HC Deb 01 February 1971 vol 810 cc1220-2
3. Mr. Roderick

asked the Secretary of State for Wales on what evidence he has decided that the people of Wales have rejected the proposal to establish a Mid-Wales Rural Development Board.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. Gibson-Watt)

The decision not to proceed with the establishment of a rural development board for Mid-Wales was made on the evidence of the widespread opposition to the proposals.

Mr. Roderick

How does the Minister of State account for the fact that no Member for Mid-Wales was returned to his side of the House? Surely this leaves him with no mandate to abandon this scheme? Is he aware of the concern now being expressed by farmers in the North Pennines area at the proposed abolition of that Board?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

When I received the hon. Gentleman's election address in June I noticed that it contained no mention of a Mid-Wales Rural Development Board.

Mr. George Thomas

Is the Minister of State aware that he made enough noise about the Mid-Wales Rural Development Board? He made it an issue, and his party was completely rejected in Wales.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman returns to the attack, having been heavily defeated on this issue by the vast amount of opposition which came from rural Mid-Wales.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

Does the Minister of State appreciate that a few days ago the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food gave as the main reason for abandoning the Pennines Board the fact that it exercised compulsory powers? Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate also that those powers were minimal and that if that was the real reason the Government could easily have changed the position by legislation?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

At the inquiry at Aberystwith in the hon. Gentleman's own constituency, there were 133 objectors, four representing local authorities and 10 other organisations and various other agricultural associations. The opposition was intense.

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