HC Deb 22 April 1969 vol 782 cc386-421

Question again proposed.

Mr. Donnelly

I had almost forgotten what I was saying. Very few Governments appreciate the consequence of undermining confidence, and confidence is essential if one is to attract investment.

The first illustration that I give of the undermining of confidence I take from West Wales. It is the whole future of the railway lines west of Swansea. Some of these lines are grant-aided, but at the moment the grant aid is limited in period. The proposal being canvassed in certain quarters in British Railways, as the Government and hon. Gentlemen know, is that all the railway passenger services west of Swansea will have to be cut off unless the Government are prepared to make a contribution in excess of £300,000 a year. The cutting off of these services would be a monstrous disaster for the constituencies of Carmarthen and Cardigan and for my constituency.

It is all very well to talk about providing air services instead. These are all right for politicians whose fares are paid for them or a few tycoons, but they do not meet the needs of the thousands of people who need the passenger services in areas such as those. If this subsidy is not granted, I warn that the Government will have to pay far more in other forms of subsidy to attract industry to those areas and to meet the problems of unemployment there.

The problem is acute in a number of ways. A few moments ago I spoke about the unemployment figures. Let me give another illustration of the way in which things work, and of thow these areas are being debilitated. In our small way in Pembrokeshire my County Council gives about 1,000 further education grants a year. How many degree jobs can we offer in return? The answer is, perhaps three or four if we look outside the teaching profession, and about 10 or 20 in the teaching profession. In other words, by our efforts we are subsidising in microcosm the rest of the United Kingdom. We do not begrudge giving opportunities to our young people, but this poses problems which face almost every West Wales constituency in regard to their educational services, and it spotlights sharply the disparity between the kind of education that is being granted to our young people and the opportunities which are being made available for them. I do not want to be insular about this, but the problem remains, and we cannot ignore it.

There is another form of the undermining of confidence. The development of the port of Milford Haven has peen an achievement of considerable magnitude in the 10 years during which it has developed from being a rural backwater to being the fourth largest port in the United Kingdom. I think, Mr. Speaker, that it comes just after your constituency in terms of net registered tonnage of cargoes handled. But what is happening about this now? A new problem has arisen. There is the Government's proposal to nationalise the ports. I do not mind who owns the port of Milford Haven. It is a publicly-owned body now answerable to the Minister of Transport, but the point is that it has control over its own dues.

We have every disadvantage there in terms of distance from markets, and in terms of difficulties of transport. The one real advantage which we have is cheap deep water. The economic margins upon which this port operates are very narrow indeed. In terms of competitiveness between us and Rotterdam, or the proposed port at Cherbourg, the margin is about a halfpenny a barrel of oil handled, or 3½d. a ton. It is as fine as that. If there is any suggestion of an increase in dues, that port can cease to be economic in comparison with its European competitors.

It is significant that the Esso Petroleum Company started two oil refineries of similar character simultaneously in 1958, one at Milford Haven and one at Rotterdam. The Milford Haven refinery has remained static while the Rotterdam refinery has almost trebled. There have been ports with oil refineries in the past where a fractional change in harbour dues has rapidly affected the prospects, and the ports have been closed. Two examples are in the United States—at Boston and Baltimore. The oil refineries there were shut down for that reason.

We have a proposal for nationalisation. Ministers can give assurances that there will be no cross-subsidisation, but they are temporary Ministers. The question is whether there will be some future Minister who makes this sort of change possible or whether the port is to be given an autonomous position within the national framework. We are not arguing about who owns the port—it is a public body already—but I quote it as another illustration of jeopardising the attraction of investment.

There is a third aspect. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of what is being achieved in England in comparison with the greater achievements in Wales. I do not know about the statistics which he offered. I should like to study them more closely than I suspect he has studied them. But I point to one development which is the sort of thing that should not be happening.

The area of greatest economic activity in the United Kingdom is probably that around the North of London approximately to Bletchley and Buckingham. Yet the Government propose a new town there called Milton Keynes. The cost is estimated to be about £400 million. Every time £400 million of State effort is spent in that kind of area we in Wales have to spend about twice as much. That makes the problem far more serious. The Government's actions in one case may be laudable but in the other they are completely self-defeating. That £400 million should be spent in Wales, and it must be spent there unless we are prepared to spend later £800 million to make up for the fact that the £400 million is being spent in the London area.

What should be done? If we are to attract £1,000 million of capital investment to Wales in the next 10 or 15 years, we have to create conditions in which people can get a return on their money, and that means that the Welsh economy is tied inextricably to national prosperity and to the national tax structure. It is not my purpose to go into it in detail at this hour but the ancient incentives to work and invest have not changed all that much over the centuries. We shall not get that kind of investment in Wales unless those incentives are restored—and one of the most important incentives to investment is to make profits possible. We all know the sequence of industrial production—research, production, sales and then profits. Profits are merely tomorrow's surplus after yesterday's expenditure.

Any growth society in any country under any system must have profits. We have to make Wales a profit-conscious country and the Welsh people a profit-conscious people. If anyone doubts the validity to the Socialist doctrine of this proposition, I suggest that he sits at the feet of the Socialist Prime Minister of Singapore, who is in London.

Mr. Anderson

How does the hon. Gentleman square his call to make Wales a profit-conscious country with his demand, as a constituency interest, for a massive subsidy for the railway line from Swansea to West Wales?

Mr. Donnelly

I shall come to that, but allow me first to finish the point about the Prime Minister of Singapore. The Prime Minister of Singapore believes in having a 25 per cent. return on capital invested in Singapore and making this known to anyone who cares to invest in his small city State. That is the way to attract big developments to an area. I do not say that we should go as far as that in Wales, but we have to be very clear as to the need for having these incentives to attract investment.

The hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Anderson) asked if we are to be a profit-conscious country, why I proposed a subsidy for that railway line. The reason is that the port of Milford Haven is the finest port in the British Isles and a national asset.

Mrs. Ewing

Will the hon. Member give way?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Interventions prolong speeches and many other hon. Members wish to speak in the debate.

Mr. Donnelly

I was drawing to my conclusion. There is another aspect of the sort of thing we should be doing. That is simplifying our government. We have too much government; it is too centralised and too complicated. If we are to get incentives to develop, we have to simplify the whole structure of government in Wales and to bring it much nearer to the people so that they understand why decisions have to be made. This means radical changes in the whole governmental structure. I do not go as far as the hon. Member for Carmarthen because, like the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) and most other hon. Members, I think that it would be an absolute disaster for Wales and the Welsh people if we were to reduce to a chicken-run economy.

