HC Deb 14 November 1989 vol 160 cc242-88

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Promoters of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill [Lords] shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office of their intention to suspend further proceedings not later than the day before the close of the present Session and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid; That if the Bill is brought from the Lords in the next Session, the Agents for the Bill shall deposit in the Private Bill Office a declaration signed by them, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill which was brought from the Lords in the present Session; That as soon as a certificate by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office, that such a declaration has been so deposited, has been laid upon the Table of the House, the Bill shall be deemed to have been read the first and shall be ordered to be read a second time; That the Petitions against the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session; That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business; That, in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words 'under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)' were omitted; That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session; That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.—[The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]

7 pm

Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)

My main reasons for supporting the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill fall under two headings—jobs and the environment. I want to say a little about each. By convention, I must be extremely brief, but I should be happy to answer points if given leave of the House to do so—[Interruption.]

Mr. Ron Davies (Caerphilly)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Will you ask hon. Members who are standing beyond the Bar to withdraw? I am having difficulty hearing.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

I understand the hon. Member's point. I ask hon. Members who are not taking part in the proceedings to leave the Chamber quietly.

Mr. Michael

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) for raising that point of order. As I was saying, I shall be happy, if given the leave of the House, to clarify points at the end of the debate or before Second Reading.

Having worked with young people and unemployed people in Cardiff, I have direct experience of the depression and degradation that unemployment brings, and I want to see an end to it. I have also been involved in the economic regeneration of Cardiff and I know just how hard it has been to achieve. We have had successes, but there are still massive problems. Unemployment in south Glamorgan is still above the Welsh average. Much of that unemployment is concentrated in my constituency, in the very area covered by the Cardiff bay development, and in areas such as Riverside in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan).

As the Committee will hear in due course, I hope, the barrage is the key to the redevelopment that will bring the jobs that are so vital to the area. Those jobs will help my constituency, but the impact will be felt throughout the region. About 30 per cent. of jobs in Cardiff are filled by workers outside the city and it is estimated that up to 10,000 jobs will be filled by workers from the rest of the region. In cash terms, that is about £75 million in wages, without taking account of the effect of the multiplier or of jobs during the construction period. The figures will be open to testing in Committee, but they show that the Bill should be carried over because it is so important to so many people. In 1981, 20,000 people a day were coming from the valleys of south Wales to work in Cardiff, and road and rail flows have increased since then. People in the region are increasingly interdependent.

There is also the matter of the environment in which we live. I became a member of the city council in the early 1970s because I felt that the city was failing to create real communities for people to live in. At that time, we wanted to stop extending the city ever outwards towards Newport, Barry and Caerphilly and to bring people into the city centre to live. Our efforts were frustrated, but the death of the steel works and other heavy industries and the decline of the docks have created an opportunity, as well as leaving dirt and dereliction behind them.

A start to the regeneration was made when Labour councillors in South Glamorgan spearheaded the Atlantic wharf development with the new county hall. That ambitious development saved money for the ratepayers. This very night the Association of County Councils is presenting its major national award to south Glamorgan for that initiative in this, the centenary year of county council government. The regeneration of south Cardiff needs a more powerful catalyst which will catch the imagination and create opportunities and jobs. That catalyst is the barrage. It has already caught the imagination nationally and internationally.

The real challenge is how we manage this change. It must repsect the existing communities. It must involve affordable homes for local people and their children and grandchildren. These are the things that we are tackling in my constituency. We must keep existing jobs, even if they need to be relocated to make way for development. That is why I am pleased by the encouraging answer given to my question by the Secretary of State for Wales yesterday when he said that assistance for relocation and expansion of local firms would be forthcoming.

We must redevelop south Cardiff so as to enhance and respect the existing city, but to create the jobs that we need and improve the environment in the way that we need, the barrage is the essential catalyst.

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

As one who represents a constituency not far from Cardiff and who had a close connection with the dockland area of Cardiff some years ago, I accept the need for redevelopment of that area, but I have yet to be convinced of the need for the barrage. My hon. Friend, perhaps not intentionally, is twinning the ideas of relieving unemployment and constructing the barrage. Unemployment and dereliction in Cardiff could be easily improved by the development of the dockland area, without building a barrage across the rivers.

Mr. Michael

I respect my hon. Friend's views. The House of Lords Select Committee unanimously said: The Committee was convinced on the evidence that the economic case was sound and that the investment prospects were good. That was an expression of the dependence of jobs on the barrage. I accept that this link needs to be questioned closely, but I cannot go into the detail today. The carry-over motion should be accepted so that this issue can be investigated, as my hon. Friend would wish. I contend that the case for the barrage is strong and urgent. Consideration should be carried over so that opposition to the Bill can be scrutinised by a Committee.

Opposition to the barrage is sincere, but misguided. One element rests on the view that impoundment of water will lead to a rise in ground water and affect some basements. Everyone agrees that this is an issue, and I repeat that I have an open mind on it. However, evidence to date suggests that it has been considerably overstated by the Bill's opponents. As such problems would affect my constituency to the greatest extent, I assure the House that I am vigorously seeking clarity and precision on the likely effects of ground water. It is clear—this point was recently endorsed by the Welsh region of the National Rivers Authority—that the barrage will help to prevent flooding in the city. I should say that—following the line pursued by my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) about jobs—the reassurances about ground water were unanimously accepted by the House of Lords Select Committee.

Mr. Ron Davies

My hon. Friend mentioned the role that has been played by the NRA. As I understand it, now that the scientists in the authority's employ have been freed of the political control that was exercised over them—just as it was over Welsh Water—they have opposed the barrage because of its implications in terms of flooding and water quality. My hon. Friend is obviously in touch with the Bill's sponsors and, presumably, the NRA. Perhaps he can tell us whether the NRA opposes the Bill.

Mr. Michael

I am happy to respond to that point. The answer is no. The NRA has marginally updated the position now that it is a separate body. The updated report would be subject to close scrutiny by the Committee. The NRA's position has been made clear. First, it would improve the situation to lessen dangers in the future. Secondly, it has made strong comments about the safeguards necessary to maintain water quality. The House of Lords Select Committee considered those safeguards adequate. My hon. Friend has raised a matter that needs careful consideration and scrutiny by the Committee.

The importance of Cardiff bay as a site for waders has been overstated by some, but not all, of the opponents of the Bill. The area is not a site of international importance for waders or wild fowl in its own right, but it is not insignificant. That is why the decision to create alternative feeding grounds is important. I hope that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and other groups will recognise the benefits of the barrage for the human environment, and that they will make a positive effort to develop the alternative lagoon and get its management right. The matter deserves full scrutiny by a Committee of the House.

There is real concern about the national and international environment. It is right that the Government should be under pressure to give greater priority to planning and conserving the environment. However, that is no reason to stop this Bill. We are talking not about a natural environment, but about one that was created by building the docks 150 years ago, tipping and reclamation of land, the despoliation caused by heavy industry and the pressures of a growing city.

The barrage will keep out tidal waters which the House of Lords report described as "far from clean" and it will lead to the removal of many sewer outlets from the Cardiff bay area.

Many people are understandably fearful of the changes which the barrage will bring but many more look forward with hope. One man who sailed out of Cardiff docks for many years said of the mud at low tide, "It stank then and it stinks now. Let's get on with it." He speaks for many people.

South Cardiff has long been the backyard of our city, but in it live some of the best people and some of the closest communities I know. They deserve jobs, homes and a pleasant environment. The Bill can unlock that door to opportunity. We must manage that opportunity in the best way possible for our city, for our communities and for future generations. I ask right hon. and hon. Members, please do not slam that door in our faces.

7.11 pm
Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to some of the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael). I had hoped to be able to synchronise our chronometers and to speak for the same length of time, but as my hon. Friend spoke for less time than I had expected, I may be unable to do that. But I shall do my best.

I take a different view from my hon. Friend and others who support the motion. I doubt its validity. First, we ought to establish clearly the purpose of a carry-over motion. Why are we debating it? Why is it not an automatic procedure? It is an opportunity for the House to decide whether it wishes to give leave to the promoters of a private Bill to allow it to span two parliamentary Sessions. It is a matter for right hon. and hon. Members to consider with all the wisdom that they can muster. They have to consider the state of the Bill. It is not an automatic procedure, where hon. Members turn up, give a nod and it passes through to the next Session. We must decide whether the Bill is in a fit state to be carried over, whether it deserves to be carried over and whether it should have the leave of the House to be considered, not only in the parliamentary year which comes to an end the day after tomorrow, but in the 12 months following the Queen's Speech next week.

This Bill has plainly not earned the right to be carried over. I base my case on the preamble of the Bill and because it appears before us in a defective state. In effect, we are considering two Bills—the one which the House of Lords thought that they sent to the House of Commons, and the one which they sent. I informed my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth, and the promoters of the Bill, through their parliamentary agents, some 26 hours ago of my reasons. I have not received any formal communication, although I have had some informal communication about details of the Bill.

There is no contest between anybody here tonight about whether there is a defect in the Bill. The question is whether that defect destroys the case for a carry-over motion.

When the Bill left the other place it was accompanied, as is normal, by a plan, signed by Lord Elibank, the Chairman of the Lords Committee, which gave effect to the terms of the Bill. There is a line marked on the map. Everybody who lives or who owns a business within that line is protected against ground water damage, which the promoters of the Bill have accepted will be possible after closing off the mouths of the rivers Taff and Ely.

The line offered by the promoters, in the case they presented to the Committee in the other place, was known as plan 12. The map carried two lines—describing the protected property line and the further protected property line. In Committee, their Lordships in their wisdom decided to abolish the inner line, and to make the outer line the sole determinant of the area within which compensation could be paid, or works could be carried out in lieu of compensation, to businesses and homes which had ground water ingress into basements or foundations. That was given the backing of the whole House on Third Reading in the other place.

Plan 12 was prepared by the promoters based on geological estimates, and it covered a large area. There is disagreement about whether ground water effects will be more extensive in my constituency or in that of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth. I think that they will be more extensive in my constituency, but it is a minor point. Thousands of homes will be affected one way or the other. I have not studied the matter that closely, but when I glance at the map I see that more properties will be affected in my constituency and more acreage in my hon. Friend's, but that is a moot point.

What is not a moot point is that in plan 12, as presented to the Lords, the outer boundary was to be the one within which every property had the right to a free survey at the expense of the promoters, and to compensatory work by them to put right any damage caused by water ingress as a result of the barrage. If there was any problem or disagreement about those works, people would be able to go to arbitration in the normal way. The Lords accepted that scheme.

The Chairman of the Committee signed five copies of the plan. One was deposited in the Private Bill Office in this House, one in the Private Bill Office in the other place, one at the headquarters of both of the promoters—the Cardifff Bay development corporation and South Glamorgan county council—and one in the city hall. However, it turns out that the plan that the Chairman of the Committee, Lord Elibank, signed was not coterminous with plan 12—the plan which the promoters had offered.

Mr. Michael

Perhaps I can assist my hon. Friend and the House. I notified him of this earlier, so it will come as no surprise. This is a serious issue, but it has been dealt with and the formalities can be dealt with easily.

My hon. Friend first mentioned the issue to me late last night, although it could have been raised with the county council at any time during the past two weeks. I mentioned it to the county council this morning. It has checked the situation and confirms that my hon. Friend is right. Plan 12 is the correct plan. The council has checked with the authorities and there are two ways in which the situation can be put right. It apologises for the error, which it did not notice until it was drawn to its attention. Either the Chairman of the Lords Committee can sign a new plan, or an amended plan can be put to the Commons Committee. Either could solve the problem—whichever is more acceptable to the authorities of the House. It is right that my hon. Friend should raise the matter, but it has been dealt with, and can be dealt with without difficulty. Perhaps it would be as well for my hon. Friend to leave it at that and get on to the other important issues he wants to raise.

Mr. Morgan

My hon. Friend will have to let me make my own speech in my own way. However, I accept that he is perfectly correct in informing you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that he has told me this in a verbal form. In the almost 26½ hours since I communicated this to the parliamentary agents for the promoters, I have received no formal communication from the agents or the promoters to the effect of my hon. Friend's suggestion.

Mr. Michael

I want to place on record the fact that I have spoken to those individuals as well. I assure my hon. Friend that what has been said by the county council has been confirmed by those who represent them. The county, of course, had not been approached by my hon. Friend until he raised the concerns of his constituents, which recognise are important, with me. I hope that he will accept my reassurance, which is on the record in this House.

Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is the first debate on a private Bill that I have attended. I find myself a little confused about the status of the different maps and the lines on the maps. Can you advise us, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether the whole Bill is invalidated as a result of the confusion and we thus need to start from scratch, or whether there is a way of getting round the problem?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The matters that I have heard referred to in the course of the debate are matters which, if the House approved the motion before it, could doubtless be considered and determined by the Committee that will consider the Bill in the fullness of time.

Mr. Ron Davies

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I want to refer to the terms of the motion and especially the fifth paragraph, which says: That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126, relating to Private Business". The constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) who have now been omitted by the redrawing of the map will be denied the opportunity to petition against the Bill because the map was redrawn following the examination of the Bill by the House of Lords and before the expiry of the Session. Can you give us some guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on whether we are now able to proceed with the Bill, knowing that we are, in effect, disfranchising 500 of those constituents—or at least withdrawing their right to petition against the Bill?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am afraid that I cannot tell the hon. Gentleman is precise terms whether petitioners who might be affected by these later developments would be within time to submit their petitions. However, I have no doubt that it would be possible for the Committee of the House to have regard to and to take into account what has been said in this debate in its deliberations on the Bill.

