HC Deb 03 July 1978 vol 953 cc11-2
8. Sir A. Meyer

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on current progress towards arrangements for a referendum on devolution.

Mr. Alec Jones

Under Sechedule 12 to the Wales Bill, a draft order making provision for the conoduct of the referendum must be laid before Parliament and approved by resolution of each House.

Sir A. Meyer

Since the Government, for reasons of electoral expediency, are now following the lead given, with totally misguided conviction, by Plaid Cymru, does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the voters who consider the scheme for an elected Welsh Assembly both expensive and impractical have no other recourse than to vote Conservative?

Mr. Alec Jones

Anyone who gives advice to the people to vote Tory at the next election must want his head examined. On the question of an elected Assembly for Wales, I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Labour Party in Wales was on record, long before there was a Plaid Cymru Member of Parliament, as calling for a directly-elected Assembly because we saw it as an extension of democracy—a word not exactly popular with the Conservative Party.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Has the hon. Gentleman's Department or any other Department yet had discussions with the broadcasting authorities about their intensions in the coming devolution referendum? How is the balance of views to be controlled on programmes broadcast into Wales by Granada Television, Westward Television, and so on?

Mr. Alec Jones

The question of equity in broadcasting is a matter for the broadcasting authorities themselves. I am sure that they will note the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question.

Mr. Abse

In order to dispel the view that the only way to prevent the Welsh Assembly is to vote Tory at the next election, may I ask my hon. Friend to make it clear that, by voting for very many Labour Members in Wales, not to mention some silent Ministers, the voters can be assured that there will be a vigorous fight in this House and in the referendum to ensure that, with Labour electors' support, there will be no Welsh bureaucratic Assembly?

Mr. Alec Jones

I think that the proper body to decide whether there shall be an elected Assembly for Wales is not a few odd people on either side of the House but the people of Wales themselves, and this House will, I hope, give them the opportunity to do that through the referendum.