On the other hand, we need to simplify things. We need to take another look at the Government's proposals for local government reform. No one doubts the need for reform, but certain problems are posed. I read in the Press that the hon. Lady the Minister of State had a brush with the Lieutenant of Merionethshire the other day. I do not want to get involved in the details about that, but people in West Wales counties will be asked under these proposals to travel in some cases 100 miles in a day to attend a single meeting. This means that ordinary working people will not be eligible for candidatures for county councils in certain areas. Whatever that may be, it is not democracy. If we are to have effective democracy we have to bring local government into a much more local form.

I say to the Secretary of State that I should consider it most unwise to press ahead in defiance of obvious deeply-felt views of some West Wales counties. It would be extremely unwise to press ahead in advance of the Maud Royal Commission. On page 10 of the Green Paper we read that the Secretary of State will be available for new representations following the Maud Royal Commission. If it comes out with any very different recommendations our proposals for West Wales will look antediluvian.

10.13 p.m.

Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)

We hear the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) so infrequently that I was wondering whether it might be my duty to congratulate him on making a maiden speech. In any case I would not proceed with the other part of the formula by saying that we look forward to hearing him again. All of us on this side of the House are glad to see him now sitting in his proper place with hon. Members opposite, although there is not any noticeable enthusiasm being shown by hon. Members opposite.

The question which has dominated the debate since the Secretary of State spoke has rightly been the general economic development of Wales. There is a balance which has to be struck between the claims of my right hon. Friend and some of the other more general factors which affect Wales as they affect the rest of the country. It is perfectly true that the Government can well claim that their measures of special assistance for Wales have been substantial, and that without them the situation would have been catastrophic. But that does not alter the fact that the series of deflations which the Government have carried out in the economy as a whole is bound to have had its effect on Wales generally, as it has on the rest of the country, particularly on the rate of unemployment, which none of us regards as something that can be accepted at the present level. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State does not dissent from that.

Mr. George Thomas

I said so.

Mr. Foot

I understand that, but I believe it is essential, in order to have the full advantage of the discriminations which Wales has had as a development area and in the special areas within the development area, that those protections and discrimination should be maintained throughout the next period of boom. It development area advantages are to be removed or diminished at a time when the economy is expanding at the full pace that we all hone and expect in the next few years, we would forfeit some of the advantages from it.

Therefore, although I do not wish to appear parochial in any references to the Hunt Committee and its possible effects, I think that those who come from places in Wales which have the heaviest unemployment have every right to insist that those discriminations should not be removed at the very time when they could be most advantageous. I do not accept the gloom and doom of the hon. Member for Pembroke. Compared with him, the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) is a positive ray of sunshine. I do not accept any of the prophecies of doom; we have heard them before. But it is correct—indeed, it is a platitude, though the hon. Gentleman pronounces it as if he has just discovered something original—that we must have heavy investment in the future. However, I do not see why we should not therefore pay tribute to the heavy investment we have had during the past few years.

The actions the Government have taken in their regional policy deserve every commendation. What I ask them to do—and I am sure that the Secretary of State will be the first to try to secure this—is that the protections in the development areas shall be sustained over the years ahead, and that their strength, force and effectiveness shall not be diminished.

The second topic that I would like to touch on has already been referred to by my hon. Friends the Members for Aberdare (Mr. Probert) and Rhondda, East (Mr. G. Elfed Davies) and some other hon. Members. It is the whole question of the development of new towns and the planning of South Wales and Wales as a whole. This is more and more the subject which is forcing itself to the very forefront of our considerations.

Those of us who come from valley towns and speak for heads of the valley constituencies are, of course, advancing a constituency interest, and are not pretending to do anything other than that. But we also have the right to claim that the whole question of looking at the South Wales development in a proper light reinforces our general claim. If the Secretary of State examines some of the later findings now being produced on the whole concept of new towns and comprehensive development, he will find that many of the most up-to-date experts are now turning more and more against the idea of comprehensive developments and new towns as opposed to the idea of developing the older areas and introducing and intertwining the fresh developments into the older areas.

The valley towns are places where this can be done on a scale which has not yet been reached or appreciated. It would be an absurdity if hundreds of millions of pounds were spent in trying to build new Stevenages or new Hemel Hempsteads in Wales, when what we need to do is to ensure that we preserve, enhance and embellish the communities that we already have in Wales.

Economically that is a much better proposition, certainly culturally it is a much better proposition, and on grounds of transport and communications, and all of these other matters which are being studied by regional planners, it is to be seen that they are coming down on that side of the fence. I plead with my right hon. Friend not to proceed with plans for a comprehensive development such as the Severnside scheme—although I know that there are many who advocate it on this side of the House—not to proceed with that form of development or the new town development, until they have properly studied the whole of the new possibilities, the new perspectives and new ideas that are being advanced about the proper form of regional development.

It is most horrifying to have to agree with the hon. Member for Pembroke, but I agree with him in that I believe we are being pushed or are drifting towards an extremely difficult position over local government. When the Secretary of State produced his White Paper some of us engaged in arguments in our constituencies, or in districts adjoining ours, arguing in favour of many of the proposals and securing agreement for them, sometimes against considerable difficulties. Having once secured the agreement it takes no imagination to understand the frustration when nothing happens, when there is the decision but when people have to wait for years afterwards.

That is what is happening in many parts of Wales. I know that some of my hon. Friends do not want to see the changes anyway, and I can appreciate that. In most places where changes have been advocated and agreement has been sought, it has been extremely frustrating when nothing has happened. This has been the case in my own constituency, and in neighbouring constituencies, for instance in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (Mr. Clifford Williams). There is a very strong feeling that they would like to proceed with the reforms as speedily as possible. That is a very healthy attitude, it is not the attitude of people who do not want change. I may be guessing, but I believe it to be a fact that one of the reasons for the delay in proceeding with these proposals is that we are now awaiting suggestions or propositions about what is to happen about the reform of local government in England.

In some respects that is unavoidable, but it might have been avoided before if we had been able to get the momentum, if we had got plans into operation before the English proposals came forward. We are not in that situation now, and we have to face the question of local government again. I know that everyone has different ideas about this, and that it is easy to make suggestions which merely cause confusion. We cannot proceed on the basis of Wales merely holding back and waiting for a statement about England without any information as to what our policy is to me. I say this with the greatest diffidence, because I know that many of my hon. Friends have a greater familiarity than I with these subjects, but the more I look at the subject the more I believe that the alterations in our proposals for Wales will have to be radical.

If we have a situation in which elected regional governments are proposed for England, it will be quite impossible to avoid a proposal for an elected council for Wales. It is inconceivable that such a development would be possible without a similar development in Wales. I used to take a somewhat different view, but the more I have listened to the arguments the more I have been persuaded that we must now make up our minds to accept the idea of an elected council for Wales, to accept it openly, fully and legally, because that is the only way to do a big thing, if we are to do it at all. If we accept that, it has repercussions on the rest of the local government plan. I am not saying that the whole proposals previously put forward should be torn up. That would be a great waste of effort and a great pity. But, if there is to be an elected council for Wales, the rôle of the county councils will be diminished.