Mr. Ron Davies

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sorry to pursue the matter, but it is a serious point. If I have understood your ruling correctly, you are saying that the Committee that will consider the detail of the Bill will not be bound by the terms of the motion. If that is the case, should we be discussing—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman asked a question that rightly arose from the paragraph, to which he referred, about the rights of petitioners, as distinct from the rights of Members of this House. I cannot say off-hand—and it would be unwise for me to make an off-the-cuff remark which might prejudice the rights of petitioners—whether there are those who might wish to present a petition and who might be excluded by the terms of that paragraph. However, there would be nothing to prevent the Committee from listening to and taking account of the submissions made by hon. Members in the debate and therefore having regard to the points raised.

Mr. Michael

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I should point out that an undertaking has been given to restore the line to the point where everybody thought it was. There is no question of anybody being disfranchised. The question simply does not arise.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Morgan

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker—although I do not know whether I can make a point of order in the middle of my speech—I think that I may be able to help you. The date of 24 July was the last on which petitioners could lodge objections in this House. Do I sit down now?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Yes. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) suggested that all that had happened was that there had been a reversion to what was previously understood about the scope of the Bill in this respect. He suggested—and it would be improper for me to suggest that he was doing anything other than correctly guiding the House—that because the previous delineations were sufficiently known at the relevant time, those who had the right to petition did so and that what is now at issue does not expose the delineations to new petitioners who might be excluded by the time limits. I hope that that is clear.

Mr. Morgan

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If only that were true. What could easily have happened to all or any of the 850 homes and few businesses in the areas affected is that if they had proceeded on the basis of the document on which they thought they were relying, they would have proceeded on the basis that they did not need to petition because they were within the line. They did not, therefore, petition. If they then find that they are outside the line and want to petition about that fact, they have lost the right to do so. Can they have that right restored by the alteration that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth has, in all sincerity, suggested may be made? That is why I am concerned about my constituents' rights.

Mr. Michael

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As I tried to explain, surely the position as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) thought it was a fortnight ago—and he was not sure that there was a problem until this weekend—has been put right. The position is once again as he and everyone else understood it, so there is no problem.

Mr. Rogers

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am genuinely confused now. As I understand the terms of the motion, we are considering a Bill that has been through the House of Lords and has now come here. The argument is that it is now in a fit and proper state to he extended to the next Session of Parliament. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) has submitted that the Bill is not properly prepared to proceed in the next Session. To reinforce my hon. Friend's argument, the evidence for that is that the boundary of the area that will be affected by the Bill has now been altered. Can you help me on this matter, Mr. Deputy Speaker?

Certain facts were put to the people of Cardiff, who then had the right to petition. At that time, there were many people who did not petition against the Bill because the boundary, as delineated on the map, did not affect them. After the Bill has gone through the House of Lords and come here, as a matter—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I thought that the hon. Gentleman was speaking on a point of order, but he seems to be making a speech and, if I may say so, a rather lengthy one.

Mr. Rogers

I should still like your clarification on this matter, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If the Bill is not in a fit and proper state to go through to the next Session, you must rule that the motion is out of order and under the terms of the motion, you do not have any option but to do that. If people have not had the right to petition, if the Bill has not been properly prepared and if it is proceeding on the basis of statistics and information that have been altered by a conservation—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has gone sufficiently far for the House and myself to have grasped the point. As I understand it, the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) has said that it is now clear that the people affected by the scope of the Bill are those who it was assumed would be affected at the relevant date. No one is apparently affected now who has not already had the right to petition. In any case, these are not matters that lead the Chair to rule on the validity of the motion, but matters that doubtless will be taken into account when hon. Members reach a decision on the motion before the House and in the subsequent proceedings on the Bill should the House decide to approve the motion.

Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Will you explain to the House whether, in your other role as Chairman of Ways and Means, you would sanction a Bill coming to the House tonight if it was not in order, or would you rule it out of order, if it was?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Member and the House know that, when a private Bill is submitted to the House, it goes before the Examiners, who scrutinise the vires and satisfy themselves that the Bill is in order. Only then is the Bill allowed to seek further progress in the House. It is not necessary for me to give any further clarification. I hope that the position is now clear and that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West will resume his speech.

Mr. Ron Davies

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Have you received notice that the boundaries have been revised or any legal or other advice about the Bill, now that these amendments, post-Lords but pre-Commons, have been incorporated in the map?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

My response is in the negative. I am sure that if anything was out of order, I should have been notified by the appropriate authorities and those who serve me in the House.

Mr. Morgan

I shall resume my speech, but I wish to raise one additional point of great importance which has been overlooked in the past five minutes of exchanges. Extreme care is always taken by those advising petitioners about the phrasing of petitions. If someone lives on one side of a line defined in the Bill, his petition must be phrased in a certain way and it is ruled invalid if a form of words is used which hints that he lives on the other side of the line. Someone within a protected property zone must frame his petition making it clear that he is a householder or the owner of a business within the zone. If the property or business is on the other side of the line, the petition must be phrased differently to be in order. That point must be borne in mind.

Let us consider the general state of the Bill. The motion is not an automatic carry-over motion but a debatable one. I put it to the House that the Bill is not fit to be carried over because it is defective. We have to accept the word of the promoter of the Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth, that a mistake in the Bill can be put right, but that does not alter the fact that the Bill is defective. He may maintain that it is not very defective, but 850 homes, a hospital and a substantial number of small and medium-sized businesses constitute a sufficiently significant defect to rule the Bill not fit to be carried over. How great an error must the Bill contain to stop it being carried over automatically? In my view, a substantial number of businesses, a hospital and 850 homes in my constituency render the Bill sufficiently defective.

The question whether the Bill is defective is primarily a matter of procedure. I have nothing to show my constituents to prove that the Bill will be put right. I have received no form of communication, either from the promoters or their parliamentary agents.

When deciding whether the Bill is sufficiently close to achieving its objectives to require us to carry it over from one parliamentary Session to another, we must consider whether the Bill commands general support in the community in Cardiff. The Bill is supported by both the local authorities and the appropriate Government Department. However, there is an archaeological freezing process in Government Departments and local authorities which does not apply to public opinion. When a Government Department and two local authorities become committed to a scheme, they find it extremely difficult to change their minds, whatever new information becomes available.

The Bill stems from studies carried out in 1985 by the present Secretary of State's predecessor when he represented Pembroke. The measure was eventually presented in the form of a statutory instrument to set up the urban development corporation in March 1987, when the then right hon. Member for Pembroke was still Secretary of State. In a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments on 31 March under the chairmanship of the hon. Member for Clwyd, North-West (Sir A. Meyer), the Secretary of State said: At the end of 1985, I decided to commission a study of the investment potential in the area with particular reference to the benefits which would flow from the construction of a barrage across the estuaries of the Taff and Ely rivers close to the entrance of Cardiff harbour. That goes back four years. He continued: The results confirmed our view"— I am not sure who "our" was: perhaps the Secretary of State and a property consultant— that it should be possible not just to breathe new life into south Cardiff but to bring forward private sector investment on such a large scale that the project would become one of international significance."—[Official Report: Fourth Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments &c.; 31 March 1987, c. 4.] The idea for the barrage was then presented to the two local authorities and it was proposed that some of the senior councillors become members of the urban development corporation. That is what occurred; a minority of five out of 14 councillors on the corporation are nominated by the local authorities. That is a far superior way of achieving regeneration of a run-down inner-city area than the model normally followed in England, where no local authority representatives are appointed to the body responsible, but it posed a major problem. It meant that, when dissent emerged in the community as more facts became known, it was more difficult for the supertanker of local authorities and the Government Department, aiming straight for the Titanic, to turn themselves around in time because dissent was seen not merely as the result of new information but as a breach of the code of lèse majesté or hara-kiri or omertà.

Mr. Michael

Does my hon. Friend accept that the monitoring committees and liaison committees established in both local authorities did not include in their membership the members nominated to the board and so gave the element of independence encouraged by both local authorities? Those committees could look critically and constructively at much of the detail as the matter proceeded.

Mr. Morgan

No, I do not agree with that. My hon. Friend is right that monitoring committees were set up by both authorities but, as I said, because of lèse-majesté it is psychologically difficult for local authorities to say, "New information has come in which makes us more doubtful. We had better have a general debate about it." They cannot do that simply because their most senior councillors are on the urban development corporation, albeit in a permanent built-in minority.

I do not criticise the local authorities. I would probably have done similarly had I been a councillor. Local authority opinion could not shift as easily as public opinion when new facts emerged to cast doubt on the validity of the original assumptions of 1985 and the establishment of the UDC in 1987, following the meeting chaired by the hon. Member for Clwyd, North-West. Local authorities could not divert from the direction upon which they had embarked under the tutelage of the Secretary of State, whatever the private opinion of individual councillors. I make no comment on councillors' private opinions. They are a matter of speculation. We can judge only by the council's decision or lack of decision to change its mind when new facts become available. That is not true for the public and it certainly is not true for us tonight. We all have a free hand to look at the merits of the case for the carry-over motion because we are not Whipped. We can see whether the Bill comes close to achieving its objectives in relation to jobs and improvements in the environment which were fairly set out by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth.

Would the proposal bring anywhere near the number of jobs talked about in the Bill's preamble or would it have the reverse effect? That seems highly relevant to the carry-over motion. A large number of jobs—about 15,000—already exist within the area covered by the urban development corporation's compulsory purchase order comprehensive redevelopment area.

When I spoke to the officials who have the tricky task of putting into action the relocation programme, they told me that we would do well to keep half those jobs after they had been relocated to make way for redevelopment. That seems to pose a considerable problem for us when we consider whether the Bill is worthy of a carry-over motion. We have to contemplate the possibility that not only might the proposal not achieve the 30,000 jobs that have been spoken about in the long term, but it might take away 7,500 jobs from the total 15,000 jobs that currently exist. The number of jobs lost may be only 5,000, since not everything would be comprehensively redeveloped, although large areas would be. According to those most closely involved in the relocation of jobs, we would start with a major loss of jobs.

Mr. Michael

Would not my hon. Friend accept that this was precisely the important point which I addressed in my question to the Secretary of State which he answered yesterday? His reassurances of his determination to ensure the retention of jobs play an important role in the way in which we shall pursue the development which will follow on from the barrage.

Mr. Morgan

I accept the sincerity of my hon. Friend's remarks, but regard his point as a minor one compared to the problem which will be caused because many businesses in this area which now pay low rents will have to pay about four times the present level. They will move to highly desirable new industrial estates, but they will have to pay the rent, rates and insurance, all of which are connected with the rental levels.

I fear that the jobs argument is so distant from the preamble to the Bill that it harms not just the case for the Bill, but the prospects of granting the carry-over motion.

Mr. Ray Powell

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for allowing me to pose a question on an issue about which we are all concerned: the number of people which it is suggested could be employed if the carry-over motion were agreed and the scheme were introduced. It is estimated that the scheme will bring more than 30,000 jobs into the area. I am only suggesting that as an estimate and I appreciate the point made by my hon. Friend that jobs could be lost. Nevertheless, on balance, we could gain about 22,500 jobs in the long term even if we lost the 7,500 jobs which he suggests might go in the short term.

Mr. Morgan

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who always expresses himself with such great sincerity on these matters. Anybody who says that he has found the technique of creating 30,000 jobs in south Wales has been carefully hiding himself in the bushes during the past 50 years. The regional policy has operated since the special areas legislation was introduced in the early 1930s.

It is possible to build accommodation for 30,000 jobs. However, that is quite different from finding the occupiers of those builders rather than the property speculators who put up the buildings. What businesses will they be? Where will they come from? Will they be local to south Wales? I am deeply sceptical about any estimate involving job numbers of about 10,000, 20,000 or 30,000. It is terribly easy to talk about those figures, but awfully difficult to demonstrate the reality which lies behind such estimates.

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)

Is my hon. Friend ignoring the experience of the major towns and cities of south Wales during the past 20 years in which there has been inertia and expressions have been made against change? Experience has shown that, when areas have been upgraded, there has been an increase in jobs. Is my hon. Friend arguing for a continuation of the industrial slums which were widespread in south Wales during the past 50 years, some of which, unfortunately, still continue? Does not my hon. Friend see that such upgrading is of enormous benefit?

Mr. Morgan

I think my hon. Friend is arguing that Hermann Goering was the greatest contributor to comprehensive redevelopment that we have ever seen in this country. It is inappropriate to say that while standing in the Chamber of the House of Commons which he successfully bombed in May 1941.

Most of the jobs that have been created in south Wales have been created on green field sites on the fringes of towns. The TSB in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) is on a classic green field site development and promises a large number of new jobs. I could also mention city centre developments such as NPI in Cardiff, which does not demonstrate that this proposition—

Mr. Flynn

My hon. Friend must see the other side of the coin which is that the creation of those jobs is at the expense of the destruction of old industries in unsuitable areas in which industry lived cheek by jowl with housing. There has been large-scale redevelopment, where much of the old pattern of industry and the bad examples of the past have disappeared to enormous benefit. Is not that what will happen when the Cardiff Bay barrage is introduced?

Mr. Morgan

My hon. Friend is talking about a new sort of religious concept whereby demolition and creation take place simultaneously. There are extreme risks in the notion expressed by my hon. Friend that sweeping things away is a creative procedure. The people who worked in the factories would not take that view.

Mr. Michael

Will not my hon. Friend acknowledge that there has been tremendous success through the redevelopment of the centre of Cardiff? The regeneration of Cardiff through programmes such as the Cardiff and Vale enterprise has encouraged local people to set up in business and makes us optimistic that we may continue to do better, rather than worse, than promised.

Mr. Morgan

I am not sure what that proves. Redevelopment in the centre of Cardiff is one thing, but the comprehensive redevelopment and change of use down in the Cardiff docklands—covered by the compulsory purchase order area in the Bill—seems to he entirely different.

