HC Deb 21 March 1989 vol 149 cc931-46

.—(1) The Secretary of State shall establish and maintain a committee for advising him with respect to matters affecting or otherwise connected with the carrying out in Wales of the Authority's functions by virtue of this Act.

(2) The committee established and maintained under this section—

  1. (a) shall consist of such persons as may be appointed by the Secretary of State; and
  2. (b) shall meet at least once a year.

(3) The Secretary of State shall, out of money provided by Parliament, pay to the members of the committee established and maintained under this section such sums reimbursing them for loss of remuneration, for travelling expenses and for other out-of-pocket expenses as he may with the consent of the Treasury determine.'. —[Mr. Wyn Roberts.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

4.53 pm
The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. Wyn Roberts)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take sub-amendment (a), in line 3, leave out 'Authority's function by virtue' and insert 'provisions'.

Sub-amendment (b), leave out lines 5 to 7 and insert 'shall comprise

  1. (a) representatives of local authorities in Wales;
  2. (b) the chairman of fisheries, drainage and recreation committees in Wales; and
  3. (c) representatives of such consumer, environmental and recreational organisations as the Secretary of State may consider to be affected.'.
Sub-amendment (c), in line 7, at end insert— '(2A) It shall be the duty of the Authority, or of any undertaker to supply such information to the Committee as it may reasonably request, in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State'. Sub-amendment (d), in line 11, at end insert— '(3A) The Secretary of State may confer on the Committee the duty to carry out any function exercisable by him by virtue of this Act.'. Government amendment 9, in clause 2, page 3, line 14, at end insert 'and it shall be the duty of the Authority in determining the regions for which advisory committees are established and maintained to ensure that one of those regions consists wholly or mainly of or of most of Wales'. and sub-amendment (a), leave out 'or mainly of or of most'; Government amendment 10, in clause 136, page 139, line 15, at end insert— 'and it shall be the duty of the Authority in determining the regions for which regional advisory committees are established and maintained to ensure that one of those regions consists (apart from territorial waters) wholly or mainly of or of most of Wales.'. and sub-amendment (a) leave out 'or mainly of or of most'.

Mr. Roberts

New clause 8 establishes on the face of the Bill the advisory committee for Wales, which will be appointed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales to advise him on matters relating to the policies and activities of the National Rivers Authority that impinge upon and affect Wales as a whole.

The advisory committee will be appointed by the Secretary of State for Wales. It is his intention that it will be chaired by his appointee to the NRA. It should include the chairmen of the three regional committees serving the NRA region based on Welsh Water's area and the chairman of the regional rivers advisory committee for the area based on Severn-Trent's area. It should also have one or more independent members.

Hon. Members may well ask why we have not specified named posts in the Bill. The main reason is that to do so would be very restrictive. For example, the occupier of a specific post might not be able to serve on the committee; there might be time constraints or the additional workload might be more than a particular individual could incur. There could be any number of reasons why individuals in maintained posts could not serve.

This is an important committee with a vital role in ensuring that the Secretary of State for Wales is kept fully informed, and obtains a Welsh view, of NRA policies that affect Wales and of the needs of the NRA, if Welsh requirements are to be met. Its remit will extend to Wales as a whole and not just the area of the Welsh water authority. Its success will depend crucially on the calibre of those appointed, the advice they give and the way in which this advice plays its part in developing or influencing NRA policies in Wales. It can be only an advisory committee. The executive powers must lie with the NRA. But the Secretary of State for Wales can and will use the advice given to guide his own actions in relation to NRA matters. Whether the committee is statutory or not is really incidental to its ability to be a success. Nevertheless, in deciding to establish the committee we kept an open mind upon whether it should be statutory. We have listened carefully to the arguments put both inside and outside the House.

