satisfy it, without splitting this little Island into separate sovereign States, is one of the great problems awaiting solution by statesmen. And I think it will need statesmen to secure this sort of solution to this problem, which I regard as a great one. If the feeling of nationhood leads to excesses such as those of which we have recently seen emerging signs, industrialists will understandably be chary of moving to Wales, even though the financial and other attractions are many and powerful.
But, my Lords, to put it on a higher plane than possible economic advantage, how much better it would be, not only for England and Wales and England and Scotland, but for the peace of the world, if peoples gave more thought to and spent more time on emphasising the things that unite, rather than those that divide! I will end by urging the Government and local authorities to set about the task of improving the physical environment of South Wales within the shortest possible time; and by pleading with everyone, whether Welsh or English, to accept the challenge of our common humanity, which is to live together and together strive for human happiness.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ LORD BRECON
My Lords, may I also add my congratulations to the noble Earl, Lord Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, on his maiden speech. No better occasion could he have for a maiden speech than a Welsh debate in this House. We certainly remember hearing—at any rate, I do—his noble uncle. Lord Tenby, who was a much-respected figure in this House and to whom we always enjoyed listening. I am sure that if the noble Earl comes and helps us on these days when we discuss our native land we shall all be very much delighted.
I am sorry that the noble Lord. Lord Maelor, is not in his place, but he implied that he was going to give one of his inimitable performances on television, which we shall all probably see tonight. He made the remark that Welsh is spoken in Heaven. I was going to ask him how he knows. Perhaps when he gets there he can let us know what language is spoken there. He also referred to the 1218 printing of Welsh books and the subsidies that are required for that purpose. I am glad to give him the fullest support in this, because it was a measure that the Conservative Government brought in during the 1950s, and we shall welcome any increased support that the Government can give. The noble Lord referred to the unemployment figure in Wales, and here I must defend the Conservative record. He must remember that the highest unemployment figure ever reached in Wales was when we had a Socialist Government in 1929–31. Perhaps the noble Lord has forgotten that.
I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for mentioning my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor, because he was the first Minister for Welsh Affairs who really came into Wales and set up a Welsh Office in Cardiff, which led to the progress which has been made ever since. I believe that at that time he knew Wales as well as any of us, in every way. Of course, this year is the Investiture year, of which we are all happy and proud. I only plead, as did the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that for the next few weeks when the Prince of Wales is at Aberystwyth, the television and Press coverage will give him some peace and let him enjoy himself among the young people at Aberystwyth and around the counties of Cardigan and Merioneth, and wherever he wants to go.
Naturally, we have heard from the Government side of the great progress which they claim to have made in Wales since they were elected in 1964. They have done many satisfactory things which will help Wales in the future, but I feel that we should perhaps take a more sober look at the results of their efforts where they concern employment and unemployment. I do not want to carp in any way on this topic, but I think we should look at the facts as we see them, because it is usual to compare results between Administrations, and I think this is right, particularly when it is in one's own favour.
The figures I wish to quote concern the jobs for people, and I do so because it is a very human matter. In the 1950s we had a particularly difficult problem in South Wales when the old tinplate works were closing down at an incredible rate and they were putting out of work many men and women, because many women worked in those tinplate works at that 1219 time. The Conservative Government of those days managed the economy of the country so that we were able to provide jobs for these people who were displaced and to increase the number of employees in employment in Wales at the same time. From 1959 to 1964 this figure increased from 928,000 to 977,000, an increase of 49,000 jobs in six years. In fact in the last four years the increase was 20,000. In September, 1965, just after the present Socialist Government came to power, the figure of people in employment rose to 991,000 because the policies of the previous Administration were still working through. But since that date there has been a reduction in the number of employees in employment regularly each year, and the last figure available, for September, 1968, shows that we have lost 53,000 jobs in those three years. Those are the figures which arc quoted in the official returns. Therefore, all the gains which the Tory Government were able to achieve in the previous six years have been lost by the Socialist Government in the last three years. In fact from 1957 to 1968 (this is coupling both Administrations) 28,000 fewer men were employed in Wales, while the figure for females rose by 57,000. Whether the men are working a little less and the women are working much more, I do not know, but that may be the answer.
I welcome the building of advance factories, and they will provide some jobs. But when one realises that all the Government factories in Wales employ only 66,000 out of a working population of nearly 1 million, one realises that the employment in these new advance factories will not make a great deal of difference to the total employment. The figure of unemployment is now about 40,000, higher than it has been for a very long time; and as has been said by my noble friend Lord Aberdare, the men unemployed for more than eight weeks has risen, according to my reckoning, from an average of about 10,000 in 1964 to over 22,000 in January, 1968.
What we must ask the Government at the present moment is, what are their plans to deal with the loss of jobs that has occurred? It is always sad that we do not get returns of the actual jobs lost through closures. Perhaps the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, will be able to 1220 give us some figures, but there is a considerable run-down of jobs in the steel industry. I know what is happening at Port Talbot and that with the building of factories something is being done, but there was a most disturbing piece of news yesterday about Ebbw Vale and the old Richard Thomas and Baldwin works. I was glad to see this morning that the Chairman of the British Steel Corporation has denied that there are any plans for closing down even part of these works. Those of us who know anything about the industries of South Wales realise that the time is bound to come when iron and steel will not be made in Ebbw Vale; it will remain on much the same lines at Trostre and Velindre, as a re-rolling mill. Therefore we should like to know what the Government have in mind to provide for the future years, it may be six or ten years, or something of that nature.
I think the Government made a mistake when they asked the National Coal Board to declare their intentions about their future plans. The Board were not ready to do so at the time and I think it created a complete lack of confidence in the mining industry. Many men have left prematurely. As I have said, I very much support the building of these small advance factories in the hope that it will encourage some of our young people who go to our universities and colleges of advanced technology to become real "entrepreneurs", to take those factories and start their own businesses, because it is only in this way that Wales can expect to develop its own industries in the years ahead. In fact, one might ask how many of the advance factories which have been let since this Government have been in office have actually been taken by Welshmen or by firms in Wales.
If one is going to build up a successful industrial life in Wales and provide the jobs for the future we must have the right communications in North Wales, South Wales and mid-Wales. I must say something about a particular road. from Ross to Newport, which I think has taken longer than any to build. It was started during the administration of a Conservative Government and it is still going on under the present Administration. It is a mere 30 miles of dual carriageway which was started in 1960 and which is expected to 1221 be completed in 1972–12 years to build 30 miles, an average of 2½ miles a year; and I am sad to see from the figures that since 1965 that average has dropped to 2 miles a year. This road is of vital importance to South Wales because it brings the whole of the Midlands and the North-West within easy reach of South Wales. May I ask the Minister whether she can possibly do anything to improve and increase the rate of getting this road completed, because so far as we are concerned in South Wales this is as vital to us as the Severn Bridge.
In the Welsh debate in another place the Secretary of State for Wales announced with some glee that a section of the M.4 from Gabalfa to near Bridgend, 17 miles of dual carriageway road of motorway or near motorway standard, would be started in 1972–73. This is most enterprising of the Secretary of State for Wales, because he knows that he will not then, in 1972–73, be Secretary of State for Wales, and that his Government will have gone too. So he is committing somebody else to do something after they have gone.
§ LORD HEYCOCK
My Lords, is it not true that every Government commits other Governments? The noble Lord's Government did.
§ LORD BRECON
My Lords, I think that is true; but we usually carry it out. The Western Mail last week published a full report of the future development of the M.4 motorway to South Wales, and I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Heycock, will agree that it is vital for the M.4 to be taken through to Swansea, and possibly on to Carmarthen. What we saw the other day makes a pathetic picture of this piece of road, and it will not be completed until the 1980s or 1990s, or possibly 2000. There will be sections of motorway that were completed under the previous Administration, near motorway standards, dual-carriageways of varying standards, and two stretches of single-carriageway road.
Now that we have a Secretary of State for Wales who is looking after our roads for the first time (because the Welsh Office took over responsibility for them a short while ago) he has decided to build for Wales a new type of road which I can describe only as "mini-motorways". I hope that Wales is not going to be covered with mini-motorways 1222 when we ought to be connected to the full motorway system of the country as a whole. The real M.4 motorway, which will go North of Cardiff and not from Gabalfa to Bridgend, as announced in the other place, and the other piece of motorway North of Bridgend have not yet been put into the "preparation pool" in the Welsh Office. Again, one must refer to the rate of progress on that particular piece of road which the noble Lord, Lord Champion, knows very well, from Cardiff to Merthyr. So far as I can see, there is no hope of anything of any consequence being done, or of completion until the 1980s or 1990s. There is a short section being built at the present moment.
