HC Deb 16 April 1991 vol 189 cc218-48

`.—(1) The works authorised by this Act shall not he treated for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1988 (or any general order superseding that order made under section 59 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, or any corresponding provision of an act repealing that section), to be—

  1. (a) development authorised by an Act which designates specifically both the nature of the development and the land upon which it may be carried out; or
  2. (b) development by dock, pier, harbour, water transport, canal or inland navigation undertakings.

(2) For the avoidance of doubt the works described in sections 17, 19 and 20 of this Act are development within the meaning of section 55 of the Act of 1990 (which defines "development").

(3) Nothing in this Act shall constitute an approval, in outline, in principle or otherwise, for the purposes of the Act of 1990, and any application for planning permission for the carrying out of the works shall be determined entirely on its own merits.

(4) For the purposes of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 any works authorised by this Act which lie seaward of the mean low water level of spring tides shall he within the county and the city of the borough (as the case may be) from the date of the passing of this Act until the relevant date.

(5) In this section—

"the relevant date" means in the case of works authorised under—

  1. (a) sections 17 (power to execute works) and 19 (subsidiary works) of this Act, the tenth anniversary of the passing of this Act; or
  2. (b) section 20 (works for accommodation of vessels) of this Act, the date when the barrage is removed;

"the Act of 1990" means the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.'.—[Mr. Hood.]

Brought up, and read the First time

Mr. Jimmy Hood (Clydesdale)

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

Madam Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 45, in page 10, line 6, at end insert— `(9) If any of the works authorised by this section have not been commenced before the expiry of seven years from the passing of this Act, then on expiration of that period the powers of this section in relation to that work shall cease.'. No. 79, in page 74, line 31, leave out clause 97.

No. 80, in page 74, line 37, leave out from 'within' to the end of line 44 and insert— `7 years after the passing of this Act. (2) The works authorised by this Act shall not be treated as development permitted by Article 3 of and Class B in Part 17 of Schedule 2 the said order of 1988 (which permit development by dock, pier, harbour, water transport, canal or inland navigation undertakings).'.

Mr. Hood

The purpose of the new clause and the amendments is to apply all the provisions of the town and country planning legislation to all the developments enabled by the Bill, including the barrage itself, associated works and harbour works in the inland bay.

I sat on the Select Committee that considered this Bill and I do not believe that the Bill should proceed from the Committee stage. It is flawed. The powers that it would introduce are totally unacceptable in the democratic process.

Mr. Ron Davies

Will my hon. Friend tell us clearly why he feels that the Bill was fundamentally flawed?

Mr. Hood

I will certainly try to do that. The main flaws, those concerning the Secretary of State, were set out in the earlier points of order, and there are a number of others.

By giving the Secretary of State the power to enact a Bill, the Select Committee took powers away from Parliament itself. It is the duty of Parliament, not the Secretary of State, to enact Bills. I can say with hindsight that, had we known—I do not see my three colleagues on the Committee in their places—that what has happened since would happen, I genuinely doubt whether the three-to-one majority would have favoured the Bill.

There were other points. The ground water model that was accepted by all the members of the Committee was wrong, as was the assessed impact of ground water. This will cause serious trouble.

Mr. Rogers

It is important that, initially, my hon. Friend set out the fact that the new clause relates to the general planning considerations that ought to apply within the area. Will he also accept that one of the reasons why people promote private Bills is that they want to circumvent planning restrictions? They do not pursue the matter at the local level because they know there will be opposition to it. I am sure that my hon. Friend, who I know is a sponsored member of the National Union of Mineworkers, will remember the passage of the Felixstowe Dock and Railway (No. 2) Bill. The company that wanted to develop a private dock in that area was quite happy to provide meals and even, during an all-night sitting—

Mr. Ron Davies


Mr. Hood

Champagne suppers, as I remember it.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. We are dealing with new clause 1 and some amendments. This bears no relationship to them. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would deal with the new clause.

Mr. Hood

I am aware of the example that my hon. Friend gives. I was invited to the champagne fiasco, as we called it then. There is a democratic deficit when such conduct is permitted. We go all over the world telling people proudly about the Mother of Parliaments. I hope that the new democracies that are springing up all over Europe will not emulate some of the antics involved in our private Bill procedure.

Mr. Michael

I agree with my hon. Friend about the unsatisfactory nature of the private Bill procedure, but may I suggest that it has stood in the way of those of us who wish the Bill to proceed? Will he accept that there is the greatest possible contrast between the practices that were pursued in the case mentioned by my hon. Friend the member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) in his intervention and the clear and clean way in which matters have proceeded on this Bill?

7.30 pm
Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I would be much obliged if the hon. Member for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood), rather than going down that road, dealt with the amendments which are before the House.

Mr. Hood

I shall respect your judgment, as usual, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I have often sat in the House, as we all have, including your good self, Madam Deputy Speaker, and listened to objection after objection to the private Bill procedure. I am persuaded by my experience in the House and on private Bill Committees that all private Bills should not be given the benefit of the doubt, as is stated in "Erskine May". I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) has "Erskine May" beside him, as he always does. No doubt he could tell me which part advises Parliament that, when judging private Bills, the benefit of the doubt must always be given to objectors and petitioners against the Bill. That means, of course, that the promoters must prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt. It was the unanimous view of the Select Committee that the promoters of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill have not proved their case beyond all reasonable doubt. Because of that and that alone, the Bill should have fallen. Unfortunately it did not, and we are now discussing it further.

It is incumbent on me to mention that, in not supporting the Bill, I wrote a minority report. I should give an account of my reasons—

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. Interesting as his reasons may be, the hon. Gentleman is moving a new clause that deals with town and country planning. Perhaps he would relate his comments to that.

Mr. Hood

I shall do my best, but I thought that a preamble about how I had reached my conclusions would be helpful to the House. As has been pointed out, many hon. Members who will have to decide on the Bill and the amendments have not heard much of the evidence.

In my experience, there is usually acrimony and dissent in Committees dealing with private Bills. No one denies that the Bill under consideration is controversial, but fortunately there was no acrimony or resentment among Committee members. We were considering the Bill for so long that we got to know each other better and we understood each other's points of view. There are strong feelings for and against the Bill among my hon. Friends, but I have been treated with courtesy, as one would expect, by my Welsh and Celtic comrades.

Mr. Rogers

I assure my hon. Friend that there is no acrimony on the Bill. I have always said that I would be happy to change my mind about how I voted if it could be demonstrated to me that the industrial development of the dockland area of Cardiff relied entirely upon the development of a barrage. Manifestly, over the last year or so, the industrial development has proceeded without the barrage, so there is no need for huge expenditure of public money. Indeed, it might well have a detrimental effect upon the people of Cardiff in that it will drive up land and house prices and make it more difficult for people on ordinary incomes to live in the dockland area. I accept that initially they would have subsidised housing but when the houses are sold, there will be a free market. That is why my hon. Friend's new clause about planning might he helpful. Any benefits of housing subsidy would apply only to the first cycle of ownership. Immediately afterwards, there would be a substantial effect on housing prices, to the disadvantage of people on low incomes in the Cardiff area.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. These matters are totally irrelevant. They relate not at all to the group of amendments under discussion. The hon. Member for Clydesdale will oblige me and the House by speaking pertinently to the new clause and the related amendments.

Mr. Hood

I almost pre-empted you, Madam Deputy Speaker; I was about to advise my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) that the points he was raising would come up later, when we will be able to exchange experiences and views.

My grandmother used to say that confession was good for the soul. Why should we not confess among friends and colleagues? When the Committee proceedings began, I thought that any project involving such massive public expenditure must be good. I put myself in the position of an hon. Member whose constituency was being offered public expenditure of £150 million to £200 million and thought that I would not like a colleague telling me that my constituency could not have the benefit of that public expenditure. Therefore, I started from the position that I would have to be convinced very strongly not to support the Bill. I may have been wrong not to be more objective, but that was human nature. After listening to the evidence and visiting Cardiff, I was persuaded to change my mind for various reasons, which I will deal with on many other amendments during the night or, indeed, tomorrow morning.

Clause 97 modifies the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 by omitting the development involved in the construction of the barrage from the normal planning process. There is an EEC directive on the planning and development of such projects, which I understand that the Government intend to implement next year. It may not be the present Government who implement it, but its effect will be that all such projects should go through the planning process. There should be no disagreement that that is right and proper, and I look forward to the implementation of that directive.

Clause 97 would prevent that process and supersede existing law. It would be a dangerous precedent to allow the enactment of such an enabling clause, which would deny local people who are threatened by such huge developments the right to be included in the detailed planning consideration, as would be the case under the planning law.

I referred to "Erskine May" giving the benefit of the doubt to objectors. If anybody should be given the benefit of the doubt under the Bill, it should be the 11,000-plus people who are threatened by ground water. That was one of the issues that persuaded me not to support the Bill. It is wrong to tell local people affected by it that they have no right to be consulted, to have their views considered under the planning process and to object as they are entitled to under normal planning law.

Why do the promoters want to supersede the planning legislation?