I was particularly impressed by the words of the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), when he said: There is a pressing need for the advisory committee in Wales to be on a statutory basis. It is either important or it is not."—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 2 March 1989; c. 1478.] We have made our assessment of the advantages of having a statutory base for the committee and this new clause, which I commend to the House, is the result.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) has presented the advisory committee as some sort of concession by the Government to the demands and the weight of argument by the Opposition. This is on a par with the comment of the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) when, in Committee on 10 January, he accused me of pulling the special committee like a rabbit out of a hat. But, as I have said, when we decided that there should be a National Rivers Authority we immediately recognised and acknowledged that there would be a difference between the regional structure of the authority and the territorial responsibilities of the Secretary of State. This was why, when we produced our policy paper in December 1987, we set out the need for an advisory committee and our views on its membership. All this has been promulgated and in full view for 16 months and cannot be regarded, even in a flight of fancy, as a concession to Opposition pressure. That policy document stated: Response to the consultation paper did not indicate the need for a separate NRA in Wales. Nevertheless, a special committee will be formed to advise the Secretary of State for Wales on Welsh issues. This committee will be chaired by the Secretary of State for Wales's appointee to the NRA and its membership will include the chairmen of the Regional Rivers Advisory Committee, the Regional Fisheries Advisory Committee and the Regional Flood Defence Committee. We spent some time in Committee on the powers and duties of the Secretary of State for Wales and on how the needs and interests of Wales were to be looked after by the provisions of this Bill. I think I ought to make the position clear once again.

In Committee my hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Water and Planning explained clearly and simply the general constitutional position that the phrase "Secretary of State" is defined as one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State and that powers are allocated to particular Ministers on an administrative basis. In a further effort I produced for the Committee a digest of the powers of the Secretary of State for Wales which set out precisely what those powers were; but for the benefit of the House let me state emphatically once more that the Secretary of State for Wales retains his responsibilities for the water industry in Wales under this Bill. The Secretary of State for Wales will share responsibility for the NRA; he will jointly appoint the Director General of Water Services; he will appoint water and sewerage undertakers in the present area of the Welsh water authority; he will be reponsible for the enforcement functions related to those undertakers; he will be responsible for matters related to pollution control, to water resources and to water quality in Wales; he will be reponsible, as now, for land drainage and fisheries matters in the area of the Welsh water authority.

Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

The hon. Gentleman is at present cataloguing the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Wales, and of courses those responsibilities currently exist anyway. Can he confirm that up to the present time the Secretary of State for Wales has not submitted to Brussels any plans whatsoever to meet the directives on bathing water quality and tap water quality, despite reports to the contrary in the press? Does the Minister think that this shows how slow the Government have been in meeting the demands of these directives?

5 pm

Mr. Roberts

As the hon. Gentleman must realise, there is some misunderstanding. We are in continual contact with Brussels about the bathing directive and the water policy directive—as it has been in the past, so it will be in the future.

Let me also set out——

Mr. Keith Raffan (Delyn)


Mr. Roberts

Time is short and I am aware that hon. Members want to speak.

Let me also set out the position with regard to the National Rivers Authority in Wales. Initially there will be two NRA regions which will include parts of Wales, each of which will have a regional rivers advisory committee, a regional fisheries advisory committee and a regional flood defence committee. We shall introduce amendments to clauses 2 and 136 to ensure, subject to the approval of the House, that the area served by one of the regional rivers advisory committees and one of the regional fisheries advisory committees will consist of the whole, or most, of Wales.

The NRA will not be a monolithic centralised organisation. It will be an organisation with a small central policy unit and the vast majority of its staff in the regions. The central unit will consist of some 50 to 60 staff but there will be about 660 in the area of Welsh Water alone. The industry with which we are dealing is one in which local knowledge is vital; it must in all its operations have particular regard to local differences. If it is to be an effective organisation the strength of the NRA must be in the regions.

The regional committee structure will help to ensure that that is so. The regional rivers advisory committee, regional fisheries advisory committee and regional flood defence committee in each region will be made up of members with local knowledge and experience. In the regions, the executive decisions of the NRA will be implemented based on the advice, knowledge and experience of its locally based staff and of the members of various committees. It is in the regions that the needs and resources required will be identified, and it is in the regions that the main activities will take place.

When we set out our policy for a National Rivers Authority we considered the need for a separate Welsh rivers authority. We decided against it, because there are two ways of providing a Welsh rivers authority. On the one hand, it means maintaining something akin to the present water authority areas. This has the advantage of preserving river basin management but would mean that the Welsh area, if based on the present Welsh water authority area, would include considerable parts of England and exclude considerable parts of Wales.

Mr. Win Griffiths

Historically, that is quite acceptable.

Mr. Roberts

It is not acceptable.

The alternative is to establish a Welsh rivers authority whose area is conterminous with Wales. There is only one difficulty with this, which is that rivers do not follow administrative boundaries, and to have Welsh and English authorities on that basis would cut right across the principle of river basin management, which I understood that we all—on both sides of the House—agreed was important.