I am proud to be chairman of a company at Abercynon. We have two factories in the Rhondda Valley; we employ something like 2,800 people. We have built a factory in Germany, at a place called Werne, and if some of our staff want to go there they have to take a car from Abercynon to Cardiff, which is 18 miles and takes one hour; from Cardiff to London Airport, which is 180 miles and takes about four hours; from London Airport to Dusseldorf, which is 500 miles and takes one hour, and then to Werne, 75 miles on an autobahn, which they can do in one hour. Unless the industrialist can move in and out of the whole of South Wales and North Wales—and mid-Wales, to a certain extent, is important from the industrial point of view—we shall not get the industrialist coming in to help us with our economy.
In North Wales there must be a dual-carriageway road from Cheshire to Caernarvon. Unless such a road is constructed the tourist industry will not get the benefits; nor will the industries already there be able to expand and develop. We have heard, too, about Aberystwyth—I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who spoke of the problems of getting there. What is needed here is a dual-carriageway road from Shrewsbury to Machynlleth. Perhaps I do not agree with the noble Earl, Lord Lloyd-George, on this point; I do not think that a road from North to South Wales is important for the economy of South Wales. I do not think the number of people who travel from North to South would justify such a road. I travelled the other day from my home in Brecon about 100 miles into North Wales, and in the whole 1223 distance I passed only about 60 cars. I think that we in Wales are an integral part of the United Kingdom, and unless we are connected by proper roads we shall not get our industries right.
The Government have failed to maintain the employment position since 1964 because of their economic policies. Although they have decided to build a large number of advance factories, these are not going to make a significant improvement in the number of jobs. There are of course other projects which the Government have brought to Wales besides advance factories, some of them very large indeed—for instance, the one that is going to Anglesey for the Aluminium Corporation. But will they improve the position overall when we remember how many jobs have been and still are being lost for one reason or another?
Again, the taxation demands of this Government have lost us many jobs in the service industries. S.E.T. now at 48s. a week for a man and 24s. for a woman has reduced the opportunities for many young people in the service industries. There was a time in Wales when everything was done to give a man a job. Now we are penalized—I almost said fined—48s. a week for doing so. The regional employment premium helps manufacturing industries, but if there were any sudden change in this it could have serious effects on employment. The investment grants, so-called, are really funds taken away from the industries and companies and repaid at a later date. It was taking eighteen months to get repayments, but it is now taking nine to ten months.
The investment allowances which we had previously enabled companies to claim against tax slightly more than the total cost of the capital expenditure. And, of course, in the old development districts an employer could write off all the capital expenditure against profits in the year of purchase or whatever period he chose. This was a deferment of tax payment and was extremely valuable to those who were starting or had a growing business. So, while we have had advantages in the development districts, I think that there are many disadvantages through the taxation system of the present Government. Corporation tax has increased from 40 per cent. to 45 per cent., which compares with an average tax rate for 1224 companies of about 35 per cent. before corporation tax came in.
My Lords, it is against this background of a better economic position that we shall find more work for the people in Wales. It is because the rates of interest have gone up—and they are higher than ever before—that the Government can tell us about regional employment premium and investment grants but we must set against them the very much worse taxation position that we have to-day. I hope that the noble Baroness, when she replies, will give us hope in Wales that the general economic position of the country as a whole will improve, because unless it does I do not believe that we in Wales can manage this problem on our own. But if she can do that, I am sure that we shall see employment in Wales rise and that industry will in the future come to us and develop.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD ENERGLYN
My Lords, I should like to join in the welcome extended to the noble Earl, Lord Lloyd-George, and to extend to him my congratulations on his splendid maiden speech. I would continue where perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Brecon, left off. He and other noble Lords have referred to communications and finance. I should like to add two of the other elements necessary for any revival of industry in South Wales, namely, natural resources—materials, if you like—and fuel and power. May I first remind your Lordships of the fact that at the beginning of the last century, when geologists were first unravelling the structure, the nature and the age of the rocks of Wales, they gave them the names of the three principal Welsh tribes, the Cambres, the Ordovices and, of course, that fierce tribe of Boadicean vintage, the Silures. No matter now where geologists are mapping rocks anywhere in the world, those rocks are referred to as "cambrian", "ordivisian" and "silurian", regardless of the language of the country of which the map is being made.
I mention this point for several reasons. The first is that it indicates the international position which the rocks of Wales occupy in the study of geology all over the world. My second reason for mentioning it is to emphasise that the Western seaboard, with its ancient rocks, contains the mineral resources which have 1225 been such an important background to the history of this country as a whole. I do not want to make play over this as a sort of looking back on the past with the prospect of paying for it in the future, but rather that we should be prudent and not ignore them, because they may yet provide us with echoes or facets of salvation for which we may be extremely grateful in the not-too-distant future.
As the mining of such minerals declined, the miners were faced with the gloomy prospect of leaving their homes for employment elsewhere. This has been referred to many times, and I do not wish to make more of it except to say that no Welshman, or for that matter no Englishman, lightheartedly accepts this prospect. Indeed, the Welsh are particularly anxious not to leave the Principality—as it is now a complete Principality once again, we are proud to think—and a land often referred to as "a land of song" and unbridled hospitality. May I remind your Lordships that some of your forefathers, when they finished that angry discussion on October 14, 1066, took up residence in many parts of England and Wales; and in Wales they met with the bilingual hospitality of the Welsh. In itself, historically, it is, I venture to suggest, a lesson to the world, as a good example of lucrative, fruitful co-existence.
But, to be more serious, I mention this not only to bring out the hiraeth of the Welsh for their native land, but also to take some of the facts of life and try to use them to the good of all concerned. In the centre of Wales about 500 million years ago enormous thicknesses of sediment developed due to a depression in the earth's crust of about two miles in length. Such a depression in the earth's crust cannot take place without rebellious activities going on in the molten interior. As a consequence of this, mineralising solutions distilled their way upwards into these sediments, and therefore it is not surprising that minerals occur in central Wales. Your Lordships know as well as I that for centuries gold has been mined in one or two places in Wales, and particularly around what we geologists call "the Harlech Dome". This gold is not a freak; it is not an accident of a geological nature. It is a real signpost to mineral wealth underneath. I put it this 1226 way, if you will permit me, to indicate that here we may have beneath the rolling countryside of Merionethshire an untapped source of mineral wealth which would enable the present population of Merionethshire, about 45,000, to remain there for generations, if we can tap that mineral wealth. I therefore appeal to the Government, or to subsequent Governments, for the institution of sophisticated methods of survey which we now have, to explore this area in central Wales.
May I go South into Pembrokeshire, where I should like to think that ideas may provide 100,000 people with permanent residence in that lovely county. Right through the middle of Pembroke-shire there is a coalfield—a tangled, twisted mass of coal-bearing strata, so twisted and torn that it could not be mined to any great extent. Therefore there were no big coalmines in Pembrokeshire. But the coal there was of the highest grade anthracite known in the world; and if we look into the future, to the extraordinary experiments which are going on at the present day in the manipulation of carbon, this may well become a source of carbon for making long, strong fibres for the rejuvenation and hardening of plastics.
Associated also with this structure, runing out to sea—of course, as geologists we can only guess at this point, but we have evidence to indicate it—there is a great mass of haematite which we can now tap because of the existence of drilling rigs such as we see operating in the North Sea. Associated with this also is the considerable possibility of a gas field extending between Pembrokeshire and Eire; and maybe, too, a little drop of oil. So here is some future comfort of material value to South Wales. Now I come to South Wales proper. Pembrokeshire is really a gem apart of scenic value. I would have kept that quite happily. South Wales is renowned for coal. But may I remind your Lordships that there are many types of coal. If there is one thing that has made the South Wales coalfield famous all over the world, it is because it contains per square mile tore different types of coal than any other known coalfield in the world. That, in itself, might offer a future use in the selective extraction of chemicals; but that is 1227 a subject too complicated to discuss at the moment.
I should like now to turn not to the use of raw materials, but to the possibilities of obtaining cheap power. If we could have cheap power energy in South Wales it would be the greatest attraction that we could offer any industrialist in this country. Before I turn to that, however, permit me to make yet one more appeal on behalf of the miners, their homes and the places where they live and where they were born. What I appeal for is that work should be taken to the miners when these coal mines begin to close down. After all, that is where their roots are, that is where their hearts are; and if you want inspiration from them, that is the only way in which you will get it. To be practical, however, what is left when a colliery has closed down? There are two shafts, a cavernous plexus of underground workings, sometimes covering many square miles.
It so happens that the geographical situation in South Wales makes it almost unique, and that is why I am tempted to put this forward-looking proposition before your Lordships' House. We have a hole in the ground many hundreds of feet deep. If we allow this hole to remain static it will fill with water. This is the fruitful possibility. Hydro-geological studies will show that there is sufficient water here to produce hydro-electric power. How can this be done? As you descend a valley you go from colliery to colliery, and from the head of most of these valleys to sea level there is quite comfortably a fall of a thousand feet. Let me remind your Lordships that at Kariba it takes the holding back of 2,000 sq. miles of water by a 400-ft. dam to produce 800,000 horsepower. So when you multiply the 400 by roughly two or three, you can see the energy that is potentially involved in these deep mine shafts.