Mr. Rogers

May I help my hon. Friend by giving him the answer? I have with me an extract from the Investors' Chronicle which says that Associated British Ports, one of the major landowners in the area, wants to enhance the value of its properties. I can give my hon. Friend a copy of the extract. It implies that by getting round the planning laws, Associated British Ports will make huge sums of money. Of course, it is significant that one of the directors of Associated British Ports is the former Secretary of State for Wales, Lord Crickhowell, who gave permission for the development.

Mr. Hood

I understand my hon. Friend's point. Why do the promoters of the Bill want clause 97, which will take away the rights of the community and of individuals living in it? That is democratic deficit and the House should not allow it to happen.

Mr. Ron Davies

My hon. Friend thought that, as a Committee member, he had discharged his duty to the residents of Cardiff who are threatened by flooding by agreeing to the Secretary of State's proposition and, after further investigation into ground water, making a quasi-judicial judgment. As a member of that Committee, how does my hon. Friend feel about debating amendments when, having arranged to subvert the proceedings tonight, Welsh Office Ministers do not even have the courtesy to be present? Does my hon. Friend feel betrayed by that Committee decision?

Mr. Hood

I am not surprised that Ministers betray me and others. However, I shall give the Minister the benefit of the doubt and hope that he has scuttled off to bring the Secretary of State for Wales into the Chamber to listen to the debate. If he does not return within a reasonable time, I shall feel betrayed.

Mr. Morgan

I assure my hon. Friend that the Secretary of State must be in the precincts of the House because, five minutes ago, I received a letter from him apologising that a letter was sent to me urgently yesterday and affixed to the notice board, addressed to Rhodri Jones, MP. Let us hope that he returns from being a presence in the precincts to being a presence in the Chamber.

Mr. Hood

I am sure that the Secretary of State will pop in to say hello. He will have to come because he is lobbying quite a few of his colleagues to come along. He cannot do that and not turn up himself. Whether he will take part in the debate is another matter.

I shall compare like with like regarding the enabling part of the Bill. It is important to take account of the explanatory memorandum of the Hook Island (Poole Bay) Bill, which states: The Bill contains powers to enable BP Petroleum Development Limited to construct an artificial island in the Hook Sands area of Poole Bay, for the purpose of winning and getting petroleum which lies beneath the waters of the Bay. Because the Island would be in navigable waters it is necessary for the construction of the Island and works connected with it to have the authority of Parliament. That is relevant because the promoters of this Bill respected and wanted that. The explanatory memorandum continues: However the Bill provides that the works will be subject to Local Authority Planning Controls. The promoters of that Bill have taken account of the community and local people who wish to be consulted and taken into consideration.

Mr. Morgan

Does my hon. Friend agree that what is good enough for BP should be good enough for ABP?

Mr. Hood

I was trying to make that point. The preamble to that Bill states: It is expedient that, subject to planning permission being granted … It is expedient to apply the Town and Country Planning Act 1990: It is expedient that the Company should be empowered, subject to planning permission. That Bill would not circumvent Parliament's rights.

If Parliament passes the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill tonight—it could be early or even late tomorrow morning —we shall forfeit Parliament's right to enact legislation.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Is he not trying to say that, whether we are in favour of, or against, the Cardiff bay barrage, we should not favour a Bill that supersedes the normal law of the land—the town and country planning legislation? Therefore, everyone should support the amendment, regardless of whether they support the principle of the Bill.

7.45 pm
Mr. Hood

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The Government often talk about individuals' rights and looking after individuals' affairs, but the Bill does not consider individuals' rights. The Government do not give two hoots for individuals but are more concerned with big business, big bucks and big profits—to hell with the 11,000 people whose homes could be flooded. They are concerned only with money, money, money. What the Bill would do in the name of Parliament falls foul of the rhetoric of Ministers, and their hon. Friends, about the rights of individuals.

The new clause and supporting amendments will retain the rights of individuals under the town and country planning legislation. If Parliament decides to give away its powers, that is up to it. I hope that it will not give away individuals' rights to object to the Government or to big business, in whoever's name it stands.

Mr. Morgan

If my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) will return my notes, I shall begin my speech which will amplify some of the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood).

It is obvious from private Bills that have been introduced more recently that most people in the private Bill business, even including the promoters' agents whose names will be well known to the House, when they have promoted subsequent Bills, such as the Hook Island (Poole Bay) Bill on behalf of BP, will appreciate the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Clydesdale about the traditional exemption from the town and country planning legislation. That first happened in the Penzance Albert Pier Extension Bill a couple of years ago and is now happening on the Hook Island (Poole Bay) Bill, which was introduced about a month ago and which was drafted by the promoters of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill. It includes exemptions from the sweeping powers that Parliament has traditionally given to promoters of private Bills if they are successful in getting them through the House. It has the same sweeping powers as public legislation: it sweeps everything else aside—and there is no local control over what happens. It is very old fashioned and Stalinist—one sweeping blow of the bear's fist in the House of Commons and nobody else gets a look in. That may have been all right in the 19th century when private Bill legislation was at its peak, it was acceptable in the railway age, but is it acceptable now? Some promoters have recognised that and have used the same agents as those who are presenting the Bill or are acting for the promoters of the Bill tonight to draft the same new clause as we are presenting to the House tonight.

If it is good enough for the residents of Penzance and Poole, and the promoters' agents on the Bill, it is good enough for us in Cardiff. There is absolutely no reason why the promoters could not now take advice from those self-same agents who drafted exactly the same sort of clause as we lifted wholesale from the Hook Island (Poole Bay) Bill and put it into the Bill at this late stage.

I do not know whether there is any way of seeing what the promoters plan to say to us before we complete the debate on the new clause so that we may see whether they downgrade the citizens of Cardiff, believing that they are not as politically mature as the citizens of Poole and Penzance. As a representative of part of the capital of Wales, obviously I do not take that view. I believe that if it is good enough for the denizens of Poole and Penzance, it should apply to the citizens of Cardiff as well. Although the Bill was originally introduced a couple of years ago, it does not mean that it remains as a fixed factor that cannot be amended or represents some dreadful, embarrassing climbdown. There is nothing difficult about accepting an amendment that we are completely confident will become standard before long. The old Stalinist, private Bill procedure is going to die—we are sure of that.

Mr. Rogers

Before my hon. Friend becomes too depressed—I do not want him to feel too solemn at this stage of the proceedings—may I say that the general downgrading of the issues often seems to be the case in relation to Associated British Ports. Its annual report last year spoke of 160 acres in the Cardiff bay district where there was to be massive development that would circumvent the planning considerations included in new clause 1. Later reports do not mention Cardiff at all, although there is reference to developments in Florida, America, and other parts of the United Kingdom. It seems as though Cardiff has been written out, possibly because it is a political hot potato or it is felt that ABP already has it, so why should it worry?

Mr. Morgan

That is right. There is some evidence for what my hon. Friend has said, which he will no doubt develop further in his speech. The Cardiff Bay Development Corporation and Associated British Ports, through the umbilical cord of Lord Crickhowell's role—I put it no higher than that—work in concert. One might be said to be a front organisation for the other. It would concern everyone if ABP thought that Cardiff was a back number and it was far more exciting to develop further abroad.

However, one could well understand how such a state might arise because almost everyone in the Cardiff district who has been connected with the legislation has been on a trip to Baltimore. I do not think that that is true of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael). If one lives in Cardiff, is involved in politics and has not been on a trip to Baltimore, one has not lived. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth can resist such blandishments, but everyone else has been to Baltimore, so such an opinion is understandable.

Mr. Rogers

Whether or not people go to Baltimore is entirely up to them. I went to Aberaeron for my holidays and there is, supposedly, to be a new marina development at Cei Bach. I do not think that those developments are to receive £150 million or will circumvent the planning laws —the basis of the new clause. The developers at Cei Bach are going about the matter in the proper way.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

I am sure that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) will not be tempted to go on a Cook's tour but will address the new clause and the associated amendments.

Mr. Morgan

I shall merely respond to the correct invervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers), which, I am sure, was in order, otherwise you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, would have ruled it out of order.

I go to Baltimore every year, but I go to the original one, the tiny fishing harbour in county Kerry, where there has been no development of any kind—long may it remain so and long may the price of Guinness remain reasonable.

I shall return to the exemption or non-exemption of developments from town and country planning legislation in the Bill, and our attempt to modernise the Bill by introducing a clause that subjects the Bill to town and country planning legislation in a way that more recent private Bills—even those on which advice has been taken from the same promoters' parliamentary agents as those for the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill—did not. We drafted the clause that we want the promoters of this Bill to accept.