However, in proposing a National Rivers Authority we recognised and acknowledged immediately that there would be a difference between the regional structure of the authority, and the territorial responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Wales. That is why we have proposed that there should be a special committee to advise the Secretary of State for Wales on NRA matters related to Wales as a whole—to his territorial responsibilities—and why we are proposing that it should be statutory.

Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)

One of the most telling comments on a Welsh pupil's school report is "Gwnaeth eu orau". I could say the same to the Minister for his totally inadequate contribution this afternoon.

Given the way in which Ministers have lost every argument and conceded nothing in Committee, we should be thankful for small mercies today. At least the Minister has conceded that, if it is to mean anything at all, the special committee offered to us needs to be in the Bill, as I told him weeks ago. He rejected that out of hand in Committee. I suspect that the real reason for this concession is to enable him to pay his nominees' expenses for attending, not because he has suddenly come to share our belief that the water industry in Wales needs proper and careful oversight.

The Secretary of State's new clause has two functions. It establishes a committee and allows the members to receive expenses. As it stands, it is a toothless corgi with permanent laryngitis. The Secretary of State could appoint three or four failed Conservative candidates—of which there are quite a few in Wales—and provided that they met once a year no more need be heard from them. The Secretary of State does not need to heed or even to acknowledge their advice. With the chaos that surrounds his Welsh language board, we can understand his reluctance to leave himself open to more advice. Nevertheless, he cannot be allowed to get away with such a meaningless gesture.

Our amendments do the Secretary of State a favour. They give content to his packaging exercise and reality to the promised committee. They introduce representation, accountability and access of information to the committee. They make it mean something, although I stress that it will not be ideal.

The one factor in the Bill that we have welcomed is the rivers authority, but we should like the Government to forget their privatisation exercise, concentrate on the rivers authority, set up a separate Welsh rivers authority—against which the Minister has completely failed to make an adequate case—and strengthen the powers and resources of those two authorities so that they can perform a proper job. Even at this late stage, I appeal to the Minister and to the Secretary of State to reconsider and do just that. If they will not, let them at least provide us with a committee in Wales that can advise them properly and satisfy the Welsh people that, in future, the water industry will come under full and proper scrutiny.

Our amendments are modest, reasonable, and yet vital if the special Welsh committee is to play a real and positive role. Amendment (a) aims to broaden the advice available to the Secretary of State from the scope of the rivers authority to all the Bill's provisions. Amendment (b) suggests that representatives of local authorities, the chairman of the three vital committees—fisheries, drainage and recreation—and the consumer, environ-mental and recreational organisations, to be selected by the Secretary of State, should be on the committee. That is the very minimum needed to create a meaningful committee to advise the Secretary of State.

Our amendments also give the committee power to obtain information—without which, what kind of advice can be made available? Finally, they enable the Secretary of State to give greater meaning to the committee by delegating to it some of his powers.

Accepting those amendments would give some teeth to the committee, as stated in the proposed new clause. In the weeks in Standing Committee, there have been literally hundreds of examples of areas of concern on which scrutiny and public reassurance is necessary. The function of the National Rivers Authority is important, but so are matters such as health, water supply quality and consumer interest.

The Minister should accept with delight and relief the advice on all these topics offered by our amendments. Due to the constriction of the guillotine on this set of amendments, I do not have time to dwell as I should like on these individual matters. I shall give just a couple of brief examples of where public scrutiny, followed by considered advice given to the Secretary of State, would be of great benefit.

Yesterday, the Western Mail reported public concern about the increase in the rat population in Wales. Experts partly blame warm weather but also the poor state of sewers—which allow the creatures to escape—and the reduction of expensive sewer-baiting programmes carried out by water authorities, which are currently under the privatisation spotlight. That matter should come under proper scrutiny and the Secretary of State should obtain advice on it.

We could hark back to the comments in The Times in 1875, where the quality of drinking water was referred to in detail as in every case unutterably disgusting". When the Secretary of State for Wales sits in Gwdyr house contemplating his next press release or planning a foray into Wales for the next stage in his packaging initiative, he sits just where the 19th century reformers, Edwin Chadwick, sat to plan the clean-up of the private water industry to end the scandal of disease and dirt created by the then private water industry. Against his earlier instincts, Chadwick came to realise that action to bring water into the public sector was the only way to achieve a clean-up and protect the public. Why will not the Minister and the Secretary of State for Wales learn the lesson of history? Why will they not listen to the ghosts that probably inhabit their studies in Gwdyr house? The price to be paid if they fail to learn those lessons will be a repetition of past mistakes, and it is the people of Wales who will pay that price.

