HC Deb 14 June 1976 vol 913 cc239-69
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant God-man Irvine)

I call Mr. Jeffrey Thomas—

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In the motion that you have called we are asked to consider petitions of general objection and the question whether they are to be referred to a Joint Committee. Those petitions are not available. How on earth are we to decide what the documents contain if we are unable to read them?

The Clerks of the House have done a very fine service, because I understand that they have placed the petitions in the small room behind Mr. Speaker's Chair. However, if all my colleagues were to pour into that room to read those petitions, it would not result in a very good debate. The movers of the motion have not had the courtesy to provide right hon. and hon. Members with copies of the documents that they want us to debate. In those circumstances, are we to proceed with this debate?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am advised that copies of the document were in the Private Bill Office, had inquiries been made there.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Do I take it that this is private business? I would judge from what you say about the petitions being available only in the Private Bill Office that the business we are now to discuss is private business.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

In matters of this nature the documents are normally to be found in the Private Bill Office.

Mr. Graham Page

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is most inconvenient for Members to be able to read the documents only in the Private Bill Office. Normally copies of any documents that we are called upon to debate are placed in the Vote Office and we are able to take them away to study before the debate.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The normal procedure that it adopted in a case such as this has been adopted. The documents have been available and, had precautions been taken by those who wanted to read them, they would surely have looked for them in good time, rather than a moment or two before the debate started.

Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would you be good enough to advise the House whether this is private business?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

There is no indication that it is private business. This is the procedure that I am advised is always adopted under this Act.

Mr. Peyton

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If this is not private business I think we are entitled to ask the Leader of the House to make sure that documents are available, so that the House may carry out its proper procedures.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

May I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman has a look at the Act that is quoted in the Order? He will find that the procedure set out there has been followed.

Mr. Norman Tebbit (Chingford)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), many of my hon. Friends would be grateful if you could tell the House whether this is private or public business. Surely it must be one or the other—unless it is another hybrid piece of business.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It is public business, and there is a statute that covers the procedure. That procedure has been followed.

Mr. Tebbit

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. When public business is presented is it not the practice for the Government to ensure that the documents required are available through the Vote Office?

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am dealing with the point raised by the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit). I shall find the relevant Act in a moment. In the meantime, the hon. Member may make his point of order.

Mr. Skinner

Is it not a fact that on 13th February 1968 a similar procedure to that being adopted tonight was used when the Order under discussion was the Humber Harbour Order? Is it not a fact that a Division took place, in accordance with these procedures, when the vote was 138–28? That was an Order on a different issue, but dealt with under the same procedure.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The Acts are the Statutory Orders (Special Procedure) Act 1945 and 1965. Hon Members will find that the procedure set out in those Acts has been adopted.

Mr. Graham Page

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am not objecting to the procedure. In fact, the precedent has been mentioned, and I find that I was a Teller on that occasion. I do not object to the procedure, because there is a precedent, but I object to the lack of the documents that we are called upon to debate. The documents are not before us.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

If documents were required, hon. Members would normally look for them more than a few minutes before the start of the debate.

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas (Abertillery)


Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sure you will agree that we are in some difficulty. Whether it is public business or private business, and whether the documents should or should not have been available in the Vote Office or elsewhere—you have been good enough to tell us that they are now placed in a small room somewhere behind your chair—I think that anyone taking an interest in this matter will understand that a number of petitions are involved. Anyone who has been in this place for more than five minutes will know that a petition is a long and complicated legal document. I am sure that you would, agree, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that whatever sort of debate we are to have, and whatever the result is to be, it must be without more confusion than is necessary. There are four or five petitions and one of them is in Welsh—that of Mr. Ednyfed Austyn Prys—which may involve us in some translation. I hope that that will not delay us unduly. Surely the best way out of the undoubted difficulty in which we find ourselves is to adjourn the House so that those of us who are becoming increasingly suspicious about the matter have the chance to study the documents in question before we proceed any further.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I suggest that before the hon. Gentleman came to the debate it would have been a good thing for him to study the Act under which the procedure is adopted. I refer him in particular to Section 4.

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas


Mr. Peter Rees (Dover and Deal)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. A map is referred to in the Order, a copy of which is apparently deposited in Cardiff and in the offices of the Blaenau-Gwent council. However, I find that no copy of the map has been deposited in this place. We wish to give proper and full consideration to the matters referred to in the Order, and one of the matters to be considered will be the precise areas geographically to be acquired for industrial development. I respectfully suggest that it will be quite impossible for the House to give proper consideration to the matter unless we have a chance to view the map. I ask for your advice and direction on this matter.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

All the requirements of the Act have been met and there is no further help that I can give the House. I call Mr. Jeffrey Thomas.

1.19 a.m.

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas (Abertillery)

I beg to move, That the Petitions of General Objection of Mr. William John Williams, Mr. W. G. Rowland and others, Mr. H. Bennett and others, Mr. Ednyfed Austyn Prys and others, and Mr. E. J. Thomas and others, against the Blaenau-Gwent District (Rassau North Industrial Estate) Compulsory Purchase Order 1974 be not referred to a Joint Committee. I trust that the sort of behaviour that we have seen from the Opposition is not indicative of the way in which they will listen to what I have to say, which involves serious matters affecting large numbers of people in the county of Gwent.

The first point that I make is that this is a power that this House seldom exercises but that it is proper to do so where the petitions raise important questions of principle and Government policy.