Mr. Rogers

My hon. Friend should accept the arguments of his other hon. Friends that, undoubtedly, redevelopment will lead to new jobs. There is absolutely no doubt about that, and anyone who argues against the fact that this is one side of the coin would be wrong. Will my hon. Friend develop this point, as I am sure he would want to—

Mr. Morgan

Given half a chance I will.

Mr. Rogers

A large impounded lagoon is unlikely to create many jobs. The barrage is not required to create the jobs. What is required is a redevelopment of the docklands area of Cardiff which is already served by an extension of the motorway. I am sure that my hon. Friend is going to develop the point that it is not necessary to have a barrage to redevelop Cardiff. I support the redevelopment of Cardiff, but not a barrage.

Mr. Morgan

I was moving on to that point about 10 minutes ago.

The other unsatisfactory aspect of the new jobs issue is that in front of the House of Lords not a single investor other than those paid as consultants by the Cardiff Bay development corporation appeared as witnesses to give any support to the proposition that this redevelopment and barrage would create additional jobs or investment.

I shall turn to the environment and the possibility—I put it no higher than that—that the Bill, far from achieving its objective of improving the environment and thereby creating a more aesthetically pleasing environment for potential investors, could have the reverse effect. This point has already been alluded to in one of the innumerable interventions in my speech.

As far as I am aware, there is no dispute about the nature of the water that would be impounded by the barrage. It is generally accepted that the colour of the lake would alternate between green and brown, depending on the weather and the microbiological conditions. At no time of the year, and in no weather conditions, would it be blue or brilliant. The water would also be turgid.

The problem with impounding the Rivers Taff and Ely, in terms of distancing the Bill from the preamble, is that the water might, to use the modern American usage, be a turn-off for investors, rather than a turn-on. The reason for that is that the rivers Taff and Ely, almost throughout their length of between 20 and 30 miles, have sewage outlets, many of which are not mapped by the relevant monitoring authorities. As a result, their microbiological quality is extremely poor, but this is the water that would be impounded.

This will cause two problems. First, in the winter, the storm overflows from the joint sewers that handle rain water and sewage would lead to sewage overflowing the weir, whereas normally it would be below the weir. Storm conditions are by no means confined to winter in south Wales. Such an overflow would force sewage over the weir and into the Rivers Taff, Ely, Cynon and Rhondda, and their various tributaries.

Secondly, in the summer, treated sewage becomes a significant proportion of the water-flow. The National Rivers Authority has informed me that in a typical summer—let alone this summer, which was particularly dry—one third of the flow of the river Ely is treated sewage, as is one sixth of the flow of the river Taff. That is why at Radyr weir, in my constituency and near where I was born and brought up, the smell is similar to that I remember smelling 40 years ago as a small boy cycling along the edge of the weir. I am told by the N RA that that is a sign of how difficult summer conditions are for any impounded or semi-impounded body of water, such as Radyr weir.

This problem is made worse with a large body of water, with sunlight playing on its shallow parts. It is more than likely that as a result, every five or six years, there will be a major algal bloom and a probable major fishkill, thereby rendering coarse fishery virtually impossible. If that happens, there cannot be a biological control of the midge explosion that would probably also occur.

Sir Anthony Meyer (Clwyd, North-West)

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has been to Venice. It smells pretty nasty, but it is still an extremely attractive place.

Mr. Morgan

Comparisons with Venice are delightful, but I do not think that we can assume that the carry-over motion will do away with seven centuries of history in south Wales and northern Italy and give us an Adriatic environment.

Mr. Barry Porter (Wirral, South)

I hesitate to intervene in this internecine warfare, but are we to understand that a democratically elected city council and a democratically elected county council, properly advised on all these matters concerning sewage—about which the hon. Gentleman is clearly an expert—have reached the conclusion that the Bill is a good thing? If so, why does the hon. Gentleman wish to overturn the decision of those democratically elected bodies properly advised? I am, in the true sense of the word, disinterested in the Bill, but I am not uninterested because there will be a Mersey barrage at some stage, and we shall have to go through the same sort of procedure.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

One barrage at a time, please.

Mr. Porter

The House should know, because I have a right to vote and my constituency borders on parts of Wales, why the hon. Gentleman is opposed to these decisions.

Mr. Morgan

I understand why the hon. Gentleman was so hesitant about intervening. Had he been paying attention earlier, he would have heard me say that it was a sad day when the Opposition found themselves in such a difficult position. The Secretary of State has made a Mafia-type offer—an offer that one cannot refuse—to the two local authorities. It was that either they had an urban development corporation imposed on them with no local authority representation or there would be one with built-in minority local authority representation. Quite rightly—I offer no criticism of this—the councils chose the second option.

Just because one of those authorities is Labour-controlled and the other has a Labour majority in a hung council, we should not feel that we cannot speak on the issue or consider it. We are considering a germ of an idea produced by the Secretary of State and it is up to us to examine it thoroughly, regardless of the fact that a minority of the members of the UDC were Labour councillors and that—in my view, although there may be other views—the local authority has been severely inhibited in its ability to cope with the new information that has emerged about water quality. I was referring to that when I was interrupted for the 67th time. I find being interrupted restful. I am grateful for the sympathy of my hon. Friends. I could do with a glass of water, but I am all right.

Mr. Rogers

I will get one.

Mr. Morgan


I must make a point about the groundwater and the potential damage, which is closely related to the procedural issue that I raised when I began. There are questions about whether the Bill has been adequately prepared, given our knowledge about groundwater. Regardless of where the water came from, we need to look at whether Bills should come before the House when they have not been properly researched and when an offer is made to residents—the constituents of many of us—that they will be covered against the damage created by this project. We do not know how extensive that damage could be, or even whether the council is on the right lines in calculating what the groundwater damage is likely to be. There is a wide divide between geologists on this. Some of them take the view that a Mickey Mouse study has been done, to use the words of one geologist, who lives in Cardiff. It is felt that they have not even started to get the geological studies right because of the Mickey Mouse computer model.

In listening to the views of geologists, I have found that those who know the south Wales area well, who either live, work or were raised there, or educated there in geological faculties in universities, take the view that this has been inadequately researched. Those who are paid by the Cardiff Bay development corporation and have little experience of the local geological factors and in particular the odd combinations of rainfall and river flows and the nature of the aquifer under Cardiff, take the view that there is no problem.

Those geologists who have not been paid by the company—there are some exceptions—are concerned about the way that research has been done into what lies underneath Cardiff. There should be work on the aquifer and how that interrelates with rainfall and flood water conditions. Those who have much less experience of south Wales are for the plan.

I am extremely concerned about whether the Bill even begins to fulfil its preamble by way of being able to assure the people living in my constituency.

Mr. Rogers

My hon. Friend is right to bring up that point, and if he does not go on too long, I hope to do the same. As he knows, I am an engineering geologist by profession. Some of the information submitted in support of the Bill at various times to seek the support of hon. Members—I refer to the glossy paper that I have with me—is riddled with inaccuracies. I advise my hon. Friend that those independent geologists who have examined the Wallace Evans report, as I have—people who have been involved and who know the situation as I do—see the report as having been prepared hurriedly and as being riddles with inaccuracies. Just over a year ago when the development corporation held a symposium in the Institution of Civil Engineers across the road and the same questions were asked, I later received the written affirmation that some of the surveys had not yet been completed.

Mr. Morgan

I defer to my hon. Friend's vastly superior knowledge of the geology of south Wales and elsewhere. My hon. Friend was not one of the geologists I was quoting, but his intervention further reinforces my argument.

In the last minute or so of my speech, I shall refer to the state that the Bill should be in if it were to deserve a carry-over. The thing that repels me most about granting the Bill a carry-over is simply the extremely corrupt and corrupting procedure by which it has arrived here from the other House. I refer to the fact that a Secretary of State can set up an urban development corporation and then, having retired from politics, become involved in a monitoring and regulatory body which has a vital set of decisions to make about water quality, which is critical to the success or otherwise of the Bill in achieving what is stated in its preamble, and that he can then get a directorship with a major company, which is easily the largest landholder in the area covered by the compulsory purchase order.

That is a preposterous situation, especially for Conservative Members. After all, the ABP company was a nationalised company which, in general, Conservative Members were extremely proud to privatise. However, in Cardiff it was renationalised with the setting up of the urban development corporation, which included the whole area of Cardiff docks in its compulsory purchase order. We then found that, following the acquisition of new directors, the company was to be privatised again and to be exempted from the compulsory purchase order procedure and that a profit-sharing formula was to be set up between the urban development corporation, the nationalised industry, and the former nationalised industry, ABP. That will cause deep misgivings to anybody involved with the compulsory purchase order affecting Cardiff docks. How can it make sense for a nationalised industry to be privatised, then renationalised in respect of its Cardiff docklands, and then privatised again?

All that I can say about the previous Secretary of State is that power is delightful, and absolute power is absolutely delightful. The carry-over motion gives us the chance to stop the process. I have already mentioned one defect in the Bill, which has plainly failed its MOT. Surely it is time that the House took it right off the road.

8.3 pm

Sir Anthony Meyer (Clwyd, North-West)

I am very much encouraged by the debate and by the evidence that it is occasionally permissible to criticise or even oppose one's leader. Heaven knows, the private Bill procedure is cumbersome enough and I know that it can be objected to, but it is nowhere near as cumbersome as a public inquiry. However, that is rather like saying that Tantalus's job was an easy one compared with that of Sisyphus. The plain fact is that the combination of our procedures for dealing with private Bills and with public inquiries is one reason why we have such difficulty carrying through any great enterprise in this country.

Such difficulties remind me of the problems of trying to pass the Soviet driving test in the good old days before glasnost when I was at the embassy in Moscow. During the two years I was there in the 1950s, nobody succeeded in passing the Soviet driving test. There was always some point on which one could be made to fail.

It has emerged that Opposition Members are somewhat divided in their attitude to the merits of the Bill and to the acceptability of the carry-over motion. By and large, the opposition comes, as it obviously would, from those hon. Members whose constituencies will not benefit. I say straight away that my constituency will not benefit from this scheme in any way. Cardiff is a long way from us in north Wales. It takes a long time to get there. Indeed, it takes a lot longer to get to Cardiff than it does to get to London or Birmingham, and it certainly takes a great deal longer than it does to get to Liverpool.

My constituents are much more concerned about the horrible things that are being done in Liverpool bay, where sewage is being dumped all over the place and is being washed up on our beaches. My constituents believe that far too much fuss is made about south Wales, where people persist in playing football with a ball that is the wrong shape.

Therefore, it is not on constituency grounds that I support the Bill. I support it because this is an imaginative scheme that will make Cardiff one of the most exciting and beautiful cities in the world. In the long run, what is good for Cardiff must be good for Wales and what is good for Wales will in the end be good for my constituency.

It is a national failing that in Wales and in the United Kingdom as a whole, except at moments of supreme national peril, we are unable to rise to the level of events. I cite in evidence most of the reactions to the momentous events in eastern Europe. I cannot conceive of the kind of debate that we have had so far taking place in the French or German Parliaments. The debate is befugged with parish pump and other procedural objections. France and Germany are used to great national undertakings. One can see the evidence when one visits Paris. Although some people may regret some of the recent constructions of President Mitterrand and Mr. Chirac, undoubtedly the citizens of Paris now take great pride in them, however much they may have argued at the time.

The reluctance of the British Government and people to think big has been well exemplified in the debates on the Channel tunnel. The consequence for us in Wales is that we will not get the maximum benefit from the tunnel because of our petty-minded approach to the construction of the road and railway systems that are necessary to ensure that the benefits of the tunnel are spread throughout the country. Witness in contrast the attitude of the French Government, who are building roads and railways to ensure that the prosperity of the tunnel is conveyed throughout northern and western France.

I know that there are valid doubts about the barrage scheme and that people are worried about the effect on bird migration—I believe that those worries are overstated—and about the effect on the micro-climate. I have some doubts, too, about whether the quality of the architecture will match the boldness of the concept. However, by and large it seems a bold and imaginative scheme. It will create jobs and make Cardiff one of the great cities of the world. I am glad to be here to support the Bill and the carry-over motion.

8.7 pm

Mr. Ron Davies (Caerphilly)

First, I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) on the way in which he presented his case. I know that he has worked hard with the promoters and that he has a close relationship with individuals on the development corporation and in south Glamorgan. We all recognise that in presenting the Bill he is performing what he sees to be his proper duty. Needless to say, I disagree with almost all that he said.

My hon. Friend said that there were two important elements to his case: first, jobs; and secondly, the environment. His case on jobs was that the barrage was necessary because it would create jobs not only during its construction, but in terms of the opportunities for development. That is his case and that of the development corporation and the county council. Indeed, I understand that it was the subject of much detailed examination in the House of Lords and that their Lordships came to the conclusion that the case had been proved.

I am not convinced of that. I have examined the evidence that was presented to the House of Lords, and it remains an assertion that the construction of the barrage will per se provide an attractive opportunity for private capital to come in, to the tune of £1 billion, and provide all the job opportunities that my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) suggested. That is bunkum. There is no evidence to support that assertion. I have questioned closely the people involved in the development corporation, including the chairman and the chief executive. I have asked for evidence. I have asked those concerned to name one company that is prepared to say, "With the barrage I will come. Without it I will not come." The development that has taken place, in Cardiff in the past 12 to 18 months is evidence that the barrage is not necessary.

We want to see the redevelopment of Cardiff, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) said, and the opportunities of the docklands properly developed. We appreciate that the motor for that must be public expenditure and, because we support that, we applaud and welcome the initiatives of the past 18 months.