Our knowledge of the geology of this coalfield will enable us to show what should be the dying act of every coalmine in South Wales. The dying act of every coalmine in South Wales should be to join up through every seam of coal, through the 600 square miles or more of coal-bearing strata. I am now looking forward to the future, of course, but 1228 even to-day in certain of our almost ghostlike valleys—the Seughennydd Valley running up from Caerphilly has been referred to—this is a practical proposition. And when the costs are compared with the cost of producing nuclear and fuel-fired power stations it will be found that we have built what is virtually the Tennessee Valley underground, with 1,000 ft. of fall to give us energy of a kind upon which man has never been able to improve; namely, cheap, efficient, hydro-electric power.
If this or any other Government could look seriously at this problem, it may well be that in South Wales we have started a line of hydro-geological thinking which will revolutionise the development of hydro-electric power in this country which will bring the industries to the miners, who themselves will turn the valleys back again into green and lovely tributes to nature.
§ LORD ERROLL OF HALE
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I wonder whether he could answer a question, as I have been following his most interesting speech most closely. In his most imaginative concept of the disused mine workings becoming the source of supply for hydro-electric stations, surely what matters about the water in the disused workings is the rate of inflow, because on that depends the rate of outflow, and on that point he was silent. When he referred to a head of water of 1,000 ft., surely he was taking the top of the workings, whereas the important thing is the head at the bottom of the workings. Perhaps he should subtract 200 ft. or 300 ft. from 1,000 ft.
§ LORD ENERGLYN
My Lords, I am so new that I do not know how to join up in my speech but if that is regarded as an interjection I will try to answer it as briefly as I can. The geological situation here is that you have about 1,000 ft. of water-bearing strata, and it is a common feature of every coalmine in operation that they have to pump many millions of gallons of water a day. I am not going to pull figures out of the hat because that would be too mystyfing, but it can safely be assumed that in any one valley there would be, I should guess, a comfortable 5 to 10 million gallons an hour at a minimum, and you have storage 1229 at the top of the valley for any volume of water you like to hold back by a dam. So if you look at any one of these valleys you will see that the glaciation of the valley has produced the natural cwm—that is where the word comes from—which can easily be made into a reservoir. Nobody lives in them, only the sheep, and the springs emerge all around. After all, this is the water that excavated the valley. As I say, I do not wish to go into details because this is not a technical institute, but the details have been worked out and I assure your Lordships that this is a feasible, practical proposition.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ LORD RAGLAN
My Lords, I should like to add my congratulations to the noble Earl, Lord Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, but I would correct him on one point. I think he said that the Welsh language had at one time been banned. This is a common misconception. It has never been banned. Under the 1535 Act English was made the only official language of Wales, because the chief purpose of the Act was judicial and administrative, and judges only spoke English: so did administrators and, of course, not least, Parliament.
My speech follows on from that of the noble Lord, Lord Champion, because the last occasion on which we discussed anything to do with Welsh affairs here was when your Lordships, by a large majority, defeated the Government of Wales Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. I made a speech that was, so I am told, far too long; and I was also told that I was too intellectual. I hope that that criticism will not be levelled at my noble friend Lord Energlyn. I said at the time that I regretted the length of my speech (and I shall not be nearly so long to-day), but I was attempting to get behind the reasons for the rise of nationalism in Wales—and in Scotland, too. It is no use people who live comfortably in Kent or East Anglia dismissing Welsh and Scottish nationalism as pointless, and then going on to say, "Well, these fellows are awfully silly; but we had better try and humour them somehow". There is much more to it than that. If there is an illness in the body politic, as I think nationalism is, it is not enough to treat 1230 the symptoms; one must try to find out the causes.
Does none of your Lordships think it strange, as I think it strange, that we are to-day discussing an area of Britain which contains only one-twentieth of the total population, yet has a special Secretary of State with a seat in the Cabinet? Why, and how, have the Welsh and Scottish obtained this "disproportional" representation? The nearest any English region has obtained to representation of this strength was when Mr. Quintin Hogg was appointed by the Conservatives as Minister with special responsibility for the North East; and that appointment was looked upon at the time by many as a kind of "gimmick". I think that he achieved quite a lot, but it was not a permanent appointment; nor was it intended to be.
Moreover, whatever the Welsh Nationalists may say, the result of the establishment of the Welsh Office has been to attract to Wales a greater proportion of central funds than the North-East, the North-West, or the South-West of England have managed to obtain. The Government are, quite rightly, pleased with what they have managed to do for Wales, although in many cases they have done this in the face of sober criticism. That is to say, they have induced car makers from Birmingham to produce parts in Wales or Scotland, which is not the best way of setting about producing cheaper cars. But I think it should be clearly understood that the economics of regionalism have nothing to do wish the rise of nationalism. A Welsh Office has managed to do better because it has pull where it matters.
To the advocates of regional government, I would point out that those who used to fulminate against Whitehall now fulminate against the Welsh Office. There has been no change there. Moreover, so far as one can see, the establishing of a Secretary of State has not gained a single extra vote. Indeed, the nationalists are stronger than ever—strong enough to frighten our man in Caerphilly. Surely there is something worth pondering on there; and it will concern a Conservative government if ever they take office. The reason is that the inspiration of Welsh and Scottish nationalism is not economics but historical romanticism. If any of your 1231 Lordships doubt that historical romanticism can inspire a highly emotional political force, may I draw his attention to the establishment of the State of Israel? Israel was created from reading the Bible—a history book. So woven into our Western culture are stories in the Bible, and especially into Jewish culture, that to many people—enough to matter—it seemed the natural thing to found a Jewish State where the Bible says there used to be one so many years ago. The world has to live with that artificial situation so created, but we know it would not do to try to create many more situations like that.
What would happen, for instance, if our Government claimed half of France because Henry II used to own it; or if the Anglo-Saxons insisted on returning to Germany? General de Gaulle is a historical romantic, and as a result got himself and France into some very awkward scrapes and postures. The heroes of the Welsh Nationalists are feudal chiefs and princes of 500, 600, 700 and more years ago. Their ideal is a pre-Norman Wales which, if it had not been for the oppressive English, would have developed through some unexplained process of historical determinism into a separate modern nation.
I see that Mr. Nigel Birch in another place described Mr. Gwynfor Evans as a bore. What I am trying to explain to your Lordships, perhaps very ineffectually, is that if you understand him he is not really a bore; he is a historical romantic. He seems to be a bore because he is not primarily concerned with practical politics. He is concerned with what Professor Stuart Piggott, in a most interesting recent book on the Druids, calls, "the past-as-wished-for". He is pursuing a dream even to the point where, if it came true, he would reduce the material welfare of the inhabitants of Wales whom he claims to represent. For it has been shown most convincingly that if Wales were cut off from England the standard of living would inevitably be much reduced. He and the Welsh Nationalists wish to drive out the English and to re-order events so that history can start again at some selected point in time when there were no Normans and no English in Wales, when the area which we call Wales would belong entirely to the Welsh.
1232 But if your Lordships look from the Peers' Gallery in the House of Commons towards Mrs. Winifred Ewing, the Scottish Nationalist, you will see that, although she is outstandingly pretty, there is nothing else outstanding about her. I cannot see anything particularly Scottish about her. There is nothing in the appearance or behaviour of Mr. Gwynfor Evans, or of my noble friend Lord Maelor, which would lead me to suppose that either was Welsh. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who is as Welsh as anyone, lives quite happily in London; and the surname of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, is "Bruce", which one connects with Scotland but is actually Anglo-Norman. My noble friend Lord Heycock, who is to follow me, tells me that his ancestors came from Worcestershire. In fact, nearly half the inhabitants of the South Wales coal valleys went there within the last hundred years from the neighbouring English counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, and so on.
The fact is, my Lords, that we are racially so mixed and culturally so homogeneous that such differences as exist are regional and not national. As one would expect, there is more difference in speech and manner between a Yorkshireman and a Kentishman, than there is between Shropshire and Radnor. Yet there is this persistent belief that someone who is born on one side or other of a boundary which is deemed to be a national and not a county boundary, is somehow magically transformed into a totally different kind of person from his neighbour who lives across the boundary, perhaps only a mile away. The inhabitants of Monmouth, who are claimed to be Welsh, are supposed to have more affinity with the inhabitants of Rhyl or Llandudno than with neighbouring Hereford or Gloucester. Such a supposition is patently mistaken, as would be obvious to anyone who lived in Monmouthshire, as I do, even if you did not know that Caernarvon was as far away from Monmouth as London, and much harder to get to.
Although these suppositions and postulations of national and racial difference are inaccurate, they would not matter if they were harmless. But they are far from harmless. One can see how emotional and explosive racial issues can 1233 become, yet here we are with the continued existence, and even emphasis, of national boundaries in this country, encouraging racialism within our own country. Antagonisms and tensions are being created and fostered because the historical romanticists persist in believing that the presence of a national boundary between them and their neighbours makes them different, and should make them enemies.