We believe that the new clause would have the beneficial effect of subjecting the Bill to the normal planning controls to overcome the democratic deficit problem to which my hon. Friend the Member for Clydesdale has referred. The new clause reserves the normal powers of the city council as the local planning authority and maintains some strategic duties that still pertain to county councils, although their role in town and country planning is much reduced. They still have a residual role relating to transportation planning. The local authority would then be able to stand up to the steamroller. There is a danger of steamroller powers being introduced in private Bills. There always has been, and it is now generally recognised that it is dangerous and out of kilter with the 1990s. We shall be trying to find out whether that fact is recognised by the Bill's promoters. The development corporation should have nothing to be ashamed of. It should be confident of its powers to apply for planning permission in the same way that normal, large development companies would do, and not have to play to an olympian set of rules whereby it takes its own decisions.

The same factors apply to the process of modernising planning regulations to bring them into line with the general spirit of the 1990s and the need for environmental assessment. If the city council still had planning powers, it would easily be able to insistron such assessments.

Mr. Ron Davies

My hon. Friend was talking about the county councils' functions in terms of strategic planning. Many of us are Members of Parliament from Mid Glamorgan, which adjoins South Glamorgan—the promoting authority—and if the Bill is passed in it spresent form it will have a considerable impact on the economy and, therefore, the planning of Mid Glamorgan. One of the advantages of amendment No. 45, particularly the aspect of subjecting the Bill to the democratic, local planning process, is that it would require South Glamorgan at least to consult with Mid Glamorgan and make some assessment of the Bill's impact on our communities in Mid Glamorgan. That seems to be one of the compelling advantages of amendment No. 45.

Mr. Morgan

That is right. The amendment pertains to the strategic planning duties that county councils still have, even though their role has been much reduced.

There has been a broad drift in the priorities of this country's planning legislation. We are trying to empower people and local authorities to take planning decisions in a responsible way. It is totally contrary to that broad drift to allow unelected development corporations to overcome planning decisions, subject to Parliament's views—which as we know from the Secretary of State's letter really means "subject to the views of the payroll vote". We should stand up for the rights of the ordinary Back Bencher tonight by bringing to the attention of the House and the nation the way in which the Secretary of State abuses the payroll Whip. That follows on from the leaked letter from the Government Chief Whip, who took the same action when the Bill was last considered in February.

There is a danger of a steamroller procedure by which the payroll Whip whips the Bill through Parliament, which then empowers the local unelected development corporation and its members, chosen by the Secretary of State, to ride roughshod over local objections to not only the Bill's principle but the actual works and detailed plans, and the minor aspects that would undoubtedly unfold over the 20 years of the development corporation's envisaged existence. That is a form of power that is totally outdated and anachronistic in 1991.

8 pm

Mr. Rogers

I am afraid that new clause 1 rather loses me because of its legalistic form. As the new clause is tabled in his name, perhaps before he sits down my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) can explain to us what it will mean as regards the environmental impact assessment. My hon. Friend was the European Commission representative for Wales for many years and he may know that environmental impact assessments will be mandatory for planning authorities when granting planning permission.

If the planning authorities are circumvented by this Bill, will the new clause bring us in line with proposed European legislation? Will my hon. Friend answer that specific question before he sits down because one of the problems that might develop is the control of waste management in the area—the costs and problems of recycling, pollution control and so forth and how waste will be disposed of. Will Cardiff be filled with lorries travelling through it to dispose of waste? Will there be a waste disposal facility within the dockland area? Will the waste be driven through Cardiff to areas outside? Normally those matters would be subject to planning control. The new clause would bring this matter back into the ambit of local people, who would like to control their own waste.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

In responding to that intervention, I am sure that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) will recollect that the next group of new clauses deals specifically with pollution control. We would have a tidy debate if we were to concentrate upon the town and country planning aspects during discussion on this new clause and dealt with pollution when we debate the next group of amendments.

Mr. Morgan

I think that your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, was mainly intended to apply to the second part of the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda. I think that you would accept that the first part of his remarks—regarding the compulsory environmental impact assessment procedure to comply with an EC directive on such assessments—is relevant to this debate. I want to expand my remarks upon that aspect because I happen to have here a copy of the document relating environmental assessment to private Bills. This Bill does not have to comply with that directive because the procedure applying such assessments to private Bills has not yet been introduced.

I have a letter dated 26 February 1991, called "Environmental Assessment and Private Bill Procedures", from a member of the planning and development control division of the Department of the Environment. It sets out the proposed provisions which will require environmental assessments for all private Bills. We have to introduce that procedure to make our private Bills comply with the European Community directive on environmental impact assessments.

If the promoters of the Bill were to accept new clause 1, there would be no problem because then it would be up to Cardiff city council to decide that a proper environmental impact assessment ought to be carried out. The council would have that power and it would retrospectively modernise the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill, which has been proceeding through this House and the other place for four years and has therefore missed out on the EC directive.

By exercising our democratic rights tonight we will be able to bring the Bill, restrospectively, within the ambit of the directive by empowering Cardiff city council to decide that an independent validation of the environmental impact of the proposed works is required. Such an assessment would be necessary if the Bill were being introduced for the first time in the next Session of Parliament rather than in 1987 when it commenced its laborious procedure through the two Houses.

The letter from the Department of the Environment invites comment on details of the consultation paper. As all hon. Members are aware, the Department of the Environment is fond of consultation papers at the moment. It is part of the Government's new style of management not to blitz and blast its way through the nation and its various opinions but to assume that that variation is there and to ask people what they think. Perhaps that is what the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for the Environment want to do. I know that there are other interpretations—they are dithering or being Mr. Nice Guy. However, as regards the new clause, if we believe that the introduction of compulsory environmental assessments is a good thing—we have thought so because we are incorporating assessments into all new private Bills introduced in the 1991–92 Session, after November—it is simply a matter of deciding how to do it. That is why this consultation paper is being sent out.

Mr. Rogers

I would not want my hon. Friend to be unfair to the Cardiff Bay development corporation. Before he sits down, he ought to say that he is in agreement with the corporation's overall objectives, in that it wants to reunite Cardiff city centre with its waterfront and to promote development which will provide a "superb environment" in which people will want to "live, work and play", and so forth—matters that we will be discussing later.

For many of us, the only objection is the construction of the barrage, which will provide no extra building land for Cardiff. When my hon. Friend talks about Cardiff Bay development corporation getting in ahead of enlightened European legislation that we will now be the beneficiaries of, he ought to recognise that we support the vast majority of its aims. We object only to the construction of the barrage and blocking up the river mouth.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It seems to me that the new clause is tied, fairly specifically, to the Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1988. I am sure that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West will relate his remarks to that and to the new clause.

Mr. Morgan

The reason that I have touched upon the question whether environmental impact assessments would be compulsory and its relationship to new clause 1 is that Cardiff city council would be empowered to order an environmental impact assessment retrospectively on the Cardiff Bay barrage if we reserve the powers under the town and country planning legislation to do so. At the moment we cannot do so within the private Bill procedure that we have inherited.

The EC directive on environmental assessments came into being in July 1988 and we are incorporating that for the first time next November so that it will apply to all private Bills. The only way that we can apply that directive now is to incorporate new clause 1 and the two amendments in the Bill. That would enable Cardiff city council to order an assessment.

We are not saying that there has not been an environmental impact assessment, as there has, but it was not independent. Cardiff Bay development corporation were conscious of the problem and commissioned the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology in Liverpool university to carry out an impact assessment but it was an in-house assessment.

Mr. Ron Davies

That is precisely the matter that I wanted to ask my hon. Friend to clarify. I understood that the corporation requested that the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology carry out such a study. The problem is that when it got the results of that study it chose to ignore the findings. Surely that is the problem.

Mr. Morgan

Without new clause 1 there is nothing to stop promoters saying that they have met all the environmental objectives set out by the EC, that they have hired consultants to do a report. But if they do not like the report they ignore it. What is more likely, because of customer-client relationships—and I do not blame the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology in Liverpool because it has to live in the commercial world—is that if there are aspects of the draft reports that the client does not like it can say that it wants that paragraph left out or a word amended because it is far too strong and would be misused when the report was published. What starts off as a strong report becomes extremely sanitised by the time that the fourth and final draft is packaged ready to be sent through the post. That is due to the customer-contractor relationship and because it was not an independent, validated environmental impact assessment of the sort that we would be empowering Cardiff city council to carry out and to insist upon as an independent body. One needs that independence. If it all takes place within the development corporation, and if the corporation's money is paying for the consultant's services, the project will be tailor-made to meet the political requirements of the development corporation as it seeks to satisfy what it believes are the requirements of this House. This House should respond to that by saying that we shall empower an independent body, such as Cardiff city council, to exercise conventional planning powers in an attempt to avoid money talking in that way. After all, he who pays the piper calls the tune.

What I have described is what usually happens when consultants are working directly for a client and not for a body which is one step removed from the client and which can exercise monitoring powers. The Government are trying to introduce that principle in legislation by stating that the monitoring body should not be the operating body. That is happening in waste regulation at the moment. City councils will be able only to monitor waste disposal arrangements, not to operate them, because, according to the Government, it is naughty for the same body to operate the procedures and to monitor itself. The Government are saying that if an organisation has regulatory powers, it cannot also be the operator.