Those new developments precede the barrage. Although it is well known in south Wales that there are major objections, to the barrage, those investments have still taken place because people have said, "We are prepared to invest even though the barrage might not eventually be developed."

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth and I have a different understanding of the word "environment", as will emerge during the debate. He is concerned with the environment in terms of opportunities for its enjoyment by individuals—new housing, schools and social facilities. In other words, he is thinking of the enjoyment that would be derived from looking out across the lake, which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) described as varying in colour between green and brown. That is the environment as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth understands it, and he believes that the construction of a barrage would enhance the environment. I disagree with him.

Numerous letters that have circulated among hon. Members have said that we are considering essentially a Labour case, and it is a pity that the hon. Member for Wirral, South (Mr. Porter), who made that point, is no longer in his place. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth has written to hon. Members, as has Lord Brooks of Tremorfa, saying that this is a Labour initiative. The letters are freely available, so I will not quote them.

I wish to make it clear, especially to some of my hon. Friends who may be undecided about which way to vote on this issue, that this is not a Labour party scheme. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West pointed out that the scheme was the brainchild of Nicholas Edwards. He conceived it, set up the development corporation and developed a sweetheart relationship with south Glamorgan. I appreciate why that occurred. He has got south Glamorgan to present the case and, politics being what it is, those concerned have worked hard and have got support from the TUC and some of the party organisations in Cardiff.

But for every unit of the party supporting the scheme, at least one other opposes it. So if there is a Labour involvement in the scheme, the opposition to it is being led by the Labour party. Three of the four constituency parties in Cardiff oppose it. My county council of mid-Glamorgan was not even consulted about the scheme, despite the major regional impact that it would have. It was horrified by some of the implications.

My district council area of Rhymney valley, which is Labour controlled—we do not even see a Conservative candidate at election time—is opposed to it. With one exception, all Members who represent the valleys are opposed to it. In other words, if there is a Labour involvement, the Labour party and the environmentalist lobby are leading the opposition to the scheme.

Mr. Michael

My hon. Friend makes a good case for the virility of the Labour party in being able to debate issues strongly in local communities in south Wales, and he is right to emphasise that. The Labour county council took the initial risk of the investment to build the new county headquarters and Atlantic wharf. They took that risk at an early stage and everything else has followed from that investment. That is why the scheme has been described as a Labour initiative.

Mr. Davies

If it was that much of a risk, I am sure that those concerned would have been surcharged by now by the district auditor. We appreciate what my hon. Friend says and we applaud what south Glamorgan has done. But it is not south Glamorgan's scheme. It is Nick Edwards' brainchild and those hon. Members who were here before 1987 know what Nick Edwards was about. He was concerned with the exploitation of the environment in his involvement in multinational mining companies. As far back as 1972 he was christened "Globtik Nick" because of his involvement in attempts to improve the marine environment in west Wales, when his companies were polluting our natural environment. He has now opted out, and is chairman of the National Rivers Authority.

I believe that the barrage will fail, and perhaps we should make it clear that our objective is to kill it. Let no one be in any doubt about that. I believe that it will be discredited as the measure proceeds through Parliament, and I shall ensure that every possible method of objection is used during its passage through the House. I believe that either the funding will be withdrawn and it will be seen to be unrealistic, or that in two or three years' time a Labour Government will withdraw funding from the scheme. Whatever happens tonight and whatever happens to the Bill, the barrage will never be built.

If the barrage is built, it will go down in history as a monumental folly. In the 1960s the experts told us that we could solve our housing problems by building high-rise intensive developments on green field sites in the valleys of south Wales. Not one Member who represents the valleys could fail to give examples of such estates to show how we now recognise the mistakes that were made in the 1960s. The experts told us then that that was the way to regenerate. Indeed, for the past 30 years the so-called experts have been telling us about the importance of nuclear power. We now recognise what a monumental folly nuclear power has been. The barrage is the latest instalment in that series of mistakes.

I urge hon. Members to ask themselves, as they vote on this issue, how they will justify to future generations—we are all family people—giving support to a scheme which took an area classified as having the highest environmental value and destroying it to create at best a lake of dubious value for no economic justification, simply to provide glitzy housing, which is how the scheme is described by the South Glamorgan promoters. The chief executive of South Glamorgan has gone on record as saying that the scheme is about glitzy housing.

Presumably the philosophy is that we could have the barrage and the lake, and then the developers could arrive to build Barratt and Wimpey homes, thereby providing glitzy housing so that the yuppies can flood into Cardiff, live in those nice little houses looking over the lake and thereby bring economic regeneration to the heartland of Cardiff.

How shall we justify that to generations yet unborn, when the price that we are having to pay for it is the destruction of a vital part of our environment? Such beliefs have no values other than those of materialism. They have no objectives other than consumption. They consider no obligation to the wider community and they recognise no responsibility to future generations. That is why we oppose the motion.

There has been no evaluation of the environmental costs. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) and I have intensive quarrying interests in our constituencies. When we are told about the environmental impact of the scheme, we are entitled to ask where the materials for it will come from. Clearly, they will come from our constituencies. The developers will rip the heart out of Garth woods, another site of special scientific interest, to get the building materials they need. They will rip the heart out of the limestone and sandstone quarrying areas of the valleys to construct the barrage.

Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd)

Could that be the reason why Mid-Glamorgan has refused permission for the quarrying company in question to extend its quarry, whereas South Glamorgan council has deferred making a decision on the quarry, possibly until the end of this and similar debates?

Mr. Davies

My hon. Friend makes a telling point.

Professor Pearce had a message for us when he presented his report to the Government in the summer. I would be happy for the barrage scheme to be evaluated along the lines of the principles which Professor Pearce suggested. There would then be an evaluation of the true environmental costs. It would put a value on the energy consumption of such a scheme, on the raw materials used and on the alternative projects that could be developed. If the barrage was being provided for reasons of overwhelming national importance or even overwhelming regional importance, or if there were proven reasons for the regeneration of Cardiff, we would have to consider our position. However, the arguments for the barrage are specious. It is simply to provide an opportunity for glitzy housing and we are entitled to say, "Look at the environmental costs."

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)


Mr. Davies

Many hon. Members want to participate in the debate and I hope to reach a rapid conclusion.

Mr. Cryer

I assure my hon. Friend that the Bill has not gone unnoticed in Bradford. A constituent of mine who is a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has urged me to examine the Bill. She is also concerned about the environmental impact of the Bill upon birdlife in her area. Perhaps my hon. Friend will comment on that because she has expressed great anxiety in cogent terms. [Interruption.]

Mr. Davies

I can hear muttering among the natives; my hon. Friends obviously think that there is a fair chance I will come to the question of birdlife.

I should like to put on record the view of the RSPB: The RSPB, and other wildlife conservation bodies including the Glamorgan Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for Nature Conservation, are opposed to the barrage proposal since it will permanently flood the intertidal lands that provide important feeding grounds for 5,000–8,000 wild birds which regularly use Cardiff Bay in Winter. Cardiff Bay is of high wildlife importance and has been notified, by the Nature Conservancy Council, as a Site of Special Scientific Interest under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. In biological terms, the bay is an integral part of the wider Severn estuary which is of international importance for shelduck, redshank, knot and dunlin and meets the criteria for protection under the European Community Directive on the Convervation of Wild Birds and the Ramsar Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands. Therefore, we are talking about a site of special scientific interest. This is the first occasion since the Wildlife and Countryside Act was passed that we have had a Government-sponsored scheme that will destroy, in its entirety, a site of special scientific interest—[Interruption.] I can hear my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) muttering away. As I said, this is the first time that a Government-sponsored scheme has proposed the destruction of a site of special scientific interest in its entirety. I am concerned because there may be other such proposals in the future.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth might say that, although it is a site of special scientific interest, there are overriding conditions and therefore we must sacrifice it. If we do not object to this proposal, hon. Members will not be able to object to the next one or the one after that. The principle must be established that a site of special scientific interest is just that. We do not assess it—that decision is made by the Government's specialist advisers—so who are we to say that we should sacrifice this site? If we do so, we will have to be prepared to sacrifice all the others.

Mr. Michael


Mr. Davies

Let me get on a little further.

We have international responsibilities towards wildlife. We all hold up our hands in horror at the destruction of the rain forests in South America. We all make the case for the preservation of the African elephant and we argue for the wilderness of Antarctica. However, if we expect others in this world of ours to recognise their responsibilities, we have to recognise ours.

Our islands have a unique environment. We have broad ice-free estuaries which offer a unique opportunity to the migrating wildfowl throughout the north Atlantic. That is our contribution to international conservation. If we want to argue that others should fulfil their responsibilities, we must put our hands on our hearts and recognise our international responsibilities. We are bound by our commitment to Europe and an international convention to protect this area, yet we are proposing to destroy it to build glitzy housing.

Mr. Flynn

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Davies

Yes, but this must be the last time.

Mr. Flynn

My hon. Friend does not recognise the likelihood that if one habitat is interfered with, the birds will find alternative habitats. That happens along the estuary where a large habitat—Collister Pill in Magor—was destroyed by drainage patterns. The birds in the Severn estuary found alternative habitats. Does my hon. Friend agree that the relative population of the birds in the estuary—I understand that it is less than the bird population in Chichester harbour—is light? There are big mud flats and wetlands on both sides of the estuary and the birds, which are more robust in finding alternative habitats than has been suggested, would find them. My hon. Friend is taking a pessimistic view of the likely result.

Mr. Davies

I do not wish to be unkind to my hon. Friend, but I am appalled at his lack of understanding of the issues. The RSPB has studied the matter carefully.

Mr. Flynn


Mr. Davies

My hon. Friend has had his say. The RSPB has made it clear that there is no spare capacity and birds cannot move on to the next convenient harbour.

If the Bill is passed and the barrage is constructed, we will be removing a habitat and would kill the migratory wildfowl that depend on the harbour just as surely as if we were shooting or poisoning them. The irony is that if we were shooting or poisoning them, there would be uproar.

Mr. Flynn


Mr. Davies

I must continue. My hon. Friend has had his say and his view was not accepted by the RSPB.

Mr. Flynn

The society did not respond to my letter.

Mr. Davies

If my hon. Friend has not received replies from the RSPB, he must take it up with the society.

I draw my hon. Friend's attention to the view of the Nature Conservancy Council. It is independent and objective. It petitioned against the Bill when it was presented to the House in 1987, and it is now further resolved in its objections to it—[Interruption.] Hon. Members should go away and find out the facts. The Nature Conservancy Council is opposed to the Bill because it thinks that we are abdicating our international responsibilities.

When my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth introduced the motion, he suggested that both South Glamorgan and the development corporation would look for an alternative site. I understand that they have done that, but I have to destroy that hope in case hon. Members might think it a possibility. They are proposing to scoop out the lagoon up the estuary from the bay. It is only 10 per cent. of the size of the tidal mudflats that will be destroyed. Given the habitat around the margins, in terms of providing alternative feeding grounds it will be virtually useless.

There are two other considerations. No one yet knows how to construct alternative feeding grounds. They will be unable to construct the unique environment that currently exists in the bay. It is washed at high tide and drained by two rivers bringing in high levels of nutrients to fertilise the mud and provide the invertebrates on which the birds will live. They do not know how to do that. They say that we should maintain it. In practice, that means that every year or two someone will come along—presumably in a JCB—to scoop out the mud, dump it in the Severn estuary and say to the birds, "There's your environment back." It is nonsense to suggest that. If South Glamorgan or the development corporation are serious about providing alternative habitats, they must come up with something better than what has been proposed so far.

I conclude by expressing the hope that the argument—

Mr. Barry Porter


Mr. Davies

I could continue for a long time. The hon. Gentleman intervened earlier and I replied to his point. He did the House a discourtesy, however, by leaving his place. I can do without his churlish interjections from his seat below the Gangway on the Government Benches.

I do not want to turn the debate into a valleys versus Cardiff confrontation. I know that all my hon. Friends who represent constituencies in the valleys oppose the Bill, and I hope that they will have the opportunity to speak against it.

Mrs. Llin Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Davies

I shall not give way to my hon. Friend. I do not wish to be discourteous to her, but she represents a constituency a long way from the areas that will be affected by the Bill. I know that she has a long family tradition in my constituency, but she knows that in this place we represent the constituents who elect us. We speak for the people who elect us, not the people whom our fathers or forefathers represented.

Mrs. Golding

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Davies

Very well.

Mrs. Golding

I am from the Welsh valleys. I was brought up in the valleys and I lived in the area for a long time. I worked in Cardiff and I worked at Cardiff bay at the Hamadryad hospital. I saw the environment in which people worked. I do not forget. My memory is long. I am proud of Cardiff and I hope that the Bill will be carried. I want Cardiff to be a city of which we can all be ecstatically proud.

Mr. Davies

I was right in my initial judgment not to give way to my hon. Friend. She presented us with an interesting anecdote, but nothing more. As I said, we represent the constituents who elect us. I accept that my hon. Friend has a history of contact with the south Wales valleys, but she represents an English constituency and she must speak for that constituency.

Mrs. Godling

Will my hon. Friend—

Mr. Davies

Be quiet, Llin, and give the rest of us a chance.

I do not want to turn the discussion into a valleys versus Cardiff argument. I recognise that Cardiff is the capital of Wales, and we respect Cardiff as the regional capital. It is the regional economic and financial capital for us in the valleys. We want it to prosper and we shall support any measures that will allow the regeneration of derelict uplands and bring renewed prosperity to the valleys. It is folly, however, to believe that that can be done at the expense of our natural heritage. To believe that is to make a monumental mistake, but that is what the Bill proposes. Those issues have not been addressed in the Bill's passage through Parliament. That is why I believe that we should call a halt to this nonsense.