The Welsh Border was put there by Henry VIII, and for one principal purpose which I mentioned at the beginning of my speech. It was done to please the inhabitants, because at the time the drawing of a border was essential to the objective of getting rid of the Marcher Lords and enabling the King's Writ to run in Wales. Previous to that, there was little law and less justice; and to prove it there is hardly a house in Wales that was standing before the date of 1535. The Border served its purpose well. England and Wales became one country, a further logical amalgamation in the continuing process. The Border remained virtually ignored until it was revived by the nineteenth century Celticists and, I am sorry to say, by the measures taken by the grandfather of the noble Earl, Lord Lloyd-George. What was originally an administrative and legal device had become, through well-meant historical romanticism, a highly emotional division between like and like.
My noble friend Lord Merthyr had a Motion down on the Order Paper to redraw the Border by taking a plebiscite, parish by parish. That is a practical proposition and, failing all else, I would support him in it. Henry VIII's Border would take on a different shape; but then it was highly arbitrary in the first place. It would be far better, however, in my opinion, if the people in Wales would themselves decide to do away with it entirely. My noble friend Lord Maelor did not have to look far to find a number of distinguished Welshmen—indeed, distinguished Welshmen have been, and are, in important and influential positions everywhere. One cannot imagine the history of Britain without them; and without them history would certainly have taken a very different course.
But one must remember that had Wales been separated from England these men 1234 would not have had the opportunity to shine as they did. The union has enriched everyone. It has enriched England, Wales and the world. I want that situation to continue, because it is constructive. But as long as there remains what is counted as a national border between England and Wales, there will be a tendency to separatism; there will be this accent on differences, on disunity and antagonism, and that is destructive.
It is partly because I am a Monmouthshire man that I think in this way. Monmouthshire is an area which for centuries has been in dispute between the English and the Welsh, but I can tell your Lordships that this dispute is not necessary. To love it, and to be proud of it, and to love the people in it. I do not find it necessary to consider it as belonging to either country. The conception that Wales is a separate country from England is as profitless as it is to consider England a nation apart. They are not really separate nations; they are one country. And I hope that all men of good will will join together to make every effort to keep them so.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ LORD SWANSEA
My Lords, like some of the other noble Lords mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, I cannot claim to be of Welsh descent. My family originated in Cornwall, and my great-grandfather moved up from Cornwall to South Wales some 150 years ago. Since then we have remained firmly in Wales, and I hope that by now we have become firmly of Wales, because having been born in Wales myself, and having lived there all my life, I have a great love and affection for that country.
I am very pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, has put this Motion before your Lordships' House to-day. We were all very entertained by his speech, as well as being most interested in it and in the speeches which followed. One of the matters that I should like to mention to-day is the question of communications, both road and rail. To deal with the railways first, I was talking to someone the other day and he asked me where I lived. I told him, "In mid-Wales", and he said, "Oh! You are in the trans. port desert". My Lords, how true that is! Because we now have only one rail-way line going through Central Wales, the line from Shrewsbury to Llanelli. 1235 There is now a proposal to close that line, which I think would be a tragedy, for it still serves a useful purpose. Even in these days there are still people who do not own a car, and there are still not enough bus services. If the bus services provided a useful and convenient alternative to the railways, the people would use them, but they do not.
The service provided by the branch lines also leaves much to be desired. The Central Wales line is, I believe, receiving a subsidy, a grant, pending a decision on whether it is to be closed. It is surely preferable that a line such as this, which provides a useful service to the rural community, should be kept in being, even if it has to be kept above the surface by means of a grant. The main-line services, I think, compare favourably with any in the country. I use the main South Wales line between London, Newport and Cardiff, and then on to Swansea, a good deal. Services on this line have been gradually improved over the past years, and they are now excellent. The new freightliner terminals at Cardiff and Swansea will, I think, help considerably towards the rapid transport of goods across the country, and I believe that everyone concerned with the handling and the transport of goods is glad to see those freightliner terminals come into operation.
Now, my Lords, I come to the roads. Here the story is not very happy, I am afraid. We have the M.4—or part of it—and the first few miles, leading out of London, lead one to expect great things, until one comes to a grinding halt near Maidenhead. Then one has to "flog" across country. Why on earth cannot we have a by-pass around Reading? That is one of the worst bottlenecks of all on the route to South Wales going towards the Severn Bridge. A by-pass around Reading is long overdue. Then as one approaches Wales one comes to the beginning of the motorway at Tormarton, with a lovely stretch of road over that very attractive and very impressive bridge to within a few miles of Cardiff. But at Tredegar Park one is brought back with a jolt to reality, because there is a tremendous volume of traffic along the A.48, and the existing road just is not adequate to cope with it.
1236 We have the Port Talbot By-pass, and we have the new bridge at Briton Ferry; but all these existing bits of motorway were planned and started years before the present Government came into power. The present Government, I think, have very little to show for the years that they have been in power, so far as our roads are concerned. Work is in progress on an internal by-pass at Cardiff. Cardiff itself is a very sorry story, so far as traffic is concerned: it is one of the worst bottlenecks in the whole of South Wales. I think that Port Talbot used to be the worst. Thank goodness! we now have the by-pass round that. The mantle of Port Talbot has now descended on Cardiff, and anyone who has had to sit through the rush-hour traffic in Cardiff will agree that a by-pass around the city is long overdue.
My Lords, the Government appear to be approaching this question of the completion of the M.4 in a very haphazard way. We have proposals for various bits of motorway, a radial road from Cardiff towards Llantrisant and a link between Cardiff and Bridgend. But it is all very fragmentary. There seems to be no organisation; there seems to be no planning behind all this. I can see our having to wait until some time in the 1980s before we have a complete motorway from Cardiff all the way to Swansea.
I beg Her Majesty's Government to bear in mind the crying need for the improvement of communications between South Wales and the rest of the country. It is all very well to talk of bringing new industries to South Wales, of building more factories. Those factories must have communications with the ports, with London and with the Midlands; and until the communications are there the industries will not be persuaded to come further into Wales than the present motorways reach. Firms are not going to stick their necks out by setting up factories in West Wales until they can see some prospect of being able to get supplies to their factories and their goods away from the factories. They are just going to settle their factories in South-East Wales, taking advantage of the present roads, until they see what is going to happen in the future.
The other subject I want to talk about is tourism. Tourism could be a much greater item in the Welsh economy than 1237 it is at present. In Wales we have scenery which is the equal of anything in Great Britain. Sometimes I take a little pleasure in telling my Scottish relations how lovely Scotland is: that it is so like Wales. It never fails to get a rise out of them. In Wales there is a tremendous potential for tourism, both with our own people and with those from overseas; and it is still nothing like fully developed. I wonder how much attention the British Travel Association's overseas offices pay to Wales and how much information on Wales they have available for the potential overseas visitor. Everyone has heard of Scotland. Scotland and the Scots have been very clever. They have built up around themselves over the years a sort of mystique; and certainly it has paid off with overseas visitors—and with Americans especially; they make a bee-line for Scotland as soon as they set foot on these shores. They go to see Gretna Green and Ben Nevis and Loch Lomond and all those other delightful places. But they do not realise—perhaps no one has ever told them—that there are places in Wales which are just as delightful and which, while perhaps not easier to get at, are certainly no more difficult to reach.
Since the beginning of March there has been a new grants and loans scheme for smaller hotels and guest houses, and this has been very useful, especially to those in mid-Wales. But although the Tourism Bill promises further grants-in-aid, the number of persons employed in catering and hotels in Wales, which rose to about 28,000 in 1965–66, was in 1967 down to 26,000. It is not hard to find the reason for this: it is the selective employment tax. It has been a real body blow to the hotel and tourist industry, not only in Wales but throughout the country, and it has resulted inevitably in reductions in the staff of the hotels. This in turn must have an inevitable effect on the standard of service; and if the standard of service deteriorates tourists just will not come to stay in those hotels.
A good many hotels in Wales, especially those along the North Wales coastal strip, are outside the development areas. They have to pay S.E.T. in full. The number of hotels within the development area is comparatively small; they, of course, get a refund. But there are 1238 certain places such as Porthcawl and the Gower where the hotels, in spite of their being within the development area, still have to pay S.E.T. in full because they are attached respectively to employment exchanges in Port Talbot and Swansea which, naturally, have populations greatly in excess of the 10,000 figure, which is the dividing line. So although the hotels in those places are within the development area, they get no refund of S.E.T. because they are attached to employment exchanges in large towns. I do not think that is equitable.
My Lords, this year is a very important one in Welsh history. On July 1 we are going to see the Prince of Wales invested in Caernarvon Castle. The interest which has been taken in this ceremony throughout the world has been enormous; the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, said that it was estimated that something like 500 million people all over the world would be watching the ceremony on television. I hope that the Government will do their utmost to see that, this year of all years, Wales can present a face to the world which will do her credit and which will do Great Britain credit. People will be arriving in Wales from all over the world, and most of them will be seeing Wales for the first time. It would he a shame if any of those people went back home with the wrong impression about Wales; with the impression, for instance, that it is a country divided against itself and that it is a poor relation of England. I am sure that that is not true. The Welsh are a proud and ancient people, and although, as I said when I started, I cannot claim Welsh descent, I am proud to have been born in Wales and to live there. I look forward—as I am sure does every Welshman in the country—to seeing this wonderful ceremony at Caernarvon in July.