We are intending to apply exactly such principles in new clause 1 by restoring town and country planning powers to Cardiff city council and, to a lesser extent, to the county council. The new clause and the amendments seek to separate the regulatory body, which is properly the local authority, from the proprietors of the land, the owners of the money, who can bring in the bulldozers, knock things down or build them up or do exactly what they want with their money. Those people should not be the masters of their house because, if they are, there will be no control over the development.

That is why we have sought to strengthen the democratic powers that have been normal throughout the country since the enactment of the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. Private Bills should not exempt development corporations from having to submit to some form of independent control. We often hear the phrase "the democratic deficit" in relation to development corporations, control over them, and the appointment of their staff by Secretaries of State without any control being exercised by an elected body. We are not happy that the corporations can then call on Government money, on the payroll vote, and can whip their legislation through the House, with the result that their powers are sweeping. That is not acceptable in 1991. Indeed, that opinion is increasingly being accepted by promoters and agents, and by the Officers of the House who are concerned with the private Bill procedure.

The Bill, however, was introduced before that concern was recognised in the legislation that is currently coming into force. It should, therefore, be fairly simple for the promoters to accept new clause 1. Accepting it cannot be too cumbersome, onerous or obstructive a duty or the same parliamentary agents would not have included such provisions in two Bills, one of which has completed half its passage through Parliament and the other, the Hook Island (Poole Bay) Bill, has only just started on its way. Obviously, BP is not a soft organisation that believes in handing over goodies to the local authorities. If it could get away with what is happening here, I am sure that BP would think about doing it. However, it accepts that one cannot get away with such things in 1991. Such sweeping powers are no longer acceptable, so even companies such as BP, with the fiduciary duty to their shareholders to maximise profits, are willing to accept such limitations in the Bills that they promote, using the same parliamentary agents. Such provisions should now be retrospectively incorporated into this Bill. That should not be difficult.

We hope to receive some sign tonight that the promoters are willing to accept new clause 1. After all, we have uprooted its provisions directly from the Hook Island (Poole Bay) Bill and seek only to incorporate them in this Bill.

Mr. Michael

It might help the House if I explain that new clause 1 is based on a number of misapprehensions. When I have explained the situation, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) will recognise that some of his colourful language was not appropriate.

I shall comment first, however, on the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood), who expressed respect for opponents of the Bill. It is right that the Bill's opponents should be respected, but I hope that he will agree that it is also right that the Bill's supporters should be respected. I refer especially to members of both local authorities, people living in the affected areas, and the leaders of the local councils, especially the late Councillor John Reynolds, whose passion for and vision of our city of Cardiff is unsurpassed, and who was a great supporter of the project.

Mr. Rogers

We all wish to pay tribute to the late Councillor John Reynolds, who was greatly admired by many of us who knew him for many years, dating back to the old days of Glamorgan county council and Cardiff city council. I should like to join the tribute to him.

8.15 pm
Mr. Michael

I am grateful to my hon. Friend and know that those sentiments are shared by all hon. Members from south Wales, irrespective of whether they support or oppose the Bill. It is right that mutual respect should exist even where we disagree strongly, as is the case over the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Clydesdale also said that the Bill is fatally flawed, but that is an erroneous and extravagant claim, especially on the planning matters relating to the new clause. There is no disagreement between us about the fact that our procedures should be improved. The present system needs to be radically and speedily changed so that we can get rid of the present private Bill procedures. As I have said on a number of occasions, the current system is unfair both to the promoters and supporters of the Bill, and to those who oppose it. I am sure that we can all agree that, to put it at its mildest, there are some unsatisfactory elements in the current system.

Mr. Hood

I have said this before, but it is worth repeating now. The Clerks advised the Committee not to support the Bill, which was the Committee's decision, because it gives powers to the Secretary of State, but takes them away from Parliament. The Committee chose not to take the Clerks' advice. My hon. Friend may say that what I have said is erroneous, but we were advised against the Bill.

Mr. Michael

I shall not be drawn into discussing that matter because it is not relevant to the new clause. However, although I respect his view, I disagree with my hon. Friend.

The Bill gives planning permission only for those matters that are specifically covered in the Bill and that have been dealt with through the processes of the House. It does not remove power from local authorities. In effect, the provisions relate only to decisions on the actual works.

The planning permission that is, in effect, given in the Bill is a matter on which people have had plenty of opportunity to petition. Many people, groups and other bodies exercised that right. The three local authorities involved also had an opportunity to comment and to petition.

The simple point is that the Bill does not remove planning powers from Cardiff city council, Vale of Glamorgan council or South Glamorgan county council. Hon. Members have referred to the Hook Island (Poole Bay) Bill. As I understand it, the island in Poole harbour is currently outside planning jurisdiction because it is below the low water mark. That Bill therefore contains a clause to bring the area within the planning legislation. The situation is very different from that relating to the Cardiff bay barrage. The clause is not necessary here, whereas it is necessary in the other Bill. That is the difference.

The planning powers of local authorities have been mentioned during this discussion. Planning powers are not affected or reduced by the Bill. I have a special interest in the planning powers of local authorities and of Cardiff city council in particular. I was chairman of its planning and development committee and a member of the committee for many years. I have taken an interest in planning matters in the city of Cardiff for over 25 years. For that reason, hon. Members will understand that I was one of the first to regret the changes in law and practice which have occurred under this Government. However, those changes have nothing to do with the Bill or the new clause and amendments.

As the entire area of the development corporation is in my constituency, I assure the House that I should be the first to object to any weakening of the planning powers of the local authorities in the Cardiff bay area. Here I come to the nub of why the new clause is wrong. The Bill has been promoted on the basis that it would confer the specific planning permission to which I referred. Many of the matters referred to in Committee were planning issues. To subject the undertakers now to a requirement to seek planning permission would require them to argue issues already thoroughly examined three or four times in earlier debates on the principle of the Bill and in detail in Committees of both Houses of Parliament.

Mr. Morgan

Like me, my hon. Friend has been involved in planning matters in Cardiff for many years. He has been involved more directly than I have, but my involvement goes back longer than his. I was an officer of the old Cardiff county borough planning department back in 1965 and 1966. I have a long-standing interest going back over 26 years.

I ask for my hon. Friend's comments on the following point. I am sure that he will be aware that since the Cardiff Bay development corporation was set up it has had to apply for planning permission for matters other than the works involved in the Bill, such as alteration of footpaths and other matters. Every time that the corporation has applied for planning permission, it has threatened that if permission was not given it would appeal to the Secretary of State, who would give permission.

There has been an entirely unorthodox new world of town and country planning in the area covered by the Bill in the past three to four years. The threat was dangled before the Cardiff city planning department and its planning committee on every single occasion that the development corporation sought powers. Everything has been done by direct negotiation. The planning committee could not sit back and consider whether to refuse or agree to the application, as planning committees normally do. The old steamroller was used every time. The development corporation said, "If you do not agree, we shall go to see the Secretary of State for Wales, so you had better meet us at least 80 per cent. of the way and go to sleep for the rest of the time." In my view, the planning process in Cardiff has been corrupted in that way ever since the Cardiff Bay development corporation was set up.

Mr. Michael

I understand that that is my hon. Friend's view, but he is completely wrong. Councillor Sue Essex, the chair of the planning and development committee, and the members of that committee would have every right to feel grossly insulted by my hon. Friend's remarks. It is, of course, the members of planning committees who take decisions, not the employees of planning departments. I underline once more to my hon. Friend that no change in the planning arrangements is being made other than the effective granting of permission on the matters specifically covered by the Bill, which have been dealt with in Committee and during the procedures of the House.

Whatever the merits of the proposals of the Select Committee on Private Bill Procedure for reform, the promoters of the Bill must use the present procedure. They have devoted considerable effort and resources to providing the planning case for the scheme. They have done so to the satisfaction of the House of Lords and the Bill has passed through the procedures of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

It is significant that neither of the local planning authorities in the development corporation area—Cardiff city council and Vale of Glamorgan borough council— petitioned against the Bill or raised the matter dealt with by new clause I with the promoters. That is for one good and simple reason. Cardiff Bay development corporation is not an appointed body that can ride roughshod through the planning system, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West seems to believe. Hon. Members appear to be unaware that the corporation, uniquely among the urban development corporations, does not control planning powers. Its only planning power is to require that a planning application be referred to the Secretary of State if it disagrees with the way in which the local authority proposes to deal with the application. It has a right of appeal if a planning application is turned down, as does any other applicant. Hon. Members do not seem to have understood that.

Not once in the four years during which the Cardiff Bay development corporation has existed has it had recourse to the appeal procedure. That is because the role of the local authorities must be understood and respected by the development corporation.

There are three specific amendments. Amendment No. 45 is an unnecessary further restriction and amendments Nos. 79 and 80 are both equally unacceptable in their effect. They are also contradictory because amendment No. 79 deletes clause 97 and amendment No. 80 amends the clause. The core of my argument is that the new clause and amendments are not needed. We have a system that is satisfactory to the local authorities and everyone else involved in these processes.