8.34 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Ian Grist)

The House will appreciate how much I, as a Cardiff Member, should like to participate in the debate. In the circumstances, I think that it would be more helpful if I were briefly to state the Government's position.

The Government have a substantial interest in the Bill's objectives, as it is the intention that the cost of building the barrage will be met by the development corporation, with the assistance of grant in aid provided by the Welsh Office. The proposal clearly raises many important economic, technical and environmental issues, and these have given rise to understandable concerns that will need to be considered properly and carefully. The best way of doing that is surely to allow the Bill to proceed to the new Session.

Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)

The Minister cannot just resume his place—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. As I understand it, the Minister has resumed his place.

Mr. Rowlands

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister intervened as a Minister of the Crown and not as a Cardiff Member. He stated that the Government and his Department have a substantial interest in the Bill, inasmuch as the Department will produce the grant for the development corporation. The Minister has not told us anything about the cost implications for central Government expenditure. Surely he has a duty to the House to make an estimate of the cost implications. It is a matter of considerable concern.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I might call the hon. Gentleman if he wishes to make a speech.

Mr. Rowlands

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It is not a point of order. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to make a speech, I shall call him.

8.36 pm
Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

I would be sad if hon. Members should interfere, in a sense, in what is essentially a discussion between colleagues in south Wales and introduce bad temper. We are anxious to resolve an honest difference of opinion that affects our constituencies in different ways. We do not need lessons from anyone on how we relate to Cardiff. Those of us who live in valley constituencies have recently had to undergo dramatic experiences as a result of the contraction of the coal industry. We are most anxious, therefore, that all schemes in south Wales that will provide jobs are undertaken.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) was right when he said that many people travel from the valley communities into Cardiff. Indeed, the wealth of Cardiff was built on valley constituencies. That was done at the time when the father of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mrs. Golding) was the branch secretary of the Penallta colliery. As a miner and union official, he contributed substantially to the well-being of my village, which is where my hon. Friend was brought up. That is one example of why we do not want a bad-tempered discussion.

It must be accepted that there are valid objections to the Bill. I am in favour of the development of south Cardiff and the docklands. There are no ifs and buts about that. However, it is utterly beyond me to understand why a barrage has to be built. If a minor barrage were built near the Hamadryad hospital, for example, extra land would be available to add substantially to what is in the docklands, but the building of the proposed barrage would not add one acre on which factories or offices could be built. It would provide mooring spaces for boats in a marina. A knock-on effect on the valleys was mooted at one stage, but I cannot visualise many people from the Rhondda rushing to park their boats in a marina in Cardiff.

After all, we are Barry boys. When I was a young kid, the best trips I had were one from the chapel and one from the club down to Barry. I suppose that from now on the people from Rhondda will be going to Cardiff to sail their boats from the Marina. If an argument can be advanced that there is a shortage of mooring places in south Wales, I shall support the Bill on that basis. That argument is not advanced, but many others are.

I began to be interested in the Bill when I was invited to attend a symposium of the Institution of Civil Engineers. As an engineering geologist, I received the accompanying technical document with personal interest. I went to the symposium and met a finely collected bunch of people. The previous Secretary of State for Wales, Lord Crickhowell, was there as a sort of appointee. He held forth and entertained us extremely well. I am not complaining about that. Towards the end of the meeting I got up and asked what I thought were reasonable technical questions. Thereafter I was assailed for daring to speak out against the project. I was accused of being valley-minded. Some people who have left the valleys think that that means small-minded, but we who live in the valleys with our great traditions of culture take pride in being called valley minded.

I thought that something wrong was going on, so I asked the Cardiff Bay development corporation some questions. Before ever there was any talk about birds or the RSPB, I wrote to the corporation in all good faith asking about the surveys. Back came the answers: they were not finished. I asked about groundwater and hydrological surveys; they were not finished either. The geological surveys had not been finished. In other words, the whole civil engineering part of the Bill was predicated on surveys that had not been carried out or had been inadequately carried out.

I would not object to carrying over the Bill if my fears had been satisfied, but they have not been. To be sure, a comprehensive report was done by paid consultant geologists or civil engineers. These independent experts have driven a horse and cart through some of the arguments, which do not stand up to examination.

I began to become a little suspicious about what was driving the motor, so I thought I would take a look at the engine. Then I received an invitation as, I am sure, did other hon. Members. I remember when Associated British Ports brought in a Bill and laid on a champagne supper for Conservative Members who bothered to turn up to support the company. The promoters of this Bill have gone further. Any hon. Member who would like to visit Cardiff can be looked after and can stay the weekend there at the expense of the promoters.

Mr. Terry Patchett (Barnsley, East)


Mr. Rogers

The company has written to every Member for Parliament offering to pay their expenses while in Cardiff. This puts the validity of the Bill in question. I am sure that none of my hon. Friends would be a party to such corruption, although I do not know about Conservative Members, who take a slightly different attitude to these matters.

I am not against the development of Cardiff docklands—

Mr. Barry Porter

If this is all as daft as the hon. Gentleman says, does it not follow that most of the members of Cardiff city council are daft and incompetent, that South Glamorgan county council is daft and incompetent and that at least half of his hon. Friends who represent south Wales are daft? I find that terribly difficult to believe.

Mr. Rogers

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has links with Associated British Ports, but I am worried about his interests in this matter—it is rather unusual for him to be here at this time of night.

I have reservations about some of the people involved with the Bill. For instance, Lord Crickhowell was the initial promoter of the scheme, and his peculiar position in all this has already been described by my hon. Friends. He browbeat the county council and the city council by telling them that they were going to have this urban development corporation—with or without local government representation. It is only fair to point out that it took what was on offer. Then the noble Lord became the chairman of the the National Rivers Authority. One of the problems about the barrage is that it could lead to pollution in a quantity that no one has yet properly surveyed. The Taff and Ely rivers drain in behind the barrage, the Taff combining with the Rhondda and other tributaries. These are two of the fastest rising rivers in the United Kingdom.

I am not a civil engineer or hydrologist, but I have been involved in such schemes and I know enough to realise that there are doubts about whether this scheme, as proposed, will allow the pollution to be taken away. Lord Crickhowell is a director of Associated British Ports, which is strange, when we consider that the main beneficiaries of the scheme and the main land owners in Cardiff bay are not the local authority—Labourcontrolled or otherwise—or the people of Cardiff but Associated British Ports, which owns at least 160 acres. So the previous Secretary of State, Lord Crickhowell, originally promoted the scheme, then became chairman of the National Rivers Authority and is also a director of Associated British Ports. If he carries on in these circles he might well disappear—if he does, I suggest that the seagulls mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) may help him to do it.

The people of Cardiff want jobs, and it is certain that my constituents will also work in the project, but there is plenty of land where the dockyards are now. The vice-chairman of the development corporation, Lord Brooks, and I go back many years, to the time when the docklands consisted of a vibrant community of mixed races and cultures. He has been closely associated with the area and wants to develop it in the same way as does my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael). We do not disagree. I do not think that jobs going to Cardiff will be taken from the valleys.

Mr. Michael

Does my hon. Friend agree that the House of Lords Select Committee accepted the economic argument for the necessity of the barrage; that the NRA accepts that its job is to ensure that the water quality is adequate and meets the requirements of the Bill; and that for that reason the Bill should be carried over so that these matters can be tested properly in Committee?

Mr. Rogers

Because the Bill is in such a bad state, it should be taken away and brought back. It is riddled with holes and inaccuracies. The Select Committee was very worried about the pollution from foul, untreated sewage and industrial effluents deposited in the bay by the rivers Taff and Ely. Swimming will be banned. Not so long ago someone fell off a raft in the middle of the Taff and died of Weil's disease, which is associated with rats' urine. That sounds like a case for the NRA. If the National Rivers Authority is so worried about pollution after the barrage is built it is about time it became worried now because there are already great problems of pollution.

I have grave doubts about the need for the scheme. The only argument in favour of the barrage is that it will provide a waterscape to attract business and housing—in other words, we cannot have a factory in south Wales unless we provide a marina; we cannot have houses unless we provide a marina. The Government continually say that they are doing wonders for the south Wales economy and have attracted new industries to it. But the Cardiff barrage has not yet been built, so why is it needed?

How much capital funding will be put into the Welsh Office? Will the Minister give us an assurance that that capital funding will come from the Government and not be taken out of the allocation for Wales? If the barrage, which will provide a marina for yuppie boats, means that we cannot have vital infrastructure developments in the valleys where in some parts unemployment stands at 80 per cent., I will vote against the Bill all the way. However, if the Government intend only to finance infrastructure development in the dockland area, I will support it.

The Bill's promoters sent Members of Parliament a leaflet entitled "Groundwater. The Facts". That is a ridiculous parody of the facts. For example, it says: Groundwater does not rise above ground level so cannot flood streets and open spaces. That simply is not true. Groundwater does rise above surface level. That is how springs come out of the side of mountains. Groundwater does come to the surface. The intersection of the water table and the surface means that water will issue. If the groundwater is raised sufficiently, it will cause flooding. The leaflet is nonsense. That is why the report commissioned by the development corporation is itself technological nonsense.

The leaflet goes on to ask: Will the barrage increase the risk of flooding? We should not forget that we are talking about thousands of ordinary people. My hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff, South and Penarth and for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) may argue about whose homes will be flooded, but I will vote against any measure that will flood just one home. In my constituency, because of the precipitate nature of water run-off, people are affected by flooding, and when filthy water and sludge goes into a house and destroys a home it is a traumatic experience for the people who live there. If thousands are affected, there will be a thousand traumatic experiences. We should bear that in mind. It is not a matter of saying that only a few people or a few birds will be affected.

Although there will be no floods, a flood warning scheme will be set up. The leaflet says that the Flood Warning Scheme will allow swollen rivers to be let out to the sea without adversely affecting water levels in the rivers. There has been a reasonable estimate that the level of waters feeding into the barrage area will rise by at least 2 ft. The north end of Cardiff, west Cardiff and Cardiff Arms park have had substantial flood prevention schemes over the years because of the problems of flooding, but there will now be flooding from below, not necessarily from surcharge over the river banks.

Mr. Michael

indicated dissent.

Mr Rogers

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth shakes his head. He does not even believe what the promoters say. He does not even seem to know his own documents.

The leaflet says that if a person's basement becomes damp, it can be filled in and a new damp-proof floor will be provided.

Mr. Michael


Mr. Rogers

No, I shall not give way. [Interruption.] It is all right for my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) to mutter away. I am reading the promoters' hand-out. I shall pass it to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth later.

Mr. Michael


Mr. Rogers

It is not. The leaflet says: What is the present groundwater level? It varies throughout Cardiff but is much lower underground than in many parts of Britain. That is a lie. Groundwater is much lower underground in many parts of Britain. Water tables in any area go up and down with the rainwater. In the summer they decline and in the winter they go up. Wherever there are rivers and streams there is groundwater. There is no such thing as an average level. It is misleading to suggest that the groundwater level in Cardiff is much lower underground than in many parts of Britain.

The document is open to question, but those are the facts on which the Bill went through the other place. A report from Wallace Evans for the consultants has been quoted. It is entitled, "Groundwater investigations. Final report. First issue, April 1989." That is riddled with inaccuracies. I am not saying that the problems cannot be overcome, but there is no need for them.

Cardiff can have its development. The development corporation can have its development. Jobs can be brought to the area and houses can be built. But there is no need to block up two river mouths. It will provide only a waterscape and parking space for boats.

Penarth is one of the most beautiful spots in south Wales. Many of my constituents go there at weekends. They visit Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan. Why spoil it for the sake of providing a parking space for boats?

8.58 pm
Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd)

I fully understand right hon. and hon. Members' desire to do something for the docklands of Cardiff. It is one of the most devastated areas in Wales. Moreover, it suffered badly from architectral and sociological scarring in the 1960s, when some other bright promoters had an idea about modifying the docks in a particular way. They thought that they had the answer to all the troubles of the area by putting the population there into high-rise blocks, and we are still paying the price for that innovation. That was a terrible crime against the area and I hope that the House will bear it in mind when it comes to make a decision.

I must declare a direct interest in the matter. The proposed barrage is designed to trap the River Taff that flows past my front window—after which we are all named. I know the River Taff well. As a child I swam in its loveliest tributary, the Cynon. In its upper reaches, it was a beautiful Welsh stream, barely tainted by the collieries and works above it. However, three decades later, I doubt whether many parents who live along the banks of the Taff, the Cynon, the Rhondda, or any of the other tributaries, would relish their children even playing along the banks of the river, let alone swimming in it.

The river is now filthy. Its unkempt banks are festooned with all manner of discarded materials, from sanitary ware to leaflets promoting the virtues of the poll tax. They have been carried downstream to their temporary resting places by waters that are regularly subject to large infusions of raw and partly treated sewage from the treatment plants of the Welsh water authority—which, as has already been pointed out, was appointed by Lord Crickhowell in his previous capacity as Secretary of State for Wales. He now presides over the National Rivers Authority, which is supposed to ensure that companies such as Welsh Water clean up their operations and desist from fouling our streams and rivers.

I must admit that I have little confidence in the prospect of such clean-ups while the companies and authorities involved display more evidence of incest in their origins than did the Borgias. The so-called derogations granted to the water authorities by the Government mean that they can put off their clean-ups for considerable periods of time. Meanwhile, stinking flows the Taff, miserable are the views that it provides, and scientifically fascinating is the quality of its water and the debris that it bears down to the proposed site for the barrage.