Since there seems to be some misunderstanding on the part of the Opposition, I shall spell it out. I move this motion on the authority of Section 1(4) of the Statutory Orders (Special Procedure) Act 1965, which reads: A petition of general objection shall under Section 4(2) of the Act stand referred to a joint committee of both Houses unless either House of Parliament has…resolved that it be not so resolved. The short history of this matter is set out in the first paragraph of the first petitioner's petition, which was deposited in the Private Bill Office on 4th May 1976. It reads: An order entitled the Blaenau-Gwent District (Rassau North Industrial Estate) Compulsory Purchase Order 1974 was confirmed by the Secretary of State for Wales on the second day of March 1976 under Section 112 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 following a public local inquiry held in the Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale, from 29th July to 5th August 1975. On the same date the Secretary of State for Wales gave consent under Section 22 of the Commons Act 1899 to the grant of enclosure of 234 acres of land at Rassau Common for the purposes of its development as an industrial estate. That Order was laid before this House on 14th April 1975 by the Secretary of State pursuant to the Statutory Orders (Special Procedure) Acts 1945 and 1965. The effect of the Order is to authorise the Blaenau-Gwent Borough Council to purchase compulsorily about 356 acres of land for the purpose of developing it for industrial purposes as an estate to be known as the Rassau North Industrial Estate.

I hope that Opposition Members are now fully seized of the facts of this motion.

It has to be said—and I say it with some measure of regret—that the inspector's findings were, to say the least, capricious and eccentric, and that the conclusions to which he came ran counter to the evidence adduced before him and, indeed, almost all the views that have ever been expressed on the questions of priorities, industrially and otherwise, for North Gwent. It was quite plain to anyone who read those findings in his report —and Opposition Members can still have their opportunity if they so wish—

Mr. Hastings


Mr. Thomas

It was quite plain that the inspector misdirected himself and that, in due time, the Secretary of State remedied the matter. But it cannot be denied—

Mr. Hastings

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to help the House. He has made it quite clear that he thinks that we should have an opportunity to consult the documents from which he is quoting so liberally. We are back where we started. If we are to reply to what he is saying and to deploy a case of any merit, we need time. He says that we can still consult these documents, but what can be the good of doing that if the House has already voted to disallow these unfortunate people to put their case? Surely this is the time to give us an interval in which we can study this matter before we proceed any further.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that had the preparation for his speech started slightly earlier, these difficulties could have been resolved.

Mr. Robert Mellish (Bermondsey)

Hon. Members on the Opposition Front Bench had the documents the hon. Member is complaining about. If they had done their job properly they would have had them photostated and given them to that lot.

Mr. Michael Latham (Melton)

Under Section 3 of Statutory Orders (Special Procedure) Act 1945 there is a period of 21 days in which the House has to receive a report from the Chairman. In view of the point of order about the time for the document, when does the 21-day period expire?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Would the hon. Gentleman be good enough to look at Section 4?

Mr. Latham

Indeed—I have read Section 4 which deals with the period of 21 days which the House has in which to take action. When does that period expire? If the House were to take the whole 21-day period before taking any action under the section, it might meet the point.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The procedure has, as I understand it, been carried out, and everything is in order.

Mr. Thomas

I want to get away from these bogus points of order and get on with the debate. There is a very important matter of principle involved here, and I hope that Opposition Members will be able to contain themselves for a little longer.

It is important to spell out one or two matters. There can be no doubt whatever that important matters of principle and Government policy are involved here. Government policy is affected of course in the matters pursued by the council to meet unemployment in Wales in general and in Blaenau-Gwent district in particular.

We have set up a Welsh Development Agency, a Manpower Services Commission, a Training Services Agency, and an Employment Services Agency, and we have passed the Employment Protection Act. Also, £12.6 million was given by the Government to the borough council at the time of the Beswick announcement.

The Secretary of State has made it plain that, and I quote: The special arrangements made for Ebbw Vale, both financial and administrative, are a prime example of how the Government has taken the lead in the industrial sphere. Ebbw Vale is my greatest problem. [Interruption.] If Opposition Members were among the 2,000 men unemployed in Ebbw Vale they would not find the matter so amusing. In view of the growing unemployment situation in North Gwent it is our view that it is grossly irresponsible for the petitioners to seek to pursue the matter further. They have certainly cast their net wide in seeking signatories for their petition, because some of the signatories come not from Ebbw Vale or Blaenau-Gwent but from places like Wakefield and Wembley.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards (Pembroke)

Does the hon. Member, in all honesty, not agree that the great majority of signatories came from the immediate locality? What great principle of Government policy is being infringed by allowing the petitioners about six weeks to present their case before the House rises for the Summer Recess? How does that interfere with Government policy?

Mr. Thomas

If the petitioners get their way—and I want Opposition Members to realise exactly the effects of what they will do by supporting the hon. Member for Pembrokeshire (Mr. Edwards)—they will put in jeopardy the future of 5,000 jobs because the Joint Committee could, in spite of the merits of the case, come to a different conclusion from that of the Secretary of State.

Mr. Michael Latham


Mr. Thomas

I shall not give way. It is absolutely crucial for the future of North Gwent that the local authority should develop the site at the first possible opportunity.

Mr. Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)


Mr. Thomas

I shall not give way. I have given way enough.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member has made his position clear. Hon. Members must not persist.

Hon. Members

Give way!

Mr. Thomas

No. The position is clear. The site must be developed at the first possible opportunity, because the matter has been protracted since before 1974. The original compulsory purchase order was made in 1964 and the development can afford to wait no longer. The size of the site and the facilities of the ground combine to give it qualities possessed by no other site in the area.

In a letter to the town clerk of Blaenau-Gwent my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that considerations affecting the economic factors were of overriding significance in this case. Land for industrial development was needed at once, and in view of the imminence of the remaining stages of the Ebbw Vale closures he was of the opinion that the provision of additional land and its development was of such urgency that consideration of the feasibility of developing alternative sites, with the long delay that that would entail, would not be justified.