Mr. Rowlands

I support the new clause. We should be pushing at an open door here. I am surprised at the negative view taken by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) on new clause 1. What we seek is encapsulated in subsection (3) of the new clause, which says: Nothing in this Act shall constitute an approval, in outline, in principle or otherwise, for the purposes of the Act of 1990, and any application for planning permission for the carrying out of the works shall be determined entirely on its own merits. For some considerable time hon. Members on both sides of the House and Ministers have been worried about the balance between the use of the private Bill procedure and of statutory planning procedures, which are subject to local public inquiries. The careful balance struck between the two procedures has taxed and interested the House, its Committees and, indeed, the Government.

I draw the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) to the report of the Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure of July 1988. He made no mention of it, but that is fair enough. The report described vividly and at some length the interesting balance that needs to be struck between using the private Bill procedure and allowing statutory planning procedures to operate. I draw the attention of my hon. Friend and every other hon. Member present to the anxieties expressed by the Committee in July 1988.

I understand my hon. Friend when he says that there has been agreement between the local authorities and the Cardiff Bay development corporation. However, they are not the people whom we should consider. We should consider the genuine individual objectors and petitioners such as citizens who are opposed to an authority, whether a development corporation or a democratically elected county or city council. The wishes, feelings and rights of individual householders, groups of residents and others affected by proposals should be taken into account through proper procedures. That is what should concern us most and what is at the heart of our new clause.

Mr. Pike

Is not it important to recognise that many ordinary members of the public, such as those to whom my hon. Friend refers, consider it far more difficult to petition against a private Bill than to object to a normal planning application?

Mr. Rowlands

My hon. Friend has hit the nail on the head. That was the very point that I was about to make and which the Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure came across when it took evidence. Paragraph 37 of that report is relevant to our new clause and makes the point which my hon. Friend has just made. It says: The advocates of non-parliamentary procedures was mostly petitioners, who said that they were better treated in local public inquiries. They complained that in private bill procedure the initiative, and control of the timetable, lie with the promoter. In their opinion, public inquiries generally involve better prior consultation and seem to give a better chance of stopping the development altogether. My hon. Friend rightly says that the planning authorities and the Cardiff Bay development corporation would prefer to proceed by private Bill procedure rather than through statutory planning inquiries. If is often the petitioners who feel that this is a strange world far removed from their usual experience. Turning up at a local planning inquiry is part and parcel of the community's experience. That is the first and most important point. New clause 1 simply seeks to offer individual citizens, householders and residents the right to have their case properly heard before an independent inspector at a local planning inquiry. Irrespective of where one stands on the merits of the proposal, we should be concerned about the rights of individuals to object.

Dr. John Marek (Wrexham)

I am interested to hear what my hon. Friend says, but am I right that, although the local authority might have agreed with the development company, the planning committee of a local authority acts in a quasi-judicial capacity and must not be confused with the local authority? I hope that my hon. Friend will agree that that is essentially the difference.

8.30 pm
Mr. Rowlands

I agree with my hon. Friend. That is the second intervention that I have accepted. It again illustrates vividly the case for new clause 1—that the planning process familiar to so many people in our community should be available to them.

Mr. Michael

For the record, does my hon. Friend accept that the consideration of the Bill and its implications for planning and other processes have been through the local authorities, including consideration by the planning committees which, as my hon. Friend rightly says, have semi-judicial responsibilities?

Mr. Rowlands

Yes, I am sure that a number of consultations of one kind or another have taken place. What we are saying is that the most important and familiar procedure which allows householders and groups of householders to exercise their rights at a local public inquiry and to raise their objections before an independent inspector has not been available to large numbers of residents in the communities concerned and that the private Bill procedure prevents them from exercising that right—unless my hon. Friend is willing to waive his opposition and hostility to the new clause and accept that some sort of planning inquiry procedure should prevail.

Mr. Rogers

I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) for having been absent during part of his speech. He might have dealt with this point, but, if not, can my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) deal with it now? If, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth said, there is no real change in planning procedures as a result of the Bill, why is it necessary to have clause 97 relating to the modification of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971? If we are simply seeking to delete it, as in amendment No. 79, or to replace it with a new clause, why cannot that be accepted? If everybody wants planning procedures to carry on as normal, why have a derogation within the Bill?

Mr. Rowlands

I do not have the mental agility to leap to clause 97 and I am sure that my hon. Friend will make his point if he manages to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, I appreciate what my hon. Friend is saying. The point is that the people in the community will not have the right to a local planning inquiry unless new clause 1 is accepted.

Those are not my views; those are views culled by the Joint Committee which, when it investigated the private Bill procedure in 1988, came to the conclusion which I started to read and which I will now complete. It went on to say:


the petitioners— see public inquiries as less intimidating, more local and less adversarial, running to a more reliable timetable, with less arbitrary proceedings, more facilities for objectors and more generous rules of locus. That is a pretty powerful case to make—that a process of such profound concern as developments of the kind incorporated in the Bill should be subjected to that type of planning inquiry alongside whatever action we wish to take in the House. That makes the case.

Incidentally, I do not agree with the rest of the paragraph. The Joint Committee also argues that planning inspectors are more expert and more dedicated than are Members of Parliament. As we have demonstrated this evening, we are a dedicated group of Members. We are concerned and we will be extremely thorough. My hon. Friend has been one of the most thorough of all in serving on the Committee. Nevertheless, it is interesting that that is the perception of the private Bill procedure in the House concerning issues which will profoundly affect individuals and the rights, livelihoods, homes, immediate locality and environment of so many people.

The case was made, not by me or the objectors to the Bill, but by the Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament. In paragraph 40 the Committee concluded that the process of decision-making by Government based upon the holding of a public local inquiry has many advantages in principle over private bill procedure … it offers a more familiar forum both for promoters and petitioners, an opportunity for local participation in decision-making, and detailed scrutiny of the proposal by full-time professional inspectors who are required to produce reasoned reports. In particular, it allows the planning and evironmental issues to be thoroughly reviewed. The Government has apparently used its influence in one or two exceptional cases over the years to persuade promoters of private bills to follow ordinary planning procedures so as to secure consideration of the planning aspects of their schemes at a public inquiry, and is prepared to do so again. Sadly, the Government are heavily committed, as we found out from the letter of the Secretary of State for Wales, to a one-sided view of the Bill. Unless the Under-Secretary of State rises to his feet sooner or later and says that he supports the procedure that we are trying to introduce in new clause 1—the Committee found that Governments encourage promoters of private Bills to include in those Bills provision for local public inquiries —we have seen no evidence in relation to this Bill that the Government are willing to allow local people to have such rights.

Mr. Morgan

My hon. Friend is portraying the Secretary of State as a Stalinist in this matter. We on the Opposition Benches are attempting to de-Stalinise the private Bill procedure by introducing some form of democratic control. I think that my hon. Friend will agree that there are three possible ways of de-Stalinising the Bill. One would be to submit it to a public inquiry. The second would be to submit it to a referendum. The third is that it should incorporate, voluntarily and happily, new clause 1 and the other amendments that have been grouped with it. That would give the local authority some reserve powers to say that as it will be the legatee of the development in 20 years time it wants to play a part now.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth said that at no time during the past four years has Cardiff city council planning committee decided to use the procedure to refer matters to the Secretary of State on appeal. It is obvious why that is so. It knows that the Welsh Office will side with the Cardiff Bay development corporation because the parent of the Cardiff Bay development corporation is the Welsh Office and it can always use that threat. That democratic deficit is there at all times. I know that I am a poor substitute for the Under-Secretary of State on this matter, if on no other, in giving assent to new clause 1, but my hon. Friend must be able to tell the House firmly that in some way we should de-Stalinise the Bill and make it a more democratic procedure.

Mr. Rowlands

My hon. Friend uses colourful language, but I should like to put the case more modestly to the Under-Secretary. I have a simple question for him to which I seek a response. When the Joint Committee investigated the interesting balance between the use of the private Bill procedure and local planning inquiries it found that, on previous occasions, the Government were willing to persuade the promoters of a private Bill to use ordinary planning procedures. The Government repeated their willingness to pursue that practice when they gave evidence to the Joint Committee. The Committee recorded that the Government were willing to use their influence. to persuade promoters of private bills to follow ordinary planning procedures to secure the consideration of the planning aspects of any scheme at a public inquiry. Is the Minister willing to give us that assurance again? Are the Government willing to exercise their due influence with the promoters of the Bill to establish a procedure to allow a local planning inquiry on the planning aspects of the Bill? In evidence to the Joint Committee the Government said that they were willing to continue to exercise that influence. I should happily give way to the Minister to hear his response. I hope that the Minister will make a contribution to explain why the Government are not willing to use their influence on this occasion, as they have in the past, to secure a local planning inquiry. The Minister owes us an explanation of the Government's stand on the Bill.

Mr. Rogers

My hon. Friend's request to the Minister is legitimate given the evidence that has been submitted by the Government to the Joint Committee. Does my hon. Friend consider the silence of the Under-Secretary and the absence of the Secretary of State as evidence of their part in the web of conspiracy, deceit and corruption that seems to surround the Bill?