Mr. Probert

Why not?

Mr. Foot

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Probert) asks "why not?" and I entirely agree with him, because it can start from the other end. For district councils to be told that there will be larger and larger district councils with fewer and fewer powers is an absurdity. The only solution of the problem that makes sense is to agree to the elected council, to do so bravely and boldly and agree to have the district councils with full powers. That means a radical alteration of the whole concept of the county councils and that they would have to be abandoned.

Local government is of paramount importance. Nobody doubts that the interim position inhibits, among other things, industrial development. I hope that the Secretary of State, with his colleagues, and no doubt with all the members of the Welsh Parliamentary Party and hon. Members on this side of the House, when the proposals for England are published and are available to the Government, will reconsider the matter in this light, and see how speedliy he is able to present to us and to Wales a new plan—not a plan that tears up everyhting that has been done in the past, but one which accepts the idea that there will have to be radical alterations. That is not a criticism either of him or of his predecessors, some of whom may have foreseen these developments better than we have done. I am not claiming foresight, but I am urging my hon. Friends to look at the matter in this light.

There are several other problems which we should all like to discuss and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare has said, that is one problem about Welsh debates, but, finally, I would mention the problem of sheep. I am making no political reference. If my right hon. Friend will accept some of the representations that have been made about this, introduced the legislation which we have asked for and solve the sheep problem, then we will give him an investiture all of his own at Caernarvon, much better than the one which is forthcoming.

10.27 p.m.

Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)

The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) said that he was horrified by the thought that he might have to agree with the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), but he and I have in recent weeks occasionally been able to agree on certain other matters. I agree with some of the things he has said, and I entirely agree with him about new towns. I am certain that it is better to redevelop, enlarge and build on the existing town structure and to go right outside it. I have slightly different ideas about local government, which I shall come to in a moment.

I do not think the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) is still with us—what a bore he is!

Mrs. Ewing

On a point of order. The hon. Member for Carmarthen is not with us, but so are a great many other hon. Members not with us. Is it in order to be selective?

Mr. Speaker

I am not seized of the hon. Lady's point of order. Perhaps she will repeat it.

Mrs. Ewing

I am asking whether it is in order in a derogatory way to be selective in suggesting who is and who is not in the Chamber. If this is the manner of the House, it is not fitting to the dignity of the House that this procedure should be followed.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Lady by now should have learnt that this is a House where criticism is made and criticism is taken.

Mr. Birch

I was under the impression that it was in order to refer to somebody who had spoken in a debate, and I was just saying what a bore the hon. Member for Carmarthen was. He suggests everything that would be utterly ruinous to the economy of Wales and then says that we should get it all back by selling water to the English. One can do well out of beer and whisky and many people have, but water! As many hon. Members have pointed out, many rivers are shared and the atomic desalination of water has reached a point where it is not likely that one would be able to screw much money for water out of anybody, so that is a non-runner.

The Secretary of State took credit for some road developments and I am delighted to have them, particularly in North Wales and especially that which most affects my constituency, the St. Asaph bypass, which is the continuation of a road constructed many years before the war. The very first letter I received when I became the Member for Flint-shire in 1945, then the whole of Flint-shire, was from someone asking whether I thought that his house would be knocked down in the near future in order to make way for the St. Asaph bypass. I wrote to the then Socialist Minister of Transport to ask whether this would happen and he replied that he did not think that it was imminent. I still have the letter and I am thinking of having it framed as a really true answer from a Labour Minister.

I now turn to the subject of local government, which both the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and the hon. Member for Pembroke have mentioned. This issue has been going on for an appallingly long time. Some months ago, we had an all-day debate on it in the Welsh Grand Committee when there was a fairly general feeling that we ought to get on with it without bothering too much about the English Royal Commission. All development is held up, because no one knows where he is. Personally, I supported the two-county solution for North Wales, which is where the major changes would be effected. I think that the Government reached the right conclusion in that respect, but we cannot get on in North Wales because we do not know where we are.

The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale asked what was to happen to the district councils. I do not know the experience of other hon. Members who represent Welsh constituencies, but I find that while there is no great objection to the amalgamation of district councils, there is objection to the deprivation of powers. They all say that as they are now much bigger organisations, they ought to have much bigger responsibilities, but they are to have powers which are not much more than those of a parish council.

I cannot help feeling that that situation is wrong. The larger the county unit is, the more responsibility should be delegated to district councils, Perhaps that over-states the case, but certainly powers should not be taken from the district councils in respect of things which vitally affect the lives and interests of the people who live in the districts. We hear much about participation; this is saying, "We govern, you participate". That is not something likely to attract people. I beg the Secretary of State to do two things—to carry through his major alterations of county council boundaries and not to deprive amalgamated district councils of all their powers, all their authority, all their rights.

I turn now to the effect of the Budget on Wales, a subject which has hardly been mentioned. The major thing in many parts of Wales is the increase in Selective Employment Tax, particularly in the grey areas waiting for Hunt. Where are the beds in the hotels in Wales? They are mostly in parts of Wales which are not part of the Welsh development area. Not only do we have this savage increase in S.E.T., but we have the tax on sheets, blankets, curtains, fabrics and everything else.

Mr. Anderson

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the North Wales hoteliers will get a mammoth, buckshee, tax-free Government help because of the Investiture, which will more than offset any budgetary imposition they have to face?

Mr. Birch

I have been told that I have to stay in Caernarvon for the Investiture. I had hoped to come from my home in North Wales. But we will not have an Investiture every year.

I understand that this tax is intended by the Government as a great social measure that is likely to continue. With abject respect, the hon. Gentleman's point is not a powerful one. It affects a great part of the hotel industry in South Wales. I understand that the effect of the tax on the hotel industry will be to take away more than any amount the industry might get through the Development of Tourism Bill which is having trouble going through the House. Is it a sensible way to proceed to give something with one hand and to take rather more away with the other? That is what maddens people about the sort of things that are going on now.

Agriculture has not been discussed at great length. Farmers do not pay S.E.T. for agricultural employees, but they have to give a tax-free loan to the Government. I understand that the N.F.U. has worked out that it amounts to about £125 per man. The Agricultural Mortgage Corporation is, I believe, about to fail in floating a loan, even though it is a 9½ per cent. loan at 99. We must consider the desperate level of interest rate and what this means to farmers, especially as so many are going over to beef and will have to borrow more money if they have to lend money to the Government as well. One of the dottiest things about S.E.T. which has struck me is the administratively clumsy way in which people have to lend this money to the Government.

I had many oratorical jewels prepared for the debate, but we were held up by the forces of unreason. Therefore, I will not detain the House longer.

