HC Deb 23 July 1973 vol 860 cc1129-30
1. Sir John Tilney

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he has now studied the report of the Water Resources Board; and whether he has come to a decision on going ahead with the multipurpose Dee reclamation schemes.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Thomas)

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and I have recently received the Water Resources Board's report. We shall complete our evaluation of the Dee project in the light of this report as quickly as we can.

Sir John Tilney

Does my right hon. and learned Friend remember that as long ago as 19th July 1971, when asked about this potentially valuable scheme for the comparatively poor North-West, he assured me that the Government would not drag their feet in this matter? How long is a "drag"?

Mr. Thomas

I can only repeat that in this matter the Government do not intend to drag their feet. It is an extremely important matter and there will be no avoidable delay in reaching a decision.

Mr. Barry Jones

Does the Secretary of State understand that there is a growing power of opinion that feels it possible that this scheme may cause irreparable damage to existing communities in North Wales? Can he guarantee that, if sanctioned, this scheme will bring about more employment and that the project will not be used to hasten the end of steel-making at shotton?

Mr. Thomas

What the hon. Gentleman has said only shows that this is a matter which requires the most careful consideration before a decision is taken.

Sir A. Meyer

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that whereas, say, six months ago the mere announcement of a decision to go ahead with the scheme might have sufficed to staunch the wounds inflicted by the decision to close down Shotton, any announcement to go ahead with the policy must be accompanied by a firm guarantee for future jobs?

Mr. Thomas

The scheme is a multipurpose scheme, and it would be quite unrealistic to assume that even an immediate decision to proceed with the scheme could result in additional employment in the near future.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

In view of the implications of this scheme for the whole of North Wales, can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether the decision, when it comes, will be final, or will it be in the form of a Green Paper which will give opportunity for full discussion before the final decision is taken?

Mr. Thomas

I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman an emphatic answer. This is a very important multi-purpose scheme which will require a great deal of consideration. The Government will try to reach a decision as soon as possible, but whether by way of White Paper or Green Paper has yet to be decided.

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