Let me spell out the exact position in North Gwent. Seventy-four per cent. of those employed in the Ebbw Vale exchange area are employed in the steel industry. Ninety per cent. of those live in the Blaenau-Gwent district. Between 1951 and 1974 the population of Ebbw Vale itself fell by over 5,500. Against this background the loss of 4,500 jobs in the British Steel Corporation between 1975 and 1978 assumes even graver importance and significance. In March this year the number of persons unemployed in the county was 12,400—an increase of 80 per cent over the year. [HON. MEMBERS: "Disgraceful."] Hon. Members say "Disgraceful", but it is a fact that these proposals were initiated by the last Tory Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Your Government."] In fact we undertook to investigate them and review them. As a result we had the Beswick Report. Hon. Gentlemen should not simply call out "Your Government"; it was their Government who initiated these proposals-

An increase of 80 per cent. in unemployment in Ebbw Vale over the last 12 months means that the unemployment rates are well above the national average. It is increasing more rapidly in Gwent than in Wales or Great Britain as a whole. In Ebbw Vale the labour force has already fallen by some 2,300 since October 1973. A further 2,000 may go by March 1978. On the basis of the comparison between the number of vacancies and the number of persons unemployed the ratio of vacancies to unemployed increased from 1 to 8 in March 1975 to 1 to 25 in March 1976.

Finally, may I ask the Opposition whether they are really prepared to put in jeopardy the prospect of 5,000 jobs? That is the reality of what we are debating in this motion. If they vote against the motion the people of North Gwent certainly will never forgive them, because the Conservative Opposition will be seen as the party which pays lip service to the doctrine of employment but which, when confronted with the opportunity of a cheap procedural victory, places in peril the future of whole communities in Gwent. I ask the House to approve the motion.

2.39 a.m.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

What could have been a reasonable and informative debate has put us in an impossible position by our not having the documents that we are debating. The hon. and learned Member for Abertillery (Mr. Thomas) has based his case on petitions that we have not got before us and quotations from the report of the inspector who held the public inquiry, which report we also have not got before us. It puts the House in an almost impossible position to debate this Order properly. Indeed, we do not even know the area covered by the Order.

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) took time to look in "Erskine May" he would discover, as he ought to know from his vast experience of this House, that this House is, in fact, not able to go into the details of what the inspector said or did, because it is a departmental matter.

Mr. Page

It is very strange that the hon. and learned Gentleman now tells us that we are not allowed to go into the details, when he was quoting from the petition and from the report of the inspector. The purpose of the special procedure under which this Order is made is to provide a simpler form of local legislation for matters that would normally have to be dealt with by a Private Bill, and also to expedite by secondary legislation the application locally of principles that have already been laid down in primary legislation.

In the case of this Order, therefore, there has, as the House now knows, been a local public inquiry. That local public inquiry has resulted in a report, which I wish all of us could have read. That report recommended that the compulsory purchase order should not be confirmed. The hon. and learned Gentleman has taken upon himself to say that that report was capricious—and I thought he said it in a rather pompous manner. It was the report of an inspector who had heard the facts of the case, had come to his conclusions, and had made his report and his recommendations to the Secretary of State. Nevertheless, the Secretary of State has made this Order against those recommendations.

Under the procedure there follows a 21-day period in which petitions can be put before this House. When those petitions are presented, the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Chairman of Committees of another place are charged with the duty of deciding whether those petitions are petitions for amendment or petitions of general objection. In this case the Chairmen, in their wisdom, have decided that these petitions are petitions of general objection.

As I said before, I have no complaint about the procedure. The procedure is that this House can say that these petitions of general objection shall not go to a Joint Committee and nothing more shall be done about them. It is not merely a matter of saying "They shall not go to a Joint Committee. We shall consider them in the House." The hon. and learned Gentleman has said that we cannot go into the details of those petitions here and now. We can never go into the details of those petitions if this motion is passed tognight. Those petitions are thrown into the dustbin.

These petitions are from hundreds of people whose lands are affected. Although the Chairman quite correctly decided that they were petitions of general objection, because they contained material that went to the root of the Order, they also contain material that amounted to a plea by individuals that their land was being taken unnecessarily.

It is true that the procedure allows the House to prevent those petitions going to a Joint Committee, but the House ought to be very careful in denying to individuals a right that was given them by statute to bring this kind of petition to the House. This seems to me to be a very simple point. Are we going to deprive those people of the right to put their case to a Joint Committee merely because, in their petitions, they have also said that the whole of the Order is unnecessary and ought not to be made?

If the motion is defeated, it means a delay of no more than six to eight weeks. There is no need for any further delay than that. The Order was made in 1974 Are we to deprive many individuals of their right to put their cases about their land being taken away from them, because it will take another six weeks? This matter has already taken two years.

This matter ought never to have been brought before the House in this manner. The hon. and learned Member for Abertillery let the cat out of the bag, in effect, by saying that he was frightened that the Joint Committee might return to what the inspector recommended to the Secretary of State.

I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will vote against this motion, which defeats the right of individuals to protect themselves by petition before this House.

2.46 a.m.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)

I presume to speak on this matter because, having had some responsibility for planning at the Department of the Environment, it has fallen to me from time to time to consider the reports of inspectors following public local inquiries. I understand that in this case the inspector had before him numerous witnesses and a large amount of documentary material. The inspector, having considered the matter in detail, arrived at a particular conclusion—that the compulsory purchase order should not be made.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) suggested, it is frequently the case that a Minister will, on advice, disagree with the findings of his inspector. No doubt in this instance the Secretary of State had his reasons for arriving at that decision. But the hon. and learned Member for Abertillery (Mr. Thomas) gave no indication whatsoever of the reasons that may have led the Secretary of State to overrule his inspector in this matter. The hon. and learned Gentleman simply clouded the issue.

There were three very unusual features in the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. I hope that I shall have the attention of the Secretary of State when I put them to him. First, it seems extraordinary that in this matter, which concerns land—

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas


Mr. Griffiths

I shall complete this point and then give way to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I understand that almost all this land lies within the constituency of Lord President of the Council, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot). In short, he ought to have accepted the responsibility for explaining to this House what is happening in the area that he represents. Instead, he has hidden behind the inadequate shadow of the hon. and learned Member for Abertillery.

The first question to which the House is entitled to an answer is: why did the right hon. Gentleman not deal with this matter in his own constituency and come clean with the House about what is going on there? I now give way to the hon. and learned Gentleman.

Mr, Jeffrey Thomas

Talking of shadows, the Shadow Cabinet like shadows come and like shadows depart.