Mr. Rowlands

That is part and parcel of the one-sided view of the Government towards the Bill.

When I was Minister at the Welsh Office I was warned constantly, and properly, that on issues that might be subject to planning inquiries of one kind or another one had to stay neutral because of one's quasi-judicial role. [NON. MEMBERS: "Queasy?"] Queasy and quasi. As a Minister one had to retain a genuine quasi-judicial role and one had to have no strong feelings for or against any development. One had to retain one's objectivity when things landed on one's desk as a result of a planning inspector's report.

The Joint Committee found that the Government had exercised their influence in previous private Bills, but perhaps this time they are wholeheartedly on one side of the argument. Perhaps they do not want to exercise a quasi-judicial role in relation to certain key planning issues.

8.45 pm
Dr. Marek

I believe that my hon. Friend should repeat his request for the Minister to intervene. I noted earlier that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) had a note passed to him. Perhaps he is in two minds as to whether he should concede on this issue and allow the public in the Cardiff area to have some say and to have their voice heard. If the Minister stood up now and said that he believed in public participation and that the public voice should be heard, it might tip the balance for my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) should persist in seeking to persuade the Minister to come to the Dispatch Box to make the Government's position clear.

Mr. Rowlands

I should happily give way to the Minister to explain whether the Government are willing to continue to exercise their influence—as they told the Joint Committee and as they have done in the past—to ensure that a planning inquiry is held so that the local community can lodge their objections in the most familiar way to them. We all know that the Minister will not get on his feet because he is a naturally shy type. He is self-effacing and always seeks to disappear into the greenness of the background in the new grey image of the Government.

What is even more curious about the Government's position and the Minister's silence is the fact that the Government provided a formal response to the report published in July 1988 by the Joint Committee—perhaps the Minister has not read it. That response was entitled "Private Bills and New Procedures—A Consultation Document". It seems that consultation was in even before the disappearance of the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher). That consultation document was issued in June 1990 in response to the Joint Committee report.

Mr. Morgan

No dithering there.

Mr. Rowlands

It is extremely dithery when one reads it. That document gave the Government's considered response to the Joint Committee's interesting report on the balance between the private Bill procedure and a local planning inquiry. The Government's response came down in favour of legislation in order to support the process for local planning inquiries as opposed to following the private Bill procedure. The Government referred to special orders that would be issued to enable such inquiries to take place. Therefore, the Government endorsed the fun-damental drift of the Joint Committee report.

What is even more interesting are the examples that the Government cited that could be subject to the new type of procedure recommended by the Joint Committee and endorsed by the Government in their response.

In paragraph 49 the consultation document states: In most years there are also a small number of other works bills promoted. Some of these are introduced where the proposed works would interfere with navigation; current examples are the River Tees Barrage and Crossing, the Cardiff Bay Barrage". So, in the Government's positive response to the Joint Committee report, which recommended some form of local planning inquiry, they referred to the Bill and the works connected with the Cardiff bay barrage. Therefore I can think of no reason why the Minister would not agree to such a planning inquiry now. The Government have already said that they intend to introduce primary legislation to enable such planning inquiries to be established. Our new clause therefore merely proposes what is already Government policy.

I know that the Under-Secretary was not a Minister in June 1990, but there is such a thing as collective responsibility, which is retrospective. In 1990 the Minister was a right-winger; goodness knows on what wing he is now—in fact, he has no wing as he is sedentary.

We have a right to know whether the Government's response in June 1990 to the recommendations of the Joint Committee for planning procedures and inquiries to be part and parcel of the investigation of petitioners' rights means that the Government will support the new clause tonight. After all, the Government cited the Bill as an illustration of why they believed that the Joint Committee's recommendations had force. Will the Government support the new clause, at least in principle? Will they say that they will exercise influence with the promoters so that a planning inquiry is included in the progress of the Bill, or will they insist upon such an inquiry as a condition of their continuing support for the Bill because such practice is in accordance with established Government policy?

Dr. Marek

My hon. Friend has made an excellent case for this issue at least to be decided by the people in the area. Unfortunately, he was so engrossed in building his case that he was unable to see exactly what the Under-Secretary was doing. He was wandering up to the Box to consult the civil servants and he is now writing a private note. Therefore, the critical part of my hon. Friend's arguments about the Cardiff bay barrage being subject to consultation has, I fear, not been heard by the Minister. He should hear it and we deserve an answer from him on whether he will back what has been put into the consultation paper.

Mr. Rowlands

A double silence is certainly not golden. I have one other question to ask the Minister. Has he seen the Government document called "Private Bills and New Procedures—A Consultation Document"? As I understand it, in the Welsh Office he deals with planning inquiries and planning issues. Has he seen a document? If so, is he dissociating himself from the Government's conclusions? Even if he is unwilling to exercise the influence that we hear the Government have been willing to exercise for private Bill promoters to encourage planning inquiries, is he at least willing to say that the Government—either this one or the next—will introduce legislation to ensure that planning inquiries are part and parcel of the process? There would be a consensus in support of such legislation.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that we are not debating the report on private Bill procedure and that his remarks must be directly related to the new clause and the amendments.

Mr. Rowlands

I got carried away, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, I think that it was very much in order to say that new clause I would ensure that planning procedure provisions were incorporated into the Bill. It was the conclusion of the report of a Joint Committee of the House that such procedure should be part of the process—or, indeed, a substitute for private Bills themselves. I was also drawing attention to the fact that the Government were endorsing—or appeared to endorse—much of the principle behind that conclusion.

New clause 1(3) accords with the general drift of Government policy. Therefore, why are not the Government backing, if not the new clause, the principle that we are trying to establish of a local planning inquiry to go alongside the private Bill procedure?

Mr. Morgan

There is one possible explanation for the Minister's silence. We all know that he is a member of the No Turning Back group—perhaps he is also a Member of the "No Getting Up group".

There is another point to which I wish to draw the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands)—the need for the weight of opinion to be reflected in a democratic mechanism. That is the purpose of new clause 1. There were a record number of objectors to the Bill, many of them resident in my constituency. They were able to exercise a limited right because the Committee chose—we are grateful for it—to hold one week's proceedings in Cardiff. However, that hardly answers the need for a formal democratic expression of opinion. Although it is possible to petition Parliament, if Parliament wishes to sweep objectors aside by the use of the payroll vote, it will do so. People may have had a moment of glory in appearing before the Committee in Cardiff and will have read the minority report of my hon. Friend the Member for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood), but that is not the same as being able to have the powers that we seek to incorporate into the Bill in new clause 1.

Mr. Rowlands

My hon. Friend is absolutely right.

I wish to underline the Government's conclusion. I have some doubts about whether we should hand the whole procedure over to a local planning inquiry. That and a private Bill must go together. If not, there would be no opportunity, as would be granted under new clause 18, to debate the financial consequences. In that case, local planning inquiries would not be the right vehicle—this place is the correct vehicle in which to deal with public expenditure consequences. For hearing petitioners' objections, the local planning inquiry procedure is the apposite method with which to deal with these issues.

In their response to the Joint Committee's report, even the Government said that they considered it preferable to draft the legislation establishing the order-making procedures covering rail and light rapid transit proposals in such a way that it can be extended by subordinate legislation for use to authorise other works projects … such as barrages". We come back to the Bill. The report mentions barrages and canal works … which would otherwise require approval by a private Act of Parliament. The Government concluded that barrage developments of this kind should be subject to a planning procedure as opposed to the private Bill procedure. I doubt whether it should be subject to one or the other—I believe that a mixture of both is essential in such instances.

Why is the Minister so coy? Will he at least say that, in principle, he supports the new clause or the principle behind it? It merely supports what is likely to happen, whichever Government are in power—primary legislation to create such an order-making power, a genuine right to planning procedure and the right of citizens to have local planning inquiries so that their wishes and views can be heard in an environment which is more suitable for the average citizen than that of a private Bill hearing.

We should not have to argue—the door should be open. The Minister should be with us, not against us.

Mr. Rogers

I am not sure whether to support the new clause. Hon. Members will see from the Amendment Paper that I have not subscribed to it. I say that to explain to my hon. Friends who join me in opposing part of the Bill that I oppose only part of the Bill. If it is necessary to hold the Bill up on a point of principle concerning the barrage, I shall willingly go along with that. I realise that in the Cardiff bay area—the docks area—development is necessary. We need a plan for an area that is badly run down and needs support and investment for regeneration, but at some stage the purpose got lost, and somebody got hooked on the idea of a marina. Wherever the land meets the sea people say, "Let's build a marina. Let's throw a circle round to enclose the water." I understand why that is done. Yacht owners and boating fanatics want somewhere to park their boats.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I realise that the hon. Gentleman is on his preamble, but he is making a Second Reading speech at the moment.

9 pm

Mr. Rogers

I accept your admonition, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wanted to illustrate my support for the general principle of the Bill, because we may need accelerated planning procedures to resolve difficult problems. That is why my remarks were pertinent to the new clause, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The discussion is political as well as purely semantic. I was saying that the promoters of the Bill lost their way because they got hooked up with the concept of a marine development. Everyone must have a marina, it seems. A rash of them has spread throughout south Wales, and now it is suggested that we take away from local authorities the full responsibility for planning supervision.