A former colleague of the Minister, Mrs. Sally Oppenheim-Barnes, referred to the importance of consumer protection in the privatised industry. She said: until it is adequately regulated, simply moving a monopoly from the public to the private sector does little or nothing for its consumers … Robust regulation of the privatised industry will be needed if consumers are not to be faced with rising prices and falling standards. We say, "hear, hear" to that. In Committee we have asked for a wide range of protection for consumers—fair prices, guaranteed supply, adequate water quality, a say for consumers, the right to public information and a guarantee of emergency cover. Let us at least ensure that the Secretary of State is given well-informed advice on each of those matters.

We have also commented on bathing directives and water quality. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) pointed out, the Minister fails to listen to what the European Commission tells him during what he describes as regular contacts, and fails to meet its requirements. The advisory committee ought to have information on such matters and to be able to advise the Secretary of State for Wales.

The NRA's responsibilities are manifold. I cannot dwell on them in detail, but one concern that has been referred to is the consequence of privatisation for conservation, recreation and public access to land currently owned by the water authorities. The Bill imposes on the NRA and water sewerage undertakings general environmental and recreational duties, including the duty to have regard to conservation and public rights of access. The code of practice, however, shows the duties imposed on the water authority to be operative only so far as may be consistent with the purpose of any enactments relating to the functions of that body". The subsidiary nature of those duties, particularly in relation to those imposed in clause 6—which establishes a duty to "promote economy and efficiency"—continues to call into question the extent to which the new water bodies will be committed to conservation and recreation in a privatised economy.

We have called on the Government to strengthen the control of pollution, discharges and obstructions, to provide adequate public funding for water bailiffing and to act on many other aspects affecting the environment, anglers and so forth. Again, as the Bill's provisions are weak, scrutiny and good advice become all the more important. Representation of all the relevant interests on the advisory committee, which we recommend, is not merely incidental but essential to the proper administra-tion of the Bill in Wales.

I have spoken on a range of issues in a few minutes, but each of the sentences that I have uttered could have been greatly expanded. The Minister knows that we have already drawn these matters to his attention in Committee and that he has continually failed to respond. I ask him to listen to the words of his hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, North-West (Sir A. Meyer), who said the other week that the privatisation measure was as intensely and deservedly unpopular in Wales as it has ever been".—[Official Report, 1 March 1989; Vol. 148, c. 316.] If the Secretary of State for Wales will not heed the warnings that have come from the Conservative Benches —as well as from elsewhere—and exclude Wales from the Bill, and if he will not give us our own rivers authority, let him at least ensure proper public scrutiny and accept reasonable advice.

The Opposition believe that water privatisation will do nothing positive for the environment or for the consumer in Wales. In the amendments, we have sought the minimum improvement of the establishment of a separate Welsh rivers authority, and asked for a consumers' charter to be written into the Bill. Failing that, let the Minister at least accept the amendments, recognising that they represent a modest, constructive and positive proposal which will be welcomed in Wales and which he should accept if he has the slightest concern for protecting Welsh interests and the slightest intention of setting up a committee that will mean or do anything.

Mr. Raffan

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), who is the only Member of the House who speaks faster than I do. I only wish that he made as much sense.

I welcome new clause 8. As my hon. Friend the Minister of State pointed out, it was foreshadowed in the Government's policy document on the NRA, which totally undermines claims by the hon. Members for Cardiff, South and Penarth and for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) that this is some kind of concession. We know that they are desperate to claim that such a concession, any concession, has been made, having been so severely worsted throughout the Committee stage: they must have something to show for the hours that they put in. We nearly had to call in the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Opposition Front Bench Spokesmen, so regularly were the arguments of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth "pulped"—I think that that is the appropriate word—by the Minister for Water and Planning.

I strongly support the inclusion for a special advisory committee in the Bill, although, as my hon. Friend says, that is purely incidental. An important point is that one member of the committee will come from the Severn-Trent water authority part of Wales. That is a significant improvement on the existing set-up. The Secretary of State's present responsibilities relate to the boundaries of the Welsh water authority, which are not conterminous with the Principality: they go into Cheshire in the north and Hereford and Worcester in the south, while the Severn-Trent water authority comes right into the middle of Wales. He will now have a greater say on water quality and pollution control in the central part of Wales.

