HC Deb 07 March 1939 vol 344 cc2075-9

11.32 p.m.

Mr. Rhys Davies

I beg to move, in page 1, line 7, after "England," to insert "and Wales."

When this Bill was considered in Committee, I called the attention of the Minister and the Committee to the fact that Wales was ignored in the Bill. The

Minister replied that if we were sufficiently interested in the subject, we ought to put down an Amendment to include Wales. Consequently, our first Amendment is to that effect. Happily, the right hon. Gentleman, has already seen the error of his ways, and I gather, from the Amendments he has placed on the Order Paper, that he may accept this very sensible Amendment.

I am sure that the constituents whom I have the honour to represent—practi- cally all of them English people—will forgive me for being proud of the land in which I was born. I was a little amazed to hear the Minister say, during the Committee stage, that for the purposes of administration Wales is in England. I do not think that is a proper attitude to take, and I have moved this Amendment in order to show the House that Wales is a country of its own—very much more so than Scotland.

Mr. Kirkwood

Oh, no! Wales was conquered by the English, but Scotland never was.

Mr. Davies

I was about to say that it is not commonly known that the Welsh people have a culture that is apart from English culture. They have a language of their own. They have a literature of their own. They have an educational system of their own—a National Museum, a National College and Universities of their own. It may interest hon. Members to know that the Welsh have a language which, for the purposes of expression, is very much more forcible than English.

Hon. Members

Give us an example.

Mr. Davies

"Còs gwr na charo'r wldd a'i macco." On all those grounds, I think there is justification for the Amendment. I am under the impression that the term "England and Wales" was common form in Bills before Parliament up to a few years ago, and I ask that it should be restored. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will agree to the insertion of the word "Wales" in this Bill, so that it may become a precedent for the future. Hon. Members must understand one thing, that if Wales had Home Rule, it would have a Labour Government, which shows that the people of Wales are much more progressive even than the people of Scotland. I think I have made a case for the recognition in these Bills of the separate identity of my country.

11.36 p.m.

Mr. Elliot

I readily respond to the appeal of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) that I should accept his Amendment. Indeed I go further, because I have put down two further Amendments to the same effect in relation to other parts of the Bill. As an illustration of the perils attaching to confusion of thought, I would point out that the hon. Gentleman has put down an Amendment which would have the effect of imposing a duty upon the Welsh authorities, but has omitted to put down the corresponding Amendments which would enable them to claim grants in respect of those duties. To show that there is no grudge against Wales and that we are anxious to make this a non-party Measure in which all parts of the House can share, I ask the House to accept the Amendment now moved, and also the consequential Amendments when we come to them later.

Sir Francis Fremantle

If Wales is not included in England, then, surely, to add Wales will be to increase the charge?

Amendment agreed to.

11.38 p.m.

Sir Joseph Lamb

I beg to move, in page 3, line 8, after "power," to insert: subject to the consent of the councils by which the joint board, or joint committee was appointed. This Clause grants the power of Co-option to the various joint boards and joint committees, and while I do not raise any objection to the appointment of co-opted members, who may be very useful, I desire to retain the powers of the appointing bodies, that is, the councils by which the joint boards or committees will be appointed. That is the object of the Amendment which provides that the exercise of this power shall be subject to their consent. It may be argued that the reference in the Clause to the number of members on a joint board or committee would rule this question. Fortunately, in practice the people who are co-opted on such bodies as these will be, are very often people who are keen on the work, and are useful members. On the other hand, some of the members appointed by the original body may be put on to make up the number and may not be regular attenders at the meetings of the joint board or committee. Thus, we may find control passing out of the hands of those who are the elected representatives of the public.

Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte

I beg to second the Amendment.

11.40 p.m.

Mr. Elliot

After some conversation with the hon. Members whose names are attached to this Amendment, I think I appreciate what they have in view. I sympathise with the point which they are putting, but I think the actual words proposed in the Amendment are not the most suitable, and I should like to draft other words which, I think, would more accurately ensure what we both desire. If my hon. Friends will withdraw this Amendment, I will give an undertaking to look into the matter before the Bill goes to another place, and do my best to see that words are there inserted which will carry out the purpose we have in view.

Sir J. Lamb

In view of the Minister's undertaking, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

11.41 p.m.

Mr. Herbert Morrison

As this Amendment, which involves an important principle, has been on the Paper for some time, I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have been ready with an Amendment which would have cleared up the matter. Now it will have to be dealt with in the other House, but I think it might have been dealt with here.

11.42 p.m.

Mr. Elliot

I can only speak again with the leave of the House. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I meant no discourtesy. A deputation from the Council Councils' Association came to see me this morning. I had at first intended to oppose the Amendment, but the arguments of the deputation converted me to their view. That is the only reason for what may seem to have been my discourtesy in not having put an Amendment on the Paper to-day.

Amendment negatived.