I hope that the Government are not being unduly alarmed by the activities of a certain minority. At the same time, however many precautions one may take, there is always the possibility that some "nut"—there is no other way to describe these people—is going to do something very silly which might result in a terrible tragedy. I do not want to sound alarmist about this; but one cannot ignore the possibility. I just hope that the Government have the possibility in mind. My 1239 Lords, I think I have raised all the points I wanted to raise. I hope that I have not covered too much of the ground which may have been covered already by other speakers while I was absent from the Chamber.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ LORD HEYCOCK
My Lords, may I first express my appreciation in his absence—he may be doing a television programme at this moment—to my noble friend Lord Maelor for initiating this debate. May I also congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Lloyd-George. I shudder to think how I should have felt if I were the grandson of one of the greatest of Welshmen, making my maiden speech in your Lordships' House. I am certain that I shall be expressing the sentiments of everyone present when I say that the noble Earl made an excellent speech. If I may say so, he was himself and not a replica of his great grandfather. We shall be comrades in arms in the forthcoming Investiture. We are taking part in that ceremony and we have attended one or two rehearsals, so we have got close together.
My Lords, I should like to mention the statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Moyle, regarding Coleg Harlech. I must declare an interest as I am the President of Coleg Harlech. I want to pay a tribute to a "clique" on the Benches opposite. For many years when adult colleges in this country wanted to extend their building programme, they had to do so on money resulting from appeals to the public. But in his wisdom Sir Edward Boyle, who a few years ago was Minister of Education and Science, decided that the Government should make a 50 per cent. grant to the building programme; and that is why we have been able to expand those institutions. The point I want to make is that if a Tory Minister can make a 50 per cent. grant, surely the present Minister can increase that sum. I should like him to take cognisance of that suggestion.
My Lords, I did not intend to enter into an economic argument in this debate. It was my intention to concern myself with local government reorganisation and the place of language in the present situation in Wales, But after listening to the noble Lord, Lord Brecon with whom I 1240 was associated for many years, and to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who I thought an extremely fair person, I concluded that they were rather bankrupt I of arguments if they had to go back to 1929 for an analysis of the unemployment situation in Wales. When I used to lecture on public platforms and I referred to "13 years of Tory rule", I was told by the Conservatives to forget all that and to "get on with your own job." So I thought that to go back forty years was going rather a long way back.
Between 1924 and 1939, with the exception of a short period when there was a minority Labour Government, the Tories were in power. I saw demonstrations by the unemployed during the years from 1931 to 1939, but I never saw any diminution in the unemployment in South Wales, even under the Tory rule. When the noble Lord, Lord Brecon, was illustrating the lack of initiative of the present Government in relation to economic development in South Wales, he must have suddenly thought, "Lord Heycock comes from Port Talbot; I had better be appreciative." In Port Talbot there is to be a run-down in the steel industry to the extent of 7,000 people being made redundant. But let us be fair to the present Government. In order to meet that run-down, which will show its effect by 1973, there will be the provision of subsidiary industry, with the co-operation of the local authority, to which I pay tribute for the provision of factory accommodation, and I am certain that the decline will be arrested.
What is happening in Port Talbot is happening further West in relation to development. The noble Lord, Lord Brecon, mentioned that there was a small tinplate works, an old family firm, which had played an important part in the life of South Wales. It went out of existence because there was a great concentration on strip mills, and that had an impact socially, culturally and economically in West Wales. As one who lives in the County of Glamorgan, I am happy to realise that the Government are appreciative of the decline in the basic industries and are making the necessary efforts to deal with the situation. I read in the Western Mail, which cannot be described as a Socialist document, about factories being opened regularly and being occupied by workers in that part of Wales. 1241 I can quote the Western Mail as a "handbook" in that context.
When we talk about transport, one would have thought that there would have been a pat on the back for Glamorgan from noble Lords opposite. Three years ago, when I was chairman of the appropriate committee, we had the vision to take over Rhoose Airport. That will have a tremendous effect on transport facilities in South Wales. We are already spending nearly £3 million on equipping the airport and by March, 1970, we shall have a runway of 7,000 ft. which will be able to cope with all the planes wishing to land there. Instead of going to London Airport, I hope that noble Lords will show their Welsh patriotism by patronising Rhoose Airport or Glamorgan Airport. In the general analysis of South Wales we might say that at least the Socialist majority on the county council had the vision to make this kind of provision for the economic future of Wales.
My Lords, I have gone completely off my prepared brief. It was not my intention to speak about economics. I never went to Fircroft; my education finished in a higher elementary school. I had not intended to go into the intricacies of an economic analysis of modern society, but whatever the Government in power, they must face their basic responsibilities. If all the problems had been solved during the 13 years of Tory rule there would be no economic and social problems in South Wales. The economic and social problems of any kind of civilisation are a continuous process. We do not know how the mechanics of a modern society entering the new technological age will work. Who can visualise where in the next fifty years there will be unemployment or full employment? Society changes its pattern from stage to stage and one cannot make that kind of debating point.
The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said that so many millions will be spent and that it took £4,000 to create one job. If it costs £40,000 to ensure that one man does not go on the dole, and have that soul-destroying experience for many years, the price will be worth paying. If we have to pay £4,000 to bring the miners to the seaboard where, logically, there will be the economic development of the future, I say let us pay the money. 1242 Let them be retained as a community; let them enjoy the cultural background against which they were brought up and to which they have made such a significant contribution. My great cry is that you cannot measure human comfort and human intellect by the pounds, shillings and pence that you spend. You can measure it only in terms of human happiness, and if the spending of money creates human happiness we should spend it. As I have said already, it was not my intention to discuss economics. I had prepared a speech to deal with local government reorganisation in Wales and the basic problem of language.
I listened attentively to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. His grandfather was a great educationist of the 19th century, on whose report was fashioned the Intermediate Education Act of 1896. That is why we have more intelligent people in Wales than in England; we had secondary education so many years before England had it, not necessarily because schools were State-aided but because the people of Wales were determined by their own efforts to get the best education for their children. We have been called an illiterate community, but the intermediate schools of Wales were the public schools of the working boys of Wales. I pay tribute to the noble Lord's grandfather, but when I listened to the noble Lord this afternoon talking about religious education I was shattered. I did not believe that it was possible in any way to line up with the Humanist Society.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, would the noble Lord forgive me? Certainly I had no intention of lining up with the Humanist Society, and if the noble Lord will be kind enough to refer to the debate in your Lordships' House on religious education, he will see that that is very far from my position.
§ LORD HEYCOCK
My Lords, I withdraw that statement and I hope the noble Lord will pardon me. I am a newcomer to this House. I am not one of the big Welsh preachers and he whipped me off my feet and I am apt to forget the point. But what I would make clear is this. The decline in moral standards to-day due to the decline in the number of people going to church. I feel that we must see that schools to which our children go shall have a religious atmosphere. In this 1243 present materialist age it may be the only opportunity a child will have to acquire a real concept of religion. And if our Western civilisation is based upon Christian teaching and on the great moral beliefs of the Christian faith, then surely it is asking very little to see that our children shall have some contact with religion.
My second point is this. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said that he did not believe that a bilingual policy would meet the needs of Wales. I have a tremendous respect for the noble Lord, who is a friend of mine, and I am in no way being personally critical of him. I have spent all my life in Wales and I would say that the greatest political danger that exists in Wales at this moment—and it is explosive in more ways than one—is the question of language. In a civilised community there must be economic security and this can be subjected to cold, calculated analysis; but when it comes to language, we get an emotional atmosphere which is psychologically different from feeling on economic questions. To-day in Wales there is an emotional atmosphere in relation to language which is extremely dangerous.
We are nearing a century of State education in this country. There was the Foster Act of 1870, the Balfour Act of 1902, the Fisher Act of 1918, and the Butler Act of 1944. The basis of our educational system was the Foster Act, which laid down clearly, for good or for evil, conditioned I believe by the historical background of education in our country, that there should be duality in education in Wales. That meant that there should be State schools and what we then termed non-provided schools, and it was the right of every parent to exercise his or her own choice. Therefore I say that, arising from the historical tradition of education, there is the right for the parent in Wales to choose a school on language grounds.
To that end, in the County of Glamorgan we have continued that policy of duality. I am not speaking as a Welsh Nationalist but because I believe that this is an emotional situation and that language reflects the nationality, the traditions and the culture of a nation. If we take language from a nation, all those factors are destroyed. The Census shows that in the last few years there was a decline in the number of Welsh speakers. I 1244 have persuaded my Education Committee to follow a policy of bilingualism, aided not only by this Government but by the previous Government. And we find that there are English parents who send their children to Welsh schools. One of our most successful Welsh schools is in the most anglicised part of Glamorgan—that is, Barry. In 1939, we had one Welsh school. Now, we have 14 Welsh schools in Glamorgan, with around 3,000 children.
