HC Deb 16 January 1978 vol 942 cc9-10
8. Mr. Wyn Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many letters he has received in favour of and against the proposals for devolution as set out in the Wales Bill.

Mr. John Morris

Among the letters I have received seeking clarification or making general comments on the provisions of the Wales Bill, two have been broadly in favour and two broadly against.

Mr. Roberts

Do those figures suggest to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that there is an overwhelming majority in Wales in favour of the Bill?

Mr. Morris

We must wait for the referendum to discover that.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, although there may be an articulate minority demanding a Welsh Assembly—although it does not appear to be writing letters—there is also a large, silent majority opposed to the establishment of an Assembly? Will he consider putting the issue to the test by holding a consultative referendum before we discuss the Wales Bill? Would it not be possible in that way to test the wishes of the Welsh people and then decide what to do in the House?

Mr. Morris

My hon. Friend has argued in that way before. I thought that he was one of the protagonists of a referendum on the Bill. He is getting a referendum. He ought to be satisfied.

Mr. Grist

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman take this opportunity to say whether a special arrangement has been reached with the Heron Corporation for additional office space to be taken in Cardiff for the Welsh Assembly?

Mr. Morris

I am not aware of any such development. That would be a question for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, who is responsible for the Property Services Agency.

Mr. Anderson

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that of all the Questions tabled today perhaps only one—that concerning energy conservation—would be allowable if the Assembly were in being? In the light of that, will my right hon. and learned Friend comment on the role of Members of Parliament representing Welsh constituencies if the Assembly were to come into being?

Mr. Morris

I invite my hon. Friend to look at the Questions that have been tabled today and suggest that he does his homework a little better. There are six or seven dealing with agriculture alone.