HC Deb 24 June 1974 vol 875 cc962-4
3. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what information or observations he has received from the Welsh Council on the Kilbrandon Report; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Morris

My hon. Friend will by now have received a copy of the Welsh Council's report entitled "Observations on the Kilbrandon Report" which was published on 14th June. The council's views will be taken into account by the Government in their consideration of the Kilbrandon Report.

Mr. Evans

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply. Does he realise that the document from the Welsh Council is consistent with the evidence given by the Labour Party to the Kilbrandon Commission, with the main recommendations of the Kilbrandon Report and with the conference this weekend at Llandrindod Wells, and that whereas there is a willingness in Wales to have an elected assembly there is complete rejection of nationalism and separatism?

Mr. Morris

As regards separatism and federalism, there is an enormous consistency in the rejection of that kind of proposal. The body suggested by the Welsh Council has a different emphasis. But the council recommended the setting up of a directly-elected assembly, which is a matter of some significance.

Mr. Peter Thomas

Does the Secretary of State agree that, in addition to the unanimous rejection by the Welsh Council of separatism or federalism, the council also unanimously supported the continuance of the office of Secretary of State for Wales and of the Welsh Office? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman take this opportunity to say that he agrees wholeheartedly with all those views?

Mr. Morris

In the course of Question Time it would not be open to me to deal wholly with all the matters set out by the council. There is a difference in the emphasis put by the council on that and the many other proposals in the Kilbrandon Report. We have made our position clear as regards the importance that the Government attach to the responsibility and office of the Secretary of State.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Can the Secretary of State assure us that the proposals in the Welsh Council's document for a nominated element in the membership of the Welsh Council will be rejected and that the Government will have no truck with the idea of the creation of a further House of Lords in Cardiff?

Mr. Morris

The Government have made their views clear as regards the options open to them to consider. I know that the Labour Party in Wales made its views abundantly clear yesterday. At this juncture I cannot carry the matter further.

Mr. Tom Ellis

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that moves towards devolution of the domestic authority of nation States to their various constituent peoples are taking place all over Europe and are not confined simply to the nations of the United Kingdom? Does he agree that in the light of the growth of economic centralism this is a healthy counter-reaction?

Mr. Morris

My hon. Friend has known over the years where he and I and our other colleagues stand on the importance to be attached to devolution to ensure the better government of Wales and the Welsh people.

Mr. Hooson

Dees the right hon. and learned Gentleman intend to give great weight to the views of the nominated body on this proposal, especially when that body depends on the nomination of the Secretary of State for Wales for its presence? Is it therefore surprising that it wishes to continue with that office? What steps does the right hon. and learned Gentleman intend to take to fulfil the unanimous proposal in the Kilbrandon Report that in any elected assembly there should be proper safeguards for minorities through proportional representation?

Mr. Morris

The Welsh Council is a nominated body and Kilbrandon was a Royal Commission. The council, which made this report, was appointed by my predecessor, not by me. The Government are ready and willing to listen to all observations and comments before reaching a final conclusion in the White Paper which they are to present to Parliament. We hope to hear from the hon. and learned Gentleman and the Liberal Party in due course.

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