I should like to answer the hon. Gentleman's last point first. My constituency is within the Blaenau-Gwent borough boundary. I was born in part of that district which is actually called Bleunau-Gwent, and was brought up in that constituency. What is more, I worked in Ebbw Vale for long periods. Therefore, I feel quite adequate to deal with questions relating to the Blaenau-Gwent district.

In answer to the hon. Gentleman's first point, I referred to what the Secretary of State said in answer to the inspector's report. I quoted from a letter—the hon. Gentleman would have heard of it if he had been listening instead of making a noise—which my right hon. and learned Friend wrote to the town clerk of Blaenau-Gwent, dated 3rd March 1976.

Mr. Griffiths

The hon. and learned Gentleman has merely succeeded in clouding the issue still further. I return to the question that I put. Nearly all the land in question is within the constituency of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale. He owes it to the House to explain why he is overrulling his inspector's decision and proposing that a Joint Committee of Parliament should have no opportunity to consider the matter. In short, the Lord President is saying that he shall be judge and jury and decide that the House, shall have no opportunity to consider the matter.

The hon. and learned Member for Abertillery described the judgment of the inspector as being capricious and eccentric, and said that the inspector misdirected himself. These are grave charges to be made against a public servant who has no opportunity to defend himself either in the House or in any other place. The hon. and learned Gentleman will know that if he had used those words outside the House he could easily have found himself the object of a suit for damages. If he uses those words in the House he owes it to the House to give the evidence upon which he bases those serious comments, but he has not done that. He is traducing the inspector, on whom the Secretary of State from time to time must reply, but he has not given the House the evidence on which he bases those accusations.

The hon. and learned Gentleman used extraordinary language to justify his case. He said that the Joint Committee might come to a different conclusion from that of the Secretary of State. When there was objection from the Opposition Benches, he went on to say that he was not saying that this would necessarily be the case, but was just telling the House what would happen. Out of his own mouth he confirmed the impression that the Opposition had formed, that if the Joint Committee, objectively weighing the evidence, had been able to study the matter in detail it might have come to the same conclusion as that of the inspector. That is the heart of the problem.

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas


Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

On a point of order Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am under the impression that it is after 10 o'clock, and I am wondering how it is that without the 10 o'clock rule having been suspended in respect of this business—which is neither an affirmative nor a negative resolution procedure, and is public business—we are occupying ourselves in this way at five minutes to 3 o'clock in the morning.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

Standing Order 3(1)(b) "Proceedings in pursuance of any Act of Parliament"—

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

But, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is not pursuant to any Act of Parliament. What the hon. and, one must gather, learned Gentleman has put to us is that the proceedings pursuant to an Act of Parliament should not take place, not that they should take place.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Perhaps the Chair many proceed a little further and read from the Standing Order: proceedings in pursuance of any Act of Parliament, save in so far as Standing Order No. 4 (Statutory instruments, &c. (procedure)), otherwise provides, and proceedings on Commission documents, but Mr. Speaker shall put any questions necessary to dispose of such proceedings not later than half-past Eleven o'clock or one and a half hours after the commencement of those proceedings, whichever is the later.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. That confirms me in the view that what we are engaged on at the moment does not fall into any of those categories. It is not, in fact, a procedure pursuant to any Act of Parliament, nor is it an affirmation of a Statutory Instrument, nor is it a Prayer to annul a Statutory Instrument. It is none of these things. Would it not be better, therefore, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to go to bed?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It is under the Statutory Orders (Special Procedure) Act.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

The whole point of the hon. Gentleman's motion is that he does not want to comply with the Act. Therefore, it does not fall within the Standing Order that you have quoted to exempt it from Standing Order No. 1. That being the case, our proceedings at this moment are ultra vires. Surely we can occupy ourselves better than by indulging in ultra vires proceedings.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I assure the hon. Gentleman that it is all within the Act and that it is in order.

Mr. Griffiths

I apologise for intervening in the observations of the "Official Solicitor" to the official Opposition in these matters. I want briefly to make three more points. Many other of my hon. Friends wish to speak.

The hon. Gentleman alleged that if the House did not accept this Order, 5,000 jobs would be put at risk. He has no basis in fact for saying that. All that is 'at issue tonight is whether or not is Joint Committee should consider the proposal. The hon. Gentleman must be implying that if a Joint Committee, objectively considering the matter, were to come to a different conclusion from that of the Secretary of State, that of itself would mean the loss of 5,000 jobs. Is that not a most extraordinary charge? Is it really suggested by the hon. Gentleman that this House has so little concern for the employment of his or the Lord President of the Council's constituents that it would lightly put that at risk? Surely the whole point about a Joint Committee is that it is perfectly capable of weighing all the evidence, taking account of planning and environmental considerations, of questions of equity and justice in respect of taking peoples land away from them compulsorily, of the national interest, and of the Government's policy. These are matters that a Joint Committee is preeminently suited to consider.

The hon. Gentleman has no right and no basis in fact for suggesting that a Joint Committee of this House would be incapable of weighing those matters and arriving at a balanced conclusion. Therefore, I believe that the hon. Gentleman's blackmailing suggestion, that if this House does not agree with the way the Secretary of State wants it that would put 5,000 jobs at risk, is not the language of Parliament. It is the language of the Reichstag. The hon. Gentleman has no right to level that kind of accusation against a Joint Committee that is perfectly capable of arriving at a sound conclusion.

The basic objection that I have to the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech and the support that he appears to get from the Government arises wholly from the suggestion that it is inadmissible to put this matter to a Joint Committee, because it might arrive at a different conclusion from that of the Leader of the House. On many occasions in the past the House has arrived at different conclusions from those of the right hon. Gentleman, and there will be many future occasions—and he knows it. Nothing should go out from this House to suggest that where the House disagrees with the right hon. Gentleman it is the House that is wrong and he who is right. That is an inadmissible proposition to put before Parliament.