We may be cynical about the Welsh language and believe that it is in a state of decline, but I would say that to-day there is a stronger desire to learn the Welsh language than at any other time in the past fifty years. Everyone in politics in Wales knows that. For that reason, I believe that we all should bend our efforts to help in the provision of language teaching, so that if the Welsh language becomes extinct we may go down to the bar of history, and be able to plead that at least we tried to preserve it. We must take all the opportunities that present themselves.
Over the last ten years my Education Committee have spent over £40,000 to provide readers and textbooks, and this year we are spending £58,000 for research projects and in providing schools with tapes. It is a remarkable thing that secondary schools could get tapes for French, Spanish and all other languages, but never for Welsh, until we produced them ourselves. To-day, language laboratories are transforming the teaching of language. In that kind of context I would say to my noble friend—and I hope he was not reflecting the opinion of his Party—if we get bilingualism, if we can meet the situation which is so explosive by a logical approach. we can avoid the kind of situation in Wales which we have at the moment in Ulster. If we can eradicate these prejudices by meeting the needs of these people, I am fairly certain that we shall be doing our job.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, would the noble Lord be kind enough to give way? I am grateful. I have been listening to the noble Lord without interrupting, because he was in full flight in his oratory, but he has totally misrepresented me and he has totally misrepresented anything that the Conservative Party stands for. I beg the noble 1245 Lord, if he would be so kind, to read my speech in Hansard to-morrow, and he will see that I said that the parents should have a choice; that those who wanted instruction in Welsh should have it. I said that the L.E.A.s were the best people to know what was right. I am afraid he has totally misrepresented me.
§ LORD HEYCOCK
But the noble Lord did mention the word "bilingualism". I have already quoted the phrase the noble Lord used.
§ LORD ABERDARE
With due respect, in the Report it is used to mean a second language, and bringing the second language up to the level of bilingualism.
§ LORD HEYCOCK
I shall read the noble Lord's speech, and if I have misquoted him I will withdraw. Being Welsh, one expresses one's opinion. As I say, I shall read with a great deal of interest what the noble Lord said, and if I am right I will remind him of it; but if I am wrong I will certainly apologise to him.
The next point that I want to make is on the question of local government reorganisation. I shall finish when I have made this point and I must apologise because I have to leave. Over the last twenty years there have been three attempts at local government reorganisation in Wales. The first one was by the late Nye Bevan, who, I am certain in my own mind, when the net result of his Commission came out did not agree with it and put it on the shelf. Secondly, under the regime opposite, in 1958 a local body was set up under the chairmanship of Sir Emrys Evans, and they reported until 1961. Then Mr. James Griffiths set up an Inter-departmental Committee who talked about evolutionary development of local government. The purpose of setting up that Committee was that we should at least accelerate the progress of local government reorganisation in Wales. Simultaneously to the setting-up of that body, there were set up a Royal Commission for England and a Royal Commission for Wales. The main idea of the right honourable Mr. James Griffiths was that, by using the reservoir of evidence that had been accumulated previously, we should probably get local government reorganised in Wales much more quickly than they 1246 would in England or Scotland, they having to wait for their respective Royal Commissions.
I find that we are caught up in events. First of all, we had the five counties, plus the three county boroughs. Then we had the six counties. Then there was a statement made by the Secretary of State for Wales in November of last year on the implementation of the proposals. The question I want to ask is this. The memorandum said that after the Royal Commission had issued its Report for England, we should have the opinion of the Welsh authorities. Does that mean to say, from inspired leaks of the Maud Committee, that the existing structure of local government of the six counties, plus the three county boroughs, will have to be dealt with?
One understands, whether it is true or no, that we are to have regional organisation. Does it mean that the role of local government in Wales is going to be recast; and simultaneously with this, meeting the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, a Constitutional Committee is being set up on which two eminent Welshmen are serving, and they are to examine the Constitution of Wales? Does it mean that in between those two factors, the Constitutional Committee and the imminent issue of the Report of the Maud Committee, all the work that has gone into the reorganisation of local government in Wales will go? I should like an answer to those questions.
I have gone off what I was saying—goodness gracious! All I have written, with all the care, has gone, because I listened attentively to the debate. I want to say that it is a great day for Wales. I am taking part in the Investiture. I wish frankly that we shall have the first-class contributions that have been delivered this afternoon on every facet of Welsh life, and that we shall have many more Welsh days such as we have had to-day.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ LORD ARWYN
My Lords, I feel like a damp squib after hearing the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, and the noble Lord, Lord Heycock. I left Wales about fifty years ago, and I have missed this fervour. It is the one thing that has been missing in my life. We are grateful to my noble friend Lord Maelor for initiating this 1247 debate. It is a long time since we had the opportunity of discussing Welsh affairs. I should like to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, on his maiden speech, and I hope that his business commitments will not prevent him from taking part in debates which are well within his capacity.
Unlike the noble Viscount, Lord Swansea, and his ancestors, who left Cornwall for Swansea, I left Swansea for Cornwall; but I can still speak Welsh. I should like to read to your Lordships a quotation from the editorial in the Observer of March 12, 1967. It says:Over many centuries and until quite recently the English treated the Irish, the Scots and the Welsh much as the Germans have treated their Slav neighbours, with a mixture of ruthlessness and mockery.This observation might be an exaggeration, and is not helpful, but the present attitudes by too many indicate that there has been some truth in the statement, and sufficient to excite deep emotional reactions, which can lead into seeking justification for the bitter attitudes that we are now experiencing.
An important major step forward towards giving the Welsh freedom to manage their own affairs has been made by this Government. The problem is now taken very seriously. The appointment of a Minister for Wales in 1951, and a Minister of State for Wales later, was a laudable attempt, and on the part of the Ministers concerned it was a gallant attempt, but not backed by sufficient power to achieve that which could or can be achieved from now on. If the new pattern succeeds and the administrative experience develops, there is no reason why we should not—most of us, at any rate—see the establishment of a Welsh Parliament. It is, in the meantime, imperative that Wales can prove that it can be a viable economic region.
During the course of our lives we are forced to divest ourselves of any emotional approach if we are to solve a practical problem. The main problem which requires solution is the safeguarding of work, so that the population of Wales does not continue to stagnate as it did for the 40 years between 1921 and 1961. During that period I think the increase in Wales was 1.8 per cent.; in 1248 England during the same period the increase was 26.9 per cent. There are many reasons for this stagnation. Like one million of my fellow countrymen, between the wars I also emigrated, as I said before, to Cornwall; but I have been able to get over it.
Wales provides first-class education for those who wish to take the advantage, but Wales is unable to provide all the outlets compatible with their ability. Can one wonder, my Lords, why the spirit of nationalism is on the upsurge? It is useless to try to stem this flood without offering practical solutions, and these must embody practical suggestions, if not complete plans, for encouraging the young people to stay in their own country. This was one of the points referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Brecon. It is a major problem with Wales, and we must never lose sight of it. To-day the universities are fed, and the colleges are fed, with brilliant youngsters; and the first thing they do is to look around to see what are the possibilities of having a job in Wales. And they find that the opportunities are very slim indeed. Any industrialists living outside Wales can prove this fact, because when we get applications for top-flight jobs, it is astonishing the number that come from Welsh boys.
In your Lordships' House we have a wide variety of experience, and if enough of us can make a contribution each in accordance with his own profession we shall not waste time in fruitless exercises or in trying to fan the flames of already over-heated emotions. It is easy to plunge into a welter of accusations, such as: why did the Ministry of Technology spend £580 million in England in 1967–68, and only £6 million in Wales? Or: why did the National Coal Board spend in Wales only 1 per cent, of its £3.7 million allocated to research and development? These are inflammatory questions, and I quote them not as my own requiring an answer at the end of this debate, but as the type of question which demands an answer if we are to retain our graduates in Wales.
I am now going to move more into my own province and, as a contribution towards solving this problem, to make a suggestion, supported by an observation within the capacity of my own experience. 1249 In my opinion the terms of reference of the Welsh Council are too negative to achieve the positive picture that I should like to see developed in Wales. For example, the protection of the national parks should not be held in protective isolation from a potential industrial development. My experience is that this is very dangerous ground, and that a great deal of emotion can be aroused on the subject. If such a development is found to be of material value to the economy of Wales—and I am referring in particular to base metals and trace minerals—these basic principles for the development and protection of the countryside should be incorporated into all plans before time and emotional activities are wasted by the community at large in opposing planning permission for such ventures, especially where vital industrial development is likely. In other words, my Lords, I am appealing for a Council of National Resources for Wales which would have real executive powers and financial resources to exploit to the full the maximum wealth of the Principality which has not yet been tapped. Like my noble friend Lord Energlyn I am interested and experienced in the development of minerals. The noble Lord, in his brilliant speech, gave an example of the expertise that is available if properly co-ordinated. I would once more make an appeal for an enlightened policy on the part of the Treasury in encouraging the exploitation and development of base minerals by "tax holidays", as in other countries.
