HC Deb 14 April 1967 vol 744 cc1574-6
Mr. Cordle

I beg to move Amendment No. 47, in page 17, line 39, to leave out from 'Monmouthshire' to the in line 40.

The Clause provides powers for the compulsory acquisition of land by local authorities for the purpose of Part III of the Bill. In England, excluding Monmouthshire, the Clause as now drafted makes the Minister of Housing and Local Government the confirming authority for compulsory purchase orders for the purposes of Clause 14—that is, the provision of refuse dumps—and the Minister of Transport for other purposes, notably the provision of places to store vehicles while the procedure prescribed in Clause 17 is being carried out prior to disposal.

The effect of the Amendment is to make the Minister of Housing and Local Government the confirming authority for all compulsory purchase orders in Part III in England, excluding Monmouthshire. The purpose is to avoid possible difficulties in submitting orders to two Ministers where, as will probably often be the case, the site provided for the purpose of Clause 14 will also ht- used for storing vehicles pending disposal.

Mr. Kimball

Part III empowers local authorities to provide refuse dumps so that the necessary arrangements can be made for dumping. Why will this not be allowed to happen in Monmouthshire? Is Monmouthshire in England or in Wales?

Dr. Dickson Mabon

Berwick-on-Tweed is in England, but it ought to be in Scotland. Monmouthshire is in England, but it ought to be in Wales. I am told that the reason for the exclusion of Monmouthshire is that we must not get confused between the confirming powers of the two Ministers concerned. In this case the Secretary of State for Wales is involved in the case of housing. To make the distinction absolutely clear, the writ of the Minister of Housing and Local Government extends to all of England less Monmouthshire. Unhappily, it still includes Berwick-on-Tweed, but I will not carry that matter further.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)

As a former Member for a constituency in Monmouthshire—

Mr. Cranky Onslow (Woking)

For three weeks.

Mr. Bell

For longer than that—I have always had considerable reservation about the question of Monmouthshire being lumped in with Wales for certain administrative purposes. Is it wise to do it here?

I expect the Minister of State knows the way in which this arose. It was because of the licensing laws. It became expedient to put the boundary east of the industrial and highly populated complex because of the manifest ease with which people could slip across the border from Glamorgan into Monmouth to have a drink on Sunday. Therefore, the administrative grouping of Monmouthshire with Wales began to grow up.

It does not seem to me that, because there is an obvious reason in relation to liquor licensing, it follows that it should become general administrative practice. I do not know whether the Amendment is precisely the chosen ground for canvassing this interesting issue, but here I am. I hear being discussed the proposed exclusion of Monmouthshire from the purview of the Minister of Housing and Local Government and putting it automatically, and without much thought, under the Secretary of State for Wales. This is the way things are happening nowadays.

I take this opportunity of registering my protest. That is almost too strong a word, because I know that opinions vary on this matter. Most of those in Monmouthshire do not think of themselves as being in Wales and do not want to think of Monmouthshire as a county of Wales. They are Gwent and very proud of being Gwent—something a bit different. The difference is marked appropriately by their being grouped with Wales for some purposes, such as the University of Wales and Monmouthshire, as it used to be called, and for liquor licensing, which is inevitable, and their being linked with England for other purposes.

I should have thought that the Bill dealt with just the kind of other matter for which Monmouthshire could be linked with England so as to give it this twilight characteristic between being a county of Wales and a county of England. I therefore suggest that second thoughts be given to the Amendment in the wider context which I am happy to have had the opportunity of raising.

Amendment agreed to.