Whether or not the examiners, in considering these petitions, have come to the conclusion that they should be regarded not as petitions for amendment but as petition of general recovery, I take it that they are seeking to give other than general objections that may be levelled on policy grounds—those objections that might arise, for example, from local authorities or statutory bodies—and are incorporating within those objections a number of private objections.

What is being done, therefore—I hesitate to use the word, but the very term "general objection" implies it means a certain hybridity, in that there are private as well as public objections to be considered. What the House is in practice doing, if this proposition is accepted, is saying that, because Government policy deems otherwise, the private rights incorporated within a general objection shall have no effect and shall not even be considered. That is inequitable, unjust, and something that I am surprised that the hon. and learned Gentleman has commended to us.

I put three questions to the right hon. Gentleman—I was about to say not to the monkey but to the organ grinder. First, in respect of this land, what is it that is going on in Ebbw Vale that he is trying to hide? He should tell the House. Secondly, why is he frightened of putting the matter to a Joint Committee? Has he no confidence in such a Committee, on which, I suppose, the Government would have a majority?

Finally, why has the right hon. Gentleman lent his name to abusing the House, as the hon. and learned Gentleman did, in suggesting that the House would have so little care for the people of this area as cavalierly to say that there shall be no jobs, no further employment, when he knows that the House and a Joint Committee are perfectly capable of considering these matters and arriving at a better conclusion than that of the Secretary of State himself?

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have now had an opportunity of studying Standing Order No. 3(1)(b), and I find that it is quite clear that we are not engaged in a matter pursuant to the Act that you mentioned. Pursuant to the Act, these petitions would go to a Select Committee. What we are doing, if anything at all—which I beg leave to doubt—is endeavouring to evade the Act. That cannot be described as a proceeding pursuant to the Act. By no stretch of the imagination can a motion to evade the Act be constructed as a proceeding pursuant to the Act.

What the hon Member for Abertillery (Mr. Thomas)—who is believed to be learned, although I have not checked that fact—is endeavouring to do is to go outside the provisions of the Act. It was open to the Government to put down a suspension motion, with due notice, on the Order Paper, so that the House could proceed with business that falls outside Standing Order No. 3 after 10 o'clock. They simply did not do so.

The Secretary of State was, perhaps, hoping that the Lord President would move it, the Lord President was, perhaps hoping that the Prime Minister would move it and the Prime Minister was hoping that the Whip on duty would move it. That did not happen. We are engaged in ultra vires action, and it is an unprofitable way of spending the time of the House.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am obliged to the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) for his point of order, and perhaps I can assist him. The proceedings fall within the Statutory Orders (Special Procedure) Act 1945 and the motion is authorised under Section 4 of that Act as amended by the Act of 1965.

3.5 a.m.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Michael Foot)

Perhaps the House will allow me to say what I have to say. Hon. Members will recognise the importance of the matter for my constituency and neighbouring constituencies, whatever are the rights and wrongs of the issue. I have no right to question the manner in which hon. Members have raised the matter in the House.

I hope that the House will listen to what I have to say for a few minutes because the issue involves serious human problems. I have nothing to hide, and I hope that I can explain why the motion appears today and why it was moved.

The right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) referred to the occasion in 1968 when there was a similar debate. He voted with the minority on that occasion and he then put a case similar to that which he presented to the House tonight. I respect his view on that aspect of the matter. Of course, it is serious when the rights of petitioners are overborne in any way. That is a serious proposition and it is right that the House should carefully consider it.

As the right hon. Member for Crosby indicated, there are occasions when, according to the arrangements of the House as accepted in the past, it is believed right and advisable that the House should resort to this method of dealing with the problem. That does not in any sense mean that we are ignoring or deriding the rights of petitioners. I therefore accept what the hon. Member for Crosby said on that aspect, although I do not agree with his conclusion, as hon. Members did not agree with his conclusion in 1968.

I shall now refer to the document and the events in Ebbw Vale and surrounding areas which gave rise to tonight's occasion. First, there is the question of the date of the Order—1974. The matter goes back further than that, to the decision by the previous Government when the British Steel Corporation drew up its plan for the strategy of the whole British steel industry. Included in that plan was a proposal for closing the heavy end of the steelworks at Ebbw Vale involving the running down of between 4,000 and 5,000 jobs. About 10,000 were employed at that time. It was proposed to cut by half over a period of year the total employed there.

That proposal was recommended to the House by the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) on behalf of the then Conservative Government sometime in 1973. He then came to Ebbw Vale and stated the Government's case for their acceptance of the corporation's strategy, which involved a transformation in the employment situation at Ebbw Vale on a scale proposed for no other section of the steel industry.

We were to be the first on the list to which the changed system of producing steel was to be applied. As the Government then acknowledged, and as we acknowledged, those proposals involved serious economic and social changes for the whole area. We modified that plan under the BSC's proposals. We promised that we should have a fresh investigation into the plan. but in the main we accepted the corporation's proposals, which had been approved by the previous Government, as they applied to Ebbw Vale, although we knew that they involved extremely serious unemployment problems, or at any rate changes in the employment provisions that had to be made in Ebbw Vale.

In order to provide the alternative employment, which was the policy of both the previous Government and this Government, we had to have surveys of the whole area to see where we should be able to build new factories to provide for the 5,000 people who would lose their jobs in a small community over the period between 1975 and 1980. Those surveys started in 1973, when they were initiated by the corporation in concert with the local authorities and the previous Government. Discussions took place, and the first examinations occurred.

Right from those early times there were two main sites which were possible for the provision of factories, one of which is known as Tafanarbach which is already being developed. Five or six new factories are being built there which will provide work for getting on for 1,000 people when they are fully occupied. But it was already seen in 1973 that if there was to be a proper change over in the steel industry—and the test of the whole strategy for a change in the steel industry was whether one could carry out the change in a peaceful, successful, intelligent and humane manner—we had also to discover other areas in which we could provide for factories to be built.