5.15 pm

The special advisory committee, backed by the Secretary of State's direct responsibility for statutory decisions in Wales and his joint responsibility for the NRA, will play an important part in setting a framework for the NRA's activities in Wales. That will help to ensure that the NRA is efficient and effective in securing improvements in both water quality and pollution control in Wales.

One point that the Opposition have continually missed is that the NRA will not be some top-heavy body concentrated in London, with hardly any members in the rest of the country. It will have a strong regional structure, including 660 members based in Wales. In Standing Committee the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor continually stressed the importance of local knowledge of rivers to river basin management in the Principality. I agree with him, and that will continue.

It is an important point that the headquarters unit of the NRA will be small. The body will not be distant from Wales and dominated by London but based very much within the Principality. The fact that the mass of its staff will be in the Principality, together with the special advisory committee, totally undermines the arguments for a separate Welsh rivers authority. A separate Welsh authority would lead to unnecessary duplication and bureaucracy. It would not fit the boundaries of the new public limited companies, which of course will be conterminous with the existing water authorities. I strongly endorse my hon. Friend's view that a separate authority would also undermine the principles of river basin management, which I thought were favoured strongly by all hon. Members on both sides of the House.

I try to quote the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) at least once in my speeches. On Tuesday 10 January, quoting from the Welsh Water journal, the hon. Gentleman said: Welsh Water rivers are holding their own in the quality stakes".—[Official Report. Standing Committee D, 10 January 1989; c. 55.] Of course he is right. There have been dramatic improvements in water quality and pollution control in the Principality, thanks largely to the Government enabling the water authority to increase its capital expenditure. That spending will be accelerated when privatisation frees the authority from external financing limits.

Yes, we still have a long way to go. We must make up for years of neglect by the last Labour Government, who did not cut capital expenditure on water and sewerage infrastructure so much as slash and mutilate it. They reduced it by one third. With that record, Opposition Members are in no position to give us lectures about how to improve water quality or control pollution.

I want to respond briefly to the intervention of the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) about the EEC water quality and bathing water directives. We have seen a dramatic improvement in the quality of our beaches in Wales in the last year. I do not want the hon. Gentleman's remarks to go unanswered in the Welsh press. He should show more responsibility in his interventions. I note that he has now disappeared from the Chamber; he came in only to provide a quick quote for the Western Mail and then disappear. That is the contempt that he shows for the Chamber. If unanswered, his remarks could be highly damaging to Welsh tourism, and I intend to answer them.

There has been a dramatic improvement in the quality of our water and beaches in Wales. It is true that there could have been still greater improvement, but the blame for that not happening lies with the Opposition and their total neglect of capital spending on water infrastructure and sewage works during their last term of office, to the cuts that they instituted post-1976. I strongly endorse the advisory committee which will greatly benefit Wales and I look forward to its being set up.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)

First, I must express my regret that only 38 minutes were available to discuss the Welsh aspects of the Bill. I hope the people of Wales realise that that is unsatisfactory.

I welcome the Government's proposals as a move in the right direction. As the Minister acknowledged the strength of argument in Committee for putting the provisions on the face of the Bill, he must face the logic that there should be a Welsh rivers authority. The Minister has said that it is vital for decisions to be taken locally and emphasised the fact that most of the employees will be located in Wales and neighbouring English regions, as did the hon. Member for Delyn (Mr. Raffan) a moment ago. The Minister said that the Secretary of State's powers in Wales will be as strong after the Bill has been enacted as they are now. Taking those three points together, the case for decisions to be taken in Wales for the benefit of Wales and on the basis of circumstances in Wales is overwhelming. Wales has specific problems which need the freedom to take decisions locally. Those of us who were in Pontypridd before the by-election saw the floods in the Taff valley. Those floods, and the floods that hit Carmarthen only a few weeks ago—I am sorry that the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams) is not present—are evidence of the problems in Wales which require local decision-taking.

The amendments reflect an ironic position. We are to have two committees dealing with Wales—one is to be the advisory committee to the Secretary of State, which is conterminous with Wales, and the other is the regional advisory committee of the National Rivers Authority which may or may not be conterminous with Wales. Amendment No 9 refers to the regional advisory committee covering: wholly, mainly … or … most of Wales. The Government virtually acknowledge that there needs to be a strong legislative structure to deal with Wales, with all the powers that currently exist, but instead of having one structure we are to have two. The hon. Member for Delyn rightly said that we should avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and duplication, yet that is exactly what we are getting.

