HC Deb 04 August 1966 vol 733 cc685-7
Q10. Mr. Gwynfor Evans

asked the Prime Minister if he will introduce legislation to give an independent Parliament to Wales.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. Evans

In view of the fact that three candidates in the recent Carmarthen election who supported a Parliament for Wales were given 95 per cent. of the vote, in view of the appalling record of a long succession of London Governments in Wales, and as Wales as a nation has a moral right to self-government, will not the Prime Minister give this matter urgent consideration?

The Prime Minister

While no one will query the mandate which the hon. Gentleman received in his own constituency, I am not aware that there are any other hon. Members of this House who were elected under the same mandate. We should need more than one vote to carry through this particular legislation. I should, perhaps, also make it clear to the hon. Gentleman that whatever may be his disappointment with certain previous Governments from the Welsh point of view, he will, I think, be the first to acknowledge that a great deal has been done in the last two years in getting more and more industry established in Wales, as the facts and figures will testify.

Mr. James Griffiths

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the overwhelming majority of the Welsh people deeply appreciate that he has given fuller recognition to Wales than any previous Administration? Does my right hon. Friend agree that the best advice I could now give to my compatriot is to ask him to co-operate with the Secretary of State for Wales to bring about an effective reform of local government in Wales, including, if so desired, a Regional Council, rather than to chase will o'wisps?

The Prime Minister

I certainly agree with my right hon. Friend's remarks about local government. As to economic development in Wales, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade in the debate two days ago gave some very encouraging figures. I am not sure if the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) was in the House to hear the figures given by my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Will the Prime Minister accept that the people of Wales recognise that the future prosperity of that country lies in Wales being linked with the fortunes of the rest of the United Kingdom? Will he say why the present Government have consistently restricted debate on Welsh problems throughout this Parliament and why they have held up reports of vital interest to Wales?

The Prime Minister

I agree with the hon. Gentleman's first remarks. In regard to debates on Wales, my understanding is that the normal practice has been followed, but that, in addition, and in accordance with the principle of linking Wales with the rest of Britain in economic prosperity, Wales has played a very leading part in the debates on development areas and other economic matters in recent weeks. As to reports, if the hon. Gentleman will let me have particulars, I will certainly inquire into them.

Mr. J. Idwal Jones

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the people of Wales have not yet expressed their desire for a Parliament for Wales? Is he aware that, when the last petition in favour of a Parliament for Wales was submitted to Parliament, less than 10 per cent. of the people of Wales had signed it, and that, of the Welsh electorate, less than 13 per cent. had signed?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that information. I am also aware of the way in which Wales voted at the General Election.

Mr. Thorpe

If the Prime Minister is prepared to perpetuate a Tory rotten borough in a third of Ireland, why should he not be prepared to give an independent and proud nation its own Parliament? Surely—and I speak as one who has some Welsh blood in his veins—if we are to tolerate a Belfast Parliament, why should not the Welsh nation have its own Parliament as well?

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Gentleman wishes to put down specific Questions about Northern Ireland and Stormont which come within the jurisdiction of Her Majesty's Government at Westminster, I will do my best to answer them. However, I thought that the rest of his question represented a string of non sequiturs.

Several Hon. Members rose


Mr. Speaker

Order. Questions even on Wales must be short.