One of those areas was the Rassau site, which features in the Order. In 1974 the local authority went ahead with the backing of everybody in the community, as we thought—certainly the whole of the council, the British Steel Corporation and the Government. We went ahead to try to see how we could provide the new factories to give the jobs to the people who would be thrown out of the heavy end of the steelworks. We had hoped—certainly everybody working to try to ensure that we could carry out these changes in a civilised way hoped—that we should be able to start doing the work on the Rassau site, the drainage and the rest, way back in 1974.

But objections were made, as they were entitled to be made, by people living in the area—commoners and others. There was argument in the community about the matter. Overwhelmingly the community accepted the fact that we must have the jobs, otherwise Ebbw Vale would not survive at all. The view of the elected representatives was that we should have Rassau as an essential site if we were to be able to provide employment for our people on a proper scale.

All through 1974 we hoped that we would be able to do so. In 1975 we eventually established a public inquiry according to the provisions of the Act. We were impatient because people were already beginning to lose jobs at Ebbw Vale. We had not the assurance of alternative employment on anything like the scale required in the years ahead. In 1975, however, the inquiry took place and it went into these matters in great detail. All the representations were made at that inquiry.

I do not comment about the inspector, but many of us in Ebbw Vale were astounded at the outcome of the inspector's report. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am merely stating the facts of the matter. However, there is a provision in the legislation under which these matters can go to the Secretary of State for Wales and in other cases, no doubt, to the Secretary of State for Scotland or other Secretaries of State, whereby they are able to form their own judgment and make their own decision. They act in a quasi-judicial capacity. That was what happened here.

The Secretary of State for Wales examined the matter, and he took six months to do so. He undertook that task with great care and sympathy. What happened was that after six months from the end of July until before December—the period may have been five rather than six months—the Secretary of State eventually made his decision, in which he said that the compulsory purchase order should go ahead.

We in Ebbw Vale who were responsible for trying to provide alternative employment thought that there would be no further obstacle. But in 1975 and at the beginning of 1976 we were still unable to proceed with the work.

Mr. Graham Page

What puzzles me is this. If the Government require this matter to be voted on tonight to avoid further delay, why was there delay between August 1975 when the public inquiry finished to the time in March 1976 when the Order was confirmed? If they had meant to counter the delay, it could have been done within that period of six months.

Mr. Foot

During the bulk of that period the most detailed consideration was given to the representations by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales. He also gave detailed consideration to all the representations made by the petitioners and others, and obviously all matters were taken into account when he came to his decision. He came to a conclusion according to the provisions of the Act. The Act says that the Secretary of State can make such decisions, and that was what has happened in this case. The reason, no doubt, why the Secretary of State reached that decision lies in the overriding importance of trying to ensure that we provide employment for the people there as an alternative to the steelworks that are being run down.

It was on that basis that we proceeded. Now we come to the proposition that the matter should be held up again. One reason why I believe that the House is right, in the interests of the employment of the people of Ebbw Vale, to accept this motion is that after this period we have the right to say that there should be no more delay. Every month's delay, certainly every few months' delay, will make it all the more difficult to get the factories—to get the work done on the drainage and sewerage, for example, and to get all the preparations carried out for putting the site in working order. What is of paramount importance for us in Ebbw Vale is that the Rassau site should be in operation if we are to be able to provide for our people.

It is also a possibility, and I face it—I do not cast any reflection upon what a Joint Committee of Parliament might say—that this House will decide that it has the right to make a decision too. That was what happened in 1968. This House can say "We believe that this is a matter of such supreme importance that we can make a decision." That is what we are saying to the House today, and that is the conclusion that the Secretary of State for Wales reached after long consideration.

I hope very much that the House will think carefully before accepting the advice of those who would try to reject the motion. The House would do itself great injury if it were to say—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] People look to this House—

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch and Lymington)

Cheating again.

Mr. Foot

—for assistance in guaranteeing their jobs. If the House of Commons turns its back on such people, it will do grave injury to its reputation, certainly in Wales and many other places where people are concerned about how we are to provide employment.

Mr. Peter Rees

Will not the right hon. Gentleman admit that a great number of the objectors are his own constituents?

Mr. Foot

Some of the objectors are my constituents. That is true. Those constituents have had a full opportunity of putting their case at the inquiry—

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

And they won.

Mr. Foot

—and if those constituents of mine were to carry through this petition to success they would condemn hundreds of thousands of my constituents to unemployment. That is the fact of the matter. Moreover, they would make quite certain that there would not be any possibility of carrying out any great changes in the steel industry. If it is not possible to carry out those changes successfully in Ebbw Vale—

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

What about liberty?

Mr. Foot

Yes, I believe that we are protecting the liberty of the overwhelming majority of workers—

Mr. Peter Rees

Protect our liberties.

Mr. Foot

I am protecting the employment of the vast majority of my constituents. I know that most Opposition Members are shouting their heads off. I do not accuse all of them of engaging in that behaviour, but they do not give a fig for the people of Ebbw Vale. All they want is a cheap procedural victory, a victory to be won at the expense—

Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is the right hon. Gentleman entitled to say that my hon. Friends do not care about the people of Ebbw Vale? We are concerned about the freedom of the British people.

Mr. Foot

I am sure that, whatever else that was, it was not a point of order.

Before the House decides to reject the Order, I trust that it will think carefully about the whole of the background and consider all the consequences. If the Opposition are not interested in the people of Ebbw Vale, they might at least be interested in what is to happen to the steel industry, which is of paramount importance for us all. If there is to be a successful steel industry, there have to be great changes in it. Those changes will be carried through successfully only if we are able to provide alternative employment in other new industries when there is a rundown in a part of the steel industry. If we are to have new industries, we must have places where we can build them. We in Ebbw Vale have been fighting for three years to try to get places to build the factories, and we are being told that the opportunity is to be denied to us. If the House of Commons denies us the means to live, it will be a bad day for the House.

3.28 a.m.

Mr. Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)

I had no intention of speaking in the debate until I listened to the hon. and learned Member for Abertillery (Mr. Thomas) and the Leader of the House. I am totally appalled by the arguments they have advanced. As I understand it, they say that there is a need for industrial development—that is accepted. They say that people have individual private lives, and that is accepted.

