HC Deb 05 April 1965 vol 710 cc198-9

11.26 p.m.

Mr. David Gibson-Watt (Hereford)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Secretary of State for Wales and Minister of Land and Natural Resources Order 1965 (S.I., 1965, No. 319), dated 26th February 1965, a copy of which was laid before this House on 4th March, be annulled. I regret very much that we have not got longer time this evening in which to discuss this most important and highly complicated Order which makes, perhaps, one of the biggest changes ever known in the constitution and administrative position of the Principality of Wales, and I hope, Mr. Speaker, that within your powers you will consider, under Standing Order 100, that this matter could be further discussed on a future occasion.

My hon. Friends and I pray against this transfer of functions Order which, as I say, is highly complicated. My hon. Friends and I very much sympathise with those who have had the job of drafting this very difficult piece of legislation. We are particularly grateful to them, also, for the Explanatory Note which they have produced on page 17 and also for other help which they have given to the Opposition in looking into the problems of this complicated Order.

This Order produces a variety of legislation. It gives to the Secretary of State for Wales and the Minister of Land and Natural Resources powers which vary from roads to forestry, fire, gas and electricity, ribbon development, civil aviation, land drainage, burial, sewerage to food and drugs, to quote but a few. It is, if I may say so, a proper dog's breakfast, but it remains to be seen whether it is a breakfast which can be eaten by a Welsh corgi.

The spawning of this Order took place in the proper season, and I say this with intent because the right hon. Gentleman is now responsible under this Order for the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act, 1923. As I say, this Order was spawned in December, and it had some rather curious parents. Its parents were the Parliamentary Labour Party and they must have had a great deal of discussion about their future child whose birth was prematurely announced, not in the Western Mail or the South Wales Echo or any of the Welsh papers which we all know, but in the now famous pamphlet "Signposts to the New Wales". The trumpets sounded; the Secretary of State was heralded, and then, much to the parents' surprise, they held an election. Then they had to fulfil the promises which had been put in the pamphlet to which I have referred.

I will not over-elaborate what has already been said in the Welsh Grand Committee, but I will say that I hope it will be possible to continue the main part of my speech on another occasion. I regret very much that the Government put down the first Order when I believe that ours was already on the Order Paper. I fully appreciate that the Patronage Secretary may say that it is the Government's job to order the business of the House. This I accept—