HC Deb 23 February 1976 vol 906 cc7-9
6. Mr. Nicholas Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has yet completed his consultations with the Welsh Development Agency, the Welsh TUC and the Welsh Council of the CBI about guidelines for the Welsh Development Agency.

Mr. John Morris

No, Sir.

Mr. Edwards

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain his refusal to allow hon. Members to see the draft guidelines? Is it not about time that open government added discussion in this place to secret negotiations with the TUC and CBI?

Mr. Morris

I am not sure what refusal the hon. Gentleman has in mind. What we are doing is consulting those who will be guided by the guidelines. Following those consultations, draft guidelines will be issued, with or without any amendments that may be necessary. At that stage, well before any decision about finalising the guidelines, there will be ample opportunity for anyone, including in particular hon. Members, to comment, before the guidelines are finalised. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would be the first to agree that those who are to be guided should be the first to be consulted in the formative stage.

Mr. Edwards

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that we welcome the fact that he has now given an answer which is somewhat different from the Written Answer in which he said that the guidelines would not be available to hon. Members until they were in their final form? If he is now saying that this House will be consulted on the guidelines, I welcome that fact.

Mr. Morris

What I am saying is that we are now in the early formative stages of consultation to ensure that the views of those who will be guided by the guidelines are taken into account. Obviously, before the final guidelines are set out, there will be an opportunity for anyone, including any hon. Member, to consult further if he wishes. I see no difficulties there.

Mr. Wigley

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that in Committee on the Bill there was detailed discussion of a number of controversial points that will certainly be covered by the guidelines? In that case, will he accept that there should be consultation also with Welsh local authorities, who have a deep interest in the matter, and with other bodies, such as the Development Corporation—and, indeed, everyone with a direct interest—before the final draft is submitted to the House?

Mr. Morris

When the draft guidelines are published there will be ample opportunity for anyone to comment. I should have thought that that was taken as read. I have read this morning the Official Report of the Committee debates and the points made by the Under-Secretary. I am confident that I am carrying out to the full what he said in Committee. I cannot see any difficulty.

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