HC Deb 13 November 1969 vol 791 c607
Q2. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister if he will initiate an interdepartmental inquiry on the population problem of the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing at this stage to add to my reply to a Question by the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdon (Sir D. Renton) on 22nd May.—[Vol. 784, c. 657–9.]

Mr. Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that there is a committee, I think of civil servants, studying this problem? Will a report be published in due course as a result of these investigations? Meanwhile, would he impress on his Ministers the danger of giving statistics to certain hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who use them to boost their own nefarious prejudices?

The Prime Minister

As I made clear in answer to the right hon. and learned Gentleman in May, the inter-Departmental arrangements for a proper study of this question have been greatly improved. When something comes out of that study, that will be the time to consider what it would be right to publish.

My hon. Friend will no doubt be aware that certain surveys were taken in certain areas and many of the figures have been given in the House in answer to Questions and on demand to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen. I agree with my hon. Friend that, that being so, whatever interpretation, wrong or right, has been put on them, it would be right to make them generally available in the House.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

Is the Prime Minister aware that there is no population problem in Wales, but that there is a great depopulation problem, and that eight of the 13 counties in Wales have a smaller population today than they had in 1921?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of these problems, which are not confined to Wales. There has been continuing migration from Scotland—though the position is now improving—and from certain rural areas in England. I assure the hon. Member that if we had taken action on the policies which he has suggested, depopulation and migration would have been much more serious.