There is a system called a means of inquiry. Under that procedure there is an inquiry, and the inspector finds in favour of the individual and the rights of the individual as against public demand for development. The Secretary of State, as he is entitled to do, but presumably having considered those rights, decides to overrule the inspector. That happens, but the system allows for objectors to take their case to a Joint Committee of the House.

The hon. and learned Gentleman—I ask him to think about this in his capacity as a lawyer—has the effrontery to argue before the House that the justification of doing away with that process is that the objectors' case is such that they might win before the impartial Joint Committee. That, with respect, was what he said. It is not a delay of six weeks or eight weeks that concerns the hon. and learned Gentleman; it is the fear that the Joint Committee, an independent body, might come down on the same side as the independent inspector against the view of the Secretary of State. I must say that that is a principle which I find abhorrent.

From time to time I battle with the hon. and learned Member for Abertillery in the courts. I ask him to tell the House what is the difference between that which he is arguing and saying to a man who has been convicted by a court of a criminal offence and who has, under the authority of the law, a right of appeal "You shall not be allowed that right of appeal because you might win." I ask the House to consider the principle in that proposal.

3.30 a.m.

Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)

I begin by saying that I endorse every word just uttered by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle).

The Leader of the House started his speech quietly. However, towards the close of his remarks he was forced to reveal the poverty of his case by relying on the allegation that no one on these Opposition Benches cared for those who lived in Ebbw Vale or for the British steel industry. That was very poor.

There is no need for me to go into the facts at any length. They are well enough known. An inspector's report has been rejected by the Secretary of State, who had six months in which to do it, and now Parliament is to be denied six or eight weeks in which to consider the very real points of view of the petitioners.

We were told by the hon. and learned Member for Abertillery (Mr. Thomas) that the inspector seemed to be "capricious and eccentric". I do not think I have ever heard an inspector described in those words before, especially in the presence of a Minister who did not see fit to qualify that view. Nor have we been told whether the inspector whose findings were so loosely dismissed as "capricious and eccentric" is still employed on such duties. It would be interesting now to hear from the Secretary of State for Wales whether that inspector is still being employed in those duties.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. John Morris)

I have no reason to doubt—[Interruption.] I ask the House to listen. The right hon. Gentleman asked a question and I am entitled to reply to it. I have no doubt that he is still on the panel of inspectors of the Department of the Environment and carrying out such duties to this day.

Mr. Peyton

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has done his best with that question. He has acknowledged clearly that there is no official complaint against the inspector. In other words, the remark which was so central to the case made by the hon. and learned Member for Abertillery was wholly bogus and unfounded.

The hon. and learned Member went on to say that the reason for the motion was that Government policy was being frustrated. If that is so, I wonder why we did not have a Minister moving the motion from the start instead of its being put on the Order Paper under the disguise of the name of the hon. and learned Member for Abertillery, who, putting it very politely, did not make a very good job of moving it.

The hon. and learned Gentleman then said that it was grossly irresponsible of the petitioners to pursue their rights. That is a remark which should be enshrined in one of the nastier pages of the parliamentary record. I do not recall ever having heard anyone say in this House that it was grossly irresponsible for anyone to pursue the rights which the law has conferred upon him—although I fear that this sort of thing is becoming more commonplace in our experience this summer. The hon. and learned Member went on to say that a Joint Committee could come to a different conclusion from that of the Secretary of State.

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas

So much is being made of this false point. It is completely false. It was not precisely what I said and it was taken out of context. The point I was making was, why should the people of North Gwent be put in further jeopardy because of the pursuance of these objectives?

Mr. Peyton

I wrote the words down as the hon. and learned Member said them, and I shall be very interested to compare them in due course with those in the Official Report. The words I wrote down were "A Joint Committee could come to a different conclusion from the Secretary of State".

We on this side of the House do not share that total confidence in the judgment of Ministers when they are sitting in their own cause. I am bound to say that this case causes us considerable anxiety. We are told that the matter cannot wait. The inspector's report, in paragraph 114, gives a finding of fact that other sites are at present available. They have not been developed and are not being developed. The Leader of the House shakes his head. If this is really untrue, it would appear again that the inspector's findings of fact, and not simply opinions, are being challenged by Ministers. I do not believe that that is the case. At least, the right hon. Gentleman does not appear to be pressing his disagreement.

Mr. Foot

It is contested not merely by me but by the Blaenau-Gwent council, the British Steel Corporation and everyone who knows anything about it.

Mr. Peyton

There are other sites immediately available, according to paragraph 114 of the inspector's report, but they are not being developed.

We are also told that 5,000 jobs are in jeopardy and that we on this side of the House would prefer to see those jobs in peril in order to enjoy a cheap procedural victory. But we have had not a shred of evidence to suggest that 5,000 jobs are in jeopardy, and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is entitled in a flood of oratory to overlook the facts and overlook his duty to produce to Parliament some evidence upon which we may make a decision. I endorse what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths).

My right hon. Friend was sharply told that he could not go into details. That

seemed a very strange piece of advice to the House of Commons. I do not need to prolong my remarks. The Leader of the House referred to the extremely serious human problems in the steel industry today, but he did not give one shred of evidence as to the urgency of the matter or why the tackling of these problems would be in any way breached by allowing Parliament itself the opportunity to give the petitioners their full rights. We have simply not been told why the matter is urgent. We have merely had the reiteration of Ministers' views that it is, and that is inadequate.

We did not hear from the Leader of the House whether he endorsed the view of the hon. and learned Member for Abertillery that a Joint Committee was an unreliable way of dealing with these things.

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas

I did not say that.

Mr. Peyton

The hon. and learned Gentleman said that a Joint Committee might come to a conclusion different from that of the Secretary of State. That means that he could not rely upon the Committee to reach the conclusion that he and the Secretary of State wanted it to arrive at.