Let us take, for example, the phenomenon of discarded doors—not normally a species associated with the flora and fauna of our rivers and streams. The Taff is rich in these aquatic phenomena. Every time that the river rises—and in Wales it does so frequently—they float down from the fine communities of Merthyr, Aberdare and Rhondda, skipping across the flood waves of cream foam from the sewage works. The doors are evidence of the Welsh people's excellent preoccupation with the philosophy of recycling: they are often used as fences on allotments, which almost always back on to rivers. They are the only flat pieces of ground in the valleys. When the rivers rise, down come the doors; and where do they end up? If the barrage is built, they will end up upstream of it.

I am not suggesting that the Bill's promoters have made financial arrangements with allotment holders in an attempt to use the Taff in the way in which Canadian lumberjacks use their rivers, floating timber downstream in preparation for the construction of the barrage. Discarded doors would almost certainly not be the first choice of material for a dam designed to attract well-heeled tourists and the developers of luxury apartments to the vicinity, which is the Bill's intention.

What, then, will happen to those doors? Will they congregate on the surface of the new lake, and form a benign and ecologically desirable shield that will prevent the growth of stinking algae in the waters beneath—waters befouled by the sewage and rubbish that I have described? Or will the much-vaunted Cardiff Bay anti-pollution barge suck up them up along with the rest of the muck, offload them on to a mobile cesspit and cart the whole lot out to the Bristol channel, to dump them where all the rest of Welsh Water's sewage is dumped?

Some months ago, I spoke to a yachtsman at Pierhead in Cardiff about the currents that run along and through the estuaries of the Taff and Ely rivers—rivers that would be blocked by the barrage. The main problem, he told me, was not the currents, but the fear of having his hull smashed by a kitchen table.

With the Secretary of State's valleys initiative reputedly in full swing—although I have not seen much evidence of it along the banks of the Taff and the Ely in my constituency—the Welsh will be hard at work ripping out more doors and kitchen tables for replacement than ever before. Moreover, as our standards of living improve and our food consumption increases, the laws of nature will mean—as they often do—that sewerage systems will come under even greater pressure, and the rivers will receive an even more generous gift from the Welsh water authority's sewage outfall pipes.

Perhaps I am being too pessimistic. Perhaps I should urge the Bill's sponsors to approach the Prime Minister with a view to expressing a vote of confidence in the suitability of the Taff's waters for containment behind a barrage. My constituents would be only too glad to arrange a suitable location for the right hon. Lady to take a running jump into the Taff, and to show by that gesture that we have all worried far too much about the quality of the water in our most famous river. What better advertisement could there be for the barrage than a photograph of the right hon. Lady doing a crawl upstream towards the sites of the Abercynon and Merthyr Vale collieries, which her Government, in their great wisdom, recently closed? I shall oppose the construction of the barrage until I see that photograph—until I see the Prime Minister's running jump into our maltreated river.

I, and many of my constituents, want firm gurantees and detailed timetables as to how and when the Government intend to force their incestous children—the National Rivers Authority and the Welsh water authority—to clean up the Taff and the Ely. The luxury apartments and the office blocks can wait for their shimmering lagoon, just as we in the valleys, who live along the banks of those rivers, have to wait for recognition by the Government that civil pride and environmental health take precedence over speculative profiteering.

9.4 pm

Mr. Gwilym Jones (Cardiff, North)

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells). He has brought back some good humour to the Opposition Benches. I was worried that the warfare breaking out was too pronounced for the good of all hon. Members.

I support the carry-over motion. I have great enthusiasm for the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill. It is an exciting proposal, but I have one great reservation about it.

The purpose of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill is to fulfil the Cardiff bay regeneration strategy which looks forward to the creation over 10 years of 30,000 new jobs, 3 million to 4 million sq ft of new office space, 5 million to 6 million sq ft of industrial and business units and 6,000 dwellings, about a quarter of which are intended to be low-cost housing—most desirable in south Cardiff and Cardiff generally. I should have thought that there would be a good measure of agreement among hon. Members about such a proposal.

In general, who would not be excited by a package for which all who are involved in it are working so hard? I have been involved with the scheme for quite a long while—both before I became a Member of Parliament and since. I have sought to consider very carefully all that it involves. No Bill has ever come before the House with better or fuller local support.

That is typified by Cardiff's evening newspaper, the South Wales Echo. It has written many exhaustive articles on the subject and has shown considerable enthusiasm for the project since its inception. Its municipal editor, Mr. Michael Thomas, went to Baltimore two years ago. When he returned he wrote truthfully, I believe, when he said that he had seen Cardiff's proposed future in Baltimore and that the future worked. The South Wales Echo has provided us with the only independent, professionally conducted survey of what Cardiff people feel about the redevelopment of south Cardiff and the barrage. It shows that twice as many people are in favour of the proposed development in south Cardiff, including the barrage, as oppose it.

I am afraid that I have to reject much of what the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) said, especially his implication concerning the Mafia-like activities of the South Glamorgan county council and Cardiff city council. I should have thought that such strong criticism would have come much more naturally from me than from him. I promise him that I shall continue to criticise the South Glamorgan county council, Labour-controlled, and Cardiff city council, Labour-Liberal dominated, whenever that criticism is deserved, but on this occasion I do not believe that it is deserved. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr. Morgan

I said that I offered no criticism of the local authorities involved.

Mr. Jones

I am glad to hear the hon. Gentleman say that. I thought that he implied that he was very critical of what they had done. It was a criticism that I could not share. I repeat my assurance that I shall criticise them as much as they deserve whenever they deserve criticism, but on this occasion I offer a tribute, on a strictly non-political basis, to the Labour and Conservative leaders of South Glamorgan county council, Lord Brooks and Councillor Gareth Neale, who have been very full-hearted and thorough in pursuing the proposal. Equally, I pay tribute to the Conservative and Labour leaders of Cardiff city council—Councillor Ron Watkiss and Councillor John Reynolds—who played important parts in the discussions. It occurs to me that three of those are on the board of Cardiff bay development corporation, as is Councillor Paddy Kitson, who has played a significant role in the considerations of this matter.

Councillor Paddy Kitson stood for re-election in May. His ward and the one alongside are the wards most affected by the proposals. When he stood for election as the Labour candidate, as did his neighbour, they were opposed by anti-barrage candidates. Although I would not have voted for either of the Labour candidates, they were re-elected with resounding majorities even against the anti-barrage candidates, the Conservative candidates and the other candidates who stood against them. That is a significant demonstration of how local people feel about the role of their local councillors in the project and the worth of the barrage project and the redevelopment of south Cardiff.

Mention has been made of the involvement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and his predecessor, and their support for the proposal. It is commendable and even admirable that Secretaries of State have been prepared to devote so much time and interest to giving their fullest support to such a proposal. Cardiff should be very grateful that they have supported all 'Our efforts. I should add that perhaps the founding fathers of the proposals were my predecessor and the predecessor of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), Lord Callaghan and the late Michael Roberts. Their views on this matter were probably the original catalyst for the redevelopment of south Cardiff. By no means would I take credit for the project as solely a Conservative idea. The Labour party, Lord Callaghan and everyone else in Cardiff had been involved right from the beginning. It is an excellent example of political parties coming together to achieve real benefit for the capital city of Wales.

While I am seeking to pay tribute to those who have worked so hard, it would be entirely inappropriate not to mention those who have been involved on the professional side, particularly the chief executive of South Glamorgan county council, Mr. Michael Boyce, Mr. Iwan Humphreys and all the other officers of South Glamorgan county council, as well as Mr. Geoffrey Inkin and Mr. Barry Lane of the Cardiff Bay development corporation.

The relationship between the development corporation, the local authorities and everyone else involved has been a good one. That has been most important. It is quite right that the project was entrusted to a development corporation as the most appropriate way of moving forward. That said, it was inevitable that there should be some conflict and even dramatic moments in the press, but all has been happily resolved and the good relationship has been continuing.

It has been marked particularly by a willingness to accommodate every point of view and every possible problem that has been raised. South Glamorgan county council and Cardiff Bay development corporation have taken the lead in trying to identify the problems that have arisen with the south Cardiff redevelopment and the barrage proposal. The most comprehensive technical studies have been carried out and their findings have been met by a willingness to respond properly.

A particularly important clause is clause 12, which contains most important provisions for homes and for owners of property which might be affected by changes in the groundwater in Cardiff. The Cardiff flood action committee was equally inspirational in suggesting that such an important clause should be included in the Bill. That suggestion was immediately met, or anticipated, by a ready response from the promoters of the Bill.

The Bill provides for redevelopment with the barrage as its central feature. The barrage is fundamental for it brings about the greatest change to the landscape of south Cardiff. The mudflats at low tide are not an attractive feature. We have a rare opportunity to repair the effect of industrial change. How often we have to put up with industrial change and decay marking our landscape. The mudflats at Cardiff bay were created by the construction of Cardiff docks 150 years ago. The barrage will end those ugly and unattractive mudflats.

Mr. Ron Davies


Mr. Jones

The hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) has had his say. I shall shortly express substantial agreement with what he said, but not on this point.

The barrage is a green proposal. Friends of the Earth opposed a marine development at Porthcawl because it did not include a barrage such as that proposed for south Cardiff. Its contention at the inquiry was that a barrage is essential to meet the forthcoming problems of the greenhouse effect.

Every possible attempt has been made to measure the worth of the barrage. In 1986, the Cardiff Bay development corporation commissioned Peat, Marwick, McLintock to carry out an independent appraisal of what the barrage can best be expected to achieve, not simply on a barrage or no-barrage basis but including the middle course of a mini-barrage. Peat, Marwick, McLintock estimated, on the best basis, that having no barrage as part of the south Cardiff redevelopment would attract £523 million of investment, that a mini-barrage would attract £607 million, but that the barrage would attract £1,051 million of private investment. It further estimated that no barrage would generate 12,700 jobs, that a mini-barrage would generate 14,950 but that the barrage would generate 22,150 jobs.

Peat, Marwick, McLintock sought to measure that by comparing the amount of public sector capital being invested with private investment. No barrage would produce a ratio of private investment to public sector investment of 4.6:1, a mini-barrage would produce a ratio of 4.8:1, and the barrage 8.9:1. It next sought to calculate the net value of the proposal for the Cardiff area. No barrage would lead to greater expenditure than return and a loss of £61 million and a mini-barrage would lead to a loss of £113 million. The only positive return that it could identify was for the barrage, producing a return of £77 million. The study also showed similar declines in the residential sector, offices, industrial and business use and retail. It could even measure reduced achievement in the categories of leisure and open spaces, although the mini-barrage proposal produced less open space than no barrage.

That was an independent and persuasive appraisal. The economic case for the barrage is overwhelming, and it will be of much benefit to south Wales. We know from current studies that one third of the jobs in Cardiff are for commuters, most of whom live in the valleys. That is bound to be reflected in the new jobs created by the south Cardiff development. It will lead not to prosperity confined to Cardiff but to prosperity and worth for all south Wales.

In Cardiff and in the House tonight, many concerns have been expressed, such as concern about flooding. We in Cardiff all remember the flooding in 1979, when large parts of Cardiff were badly affected. Earlier in the 1960s there was flooding further afield that affected parts of my constituency in Gabalfa and Llandaff North. Time after time, it has been shown that the cause of flooding is the combination of heavy rain swelling the rivers and flowing down to Cardiff and meeting a high tide from the sea. Research shows that the barrage would assist in flood prevention because it would break the link between a high incoming tide and heavy rain flowing down the river. The concern about flooding is not a valid reason for not further pursuing the barrage.

The House of Lords Select Committee considered the quality of the water to be impounded behind the barrage and, in its kindly way, concluded that some of the more extreme suggestions—which we have heard again tonight—were unduly pessimistic. I suggest that hon. Members should look at the water at Atlantic wharf, if they have not already done so. That is an example, beside the new headquarters of South Glamorgan county council, of exactly the kind of water that will be present behind the barrage. It is not blue water, but we do not have blue water in Cardiff at the moment. It is not as bad as some of the water elsewhere, and it certainly defies the criticism that has already been made.

Mr. Morgan

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that lorryloads of algae had to be removed in early September from the Atlantic wharf water because the combination of sunlight warming the water and the high percentage of treated sewage coming down the river in the summer resulted in algal blooms and that that would occur on a much larger scale in the much greater impounded waters of the bay.

Mr. Jones

The hon. Gentleman is right to point out that fact. As we all know, the waters behind the barrage will be properly managed, with all the appropriate technology. I think that the hon. Gentleman is confirming what can happen when there is proper management, while at the same time disabusing us of the idea that there will be a polluted lagoon behind the barrage.

Groundwater is another major concern. There is a general measure of agreement on this matter. It is another example of the willingness of the Cardiff Bay development corporation to respond to all the problems. Appropriate provision for a protected property area is made in clause 12, but the clause goes beyond that matter. I am happy to see that my constituency of Cardiff, North is provided for in the Bill. It has been pointed out to me that the provision goes much further—in fact worldwide. It has been said that any citizen, anywhere, could make a claim to the Cardiff Bay development corporation that he had somehow suffered because of the creation of the barrage. That is certainly much further than a general provision in legislation.

The hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers), who is not in the Chamber, strongly criticised the leaflet published by the Bill's promoters. He suggested more than once that the leaflet contained lies and that the statement that groundwater did not rise was not true. I am not a geologist. I have to listen to what the hon. Gentleman says, but I am afraid that he does not convince me. I imagine that there must be percolation of groundwater, but surely groundwater must still obey the laws of gravity. As he said in his example, groundwater can emerge from a mountain, but that is because gravity causes the water to flow down inside the mountain. I have not seen mountains in south Cardiff.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) was critical of the technical evidence before the House of Lords Select Committee. I understand that experts for the promoters and for the groundwater petitioners were called and that their evidence showed that there was only one matter of disagreement between them—that there had not been an opportunity within the period of the study to measure what happened during three or four days of heavy rain. Both groups of experts agreed that, even if the contention of the groundwater petitioners were true, there would be no effect beyond the protected property area, and that there was no need to extend it.