Were such marine developments to spring up all around our coasts, no natural coastline would be left. Later, I may use my prerogative as a geologist to explore the intricacies of alluvial deposition, distortion of estuarine areas, and other fluvial problems that can result from development, but you would rule me out of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I did so now.

With the exception of the plans for building the bridge —the barrage—across the mouth of the river, there is an urgent need for speeded-up planning procedures for the docklands area. We are not talking about a normal state of affairs, and, in principle, I should like such procedures to be extended to other areas of industrial dereliction.

Why should the promoters of the Bill want to throw away the Bill, as they will surely do, just over the principle of overcoming planning regulations? They will not accept the new clause at this stage of the game because of the money involved.

My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) challenged the Minister to say whether he supported Government policy as laid clown in "Private Bills and New Procedures—A Consultation Document". The Minister must respond to that at some stage. I realise that his ability to respond quickly to questions thrown at him is limited, but he always presents himself as a man of principle, and I thought that his principles were loyalty and support for the Government. There could have been a knee-jerk reaction. Perhaps, without our noticing, he stood up and said that he supported the proposals in the document.

Mr. Rowlands

I would remind my hon. Friend—with some poignancy—that one of the most prominent members of the Joint Committee was Sir John Stradling Thomas. The Minister should respect his memory and his support for the proposals.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not stray into a discussion of the Joint Committee. His remarks must be directly related to the new clause and the amendments grouped with it.

Mr. Rogers

My remarks are pertinent, Mr. Deputy Speaker, simply because it is suggested that, under the new procedures, a similar clause should be included in every private Bill. The new clause says that one should appear in the Bill. We ask whether the Minister supports the proposal which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney said, was supported by the late hon. Member for Monmouth.

I cannot understand why the promoters will not accept the new clause. Some people seem to feel that they have discovered the holy grail, and that only one body can redevelop the area—the Cardiff Bay development corporation. The corporation has a role, but the local authority and—even more so—the people of the area have a role too. Their views can be expressed through Members of Parliament, but can be expressed just as legitimately in other ways. We have no particular skills. Like other local representatives, we are elected. The planning requirements of Cardiff and the docklands area will evolve, because the community will evolve. Within the 10 years derogation laid down in the Bill, any works started will be exempt from planning considerations, so there may come a time when reconsideration is required. What would be wrong with going through the normal planning procedure then?

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) said that everything would remain the same—that there would be planning applications and inquiries, and that local people would be able to involve themselves. If that is the case, why is clause 97 necessary?

It is fairly obvious that the Minister is, as it were, the Bill's second promoter. He responds to that with a cynical turn of his eyes and lips—

Mr. Morgan

That is his normal expression.

Mr. Rogers

It may be his normal expression, or it may be wind; I do not know. In any event, the expression was there.

The Minister may say, "We are putting in hundreds of millions of pounds, and we therefore have a vested interest, as do the taxpayers of Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom. It is their money, not that of the promoters, that is paying for the Bill." As a custodian of our money, perhaps the Minister can tell us why clause 97 is required. As we cannot obtain an answer from the promoters, let us have one from him.

We merely want to replace clause 97 with amendment No. 79—an entirely coincidental numerical palindrome. We want to ensure that the people of Cardiff are given a chance to participate. What is wrong with that? Why should participation be limited to the development corporation—people who have come in from outside, and who have substantial links with the Conservative party? We know that many of them have a cross-relationship with the Wales land authority. There is a nexus of sinister activity in south Wales, epitomised by the fact that the proposal was promoted originally by the then Secretary of State for Wales, Nicholas Edwards, formerly Member of Parliament for Pembroke and now Lord Crickhowell. He is a non-executive member of Associated British Ports, which owns 160 acres of valuable land right in the middle of this development.

Especially worrying is the conspiracy of silence with which we are met. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney asked the Minister to respond. Does the Minister really believe that behaving like a dummy will prevent people from seeing through the web of corruption?

Mr. Ron Davies

I was intrigued by my hon. Friend's reference to Lord Crickhowell. He rightly drew our attention to Lord Crickhowell's heavy involvement in the promotion of the Cardiff bay barrage. Has my hon. Friend read the report of the debate in the House of Lords that took place shortly before the Easter recess? That concerned another Bill proposing the construction of a barrage, across the River Usk at Newport.

I am sure that there is no connection between Lord Crickhowell's considerable interests in the Usk valley and his opposition to the barrage. Will my hon. Friend confirm that there are no such sinister thoughts in his own mind?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sure that, in responding to that question, the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) will stay on the straight and narrow, and refer to the new clause and amendments.

Mr. Rogers

Absolutely, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I would not go down that particular valley for all the tea in China. Well, that is not strictly true. The Usk valley is wonderful.

We shall, of course, have the same problem in the next Parliament, when another private Bill, proposing the closure of the mouth of the Usk, will arrive.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Let us deal with this Parliament. I shall not be here in the next Parliament.

Mr. Rogers

For that reason, the House will be very much worse off after the next election.

Mr. Morgan

In the light of your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker, it may not be in order for my hon. Friend to deal fully with the Usk barrage, but it is relevant for the House to consider how odd it is that people of influence, such as Members of Parliament and ex-Members of Parliament, change their minds when other Bills of a similar nature are considered. Apart from Lord Crickhowell's change of view vis-a-vis the Cardiff bay barrage, which he practically fathered and funded before he left this House to become the director of company closely linked with it, the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones) opposed a mini-barrage that was proposed by a Labour-controlled county council but did not object to a much larger barrage that was proposed by a Conservative Government.

Mr. Rogers

I do not intend to comment on the motives of Conservative Members of Parliament and ex-Ministers. However, it is significant that the ex-Secretary of State for Wales, Lord Crickhowell, is chairman of the National Rivers Authority. The problem is that the person who is entrusted by the nation with the well-being of our rivers is intimately involved, with a resulting substantial conflict of interest, in the rivers Ely and Rhondda.

Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd)

And the Taff.

Mr. Rogers

Yes, and the Taff. God forbid that I should forget the Taff. The use of the word "Taffy" for Welshmen is thought to come from the river Taff, but I understand that it comes from a little further west—from a river in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams), the river Teifi.

Mr. Alan W. Williams (Carmarthen)

No, the Taff.

Mr. Rogers

I apologise.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I realise that the hon. Gentleman has to some extent been corrupted by his hon. Friends. I am sure that he intends to return to the new clause.

Mr. Rogers

Yes. I see that the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) is here. Unfortunately, his Front Bench responsibilities chain him completely. I know that he would like to speak out on the matter. I do not know what he would say, but how nice it is to see him.

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 proceeded to a Division:

Mr. Ron Davies (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am the co-sponsor of the new clause. I have been waiting for two hours to speak.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that it is not in order to question the judgment of the Chair on these matters.

Mr. Davies

That may well be the case, but—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. If the hon. Gentleman has another point of order that does not reflect upon the judgment of the Chair, I shall take it after the Division.

Mr. Ian Grist(seated and covered) (Cardiff, Central)

May I draw your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the fact that this Division is taking an untoward length of time? I ask that some investigation be made.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I am keeping an eye on the time.

The House having divided: Ayes, 163, Noes 29.

Division No. 113] [9.13 pm
Alexander, Richard Grist, Ian
Alton, David Hague, William
Amos, Alan Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Anderson, Donald Hanley, Jeremy
Arbuthnot, James Harris, David
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Hawkins, Christopher
Arnold, Sir Thomas Hayes, Jerry
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Haynes, Frank
Atkinson, David Hind, Kenneth
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Holt, Richard
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Beggs, Roy Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Beith, A. J. Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hunt, Rt Hon David
Bevan, David Gilroy Irvine, Michael
Blackburn, Dr John G. Jack, Michael
Boswell, Tim Jackson, Robert
Bottomley, Peter Janman, Tim
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Jessel, Toby
Bowis, John Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Boyes, Roland Key, Robert
Brazier, Julian King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Bright, Graham Kirkhope, Timothy
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Knapman, Roger
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Buck, Sir Antony Lawrence, Ivan
Budgen, Nicholas Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Burt, Alistair Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Callaghan, Jim Lord, Michael
Cash, William Maclean, David
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda McWilliam, John
Chapman, Sydney Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Clark, Rt Hon Sir William Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Mills, Iain
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Cope, Rt Hon John Monro, Sir Hector
Cormack, Patrick Moss, Malcolm
Couchman, James Murphy, Paul
Cran, James Neale, Sir Gerrard
Crowther, Stan Neubert, Sir Michael
Currie, Mrs Edwina Nicholls, Patrick
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Page, Richard
Davis, David (Boothferry) Parry, Robert
Day, Stephen Patnick, Irvine
Dixon, Don Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Dorrell, Stephen Porter, David (Waveney)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Durant, Sir Anthony Riddick, Graham
Eastham, Ken Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Eggar, Tim Roberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy)
Favell, Tony Robertson, George
Fearn, Ronald Roe, Mrs Marion
Fenner, Dame Peggy Rowe, Andrew
Flynn, Paul Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Fookes, Dame Janet Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Foster, Derek Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Shaw, David (Dover)
Franks, Cecil Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Freeman, Roger Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Fry, Peter Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Gale, Roger Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Shersby, Michael
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Skeet, Sir Trevor
Golding, Mrs Llin Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Goodlad, Alastair Snape, Peter
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Stern, Michael Watts, John
Stevens, Lewis Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wheeler, Sir John
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Widdecombe, Ann
Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N) Wiggin, Jerry
Stott, Roger Winterton, Mrs Ann
Strang, Gavin Wood, Timothy
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Younger, Rt Hon George
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Tellers for the Ayes:
Thurnham, Peter Mr. Gwilym Jones and
Tredinnick, David Mr. Alun Michael.
Trippier, David
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.) McMaster, Gordon
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Buckley, George J. Marek, Dr John
Cryer, Bob Morgan, Rhodri
Cummings, John Morley, Elliot
Dalyell, Tam Pike, Peter L.
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) Redmond, Martin
Duffy, A. E. P. Rogers, Allan
Gordon, Mildred Skinner, Dennis
Home Robertson, John Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Hood, Jimmy Spearing, Nigel
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Illsley, Eric Tellers for the Noes:
Lamond, James Mr. Ted Rowlands and
Loyden, Eddie Mr. Ron Davies.
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am now required to put—