The right hon. Gentleman has not dealt either with the availability of other sites and Parliament is, therefore, wholly unable to judge this issue. I am sure that the House would wish to come to a decision on this matter, and I am sure that it will do so with what I am about to say in mind. Even in this day and age the rights of individuals are not lightly to be overridden, and certainly not merely for the purpose of vindicating the judgment of a Minister who helped himself to six months but will not give Parliament six weeks.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 191, Noes 127.

Division No. 181.] AYES 3.44 a.m.
Allaun, Frank Bates, Alf Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)
Anderson, Donald Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)
Archer, Peter Bidwell, Sydney Buchan, Norman
Armstrong, Ernest Bishop, E. S, Buchanan, Richard
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Booth, Rt Hon Albert Butler. Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)
Atkinson, Norman Bradley, Tom Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Bray, Dr Jeremy Campbell, Ian
Barnett. Guy (Greenwich) Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Canavan, Dennis
Cant, R. B. Hart, Rt Hon Judith Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Carmichael, Neil Heffer, Eric S. Price, William (Rugby)
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Huckfield, Les Radice, Giles
Clemitson, Ivor Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Richardson, Miss Jo
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cohen, Stanley Hughes, Roy (Newport) Robinson, Geoffrey
Coleman, Donald Hunter, Adam Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Rooker, J. W.
Concannon, J. D. Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Rose, Paul B.
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Janner, Greville Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Corbett, Robin Jeger, Mrs Lena Rowlands, Ted
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Sandelson, Neville
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) John, Brynmor Sedgemore, Brian
Crawshaw, Richard Johnson, James (Hull West) Selby, Harry
Cronin, John Jones, Barry (East Flint) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Cryer, Bob Kerr, Russell Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Leadbitter, Ted Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Dalyell, Tam Lomas, Kenneth Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Davidson, Arthur Loyden, Eddie Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Silverman, Julius
Deakins, Eric McCartney, Hugh Skinner, Dennis
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) McElhone, Frank Small, William
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey MacFarquhar, Roderick Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund McGuire, Michael (Ince) Snape, Peter
Doig, Peter Mackenzie, Gregor Spearing, Nigel
Dormand, J. D. Maclennan, Robert Stallard, A. W.
Douglas-Mann, Bruce McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Duffy, A. E. P. McNamara, Kevin Stoddart, David
Dunnett, Jack Madden, Max Strang, Gavin
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Magee, Bryan Swain, Thomas
Eadie, Alex Mahon, Simon Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Edge, Geoff Mallalieu, J. P. W. Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Marks, Kenneth Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
English, Michael Maynard, Miss Joan Tinn, James
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Meacher, Michael Tomlinson, John
Evans, John (Newton) Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Tuck, Raphael
Ewing Harry (Stirling) Mendelson, John Urwin, T. W.
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Mikardo, Ian Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Millan, Bruce Watkins, David
Flannery, Martin Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) Watkinson, John
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Molloy, William Wellbeloved, James
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) White, Frank R. (Bury)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick White, James (Pollok)
Forrester, John Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Whitlock, William
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Newens, Stanley Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Fraser, John (Lambeth,N'w'd) Noble, Mike Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Freeson, Reginald Oakes, Gordon Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
George, Bruce Ogden, Eric Wise, Mrs Audrey
Golding, John O'Halloran, Michael Woodall, Alec
Graham, Ted Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Woof, Robert
Grant, John (Islington C) Owen, Dr David Wrigglesworth, Ian
Grocott, Bruce Palmer, Arthur Young, David (Bolton E)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Park, George
Hardy, Peter Pavitt, Laurie TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Harper, Joseph Peart, Rt Hon Fred Mr. Caerwyn E. Roderick and
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Pendry, Tom Mr. Terry Walker.
Adley, Robert Cordle, John H. Grist, Ian
Aitken, Jonathan Corrie, John Hall, Sir John
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Crouch, David Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Banks, Robert Dodsworth, Geoffrey Hampson, Dr Keith
Beith, A. J. Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hannam, John
Benyon, W. Drayson, Burnaby Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss
Berry, Hon Anthony du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Hastings, Stephen
Biffen, John Durant, Tony Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Biggs-Davison, John Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Heseltine, Michael
Blaker, Peter Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hunt, David (Wirral)
Body, Richard Emery, Peter Hunt, John
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fairgrieve, Russell James, David
Bottomley, Peter Farr, John Jessel, Toby
Brotherton, Michael Forman, Nigel Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Fox, Marcus Jones, Arthur (Daventry)
Buck, Antony Freud, Clement Jopling, Michael
Budgen, Nick Fry, Peter Kimball, Marcus
Carlisle, Mark Gardiner, George (Reigate) King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Glyn, Dr Alan Kitson, Sir Timothy
Churchill, W. S. Goodhart, Philip Lamont, Norman
Clark, William (Croydon S) Goodhew, Victor Latham, Michael (Melton)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Lawrence, Ivan
Clegg, Walter Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Lawson, Nigel
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Le Marchant, Spencer
Cope, John Griffiths, Eldon Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Loveridge, John Page, John (Harrow West) Stanbrook, Ivor
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Stradling Thomas, J
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Parkinson, Cecil Tapsell, Peter
Marten, Neil Penhaligon, David Tebbit, Norman
Mather, Carol Percival, Ian Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Maude, Angus Peyton, Rt Hon John Trotter, Neville
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Pym, Rt Hon Francis Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Mayhew, Patrick Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Viggers, Peter
Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts) Wall, Patrick
Moate, Roger Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Weatherill, Bernard
Monro, Hector Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Wells, John
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Morgan, Geraint Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Wiggin, Jerry
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Winterton, Nicholas
Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Shepherd, Colin TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Neave, Airey Shersby, Michael Mr. Michael Roberts and
Newton, Tony Sinclair, Sir George Mr. Fred Silvester.
Normanton, Tom Stainton, Keith

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the Petitions of General Objection of Mr. William John Williams, Mr. W. G. Rowland and others, Mr. H. Bennett and others, Mr. Ednyfed Austyn Prys and others, and Mr. E. J. Thomas and others, against the Blaenau-Gwent District (Rassau North Industrial Estate) Compulsory Purchase Order 1974 be not referred to a Joint Committee.