The House of Lords Select Committee fully considered this matter. I concur with the provisions which are outlined in the leaflet and the practical responses in terms of infilling and insulation. It is little wonder that the Select Committee's report said: The Committee concluded that Clause 12 does provide a comprehensive set of measures to deal with the effects of rise in groundwater and that the procedures embodied in the Clause were fair. I have a great reservation—on which I find myself in some measure of agreement with the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies)—about the future of wading birds. In 1986, I expressed my concern in the House for the future of the site of special scientific interest. It is true that the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology has reported on the Taff-Ely estuary and has determined that it is not a site of international significance. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, in its last publication, "The Complete Book of British Birds"—which was to celebrate 100 years of the RSPB—made no mention of the Taff-Ely estuary. The Institute of Terrestrial Ecology has said, however, that the site is of national significance. It has 1.2 per cent. of the British population of redshanks and dunlins. There is a risk of permanent loss and a need for compensation.

The SSSI is part of the Severn estuary SSSI, and while it is only 1 per cent. of the area, it includes 10 per cent. of the birds. The RSPB has told me that there are approximately 8,000 to 10,000 wading birds in the Taff-Ely estuary, and that the area is particularly significant for its redshank population. Redshanks are declining elsewhere in the United Kingdom, but thankfully, not in the Taff estuary, where the population of about 1,500 is staying firm.

I am glad that compensatory measures have been proposed in the Bill. That is an innovation which might be worthy of development elsewhere. They involve some 50 acres of land, at a cost of £3.5 million.

I understand that there will be discussions between the promoters of the Bill, the Nature Conservancy Council and the RSPB. Filling the barrage will take some weeks, and I hope that their discussions will also include the best time to fill the barrage, so that the best transition can be achieved.

My great regret is that no one can guarantee how effective the compensatory features will be. I greatly regret the likely loss of birds and the fact that we have to choose between the present and an uncertain future. I fervently hope that there will be progress towards a target of no loss.

So much time, effort and money has been put into the Bill that it would be a great tragedy if the motion were not passed this evening, and all that work were wasted. The important issues which must be given further consideration deserve to be put before a Select Committee of the House. I am confident that any new feature will be fully considered and that all those features we already know about will continue to have the fullest consideration. I hope that we can move forward, because I believe that the future is exciting.

9.26 pm
Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

I have given a great deal of consideration to the Bill and to whether to support the carry-over motion. I made a final check with the National Rivers Authority this afternoon, and I feel that the information it gave me negated one of the principal reasons for building the barrage.

I did not intervene in the speech of the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones) when he mentioned the independent opinion poll. It was commissioned by the South Wales Echo, which has supported the barrage from the beginning and so is hardly a disinterested observer. A fine opinion poll has been conducted in Cardiff, where 423 people were interviewed, 190 from the affected area, spanning an age range of between 18 and 70-plus, which parallels the age structure of the population. Just over 50 per cent. were women. The outcome of that survey was that fewer than 7 per cent. favoured the barrage, 36 per cent. wanted the area to be cleaned up and landscaped, 27 per cent. thought that there should be further development with an emphasis on a wildlife site, 48 per cent. were in favour of a smaller barrage and 13 per cent. selected other options.

Mr. Flynn

My hon. Friend suggests that there is a groundswell of opinion against the barrage. A number of candidates in recent elections stood on an anti-barrage platform. Can my hon. Friend say how many were successful? He has suggested that the South Wales Echo was partial in the poll which it published. How independent are the people who published the poll which he has mentioned?

Mr. Griffiths

I shall make no comment on the partiality of the people I mentioned, as I believe—the same is true of the Echo—that they have their own commitment and selected their sample in good faith. I do not think that that is an issue. I think my hon. Friend knows that it is rare for one issue to dominate an election, whether people stand for a political party or as independent candidates.

I shall move on to some of the substantive points. I oppose the private Bill procedure in principle. One reason for that is that projects carried through under the private Bill procedure are automatically excluded from the rigours of European Community directive on environmental assessment, so a proper environmental impact assessment based on the EC criteria cannot be made.

I have been approached on the matter several times and I was first approached on it when I was the Member of the European Parliament for South Wales, a constituency that includes Cardiff. I was especially struck by a letter from a friend who is an engineer and describes himself also as an angler, conservationist and ratepayer of Cardiff. He made several salient points about the whole scheme, and was especially upset that the promoters should have gone ahead with the Bill before they had completed the studies that were necessary to ensure that they could overcome the concerns expressed when news of the project first came to light. My friend mentioned problems such as environmental pollution, sedimentation build-up and difficulties for migratory fish, which I should have liked to deal with in detail on other occasions when I had more time.

However, I shall deal in a little detail with water quality. It seems that one of the main reasons why the barrage was mooted originally was to provide an area that would not only look nice, but would be a centre for water sports. Such a target is now impossible. When I contacted the National Rivers Authority this afternoon to find out its feelings about the barrage, it told me that although it would be possible to meet the E. coli coliform standard of the EC directive on bathing water quality, there would be huge problems with the microbiological quality of the water and specifically, the organism called leptospira, which carries Weil's disease which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) mentioned earlier, is a killer. As a result, the National Rivers Authority, in conjunction with the environmental health department of Cardiff city council, has made it clear that it will allow no water contact sports in the lagoon created by the barrage.

Furthermore, when I questioned the experts at the National Rivers Authority, they said that there would be a problem in providing a reasonable quality of water that would even look acceptable, although it would not be safe for anyone to fall into it. Although the Bill provided for a scheme for water sports, there are question marks over the times of flooding. It has already been said this evening that the Taff and its tributaries tend to rise very quickly so that there are problems about the boom and the other provisions that are intended to take out debris and the sewage that makes its way down the river. I remind the House that a sewage mains under the Taff once burst and for a time raw sewage flowed down the river. The problems of coping with the River Taff in spate and of removing the debris mean that the measures might not deal effectively with the problem.

Mr. Rogers

I assure my hon. Friend that raw sewage already enters the tributaries feeding the lagoon. The Welsh water authority is not renewing the trunk sewer systems in some of the valleys, so raw sewage enters the river.

Mr. Griffiths

I thank my hon. Friend.

I do not oppose the development of Cardiff docklands but, with all the problems associated with providing a lagoon, the purpose of which is no longer relevant because water quality is not right, I hope that we shall throw out the carry-over motion and ask the promoters, if they must come back with a new scheme, to do so without the barrage.

9.35 pm
Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

I am the only non-Welsh Member to have spoken so far in the debate. I wish to speak because I am an elected member of the council for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. I have taken a close interest in the matter, as has the society, which is Europe's largest voluntary organisation concerned with the matter. It has members in every constituency.

I have another reason for wishing to speak, which has nothing to do with the promoter of the Bill or the people behind it. The procedure on private Bills is a corrupt system which should be ended. The matter would be better dealt with by a public inquiry in Cardiff than by the House.

Normally, I would not wish to become involved in any issue that is mainly the concern of the people of Cardiff but, as has already been said, the bay is of national significance because of its value for wildlife and conservation. It is to that aspect that I shall address my remarks.

I accepted a kind invitation from the Cardiff Bay development corporation to meet it in Cardiff. I must add that I travelled there at my own expense, during my holidays. While I had a meeting with my hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) and for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan), my wife and family were let loose in Cardiff, which was of more benefit to Cardiff city centre than to me. I had an opportunity to see the problems at first hand, so I speak as someone who has taken the trouble to go to Cardiff and talk to the corporation to hear both sides of the argument.

Conservative Members spoke about mud, and my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth said that mud in Cardiff stinks. It may stink now, but that is caused by the sewage outfalls and effluents in the rivers Taff and Ely. Those effluents will be trapped behind the barrage if it is constructed. The scheme could be a potential asset to the city if the money for the barrage went instead to clean up the bay, landscape the area and maximise its attraction to wildlife.

I was taken down to look at the mud. The visit was carefully timed, so that I could see the vast expanses of mud at low tide. My guides said, "Just look at that." I thought that it was an attractive sight, but I accept that not everyone would share my view. I noted that there was a substantial housing development in Penarth dock. It was popular and the houses had sold well, even though they overlooked the mudflats. While there may be people who would not want to buy a house overlooking mudflats, many people would be delighted with the ever-changing scenery of a tidal estuary with the tide coming in and out, the ebb and flow, the birds' moods and the call of birds on the wing, which are all attractive. Some developers have made it clear that they do not need the barrage in order to build homes and attract inward investment. Some of the figures that have been quoted have been mathematical rather than relating to reality.

The displacement of bird species from Cardiff bay is of national importance to a number of species, particularly redshanks, dunlins and knots. It is not true to say that those species can simply move out of Cardiff bay and find a nice vacant mudflat in the Severn estuary. Those feeding areas are already occupied and would not take any more feeding species. The birds would either displace the species that are there already or, even worse, by competing for food in a reduced feeding area, ensure that none of the species on those feeding grounds would get enough energy. If there was a cold snap during the winter, it would be likely that large numbers of species would be unable to survive.

It is also likely that migrating birds which are travelling through the Cardiff bay area would be unable to feed adequately to build up their body fats for the migration. The mortality rate in the species could be greater than the present population.

A paper written by M. E. Moser, entitled "Importance of UK Estuaries for Waders and Wildfowl", bears out these points: For example, the numbers of redshanks on the firth of Clyde crashed during the 1980s, probably as a result of a decrease in the available food resources. There have been massive declines in bartailed godwits, knots and dunlins on the Cheshire/Welsh Dee estuary". When there is already a decline in species because of loss of feeding grounds and habitat, we cannot displace birds from Cardiff Bay and expect them to survive.

I pay tribute to the development corporation and to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth, who is genuinely concerned about these conservation aspects. The Bill's promoters deserve some credit for taking these matters seriously and trying to meet the genuine points which have been put forward by the conservationists.

The Wentloog proposal is interesting and radical in terms of providing an adequate alternative feeding ground. Unfortunately, at the moment there is insufficient information to determine whether it will be completely successful. I am not sure whether the enormous resources would be available to protect a site of this sort from the inevitable silting.

I realise that time is short, and this is a debate on the carry-over motion. If there is a Second Reading debate, I should like to expand these points. In terms of the carry-over motion, arguments from people such as me, conservation organisations and development corporations hinge purely on the barrage. The promoters should consider taking the Bill back to concentrate on the developments which we all support. The regeneration is imaginative and practical for Cardiff, but we do not need a barrage; by abandoning it and transferring resources, we could create an even better and more successful scheme.

9.43 pm
Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)

Any hon. Member who speaks in a debate on a private Bill which appears, at least in its title, to be a local Bill, has to justify his or her intervention. There is one basic reason for an intervention: if the Bill has broader, national implications. My hon. Friends the Members for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) and for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) and other hon. Members who have spoken against the Bill have already shown that the significance and importance of this Bill transcends its apparently local character.

There has been an amazing omission in this debate and in much of the evidence taken in the other place. Another reason why the Bill is not just a local one is its huge and significant public expenditure consequences, which have not been explained tonight. That is why I reacted so violently when the Minister rose and sat down in 30 seconds flat, simply saying that the Bill would have substantial expenditure consequences for his Department. The House is being asked to pass a carry-over motion on a Bill whose public expenditure consequences have not been explained. I make no criticism of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), who has enough to deal with in promoting the Bill and opening the debate on the motion, but except in one sentence, he did not mention public expenditure. As a valleys Member, I have a vested interest in knowing the overall sums, where the money will come from, what proportion will be paid by the ratepayers of south Glamorgan or of the city council and what proportion will come from the national purse—that is, the Welsh Office and its various agencies and bodies.

Mr. Michael

These are matters of considerable detail, and in coming to a conclusion, we should discuss the expenditure and match it with the benefit that will result. However, should not these matters be properly investigated by the Select Committee?

Mr. Rowlands

I am afraid that I cannot agree with the way that my hon. Friend has minimised the argument, by saying that all this can be dealt with in Committee. When public Bills are introduced, their financial implications are spelt out from the start. Attached to the original Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill was a financial memorandum, which contained the first information about expenditure that we were given. It is not attached to the Bills that we have now—it seems to have been taken off. It said: The Secretary of State for Wales and the Secretary of State for the Environment have said in a joint report to Parliament that … it would be the Government's intention that the cost of the barrage as at present estimated would be met by the Development Corporation with the assistance of a grant-in-aid provided by the Welsh Office. In other words, this will be publicly funded by the Welsh Office. It continued: The expenditure on construction of the proposed works is estimated at £82,230,000. The expenditure on the acquisition of lands and easements for the works is estimated at £2,550,000. We know that the initial public expenditure implications of the Bill, according to the financial memorandum, will be about £85 million. However, that is misleading because in the cross-examination of the promoters of the Bill in the other place, the figures turned out to be very different. There is an admission that a high level of public expenditure in the barrage site is essential to the scheme. The Minister, the promoters and certainly Tory Members, who have strong views about public expenditure, have to justify this level of expenditure. What is the expenditure to be? The cost of the barrage is estimated to be £113 million plus. Presumably, that will be substantially funded by the Welsh Office. Perhaps the Minister will intervene now and tell us what portion of that £113 million will be funded by the Welsh Office, as opposed to the county council or local government.

That is not the end of it. That is only a small proportion of the total public expenditure consequences of the Bill. Again in the evidence presented in the other place, we are told that in addition to the £113 million—not the £85 million in the financial memorandum—there is a land reclamation cost of £15 million. I have an interest in land reclamation schemes because my constituency has, I believe, the largest concentration of derelict industrial land, certainly in Wales and probably in the United Kingdom as a whole. There will also be depollution costs of £60 million and combined road schemes costing another £118 million.

