HC Deb 29 July 1974 vol 878 cc15-7
12. Mr. Gwynoro Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he expects to conclude discussions with the interested parties in Wales on the Kilbrandon Report.

Mr. John Morris

I expect these consultations to be completed by about the middle of August.

Mr. Jones

Will my right hon. and learned Friend accept that Labour Members look forward to the Government's proposals in the White Paper which will enable us to make it clear to the people of Wales that since the Conservative Opposition have totally turned their back on any form of elected body for Wales those who wish to see further advance and the creation of an elected assembly will have to support the Labour Party in the forthcoming election, whenever that may be?

Mr. Morris

My hon. and learned Friend is correct. The Conservatives have offered nothing of substance by way of worthwhile devolution. Only the Labour Government can bring some form of devolution to Wales.

Mr. Grist

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman confirm what he said before the last election: that he is in favour of a legislative assembly for Wales?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Member is completely misinformed.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept the view of our party that whereas we agree that only a Labour Government will implement devolution, it is equally true that that will not happen unless there is substantial pressure on the Government from Plaid Cymru and the SNP? Does he agree that the Government would not have had a majority in a number of important votes in the House on vital legislation if they had not had the support of our party?

Mr. Morris

I am not sure whether the hon. Member can recall where the parliamentary pressure originally came from. I remind him that it was the Labour Government which set up the Kilbrandon Commission, a move which was ridiculed by members of Plaid Cymru at the time. When the Labour Government were fighting for their lives in a crucial vote on the debate on the Queen's Speech, the hon. Member and his hon. Friends voted against us. I shall be reminding him and Wales constantly of that in the coming months.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Is it the Minister's normal practice to comment on the views of a party when he has invited that party to present its views to him next day? Would it not have been better to have waited until he heard what we had to say?

Mr. Morris

I have had the advantage of reading what emerged from the Conservative Party conference at Llandrindod Wells. Unless there is a substantial improvement in the forthcoming consultations, Wales will be deeply disappointed but not surprised at the Conservative Party.

Mr. Hooson

Is not the Secretary of State being less than magnanimous to the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. Thomas)? Is it not the case that he and the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) have supported the Government in almost every Division in this Parliament?

Mr. Morris

I am always grateful for support for the enlightened policies put forward by the Government. The two hon. Members have supported the Government on many occasions, but at the end of the day the Government can be effective only if they have a sufficient number of supporters in the House of Commons and the two hon. Members cannot be counted among that number. The people of Wales will therefore have to decide whether they want devolution, and the only way to get it is through a Labour Government.