HC Deb 12 February 1979 vol 962 cc774-5
12. Mr. Abse

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he intends communicating with the Gwent council on the issue of the implementation in Gwent of section 137 of the Local Government Act.

Mr. John Morris

No, Sir. I have already made public my views on the use of this section for voting money to oppose the implementation of the Wales Act.

Mr. Abse

Is it not quite clear that this is a matter of the Secretary of State's failure to communicate despite his intemperate attack upon the stalwart Gwent Labour county councillors, who came into the movement before he had even considered joining it? Is it not because his statement is a complete bluff and that he lacks both the legal and the political power to coerce Gwent county council? Does he agree that when ratepayers are being called upon to bear grievous burdens—the £15 or £20 million which will come out of the block grant or will have to be found from somewhere—it is right that Gwent county council should spend a mere £1,000 in order to save them from the expensive folly in Cardiff which he is attempting to impose upon them?

Mr. Morris

Certainly I would not like to compete with my hon. Friend in making intemperate remarks. He has made some this afternoon.

I find it odd that ratepayers' money is being used for essentially political purposes. It was hardly ever the intention of Parliament, when this discretion was given to local authorities, that they should do this. I wonder what the next stage is. I wonder whether the money could be given direct to the Conservative Party or to Aims of Industry. I wonder what my hon. Friend's reaction would have been when he was campaigning for the "Yes" side in regard to the EEC for many years, and whether he would have allowed money to have gone in that way.