I should like to conclude by making an appeal for better communications. This is something that is urgently necessary if we are to develop enough industry in Wales. A few weeks ago I travelled by a 4-seat helicopter 140 miles across the Welsh border in one hour. When I go from Bath to Aberystwyth by road, to visit my son, it takes over four hours. If you multiply that time by two, there and back, it means eight hours altogether spent on the road. By helicopter I can go there and back in two hours, and have six hours in which to work. This is the kind of speed which industrialists demand, whether they are top men in national industries or otherwise. Until these better facilities are available, industrial progress in Wales must be unnecessarily delayed.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, I also should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, for giving us the opportunity this afternoon of this wonderful debate. I hope that he is satisfied and that his patience has been indeed rewarded when he considers that he has had taking part in this debate to-day a number of ex-Ministers of great distinction, a chairman of an education committee, a former Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, and others.
I felt that I was taking part in a Welsh affair when I noticed at the Bar of your Lordships' House, the strong congregation of Members of the other place, and the fact that there were other distinguished Ministers who had also come to listen to the debate. Typically, too, I thought, there were the Welsh wives of the noble Lords who were here to participate: they sat to support their husbands during the debate. It all seemed to me like a wonderful Welsh affair. I thought that the stories told by Lord Maelor were reminiscent of the sort of stories I have heard all my life, and I feel that he will particularly enjoy the one of my late husband, when he was with three other Welshmen in Russia. They were watching one evening a magnificent performance of an opera, performed by some very elegant Russian company, and when the music fell very quiet a loud Welsh voice was heard to declare, "They do it much better in Treorchy". I felt, somehow, listening to this debate this afternoon, that whatever we try to do in England, "they do it much better in Treorchy".
My Lords, there is little doubt that we are talking about a nation, not about a region. We have been discussing the affairs of a nation. I was very happy that several noble Lords made references to the frightening prospect that is presented by the spread of nationalism. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, gave a brilliant analysis of many of the reasons that make nationalism so attractive. Nationalism is a very emotive word. We live in a large and very impersonalised society, and there is little doubt this is one of the forms it takes when people wish to identify themselves with a group. I am always reminded of the words of the song we have sung so many times in colleges and schools: 1251 "I vok to thee, my country"; and the second verse goes on,But there is another country, "I thought of long ago.Surely, the appeal of the noble Lord, Lord Champion, is the one we should remember: that we are all people in the world, and the more we seek to emphasise our differences the more difficulties we shall encounter.
I was interested in the Parliamentarians whom the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, instanced. Cromwell was indeed a great Parliamentarian, and I am always reminded of his famous remark when he rode down Whitehall and one of his Generals said, "They cheer for you, my Lord". He said, "They would as lief turn out to see me hang". My Lords, every politician should remember that every crowd which cheers to-day may well be giving him a completely different salute to-morrow.
I should like to add my congratulations to those of your Lordships who have referred to the splendid maiden speech, of the noble Earl, Lord Lloyd-George of Dwyfor. He had the great virtue of clarity; he was very sincere. I always find that when one can take notes easily of a speech it is a good speech. If I may say so, with all due humility to the noble Earl, his speech measured up to this splendidly. I should, therefore, like to mention first the question of tourism, as he devoted some of his speech to this—as indeed did several other of your Lordships.
I agree that the Americans do not seem to know about Wales. One wonders what kind of an itinerary they have, as they seem to me always to ask for The Scotch House, Simpson's, Stratford-upon-Avon and Edinburgh. I hope that we shall be able to penetrate whatever are the particular offices which deal with tourism in America to show that if they come to Wales they will indeed find anything they can find in any other part of the world: the streams, the mountains, as well as the warmth of the Welsh people. The fact that we now have a Wales Tourist Board is a recognition that the Government understand and give due importance to the necessity of encouraging the industry of tourism. The grant 1252 and loans scheme that is in the Bill should be a welcome boost to hotel development and investment in Wales.
I am sorry that one of your Lordships felt that the hotels in Wales were not good. I must say that I have always been rather fortunate in that respect. They have one unique quality: that one is invariably served by Welshmen rather than by people from other parts of the world. They seem to like their own industry. But there is little doubt that the Tourist Board can inject all sorts of money and can stimulate local and regional development of the kind which will, we hope, make the tourist trade something to be proud of.
I feel that I must at once come to the support of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, because I too took part in the debate on religious education in schools. He of course took the view that religious education should be continued in schools. As I recall, he asked, quite reasonably, that this should be improved and enlivened and should be made a much more exciting force. To-day he referred to the Gittins Report. Again, if I may reiterate what he said, he seemed to me to make a very reasonable point: that the question of language in primary schools was considered in the Gittins Report and that he went along with most of the Report's recommendations.
The noble Lord had some reservations. For his information I would say that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science in fact issued a circular to local education authorities following the production of the Gittins Report, and he gave his conclusions on the question concerning the teaching of Welsh in the primary schools, which of course was one of the major subjects of the Report. He endorsed the main principle, the principle of bilingual education, and invited the local education authorities to review their language policies, making an objective evaluation of the linguistic needs of their areas, consulting the teachers and taking full account of the views of the parents; and, having decided on their policies, to make sure that they were publicly known and understood. I feel that we can quite truthfully claim that Her Majesty's Government are following up the recommendations in the Gittins Report.
1253 I was delighted that at least two of your Lordships made mention of Coleg Harlech. Having spent a great deal of my working life in the work of adult education, I should like to endorse all that has been said by the two noble Lords who made the point. There is little doubt that many people, when given a second chance, blossom and flower; and I believe that if we could have far more attention given to adult education generally this would yield great results. I can of course give no undertaking on the question of the grant, hut will merely say that my heart is very much in this project and that I will add my word to that of your Lordships when talking to the Secretary of State.
Several noble Lords have made reference to the Welsh roads programme. The fact is that the present Government are spending more money on roads than ever has been spent before. We recognise the paramount importance of roads, and of good communications, obviously, to attract new industry to the Principality. But it is no less important to improve roads within Wales to enable the people of Wales themselves to travel quickly and easily to the new jobs which are being created. I was not quite certain that it would really take longer to reach Aberystwyth than New York. I think it is always a little dangerous to base one's timing on the exact flight time, because one has always to calculate the time taken in getting to the airport and from the airport. Certainly I have done the journey to Aberystwyth a little more rapidly than was suggested—perhaps I was fortunate. And we must remember that we can now very rapidly reach South Wales, whether we go by road, over the bridge—that wonderful piece of engineering—or by rail, as I do frequently.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I mentioned Aberystwyth. The journey was started from the airport, and so the journey time in getting to the airport would not come into the question of the time taken. I was making a plea for air communications, not road communications. I hope to have the support of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, who is on the noble Baroness's left. And may I ask her to remind the Government that the Harrier is now in operation, and the 1254 Harrier is going to make a complete revolution in transport in this country?
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, I was coming to the point of air communications. Our strategy in relation to roads is based on improving the East-West roads, the arteries into Wales, and to improve the "travel to work" roads from the valleys to the growth centres in South Wales. I am rather surprised that some noble Lords did not see the recent announcement by the Secretary of State for Wales about the extension at the M.4 through to the Bridgend area.
I come now to the air services, which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, particularly mentioned. I have no doubt—I know that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, will appreciate this from what he said earlier—that the Secretary of State for Wales, and the President of the Board of Trade, will study his comments with interest. The Report of the Edwards Committee is being considered at present, and the views of the Welsh Council are being sought on the relevant aspects of that Report. However, I think the noble Lord will appreciate only too well that it is a very expensive business to establish and maintain airstrips in a large number of localities, and before embarking on these projects one would need to be satisfied that there really would be sufficient traffic to justify the expenditure. One of the luxuries of being in Opposition is that one can propose the building of an airstrip, or anything else, in places like Llandrindod Wells.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, may I say, although I do not wish to interrupt the noble Baroness, that this matter is vital to Wales. The noble Lord on her left will appreciate this. When he and I were in office we started the only international airport in Wales, which is Rhoose. We had all these arguments against us. I also opened Withybush, which is the only civil airport in West Wales. That is twenty years ago, and since then nothing has been done in this connection. Unless one gets on with it and faces these arguments, as we faced them then, I am afraid that nothing will happen.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
Yes, my Lords, I take the noble Lord's point. I think the noble Lord himself said how he had worked with the Secretary of State for 1255 Wales and knew his particular feeling in this connection, and he certainly will be taking note of the noble Lord's comments.
The question of Ely Hospital was raised. I think that the noble Lords who mentioned this subject—the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in particular—should know that of the 45 recommendations contained in the Report, 38 are in process of being acted on, particularly in relation to buildings and conditions generally. I would heartily endorse the point that the noble Lord made, that this is a responsibility of the community and we must all accept this.