Dr. Marek

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I will take the point of order afterwards. I am now required to put the Question on new clause 1.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 25, Noes 149.

Division No. 114] [9.29 pm
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Murphy, Paul
Cryer, Bob Nellist, Dave
Dalyell, Tam Pike, Peter L.
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Redmond, Martin
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) Rogers, Allan
Gordon, Mildred Rowlands, Ted
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Skinner, Dennis
Hood, Jimmy Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Spearing, Nigel
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Illsley, Eric
Loyden, Eddie Tellers for the Ayes:
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Mr. Rhodri Morgan and
Mahon, Mrs Alice Dr. John Marek.
Morley, Elliot
Alexander, Richard Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Alton, David Bevan, David Gilroy
Amos, Alan Boswell, Tim
Anderson, Donald Bottomley, Peter
Arbuthnot, James Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Bowis, John
Arnold, Sir Thomas Boyes, Roland
Atkinson, David Brazier, Julian
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Bright, Graham
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Beggs, Roy Buckley, George J.
Budgen, Nicholas McWilliam, John
Burt, Alistair Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Callaghan, Jim Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Cash, William Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Michael, Alun
Chapman, Sydney Mills, Iain
Clark, Rt Hon Sir William Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Monro, Sir Hector
Cope, Rt Hon John Moss, Malcolm
Cormack, Patrick Neubert, Sir Michael
Couchman, James Nicholls, Patrick
Cran, James Page, Richard
Crowther, Stan Parry, Robert
Currie, Mrs Edwina Patnick, Irvine
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Porter, David (Waveney)
Day, Stephen Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Dixon, Don Rhodes James, Robert
Dorrell, Stephen Riddick, Graham
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Duffy, A. E. P. Roberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy)
Durant, Sir Anthony Robertson, George
Eastham, Ken Roe, Mrs Marion
Eggar, Tim Rowe, Andrew
Favell, Tony Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Fearn, Ronald Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Fenner, Dame Peggy Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Fookes, Dame Janet Shaw, David (Dover)
Foster, Derek Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Franks, Cecil Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Freeman, Roger Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Fry, Peter Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Gale, Roger Shersby, Michael
Garel-Jones, Tristan Skeet, Sir Trevor
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Golding, Mrs Llin Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Goodlad, Alastair Stern, Michael
Grist, Ian Stevens, Lewis
Hague, William Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Hanley, Jeremy Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Harris, David Strang, Gavin
Hayes, Jerry Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Haynes, Frank Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Hind, Kenneth Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Home Robertson, John Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Thurnham, Peter
Howarth, Alan (Slrat'd-on-A) Tredinnick, David
Hughes, Robert[...] (Harrow W) Trippier, David
Hunt, Rt Hon David Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Irvine, Michael Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Jack, Michael Watts, John
Jackson, Robert Wheeler, Sir John
Jessel, Toby Widdecombe, Ann
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Wiggin, Jerry
Key, Robert Winterton, Mrs Ann
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Wood, Timothy
Kirkhope, Timothy Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Knapman, Roger Younger, Rt Hon George
Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Lawrence, Ivan Tellers for the Noes:
Leadbitter, Ted Mr. Gwilym Jones and
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) 'Mr. Paul Flynn.
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Ron Davies

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understand the difficulties that we had prior to the last Division. If you felt that I was challenging your authority in any way, I wish to make it clear that I was seeking advice rather than questioning your judgment. I am sure that you will understand the point that concerns me. I am one of the co-signatories of the last group of amendments that we were discussing. You will note that new clause 1 is in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) and myself. The amendments grouped with it are also in our names. The debate lasted for just under two hours. I was present throughout and showed my interest in that debate on a number of occasions. I had deliberately not made a large number of interventions, as other hon. Members had done, although I intervened when I felt that I had a contribution to make.

I was surprised, first, that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) moved the closure motion, although I understand that it was perfectly proper for him to do so. Secondly, I was surprised that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, decided to accept that motion when you knew that I was waiting to catch your eye and at least four or five of my hon. Friends had sat patiently throughout the debate, had not intervened and wanted to make contributions of their own. It might assist the conduct of the business that we are about to debate if we had some idea from you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether your judgment—which we would not wish to question—would be exercised in the light of the length of time that has been taken up or the number of speakers still waiting to speak. I do not in any way wish to intrude on your prerogative which is properly yours, but it would assist the many Opposition Members who wish to speak during the coming hours if they had some idea of the factors in your mind in deciding whether to accept the closure.

9.45 pm
Mr. Morgan

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Much of the debate, particularly the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), was concerned with whether the Minister would make a statement about whether the Government intended to apply the document to which he had referred. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies), I do not question your judgment, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but as the closure motion came when it did and you accepted it, was there a communication from the Minister to you before that to show that the Minister would not respond to the various challenges that my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney had made to him? Was there a sign as to whether the Government agreed with their consultative paper and the position described by the Minister? Did the Minister inform you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that he did not wish to respond, make a speech or intervene during the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, or did you decide that, regardless of whether the Minister intended to speak, you would not allow him to do so and would accept the closure motion?

Dr. Marek

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I and about four or five other hon. Members sought to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not complain that I did not do so and you called the closure, but as I had a number of new points to make and some serious concerns about the new clause, I am worried whether the Minister will have time in any debate tonight to give the Department's view. Do you have any power, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to ascertain in advance whether the Department and the Minister wish to contribute?

After the previous debate, you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, must know that the Department is concerned with getting the Bill through the House. I feel that it is only right that it should be given every chance to put its case.

Mr. Martin Redmond (Don Valley)

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Is it on the same point? I do not think that the hon. Gentleman was here during the debate.

Mr. Redmond

I accept your comments, Mr. Deputy Speaker—I always accept the ruling from the Chair. While it is perfectly true that I was not in the Chamber for the closure motion, I am deeply concerned. I am aware that you, as Deputy Speaker, seek at all times to uphold Back Bench opinions in relation to democracy in the Chamber. I am obviously concerned that a number of hon. Members wish to express an opinion on this important Bill. I have no wish to challenge your ruling on this, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but the fact that a Division was called on the closure is a serious worry to Back Benchers.

In view of the representations that have been made in points of order, will you rule that in future in this important debate on the Bill any Back-Bencher wishing to speak will be allowed to do so without tactics from the Government, who obviously support the Bill? You will be aware of the previous arguments, in points of order before the debate started this evening, about the Secretary of State's letter that the Government are strongly supporting the Bill but decline to answer Back Benchers' questions. Will you rule that you will refuse to accept closure motions while there are hon. Members wishing to speak in the debate?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am grateful to hon. Members for the courteous way in which they have raised their points of order. I recognise that some hon. Members were hoping to speak in the debate and were not able to do so when I accepted the closure motion. The House well knows that the Chair has the power to accept a closure motion when it judges it appropriate, and the Chair never gives its reasons for so doing.

In answer to the other question, every debate to come will be judged on its merits by whomever is in the Chair. These are hypothetical questions. We listen carefully to the debate, and anything that may have occurred during debate on the first group of amendments in no way creates a precedent for the amendments that are to come.

Mr. Rogers


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Is it further to the same point of order?

Mr. Rogers

Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was on my feet when I was interrupted by the closure motion. It would have been far more appropriate if the motion had been put between speeches. I had not been speaking for very long. If that is to be the case, and if people who want to offer legitimate arguments are to be excluded from doing so, I do not feel that we are receiving our proper rights as Parliamentarians. We were elected to speak here, and so long as we conform to the Standing Orders and procedures of the House, as laid down, we have a right to speak.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

There is nothing that I can add. I have to exercise my judgment in the Chair and I have done that to the best of my ability.

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