We all agree that it is of the greatest importance to increase agricultural production, as the Minister rightly said, before he was blown off course. But I cannot believe that we have got what we need unless we have the import levy system, because the only other way of increasing agricultural production is by increasing Government expenditure, and we will not get it out of the Treasury. It can be done the other way. That is the way that we ought to do it in the best interests of Wales.

That is all I have to say. I trust that many other hon. Members will enjoy the debate.

10.40 p.m.

Mr. Harold Finch (Bedwellty)

One cannot but be impressed with the Report on Welsh affairs, Cmnd. 3930, which we are discussing. It covers a wide range of activity, including the industrial, social and cultural life of our community. It surpasses anything that we have had before and I congratulate my right hon. Friend and the Welsh Office on what they have achieved in the last year.

Almost daily we hear of a new factory or industry being established in the Principality. I agree that this trend is not yet coping with the problems arising from pit closures, but Wales is being transformed in a remarkable way, particularly when one realises that the Welsh Office has been in operation for only three years. Listening to hon. Gentlemen opposite, one would imagine that the Welsh Office had been in existence for 10 or 15 years. It has achieved a great deal in so short a time. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite imagine that it could have provided jobs for everybody in three years?

I admit that problems remain and that there is no room for complacency. However, many of these problems result from the changing pattern of industry, a pattern which, apart from certain areas of the North-East and Scotland, has not been experienced elsewhere. These problems arise from growth and advancement and not from stagnation and decay.

Why has so much of this discussion been about roads? My right hon. Friend has reported great achievements in road improvements in Wales. They have not been sufficient, simply because of the rapid rate at which new factories are being established in the Principality. Industrialists are demanding better road communications. As our roads are improved, more factories are established and, in turn, still better roads are needed. For example, in my constituency, which my right hon. Friend knows well, South Wales Switchgear and Johnson and Johnson have established factories. This is why the roads in the valleys are becoming congested, particularly in the development areas.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will use his influence to obtain more money from the Government for the improvement of road communications. Many industrialists with whom I have spoken have told me that factory sites in the Principality are good, that the manpower is available but that they begin to have misgivings when they examine the roads.

The same story applies to housing. My right hon. Friend has shown that more houses than ever before have been built as a result of the establishment of the Welsh Office and its activities. Some of the firms which are establishing themselves in the Principality are bringing in staff from London and Birmingham, and they want housing in the urban areas of South Wales. Some key workers wish to buy their own homes. Others have made representations to local authorities for housing to be provided. We are now told that local authorities are to be seriously restricted in their quotas of loans in special development areas. I ask my right hon. Friend to do all that he can to assist urban authorities where the demand for housing for key workers so very great as a result of the establishment of industry in South Wales.

Our troubles in South Wales and the unemployment figures which hon. Members opposite refer to so often are due largely to pit closures. Although the Minister of Power has said that the rate of closures is to be slowed, they are still taking place, and in areas where pits have already been closed. Penallta is likely to go. This pit is only a few miles from Nine Mile Point, Wyllie and Risca, which have already been closed. This is causing much hardship.

This is one of the problems which the Welsh Council is tackling. I understand that the Council seeks to determine the social consequences of pit closures and makes representations to the Minister of Power. Where the social consequences are very great, the Council will try to persuade the Minister to defer the closure. Although the Council engages in these deliberations, we, who are elected by the people, know nothing about it. Nothing is said. I am surprised that this excellent Report from the Welsh Office contains only one and a half pages concerning the Welsh Council. This disturbs me. It makes me wonder about other such Councils. Who are they responsible to? I take it that they are responsible to some Minister, but they do not seem to be accountable to Parliament. What is the Welsh Council doing? What does it recommend to the Minister of Power about pit closures? I see that it has set up an Industry and Communications Panel which is composed of people with vast experience of industry. We do not know what recommendations it is making to the Minister.

A serious position is arising in the South Wales pits. The Coal Board has ordered that stocks of coal must be cleared. The coal is being loaded on to wagons, but the wagons are not being moved from the pits. The fresh coal coming up from the pits cannot be put into wagons. It has to be put into lorries which have to be hired locally at much expense. The wagons have been loaded from stock. The coal must be re-dumped at a high cost to the Board. I was told by the Ministry of Transport that this was a matter for British Railways. Who will answer our questions on this subject?

I understood that the Minister of Transport was responsible for British Railways, but we cannot get an answer on this matter. This is increasing the cost of producing coal at a time when miners in South Wales are increasing their productive capacity. It is disappointing to colliery managers, to colliery agencies, and to all those engaged in the mining industry to see these loaded wagons standing there and the coal being dumped into lorries. This is costing the N.C.B. a considerable amount of money, and I should like to know just how much this adds to the cost of producing coal. We are told that coal must be competitive in price. What is happening is not the fault of the miners, but of British Railways, and we can get no answer from any source, either inside the House or outside it. I have spoken to the Minister of Transport about this, and I think that she should give us an answer.

The time has come to establish in Monmouthshire the training centre that we were promised a long time ago. There are many redundant miners in Wales, and the need for this centre has become paramount. I hope that when my right hon. Friend replies to the debate she will give some information about what progress has been made with this training centre.

I am glad that my right hon. Friend has taken over the Health Service in Wales. I am sure that he will bring a fresh outlook to bear on our health services, and I look forward to some improvement in them. The hospital waiting lists in Wales are tragically long. I know that the Chairman of the Welsh Hospital Board shares my view. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to do something to reduce the waiting lists. Hundreds of people in Monmouthshire are waiting to go into the Royal Gwent Hospital. They are suffering from all sorts of complaints, and the position is becoming serious.

There is a need to establish health centres in Monmouthshire. Doctors in certain parts of Wales have been reluctant to agree to the setting up of these centres, but doctors in Monmouthshire agree that they should be established, and we shall be very grateful if my right hon. Friend can speed up the activities of the local authorities in getting these centres set up.

The figures show that at 1st April of this year 41,313 disabled people were unemployed in Wales, and it is admitted that there has been very little change in the situation from the previous year. Many of these men were employed in the mining industry. Many of them are suffering from pneumoconiosis. They need not only training, but a suitable job after they have been trained.

I am critical of one aspect of the S.E.T. It should not be Government policy to impose this tax on disabled people in the service industries. Many disabled men could seek employment in these industries, but employers will not be encouraged to employ them if by so doing they have to pay this extra tax. I hope that my right hon. Friend will use his influence to help these disabled people in the service industries. Those who employ these men should not have to pay this tax. I hope my right hon. Friend will bear this in mind.

The right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) and my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) referred to the need to get on with local government reorganisation. In the main, the local authorities are anxious that this should be proceeded with. They have seen and studied the reports. There are differences of opinion, but they are asking continually when the Government intend to bring forward the necessary legislation, which itself will take some time in Parliament. We hope that the Government will be able to announce in the near future what progress they are making with local government reorganisation. Discussions have been going on a long time and I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister of State will be able to tell us that it will not be much longer before local government is reorganised.