The logic of what the Minister announced today and of the amendments that we are debating is that we should move towards a regional advisory committee, which is part of the structure for England and Wales but conterminous with Wales, being amalgamated with the advisory committee which should then be given the powers of a fully-fledged authority. To that extent, we have proposed amendments to Government amendments Nos. 9 and 10. In the meantime, I support the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), which provide more powers and spell out the responsibilities of the advisory committee. We have tabled amendments today because the needs of Wales as a unit in its own right are recognised, but the administrative bodies have not been given sufficient responsibility lest they start doing what needs to be done for Wales. The amendments provide for half that job. We now need the other half.

Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)

If there was ever proof or evidence of the need for a major measure of devolution, it is the charade of debating major legislative issues affecting Welsh institutions in 38 minutes as a result of the guillotine and the way in which the House has performed. The United Kingdom Parliament legislates for the United Kingdom and I uphold that principle even when the Government of the day do not command a majority in the nation for which they are legislating. But —and it is a massive but—they should do so with respect for the views of the majority when they alter the structures, institutions and organisations which are directly responsible for the Principality. Our fundamental objection is that the Government are not doing that.

I must be one of the few survivors of the Water Act 1973. I served on the Committee considering that Bill and heard the Government justifying the concept of an integrated Welsh water authority commanding all powers and responsibilities. They boasted about giving executive power to that water authority and said that they were creating a Welsh water authority, although due to the river basins other territories outside the Principality were to be included in its operations. Now the Government seek to break up the Welsh water authority and to establish another authority which is deprived of any executive responsibility. We are being fobbed off by Ministers in a Government who do not command a majority in the Principality. We have been fobbed off with an advisory arrangement replacing an arrangement under which we had executive responsibility directly accountable to the Secretary of State, and through the Secretary of State to the House and to the people of Wales.

The Minister should not be surprised if there is a sharp and bitter reaction to the way in which the Government are behaving and are treating institutions in the Principality over which they do not command the legitimacy of a majority of people in Wales to justify the legislative actions. If nothing else, at least we have the right to expect the Government to respond to our request. If we are to be fobbed off with an advisory committee, at least it should have the additional responsibility contained in the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) to which I give my wholehearted support.

Mr. Richard Livsey (Brecon and Radnor)

New clause 8 is extremely important, and the new Welsh advisory committee is welcome. However, it does not have real executive power. That is a great weakness because it means that the committee is a toothless body. At least the Government have recognised the need for a Welsh committee, and we have to accept crumbs from their table. It is clear that there is no adequate funding for the NRA nationally or in Wales, and that is a serious problem. The functions of the NRA with regard to fisheries, land drainage and other matters are crucial.

In particular we have lost democratic control. After the 1973 Act, the water authorities at least contained local authority representation. The amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) proposes democratic local authority representa-tion on the advisory committee. I hope that the Minister will give us some assurance about local authority representation.

The advisory committee's lack of accountability is very serious. The appointment and patronage of the Secretary of State is not acceptable. How many representatives of the Severn-Trent area will be on the advisory committee? That has not been mentioned, but it is extremely important. The committee's functions cover drainage, pollution control, fisheries and recreation, all of which are crucial. I do not know whether compensatory water flow control from some of our reservoirs can be guaranteed as it has been in the past, but I hope that such matters will be properly attended to by the advisory committee. The lack of technical services and the importance of a research base for the NRA is absolutely vital.

I regret that time is running out, but I hope that there will not be over-centralised organisation within Wales and that local knowledge will be taken into account.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

I understand that the Opposition are concerned mainly about amendment (a), which seeks to widen the functions of the advisory committee so that it would be concerned with all the provisions of the Bill and not just the functions of the National Rivers Authority. I remind the Opposition that there will be a Director General of Water Services and a consumer committee for Wales. Decisions about flood defence works, which were mentioned by the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), are taken locally by the regional flood defence committees.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause accordingly read a Second time.

Amendment (b) proposed to the new clause: leave out lines 5 to 7 and insert `shall comprise

  1. (a) representatives of local authorities in Wales;
  2. (b) the chairmen of fisheries, drainage and recreation committees in Wales; and
  3. (c) representatives of such consumer, environmental and recreational organisations as the Secretary of State may consider to be affected.'.—[Mrs. Ann Taylor.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 215, Noes 322.