The noble Lord, Lord Brecon, rather replied to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in one way, because he mentioned the report in the Western Mail that there had been a firm assurance given to the Member of Parliament for Ebbw Vale by Lord Melchett that no decision had been taken by British Steel Corporation on the future disposition of steel-making capacity in South Wales, and therefore no decision on the future of Ebbw Vale. So I hope Lord Aberdare will accept both my comment from this Box and the comment of his own noble friend.
A suggestion was made that aid should be given to industries which would be prepared to establish themselves in the valleys. There has never been any suggestion that such aid would be withheld. Indeed, it is the Government's policy to encourage by all means at their disposal the establishment of factories in the valleys. But since most of the valleys of South Wales are scheduled as special development areas the Government are in fact prepared to pay even more to an industrialist who is prepared to go there than to those who go to the mouths of the valleys.
I was fascinated, as I am sure all your Lordships were, by the project the noble Lord, Lord Energlyn, offered us of gold in the hills of Wales, as well as the carbon and hydro-electric power. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will look very carefully at this matter because I noticed the noble Lord, Lord Erroll of Hale, taking notes, and knowing what a keen businessman and industrialist he is I should not like to feel that he would 1256 get in before Her Majesty's Government in taking up these proposals.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, criticised what he called the scattering of factories like confetti all over Wales. The policy of the Government is to concentrate the major developments in the growth points, mainly along the line of the mouths of the South Wales valleys. At the same time, we are certainly not prepared to write the valleys off. This has never been the intention of Her Majesty's Government.
The noble Lord, Lord Champion, made reference to the conference held in Cardiff a few weeks ago by the Institution of Civil Engineers. I understand that this was the first major conference to be held by the Institution in the 150 years of its existence, and it was a splendid initiative. We certainly endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Champion, said: that we hope that the local authorities will read the papers and follow them up, and will act on the many suggestions which were forthcoming. I would certainly agree, as I am sure would all your Lordships, with the comment of the noble Lord that everything must be done to improve the living environment of the communities in Wales, and the Government hope that the provisions of the Housing Bill which is now under consideration in another place will make a major contribution to this end. The impressive progress made in dealing with tips and other industrial dereliction in the last two years is under the guidance of the Derelict Land Unit in the Welsh Office, and this has made a very good start. I thought perhaps to-day the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, would tell us of his vineries, particularly as I was reading recently of the orangeries in Margam; and there is no doubt that South Wales can produce many beautiful fruits in addition to the minerals, and so on.
The noble Lord, Lord Brecon, referred to economic affairs, as indeed did several of your Lordships. No one would deny, least of all any Member of Her Majesty's Government, that, important as are all the other issues which we have been discussing, the people of Wales, and particularly industrial Wales, have long memories of bitter days when in many areas there were more people unemployed than employed, and even those who were employed were barely able to scratch a 1257 living. I have heard my late husband speak of the only well-provided man being the relieving officer—and this is not going back to the days of the Industrial Revolution; it is within living memory. I mention this only to show why jobs mean so much to the people of Wales; why, in a way, they are almost sacred, and why it is so important that there should be an economic future for Wales.
I think we have to take heart from the fact that at the present time 96 per cent. of the insured employee population of Wales are working. Of course the figures have been higher and we are by no means complacent about the current situation, but the margin by which employment in Wales falls below the national average is equivalent to no more than 3 persons per 200 insured employees. When one takes account of the dramatic change which has taken place, and is continuing to take place, in the structure of industry in Wales, it is quite remarkable that the gap between Wales and the rest of the country is so small.
What makes me so sad is the fact that so little was done in the first half of the 1960s to prepare for the inevitable and entirely predictable decline in the manpower requirement of the basic industries of Wales—the coal, steel, agriculture and transport.
§ LORD BRECON
My Lords, if the noble Baroness will allow me to interrupt for a moment, the number of people employed in the first half of the 1960s continued to increase every year; the numbers have started to decline only in the last three years. Those arc the official figures.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, I will accept the figures given by the noble Lord, but I will check them and will certainly return to this subject with him, possibly by correspondence.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, there is little doubt that at the moment, with the industrial developments which have been approved, there is an estimated rise in the number of jobs at the rate of 1258 about 20,000 a year. This is a record of which the Government are proud. It will take time for the industrial development certificate approvals to be translated into jobs, but we are now be ginning to reap the harvest, and I hope that none of your Lordships will be so ungenerous as not to recognise that Her Majesty's Government are genuinely concerned that the people of Wales should remain within Wales. I believe that sometimes we think there is still a migration from Wales to other parts, but I am happy to say that there is now a healthy change in this trend and Wales is retaining more and more people in the younger age groups.
On the economic side. Wales is still facing difficult problems as the run-down in the older basic industries continues, as we have heard this afternoon. But these are largely short-term problems, and they are being tackled vigorously. Looking ahead there is no doubt that Wales has a very bright future: new industries are being established; new skills arc being learned by the very able people in Wales; major firms are moving in, and the Government are dispersing thousands of Government jobs to South Wales. I notice that my tax return application always comes from South Wales. The catalogue of the Government's achievements is truly impressive, and the Government's continuing measures of assistance to Wales gives solid grounds for an optimistic view to be taken of Wales in the '70s.
My Lords, I think we can look forward with every joy and anticipation to the important event which is to take place in 1969.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I apologise for intervening—the noble Baroness is very good in giving way. Before she leaves the economic subject and goes on to the interesting one on which she is about to embark, may I ask her whether she would like to make a comment on a matter that I mentioned in my speech—I did not hear anyone else do so, but they may have done. I refer to the Hunt Committee's Report on the question of the coastal strip in North Wales and South Wales, which in neither case is in the development area. The Hunt Committee merely said—rather feebly, I thought—that the Government should keep the position under close review. Are 1259 the Government in fact going to do something perhaps rather more dynamic than that?
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, the Government are of course, studying the Hunt Committee's Report at the moment, as the noble Lord will know, so I really cannot add anything more to this point. However, I can assure him, with all the sincerity of which I am capable, that any point he makes in this connection is taken note of, just as his comments on the air communications and the roads have been noted, because we appreciate his feeling for the people of Wales.
Several of your Lordships have made reference to the Investiture of the Prince of Wales which is to take place in July. It is very exciting, as the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, said, to feel that millions of people will watch the ceremony. It is a unique opportunity to sell Wales to the world. I can remember that so many times Welshmen with whom I was acquainted, and who travelled the world, came back and said, "There are no valleys, no rivers and no hills like those in Wales". My Lords, Wales is not only a country of great promise and great opportunity: it has people who have talents, warmth and great understanding. May I hope that this debate will be the first of many? One feels that the Scots have adequate time given to them, and I hope that from to-day we may go forward to yet another debate on that great country of Wales.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ LORD MAELOR
My Lords, I am glad that I apologised in my speech this afternoon in advance that I should not be able to hear all the speeches. However, I did hear the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. I can say to him, and he knows that I am sincere; "With all your faults, and they are very few, I love you still". Particularly I would say that when we remember in Wales our great debt to his father. The name of "Aberdare" can never be forgotten in the Principality. I heard also the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. I should like to answer some of the things he mentioned, but let us know just how Wales is getting on in Wembley.
1260 This has been a remarkable debate, for many reasons—in the first place, the interest shown by the Sassenachs and the Scots. The Chamber was full when I was on my feet, not because I was on my feet but because of the interest they had in the subject. Indeed, they asked me just now on television whether I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who apparently said yesterday to the Press that more interest was shown in this House than in the other place in Welsh affairs. I said that, judging from what I had seen this afternoon, I must agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. We have had thirteen speeches. When I put down this Motion I anticipated only some half a dozen, at the most. As I say, we have had thirteen speeches, and I am grateful to those noble Lords who have had to leave their native land and are now living in another country for coming here to-day in our support.
I was very pleased that we had the maiden speech of the noble Earl, Lord Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, because, as I said in my own speech, in my opinion the greatest man who ever came to Parliament was the noble Earl's grandfather. I can never explain that man at all; I do not know, realising that he had only the elementary schooling at Llanystumdwy, how he was able to do what he did. I think that we heard the voice of Lloyd George in his grandson's voice this afternoon, and I can only appeal to the noble Earl to come here often and take part in our debates.
Then we were very pleased to have in the Chamber the four Ministers from the Welsh Office. There were three Ministers and one former Secretary of State for Wales, Jim Griffiths. I saw him sitting on the Steps of the Throne, accompanied by the present Secretary of State for Wales, George Thomas. In the Gallery I saw the Minister of State, Mrs. Eirene White and Ifor Davies, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Welsh Office. I was disappointed that we did not have a word from the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor. I am not given to flattery, but I say here and now, as an ex-Member of the House of Commons before the Welsh Office was established, that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, was undoubtedly the best Minister we had to deal with Welsh affairs 1261 under the old régime. I am sorry that we did not hear his voice in our debate to-day. My Lords, my wife has warned me not to bring any Papers home; and it therefore gives me great pleasure to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.