I must compliment the Welsh Office on what it has achieved. I have been critical of certain aspects but, by and large, it has achieved a great deal in the last 12 months. It is bringing new life to the valleys of South Wales. I am sure that, in the next few years, the valleys will be quite different from what they were when so dependent on the coal, tin plate and steel industries. Great changes are taking place because of the efforts of the Welsh Office and I urge my right hon. Friend and all others in the Department to proceed with the task as quickly as possible.

But, of course, so much depends on the general economy. We need more and more economic expansion. Wales cannot be left outside the general position of the United Kingdom. Given this expansion, I am sure that the Welsh Office will grasp the opportunity and bring more and more life and industry to South Wales which we so desire.

10.57 p.m.

Sir Brandon Rhys Williams (Kensington, South)

I am grateful for this opportunity to intervene in the debate and I shall confine myself at this late hour to two subjects, both of which have been referred to by many hon. Members. The first is the Buchanan Plan for urban development and prospects in Llantrisant and the other is the motorway extension to Bridgend. I welcome the statement by the Secretary of State about the extension and I hope that his predictions as to timing will prove correct.

I should declare my interests. The line of the motorway extension affects land owned by me, and the Buchanan Report suggests that everything I own in Glamorgan—house and land—should be taken into the new town. I do not, however, think that I am affected by that in what I am going to say because I do not yet fully understand the implications of the Report. I should also say that for 10 years or more I have been one of the freemen's elected representatives on the Town Trust of Liantrisant and I am proud of my association with the old town. I am sorry that the Secretary of State is not here, because I think he would recognise that I am wearing a Black Army tie.

These two subjects are closely interrelated because those who have studied the Buchanan proposals will have been struck by the fact that the line of the motorway is to go through the middle of the proposed new town if it is built in the area recommended. It is, therefore, crucial to the future of urban growth in Llantrisant that the line of the motorway and, in particular, the siting of the junction with the Llantrisant by-pass which is already under construction—should be settled in a way which takes account of what may be coming in perhaps a few years' time in the way of urban and industrial development.

I know that everybody associated with Llantrisant is proud of its recent rapid growth and is delighted that it will grow still further. We were a borough in 1346. Because of the decline in population, we had our borough status taken away in 1883. I hope that we can now look forward to a real prospect of great urban and industrial development in Llantrisant. Certainly, I want to associate myself with the idea of Llantrisant as a growth point. I consider, however, that the motorway should be the southern boundary of the town. In this respect, I feel distinctly uneasy about the recommendations in the Buchanan Report.

There appears to be no reason whatever why the line of the motorway should not be moved considerably to the south of the proposed line, which was prospected, I believe, during the war. There is no serious objection at this time to the line of the motorway being changed so as to bring in 3,000, perhaps 5,000, acres of land suitable for urban development—indeed, that has been recommended as such by Buchanan. If that were done, it would, I believe, be possible for the entire Liantrisant development to be kept completely separate from the Vale of Glamorgan by the motorway. After the plan has been in existence for so many years, however, there is a natural reluctance by those engaged in the construction of the motorway to make any changes at this stage. The Welsh Office has an opportunity which it ought not to neglect to come in now, not to delay, but to integrate the plans for the motorway and for the new town, and to do it promptly.

I read with dismay in the Report for 1968, under the heading "New Towns" on page 5, that The Secretary of State recognised, however, that because of issues yet to be resolved, such as those depending on the Severnside and Liantrisant studies, it would be inopportune to make firm and long-term proposals. With respect, I disagree with that conclusion. This is precisely the time when we want firm, long-term proposals from the Secretary of State.

I pay particular tribute to the staff of the Welsh Office, the Glamorgan County Council, Llantrisant Rural District Council and of Professor Buchanan, who have advised me from time to time informally about the way that the Llantrisant plans were proceeding. I have grave doubts, however, about the Buchanan Report as published. These issues must be resolved before we finalise the route of the South Wales motorway.

I do not want to dilate at length on the objections which can be raised, and which, indeed, have been raised, by a number of people besides myself to the conclusions of the Report. Briefly, however, they are these. The population target of 145,000 people by the end of the century is significantly too high and is not only unrealistic, but is likely to prove damaging, as other hon. Members have said, to urban districts round about. It is, I think, a mistake that the area specified for the new town excludes Beddau and Tonyrefail in the north; that it straddles the motorway and, to the south, reaches down almost to the villages of Ystradowen, Pendoylan and St. Brides. It has also been pointed out in the Report that, as planned, Llantrisant new town will reach to within two miles of Cardiff. This seems to me to be a serious mistake.

If £400 million is to be spent on Llantrisant alone, it is vital to consider the future of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire as a whole in studying this recommendation. The future of Llantrisant new town should not be decided by the road-builders, the minor local authorities or the county councils, nor even by the consultants. The responsibility rests squarely on the Welsh Office and, in particular, on the Secretary of State. I hope that in considering the Buchanan Report he is going to consider the status and the nature of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire as a residential, cultural, industrial and commercial unit in the 21st century. Anything less would be falling below the needs of South Wales. He should consider the whole area from Barry to Llanwern as a single urban area, taking in Cardiff and Newport, and also Caerphilly, Llantrisant and Cwmbran.

This presents him with a very great challenge, but nevertheless I hope that he will tackle it. He has got to think of the pull of Bristol; about the need in South Wales for a modern seaport as modern as Rotterdam and ultimately able to handle—I hope—the same sort of traffic; about the development in South Wales of an airport capable of handling modern aircraft such as the Concorde; he has got to think also of a cultural centre able to make a worthy Celtic capital.

I believe that if we can plan for a self-sufficient nucleus of population in the Cardiff area, highly organised and integrated, we shall be able to look outwards at the world. We shall not simply become a disintegrated group of scattered urban communities without quality or ambition.

I know that the coming of the motorway will bring into South Wales undreamed of volumes of traffic, and that the fashion of the moment when contemplating rapid increases in traffic volume is to go for dispersal; but I ask the Secretary of State not to capitulate to this fashion because I think it will be disastrous for South Wales if he does so. In particular, I hope he will reject the policy of keeping Cardiff small. I am sorry the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. E. Rowlands) is not here, because he spoke extremely eloquently on this point.

In brief, the Secretary of State has an opportunity here to prove himself, to prove his capacity for a big vision of the future of South Wales, and to prove his personal force and his capacity for detailed planning. I trust that he will rise to it, that he has the vision and has it clearly, and I wish him every possible success in carrying it through.

11.8 p.m.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mrs. Eirene White)

I think it might be for the general convenience of the House if I intervened at this point, although some hon. Members may wish to continue the debate later. It was generally agreed that I should rise at this time. We have had an extremely interesting debate, but this is customary on these days when we consider the state of the Principality.