Division No 125] [5 30pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Allen, Graham Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)
Alton, David Dewar, Donald
Anderson, Donald Dixon, Don
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dobson, Frank
Armstrong, Hilary Doran, Frank
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Douglas, Dick
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Dunnachie, Jimmy
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Eadie, Alexander
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Eastham, Ken
Battle, John Evans, John (St Helens N)
Beckett, Margaret Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Beggs, Roy Fatchett, Derek
Beith, A. J. Faulds, Andrew
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Fearn, Ronald
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Bidwell, Sydney Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Blair, Tony Fisher, Mark
Blunkett, David Flannery, Martin
Boyes, Roland Flynn, Paul
Bradley, Keith Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bray, Dr Jeremy Foster, Derek
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Foulkes, George
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Fraser, John
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Fyfe, Maria
Buckley, George J. Galbraith, Sam
Caborn, Richard Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Callaghan, Jim George, Bruce
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Cartwright, John Godman, Dr Norman A.
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Gordon, Mildred
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Graham, Thomas
Clay, Bob Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Coleman, Donald Grocott, Bruce
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Haynes, Frank
Corbyn, Jeremy Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Cousins, Jim Heffer, Eric S.
Crowther, Stan Henderson, Doug
Cryer, Bob Hinchliffe, David
Cummings, John Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Home Robertson, John
Cunningham, Dr John Hood, Jimmy
Dalyell, Tam Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Darling, Alistair Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Howells, Geraint Pendry, Tom
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Pike, Peter L.
Hoyle, Doug Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Quin, Ms Joyce
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Radice, Giles
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Randall, Stuart
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Redmond, Martin
Illsley, Eric Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Ingram, Adam Reid, Dr John
Janner, Greville Richardson, Jo
Johnston, Sir Russell Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Robertson, George
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Robinson, Geoffrey
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Rogers, Allan
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Rooker, Jeff
Kirkwood, Archy Rowlands, Ted
Leadbitter, Ted Ruddock, Joan
Leighton, Ron Salmond, Alex
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Sedgemore, Brian
Lewis, Terry Sheerman, Barry
Litherland, Robert Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Livsey, Richard Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Short, Clare
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Sillars, Jim
Loyden, Eddie Skinner, Dennis
McAllion, John Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
McAvoy, Thomas Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
McCartney, Ian Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Macdonald, Calum A. Snape, Peter
McFall, John Soley, Clive
McGrady, Eddie Spearing, Nigel
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Steel, Rt Hon David
McKelvey, William Steinberg, Gerry
McLeish, Henry Stott, Roger
McNamara, Kevin Strang, Gavin
McTaggart, Bob Straw, Jack
McWilliam, John Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Madden, Max Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Mahon, Mrs Alice Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Marek, Dr John Turner, Dennis
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Vaz, Keith
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Wall, Pat
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Wallace, James
Martlew, Eric Walley, Joan
Maxton, John Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Meacher, Michael Wareing, Robert N.
Michael, Alun Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Wigley, Dafydd
Moonie, Dr Lewis Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Morgan, Rhodri Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Morley, Elliott Wilson, Brian
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Winnick, David
Mowlam, Marjorie Wise, Mrs Audrey
Mullin, Chris Worthington, Tony
Murphy, Paul Wray, Jimmy
Nellist, Dave Young, David (Bolton SE)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
O'Brien, William Tellers for the Ayes:
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Mrs. Llin Golding and
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Mr. Nigel Griffiths.
Patchett, Terry
Adley, Robert Baldry, Tony
Aitken, Jonathan Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Alexander, Richard Batiste, Spencer
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bellingham, Henry
Allason, Rupert Bendall, Vivian
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Amess. David Benyon, W.
Amos, Alan Bevan, David Gilroy
Arbuthnot, James Biffen, Rt Hon John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Blackburn, Dr John G.
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Ashby, David Body, Sir Richard
Aspinwall, Jack Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Atkins, Robert Boscawen, Hon Robert
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Boswell, Tim
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Bottomley, Peter
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Gregory, Conal
Bowis, John Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Ground, Patrick
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Grylls, Michael
Brazier, Julian Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Bright, Graham Hague, William
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Hampson, Dr Keith
Browne, John (Winchester) Hanley, Jeremy
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hannam, John
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'Il Gr')
Buck, Sir Antony Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Budgen, Nicholas Harris, David
Burt, Alistair Haselhurst, Alan
Butcher, John Hawkins, Christopher
Butler, Chris Hayes, Jerry
Butterfill, John Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hayward, Robert
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carrington, Matthew Heddle, John