Therefore, the total possible public expenditure consequences of the Bill, about which not one word has been said this evening and not a single figure given by the Minister, are of over £400 million. That is what, in another place, the promoters agreed were the total barrage plus infrastructure costs of the scheme.

The Minister is in dereliction of his duty to the House by not giving that information. Indeed, one principle upon which the parliamentary system was founded was the scrutiny and accountability of public funds. If there was no other case for opposing the carry-over motion, sufficient reason would be that until the Minister comes to the Dispatch Box to tell us what proportion of that £400 million-plus will be funded by central Government, as opposed to what might be raised by the ratepayers of South Glamorgan, the Bill should not proceed. It is all very well for local authorities to promote big, important schemes—we have all been party to this and have argued for and promoted them—but if the funds are to come not from local government, but from central Government, interest in the measure must transcend the boundaries of any one local authority. This is a matter of national interest. It is certainly of interest to the Principality to know where that £400 million-plus will come from.

I turn now to a point about which we have heard nothing. Again, I do not in any way blame my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth for this because he had a lot to explain at the beginning of the debate, and in the numerous interventions, cross-references and points of order, he might have overlooked telling the House this other fact. Despite the amazing appendix on the barrage's tremendous economic benefits, in City terms, the evidence that was submitted to the other place on the operating costs of the barrage estimated that the revenue from the barrage—the fees or whatever—will amount to £475 million, whereas the costs of operating the barrage will be £1.1 billion. Even according to the promoters, there will be a net operational loss of £652 million. Who will fund that? Will it be funded by the ratepayers or will the Welsh Office make an on-going contribution?

The Government want to carry over a Bill with capital expenditure consequences of more than £400 million and to include a net £600 million operating cost on top, yet we still do not know what proportion of that will be paid from central Government funds.

We have been told that Parliament has already thoroughly investigated the scheme and that the Bill has come down to us with the blessing of their Lordships. I have looked through the 16 volumes of evidence to try to find the answers to the questions that I have asked and which the Minister has failed to answer about the contribution from central Government funds. The best that one can find in the evidence is an exchange between Mr. Geoffrey Inkin, who I think is the chairman of the corporation, and the cross-examiners. At one point, the chairman of the inquiry asked Mr. Inkin: Do I understand that £250m will come straight from Government funding and the £150m will come from increased land values? The answer was: No, £75m–£125m. Is the sum, to be precise. Well, £75 million to £125 million is certainly a precise sum. Mr. Inkin's answer continued: One is talking about a total sum of public funding of something of the order of £300m–£350m. There are additional sources of funding, but relatively minor key. To the next question of That makes up the balance between £300m and £350m and the £400m? Mr. Inkin replied: Much of the balance of about £75m is in fact to go towards the cost of the peripheral distributor road which comes out of transport supplementary grant to the County Council. We may make a subscription on a proportion. That is supposed to be the lucid evidence, given under cross-examination, that results in the Bill being given the blessing of their Lordships. As far as I can tell, that was the sum of the evidence covering the public expenditure implications of the Bill.

For no other reason, I beg hon. Members not to agree to the Bill being carried over, certainly not until we are given an effective assessment—a real financial memorandum—showing the true cost of the measure to the public and particularly to the national purse.

Perhaps the most telling argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth—at any rate, in his view—was that we must not oppose major developments in view of the effect that our action might have on jobs and the future of the city. When reading the evidence given in this matter—I was in the Private Bill Office—I discovered that the chief counsel for South Glamorgan county council was a long-standing adversary of mine, a wealthy gentleman named Peter Boydell, probably the country's No. 1 planning QC.

The last time I saw Mr. Boydell in action was when he was advocating a grandiose city centre development for Cardiff. I was reminded of all the arguments that we heard, back in the late 1960s, when I was active—hon. Members will agree that I acted effectively—in opposing that grandiose scheme. Almost identical arguments to those now being adduced for the barrage scheme were made on that occasion, including the attempt to blackmail us into believing that more jobs were at stake, that the proposed hook road would solve the urban traffic problems of the city and that such a development, along with the creation of a huge shopping centre, was the only way for a capital city to develop.

It was to the good fortune of us all that that scheme fell and the hook road was not built. Instead there emerged the sort of development for which we were arguing—the organic development of the city. It has since developed in the way that we hoped. Today, Cardiff city centre is one of the finest of any city. That has happened not as the result of any grandiose scheme but for the reverse reason—because we turned our backs on huge developments and went for the sensible, progressive, organic development of the city.

There is a parallel between the change of attitude on that occasion and the consideration that we are giving to the barrage today. We rejected that grandiose scheme 20 years ago, and that led to the fine city centre that Cardiff now has. By saying no to the carry-over tonight, there will be a rethink of the whole issue, just as occurred 20 years ago. I hope that, following that rethink, there will emerge a consensus for the idea of a mini-barrage, which will overcome many of the objections that have been voiced on conservation grounds and which will not make the sort of demands on public expenditure that the barrage scheme would make.

It has been suggested that we should not make this an argument of valley versus the city of Cardiff. We do not want that to happen, but we are jealous of the relative proportions of public expenditure that is devoted to the city and to valley communities such as mine. The public expenditure consequences of the Bill and the large proportion of money that one suspects will come from Welsh Office funds make the Secretary of State's Valleys initiative look like an extremely meagre affair.

There are many reasons why the Bill should not be carried over, including the wider, broader national issues that have been mentioned. People who 10 years ago would have dismissed arguments about the needs of wading birds have now become aware of the enormous long-term significance of conservation—

9.59 pm
Mr. Michael

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 192, Noes 58.

Division No. 407] [9.59 pm
Alexander, Richard Burns, Simon
Alton, David Butler, Chris
Arbuthnot, James Butterfill, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Ashby, David Carrington, Matthew
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Carttiss, Michael
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Chapman, Sydney
Bell, Stuart Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Bermingham, Gerald Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bevan, David Gilroy Coleman, Donald
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Colvin, Michael
Boswell, Tim Conway, Derek
Boyes, Roland Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Couchman, James
Brazier, Julian Cox, Tom
Bright, Graham Crowther, Stan
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Buck, Sir Antony Curry, David
Budgen, Nicholas Davis, David (Boothferry)
Day, Stephen Mills, Iain
Dixon, Don Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Dorrell, Stephen Mitchell, Sir David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Monro, Sir Hector
Duffy, A. E. P. Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Durant, Tony Moonie, Dr Lewis
Eadie, Alexander Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Moynihan, Hon Colin
Evennett, David Murphy, Paul
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Neubert, Michael
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Nicholls, Patrick
Fallon, Michael Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Favell, Tony Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Norris, Steve
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Oppenheim, Phillip
Flynn, Paul Page, Richard
Fookes, Dame Janet Paice, James
Forman, Nigel Parry, Robert
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Patnick, Irvine
Forth, Eric Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Foster, Derek Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Franks, Cecil Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Fraser, John Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Freeman, Roger Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
French, Douglas Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Gale, Roger Rhodes James, Robert
Garel-Jones, Tristan Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Gill, Christopher Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Glyn, Dr Alan Robertson, George
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Rost, Peter
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Sackville, Hon Tom
Gregory, Conal Sayeed, Jonathan
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Shaw, David (Dover)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Grist, Ian Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Ground, Patrick Shelton, Sir William
Hague, William Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Harris, David Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Haynes, Frank Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Squire, Robin
Home Robertson, John Steel, Rt Hon David
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Stern, Michael
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Stevens, Lewis
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Stokes, Sir John
Irvine, Michael Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Strang, Gavin
Kilfedder, James Summerson, Hugo
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Kirkhope, Timothy Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Kirkwood, Archy Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Knapman, Roger Temple-Morris, Peter
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Knowles, Michael Thorne, Neil
Knox, David Thurnham, Peter
Lang, Ian Tredinnick, David
Lawrence, Ivan Trotter, Neville
Lee, John (Pendle) Twinn, Dr Ian
Lightbown, David Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Wallace, James
Lord, Michael Waller, Gary
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
McFall, John Warren, Kenneth
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Wheeler, John
Maclean, David Widdecombe, Ann
McLoughlin, Patrick Wilkinson, John
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Winterton, Mrs Ann
McWilliam, John Winterton, Nicholas
Mans, Keith Wood, Timothy
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Tellers for the Ayes:
Meyer, Sir Anthony Mr. Gwilym Jones and Mrs. Llin Golding.
Michael, Alun
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Loyden, Eddie
Barron, Kevin McCartney, Ian
Bray, Dr Jeremy McWilliam, John
Buckley, George J. Mahon, Mrs Alice
Caborn, Richard Martlew, Eric
Clay, Bob Meale, Alan
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Morgan, Rhodri
Corbett, Robin Morley, Elliot
Corbyn, Jeremy Patchett, Terry
Cousins, Jim Pike, Peter L.
Cryer, Bob Primarolo, Dawn
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Redmond, Martin
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Richardson, Jo
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Rogers, Allan
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Fatchett, Derek Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Rowlands, Ted
Flannery, Martin Short, Clare
Fyfe, Maria Skinner, Dennis
Galloway, George Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Steinberg, Gerry
Hinchliffe, David Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Hood, Jimmy Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Illsley, Eric Wise, Mrs Audrey
Lamond, James
Lewis, Terry Tellers for the Noes:
Litherland, Robert Dr. Kim Howells and Mr. Win Griffiths.
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly:

The House divided: Ayes 183, Noes 48.

Division No. 408] [10.12 pm
Alexander, Richard Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Alton, David Duffy, A. E. P.
Arbuthnot, James Durant, Tony
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Eadie, Alexander
Ashby, David Evennett, David
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Bermingham, Gerald Favell, Tony
Bevan, David Gilroy Fenner, Dame Peggy
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Boswell, Tim Flynn, Paul
Bowis, John Fookes, Dame Janet
Boyes, Roland Forman, Nigel
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Foster, Derek
Brazier, Julian Franks, Cecil
Bright, Graham Fraser, John
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Freeman, Roger
Buck, Sir Antony French, Douglas
Budgen, Nicholas Gale, Roger
Burns, Simon Garel-Jones, Tristan
Butler, Chris Gill, Christopher
Butterfill, John Glyn, Dr Alan
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Carrington, Matthew Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Chapman, Sydney Gregory, Conal
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Coleman, Donald Grist, Ian
Colvin, Michael Ground, Patrick
Conway, Derek Hague, William
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Corbett, Robin Harris, David
Couchman, James Haynes, Frank
Cox, Tom Home Robertson, John
Crowther, Stan Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Curry, David Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Day, Stephen Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Dixon, Don Irvine, Michael
Dorrell, Stephen Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Kilfedder, James Renton, Rt Hon Tim
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Kirkhope, Timothy Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Kirkwood, Archy Robertson, George
Knapman, Roger Rost, Peter
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Sackville, Hon Tom
Knowles, Michael Sayeed, Jonathan
Knox, David Shaw, David (Dover)
Lang, Ian Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lawrence, Ivan Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Lee, John (Pendle) Shelton, Sir William
Lightbown, David Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Lord, Michael Snape, Peter
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
McFall, John Squire, Robin
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Steel, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick Stern, Michael
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Stevens, Lewis
McWilliam, John Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Mans, Keith Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Stokes, Sir John
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Mates, Michael Strang, Gavin
Maude, Hon Francis Summerson, Hugo
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Meale, Alan Temple-Morris, Peter
Meyer, Sir Anthony Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Michael, Alun Thorne, Neil
Mills, Iain Thurnham, Peter
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Tredinnick, David
Mitchell, Sir David Trotter, Neville
Monro, Sir Hector Twinn, Dr Ian
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Moonie, Dr Lewis Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Wallace, James
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Waller, Gary
Murphy, Paul Ward, John
Nelson, Anthony Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Neubert, Michael Warren, Kenneth
Nicholls, Patrick Wheeler, John
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Widdecombe, Ann
Norris, Steve Wilkinson, John
Oppenheim, Phillip Winterton, Mrs Ann
Page, Richard Winterton, Nicholas
Paice, James Wood, Timothy
Parry, Robert Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Patchett, Terry
Patnick, Irvine Tellers for the Ayes:
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Mr. Gwilym Jones and Mrs. Llin Golding.
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Cousins, Jim
Barron, Kevin Cryer, Bob
Buckley, George J. Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Caborn, Richard Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Clay, Bob Fatchett, Derek
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Faulds, Andrew
Corbyn, Jeremy Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Flannery, Martin Richardson, Jo
Hinchliffe, David Rogers, Allan
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Rowlands, Ted
Illsley, Eric Sedgemore, Brian
Lamond, James Short, Clare
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Skinner, Dennis
Loyden, Eddie Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
McCartney, Ian Steinberg, Gerry
Mahon, Mrs Alice Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Martlew, Eric Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Morley, Elliot
Pike, Peter L. Tellers for the Noes:
Primarolo, Dawn Dr. Kim Howells and Mr. Win Griffiths.
Redmond, Martin

Question agreed to.

Ordered, That the Promoters of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill [Lords] shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office of their intention to suspend further proceedings not later than the day before the close of the present Session and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid;

Ordered, That if the Bill is brought from the Lords in the next session, the Agents for the Bill shall deposit in the Private Bill Office a declaration signed by them, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill which was brought from the Lords in the present Session;

Ordered, That as soon as a certificate by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office, that such a declaration has been so deposited, has been laid upon the Table of the House, the Bill shall be deemed to have been read the first and shall be ordered to be read a second time;

Ordered, That the Petitions against the Bill presented in the present session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session;

Ordered, That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business;

Ordered, That, in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words 'under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)' were omitted;

Ordered, That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session;

Ordered, That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.