A great many different points have been raised, and I think I can only say to hon. Members in all parts of the House that we will endeavour to deal with them by correspondence. Although they are of great interest and importance to the constituencies of hon. Members, I do not think we can be expected to answer every one of them on this occasion.

At the opening of this debate, I had very much in mind the speech we heard earlier on from the new hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin). It struck me most forcibly that the quality of that speech, apart from the natural eloquence of the speaker, indicated the way in which people speak when they have really acute grievances to complain about, and that the tone of the speech which we had, for example, from the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) indicates all too clearly that the grievances about which he is complaining are of a very different category, and on a very different plane, from those grievances which afflict people in Northern Ireland.

We have had a number of themes going through the debate, and I will try to touch upon the principal ones. My right hon. Friend opened his remarks by drawing to the attention of the House the increased responsibilities which have now come to the Welsh Office. I am sure we all welcome the extended scope of the responsibility of the Secretary of State, and I am personally particularly concerned with those which refer to the health and welfare services. I have therefore been very much interested in the comments made during the debate, more particularly on the hospital services.

I ask hon. Members to reflect on the fact that we are taking over these very important responsibilities at a time when there are some extremely complex problems to be resolved. There are the problems at local level more particularly consequent upon the general policy of concentrating hospital services in the future, rather more than in the past, on district or base hospitals, with obviously very difficult considerations for the existing hospitals—what might be called the peripheral or intermediate hospitals—which will be affected by the growth of these new facilities. We had one particular instance drawn once more to our attention—not that we are exactly unfamiliar with it—that of the casualty unit at Llwynypia. We have to look at the whole conspectus of hospital provision in Wales.

I should like to take this opportunity of paying tribute to the Chairman of the Welsh Hospital Board who is undertaking most devoted work in the reorganisation of the hospital service and is taking immense pains in meeting local authorities, organisations and staff in parts of the Principality which are affected by reorganisation. I am sure he will do so in other places as reorganisation may become necessary there.

It is very important that hon. Members who have constituencies in which hospital reorganisation may come about should do their very best to meet those concerned with the reorganisation, and learn as much as they can of the reasons for the reorganisation so that they can be in a better position to advise those who are naturally emotionally involved in this subject. I know, for example, that in North Monmouthshire at present there is acute feeling on this matter. I know this particularly because I have personal connections with that part of the world. All I am saying is that we must try to strike a balance between the scientific needs of modern medicine and the important social needs of the communities concerned. I assure hon. Members that we in the Welsh Office will be very glad to discuss with them any problems that may arise on hospital reorganisation.

I should also like to emphasise the tremendous problems which we have inherited owing to the almost complete lack of new hospital building over so many years in the Principality under the Conservative Administration. We are now having to make up in the hospital programme for 10 years of neglect. It was only in the last few years of their administration that hospital building in Wales reached any substantial proportions. It is partly because of this backlog that we are facing acute problems, not least, as we are all well aware, in the hospitals for the mentally sick and mentally subnormal.

I should like by way of encouragement to point out that since the inception of the Health Service in 1949—just 20 years ago—the number of patients dealt with in hospitals in Wales has risen from 150,000 to 288,000 last year. In spite of all the extra pressures and the great difficulties about waiting lists in certain places, for example, in the Royal Gwent, waiting lists have been reduced by 25 per cent. and the number of out-patients seen has been increased by more than half although the number of accident cases has almost doubled. The amount of work done in Welsh hospitals has increased enormously and the effective use of hospital beds has also almost doubled. This we should remember and pay tribute to hospital staffs even at times when we may be faced with difficult local problems.

I should very much like to mention other questions which arise in the social services but time prevents this. The right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) was particularly concerned about housing starts. He cast some doubt on progress made there, but we have had an absolute record of house building in the last three years. Now the problem is beginning to change and it is the quality of housing in Wales which causes much more concern than actual numbers of houses built. We have far too large a proportion of sub-standard houses. Largely to deal with that problem, the Government introduced the Bill which is now going through the House. Those of us who have been in this House for a long time can speak from personal experience of far fewer people coming to our "surgeries" with housing problems than we had even two or three years ago.

We have heard a great deal tonight about new towns. Only in the last few weeks my right hon. Friend received the Buchanan Report. This will need most careful study before any decisions are reached on it. There will have to be consultations with all the local authorities and other interests concerned. I am certain that my right hon. Friend will wish to take due time before reaching any firm conclusions.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

Will the hon. Lady allow me—

Mrs. White

I think not. The hon. Member had ample time to develop his argument. He has a close local interest, but there will be other occasions when he can discuss it.

As "Wales, the Way Ahead" made abundantly clear, we are deeply concerned with the quality of life in the valleys of South Wales. We have had some very eloquent speeches about this.

I assure my hon. Friends that we in the Welsh Office are deeply sympathetic to their plea for sustaining the quality of life of the valleys. That does not mean that we cannot have some industrial and other development elsewhere—of course we must—but all of us with personal knowledge of the valleys recognise the richness of community life there. I assure hon. Members that my right hon. Friend, my hon. Friend and I are as dedicated to the future of the valleys as is any hon. Member.

We have also had reference to the more rural parts of Wales. I was not able to hear all the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), but I have been informed of the main points he made. He naturally made special pleas for the smaller farmers. I remind him that altogether in the last 10 years £6 million has been injected in small farms economy in Wales. We have heard, as usual, comments about the Rural Development Board. I firmly believe that the hon. Member for Carmarthen will find in due course that the farmers in his constituency will deeply regret that they have been left out of the benevolent activities of the Rural Development Board, and that conversely the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery will find that his constituents rejoice. We shall wait and see which of us proves to be right. I am confident. I am not normally a person who indulges in gambling, but I would take a fairly handsome bet on this.—[An HON. MEMBER: "How much?"]—I would have to consult my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo), who is my adviser on my infrequent excursions into the betting world.

There has been some reference, though not as much as I would have expected, to one of the growth industries of Wales—tourism. I am particularly glad that we are to have a statutory tourist board for Wales. But the body which we already have working in the Principality, with the assistance of the Government, has carried out an extremely interesting analysis of the present tourist industry in Wales, and the facts brought out would not have come to light but for this Government-assisted research.

We can go very much further in tourism in Wales, but we need a far greater consciousness among Welsh people themselves of the real possibilities of tourism. I think that it is true, as the Director of the Wales Tourist Board is apt to say, that we are still too much inclined to regard tourism as a by-product, an occupation partly for amateurs. It was very significant that the analysis indicated that in other parts of the United Kingdom, such as Devon and Cornwall, visitors spend about 50 per cent. per head more than they spent in Wales. That is a challenge to us, to catch up with the South-West by providing adequate facilities for visitors and so induce them to spend more and add to our incomes.

I thought that I heard someone murmur "caravans". It is largely true that in some parts of Wales we place too great a reliance on caravans and too little on well-run hotels and guest houses.