Carttiss, Michael Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Cash, William Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Chapman, Sydney Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Chope, Christopher Hind, Kenneth
Churchill, Mr Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Holt, Richard
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hordern, Sir Peter
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Howard, Michael
Colvin, Michael Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Conway, Derek Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Cope, Rt Hon John Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Cormack, Patrick Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Couchman, James Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Cran, James Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Critchley, Julian Hunter, Andrew
Curry, David Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Irvine, Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Irving, Charles
Day, Stephen Jack, Michael
Devlin, Tim Janman, Tim
Dicks, Terry Jessel, Toby
Dorrell, Stephen Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Dover, Den Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Dunn, Bob Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Durant, Tony Key, Robert
Dykes, Hugh Kilfedder, James
Eggar, Tim King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Kirkhope, Timothy
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Knapman, Roger
Fallon, Michael Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Favell, Tony Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Knowles, Michael
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Knox, David
Fishburn, John Dudley Lament, Rt Hon Norman
Forman, Nigel Lang, Ian
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Latham, Michael
Forth, Eric Lawrence, Ivan
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lee, John (Pendle)
Fox, Sir Marcus Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Franks, Cecil Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Freeman, Roger Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
French, Douglas Lilley, Peter
Fry, Peter Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Gale, Roger Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Gardiner, George Lord, Michael
Gill, Christopher Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian McCrindle, Robert
Glyn, Dr Alan Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Goodlad, Alastair Mac Kay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Maclean, David
Gorman, Mrs Teresa McLoughlin, Patrick
Gorst, John McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Gow, Ian McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Madel, David
Major, Rt Hon John Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Malins, Humfrey Sayeed, Jonathan
Mans, Keith Scott, Nicholas
Maples, John Shaw, David (Dover)
Marland, Paul Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Marlow, Tony Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Shersby, Michael
Mates, Michael Sims, Roger
Maude, Hon Francis Skeet, Sir Trevor
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Mellor. David Speller, Tony
Miller, Sir Hal Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Mills, Iain Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Miscampbell, Norman Squire, Robin
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Stanbrook, Ivor
Mitchell, Sir David Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Moate, Roger Steen, Anthony
Monro, Sir Hector Stern, Michael
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Stevens, Lewis
Moore, Rt Hon John Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Morrison, Sir Charles Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Moss, Malcolm Sumberg, David
Moynihan, Hon Colin Tapsell, Sir Peter
Mudd, David Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Neale, Gerrard Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Nelson, Anthony Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Neubert, Michael Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Nicholls, Patrick Temple-Morris, Peter
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Thorne, Neil
Norris, Steve Thurnham, Peter
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Townend, John (Bridlington)
Oppenheim, Phillip Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Page, Richard Tracey, Richard
Paice, James Tredinnick, David
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Trippier, David
Patnick, Irvine Trotter, Neville
Patten, Chris (Bath) Twinn, Dr Ian
Patten, John (Oxford W) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Viggers, Peter
Pawsey, James Waddington, Rt Hon David
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Waldegrave, Hon William
Porter, David (Waveney) Walden, George
Portillo, Michael Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Powell, William (Corby) Waller, Gary
Price, Sir David Walters, Sir Dennis
Raffan, Keith Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Warren, Kenneth
Rathbone, Tim Watts, John
Redwood, John Wheeler, John
Renton, Tim Whitney, Ray
Rhodes James, Robert Widdecombe, Ann
Riddick, Graham Wiggin, Jerry
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Wilshire, David
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Wolfson, Mark
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Wood, Timothy
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Woodcock, Mike
Roe, Mrs Marion Yeo, Tim
Rossi, Sir Hugh Young, Sir George (Acton)
Rost, Peter
Rowe, Andrew Tellers for the Noes:
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and
Sackville, Hon Tom Mr. David Lightbown.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question proposed, That the clause be added to the Bill.

It being half-past Five o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the order [6 February] and the Resolution this day, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause added to the Bill.

Mr. Rowlands

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I want to draw your attention briefly to the fact that we have just witnessed nothing more than a legislative farce. A debate on a major Welsh issue has been truncated from what should have been at least a two-hour debate, even under a guillotine motion, to 38 minutes. That is because other important business intruded into the time available under the guillotine motion. Will you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, draw Mr. Speaker's attention to that matter and ask him whether he will refer it to the Select Committee on Procedure so that it can consider whether debates under a timetable motion should be interrupted in such a manner and whether they should be protected business which cannot be eaten into by Government or any other business?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

I suggest that the hon. Gentleman raises the matter himself with the Select Committee on Procedure.

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