We have also had some discussion today about the problems of local government reform. It is true that the Department has been discussing this for some time. We have had consultations, which are continuing. I am very sorry that there has been a tendency in the past few weeks—and this was echoed in the House by the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) among others—to suggest that my right hon. Friend's proposals involved some reduction in powers for district councils. This is not so. To talk about their being reduced to the level of parish councils is absolute nonsense, because they will retain all the powers now enjoyed by district councils, including such very important powers as those of housing authorities. It was made clear the other day that the only power which it had been contemplated might be transferred to the county councils was that of rating authorities. But in view of all the arguments put forward against such a transfer my right hon. Friend came to the conclusion that that power—the only one which had been under discussion for possible transfer—would remain with the district councils. I hope that, whatever else one may think on this matter, at least we shall not have this misrepresentation bandied about.

We are concerned about the whole future pattern of local government. It was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) that all would be solved if we had an elected Welsh council. There are strong and cogent arguments for that, and there are other arguments against it. It was made clear in the White Paper on this matter that possible changes in the structure and powers of the Welsh council were open to consideration, and that remains so. It is also true that my right hon. Friend has given an assurance to the local authority associations that they would have the opportunity of seeing what was proposed by the Royal Commission under Lord Redcliffe-Maud. We have been waiting rather a long time for that, and I can assure the House that we are just as impatient as anyone else.

We are disappointed that we have not yet had that report, because it has had the effect of slowing up some decisions on the Welsh pattern. We are now at least within sight of receiving the report. No one will be happier than the Ministers in the Welsh Office when we are able to bring Welsh local government reorganisation to some definitive conclusion. I have tried to touch on most subjects of major interest in the non-economic area of the debate.

I want now to mention matters concerning the economic basis of our society in Wales, which is of great importance to all of us. I undertook to say something about a matter of very special concern in areas where the basic industries are either slowing down or are using less manpower, as in steel, for technological reasons. Training and re-training are of particular importance to us in Wales, and we have a good record. Of the greatest importance is the training undertaken within industry. We have 28 industrial training boards in Wales, covering between 600,000 and 700,000 employees. We are also making good progress with group training schemes, of which there are now 24 in Wales, and more are planned. We have a reasonably satisfactory picture there.

We are also much concerned with the training centres established by the Government. Since we had our last Welsh debate, the third training centre in Wales has been opened, at Port Talbot, and our capacity for training in G.T.C.s is now approaching 1,500 trainees a year. A fourth centre, to be at Wrexham, is now under construction and should be in operation by the end of this year, we hope, or at the latest, by early 1970. I am conscious that it is some while since, at this Box, I referred to the fifth training centre, in West Monmouthshire.

We have been under considerable, and understandable, pressure about progress here, but it has been entirely due to physical difficulties in an area of mining subsidence, which has made it impossible, until now, to be absolutely satisfied that we had a satisfactory site. I am pleased to be able to inform the House that now a suitable site has been found which satisfies the needs for solid construction and the new centre will be on a site in Pontllanfraith. This will bring very great satisfaction to my hon. Friends in Monmouthshire who have been waiting patiently for this announcement. I am sure that they will agree that this location—which is the location for which we have been trying—is in a key area of West Monmouthshire and will serve a very wide area, including Pontllanfraith, Ystradmynach and several other important places. We shall have a capacity to train about 2,000 persons a year in Government training centres, in addition to what is being done in industry.

I should also like to emphasise the very high rate of placement from training centres. We are sometimes asked how successful training centres are in securing employment for those who have attended them. I am glad to say that about 75 per cent. of those in training are placed in employment immediately on the termination of their training and that about 90 per cent. are placed within a month or so of training being completed. This is a tribute not only to the quality of the training received but also to the co-operation and good sense of the trade unions in Wales, who have been most co-operative in this matter.

May I turn to some of the points made in the debate on matters of employment and the development of the economy. As usual, we had the theme song of the hon. Member for Carmarthen about activity rates. His own activity rate in mentioning activity rates is to be commended. Hardly a week passes in which we do not hear something about them. We have tried on a number of occasions to explain to him what the position is, but for the record I should perhaps once more point out that we recognise that there is a discrepancy between the activity rate for Wales and that for the rest of the country, for reasons which we have explained to the hon. Member several times.

In 1966, for example, the activity rate for men in Wales was 67.7 per cent. and in the country as a whole it was 76.2 per cent. According to our calculations, which I suppose to be at least as accurate as those of the hon. Member, the difference between those two figures is equivalent to 85,000 men—those whom the hon. Member calls the hidden unemployed. But if one studies the analysis one finds that in Wales, according to the latest figure, about 82 per cent. of males over 15 years of age were economically active or were students staying on at school beyond the normal school leaving age, of whom, I am glad to say, we have a fairly large proportion in Wales. There are also people who retire to Wales and who, because they have retired, are not economically active. The basis of these figures, which the hon. Member raises again and again, does not lead to the conclusions which he draws, nor do we find it possible to validate his calculations.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East, referred at some length to figures given by my right hon. Friend. He sought to show that the Conservative Government had done better than had the present Government. I was surprised that he thought that we should fall for his calculations, because he knows—no one better, both from his Ministerial and from his business experience—that there is inevitably a time-lag between approval of an industrial development certificate and the completion of the factory.

One has to start by obtaining planning permission, and then one has often to acquire land, which takes a long time, apart from the planning and the physical building. There is, therefore, clearly a time lag of at least two or three years between approvals and completions. Therefore, completions in the earlier years of the present Administration—1964, 1965, and 1966—were almost all dependent on the small number of I.D.C.s approved by our predecessors, and it is only after those dates that we reap the benefit of the much wider economic policy for development areas adopted by the present Government.

I can give one simple set of figures to prove this. In 1963 the total approvals for factory building for Wales was 1.6 million sq. ft., reflected later in the lower number of completions. This compares with 9.3 million sq. ft., 5.7 million sq. ft. and 8.8 million sq. ft. approved in the last three years. Those figures will be reflected in completions in the next two to three years. It is plain to anybody that our policy for regional development is far more comprehensive and effective than that of our predecessors. We had a record in 1968, and encouraging figures were given by my right hon. Friend for the earlier part of this year, economic figures of which we can be proud.

It is literally true that not a week passes in Wales when we do not have news of a new development in some part of Wales, maybe a very large enterprise or a small extension or a small advance factory in one of the more rural areas. If one looks at our Press notices week after week, one can see that we are beginning to reap the harvest of the policy this Government adopted when they came in; and, although economics is not everything, we are all convinced that this is the basis for social progress and a healthy community life. We have no fear at all of an examination of our record in this respect.

11.38 p.m.

Mr. William Edwards (Merioneth)

We have today had some optimistic speeches from our front bench spokesmen and particularly from the Secretary of State. It is time for optimism, because all we have had in Wales for a long time, from politicians, newspapers and commentators on press and television, has been a tale of woe.

An image has been given, not only to the people of Wales, but to all Great Britain, that there has been something endemically wrong with the economy of the whole of Wales. This is one of the traps we fall into because of the encouragement given to the development of Wales as an entity, and to the image that Wales is an economic entity. We have created an image in all parts of Great Britain that there is something chronically wrong with the economy of Wales and with opportunities in Wales. This is not the case. The Command Paper being discussed today has shown that it differs from area to area. It is remarkable that we have had so much success in North and Mid-Wales where we did not expect to succeed and where politically we did not need to succeed in the same way as we had to in the old mining areas of South Wales.

In my constituency the figures are not taken into account by the supporters of the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans). In 1964, before the Labour Party took office, not one square yard of land had been purchased by any authority for factory building and not one factory in the advance factory programme had been allocated, even though the area had been a development area for some time. In the last four years land has been acquired, factories have been built and tenants have been found for them and the factories are offering employment, mainly to men.

It is dangerous to try to analyse the Government's success entirely in terms of the effect of their policies upon unemployment figures, because we have also to examine the way in which we have diversified the economy of some parts of Wales. To have diversified the economy of rural areas is a remarkable achievement. Merioneth, for example, was an area entirely dependent on agriculture and now provides job opportunities in rather sophisticated engineering industries. To do that in a period of three years and to translate the policy into fact is a remarkable achievement, a considerable act of faith on the part of the Government, for which they are to be commended.

When the Government was attacked from certain quarters for their failure to combat the low activity rate in some parts of Wales, those comments have to be viewed with a certain scepticism, especially when they come from the hon. Member for Carmarthen. Any modem policy to combat our endemic problems in Wales will lead to a barrage of criticism from the hon. Member and his supporters. This is true of rural development. If a part of Wales had not been designated for rural development, there would have been an outcry. There was a barrage of criticism when we proposed the new town for Mid-Wales. It was said that it would destroy our way of life and do all manner of other things. What it would do to the activity rate was forgotten.

According to the hon. Member, town development should concentrate on existing towns the size of which, he said, should be slightly increased; but when we proposed that, again we were subjected to a barrage of criticism. There was criticism about Bala, not open criticism but criticism made in leaflets distributed by the Nationalist Party from house to house. When considerable capital investment in Holyhead was proposed, nearly every major supporter of the Nationalist Party in Anglesey conducted a campaign from positions on the county council to kill the proposal.

Any attempt to translate the old rural economy into a modern industrial economy has been attacked, but such attempts in areas of rural Wales where no attempt has previously been made are succeeding and continuing to succeed. An indication of the success of these policies is the fact that we are not hearing so much of the activities of the hon. Member's party as are some of the old coal mining areas of South Wales. The hon. Member's party has a vested interest in failure and we have not.

The hon. Member spoke of an electricity board for Wales. I would support the establishment of any kind of authority which recognised Wales as a distinct national entity. One must be careful when trying to do this in the short term. Discussions are now taking place in Wales about an Electricity Board. I am not a supporter of establishing an Electricity Board for the whole of Wales. The South Wales Electricity Board has constantly and consistently been in the red. The Merseyside and North Wales Electricity Board has consistently been able to balance its accounts. In so doing it has injected every year, since 1947, about £1 million of capital into North Wales at the expense of Merseyside. That capital has gone into the electrification of rural areas in my constituency that would never have been electrified if we had depended on a Welsh account for the electricity industry.

These figures are not taken into account by the hon. Member for Carmarthen when he tries to balance the books for Wales. The figures that are always relied upon are somewhat archaic and rather doubtful, but all this additional aid that is given by nationalised boards is ignored, as the hon. Gentleman ignores the considerable amount of subsidy that is given to dairy farmers in his constituency in the form of Treasury grants to ensure that all the surplus milk that they produce is delivered to the London market, which is already receiving more liquid milk that it can cope with.

I make these points because the optimism of my right hon. Friend may be attacked. It is significant that the hon. Member for Carmarthen today had little to say about the success of the Government's policy for the dairy industry, upon which his constituency relies so heavily. How much we heard when the Padfield Committee's Report came out, how much we heard about the need to protect the dairy farmers; but how little congratulation we heard because the Government took a decision to protect the interests of the farmers of Carmarthen and how little we heard about the amount done for the hill sheep and livestock farmers in rural Wales. The Welsh farmer depends heavily on these special subsidies given by the Government, but how little congratulation we heard from the hon. Gentleman.

We heard very little about the tourist industry. I have a sneaking suspicion that because we have done the very thing that the hon. Member for Carmarthen would want us to do we have had no commendation for doing it. Because Wales is to have a Tourist Board which will be capable of developing the Welsh tourist industry, with its own characteristic flavour, we have received no commendation from the hon. Member for Carmarthen.

I have noticed with interest in the Press in Wales that it is not the hon. Member for Carmarthen who makes pronouncements on things of this kind, but the candidates of the Nationalist Party. The one in my constituency takes a greater interest in Wales, no doubt because he lives in London. Because we support the tourist industry, in Wales, it is looked upon as some kind of threat to the economy. Because we are doing something for it, we are apparently doing it at the expense of the farmer, the collier or the quarry worker. This is a modern industry which can succeed, but I do not think that the Nationalist Party wants to see it succeed because its development will bring into Wales a number of new people and it will create new attitudes.

We are not facing an endemic industrial economic problem; it is a problem of attitudes. Dealing with this introverted attitude which is developing in Wales will be the problem of this and every Government. I refer to the attitude in Wales that there is some sort of conspiracy; that everybody is working against us. That is the attitude being encouraged by the hon. Member for Carmarthen. Today it may be a conspiracy by British Rail. Tomorrow it may be a conspiracy by the Tourist Board or the Milk Marketing Board. There is a constant search for a conspiracy to explain our deficiencies and failings.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) said that we lacked enterprise to develop our resources. We do lack certain things. We lack our own hoteliers, perhaps we have an excess of teachers and preachers, and we are not doing enough to develop our resources. However, we do great harm to the cause of developing our abilities when we encourage narrow-minded introvertism to grow in our schools. Our young people are being told that they will not prosper because some dreadful people across the Border are selling their assets and conspiring against them. A lot of narrow-minded bigoted people are influencing our young people and are warping their minds and ideas about the way in which their nation can and should develop.

These prophets of woe do not influence anybody in this House because we are able to analyse their remarks. However, they are influencing those who are considering investing in Wales. More dangerous, they are influencing the younger generation in Wales and giving them a completely false idea of the way in which they should be developing, of how they should be playing their part in the modern world, of the problems we have, why we have them and how we should set about solving them.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House takes note of the Report on Wales for 1968 (Command Paper No. 3930).