HC Deb 16 April 1991 vol 189 cc249-51

'Before the commencement of impounding by means of the Barrage the undertakers shall produce and publish a plan pertaining to sources of leachate in contact with the waters of the inland bay or of the groundwater in hydraulic contact with the waters of the inland bay and its proposals for removal, relocation or improvement of such sources of leachate.'.—[Dr. Kim Howells.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Dr. Kim Howells

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take the following:

New Clause 6—Phosphate and nitrate stripping'Before constructing the Barrage, the undertakers and the water company shall produce and publish a plan indicating where and what provision they have made for phosphate-stripping and nitrate-stripping of the waters of the rivers entering the inland bay and their tributaries in the event of such provision becoming necessary for compliance with future water quality objectives in the inland bay.'. New Clause 8—Sewer outfalls'Before the commencement of impounding by means of the Barrage the undertakers shall produce and publish a plan pertaining to the sewer outfalls discharging directly into the inland bay or into the waters of the rivers discharging into the Bay or the tributaries thereof, showing the proposed means of removal, relocation or improvement thereof and the agreement of the owner of each outfall to such removal, relocation or improvement.'. New Clause 17—Elimination of risks of pollution'Before commencement of impounding by means of the barrage the undertakers shall produce and publish proposals for the sealing of the Ferry Road tip to the satisfaction of the rivers authority and the Environmental Health Officer of the city council that no material risk of infiltration of the inland bay or of groundwater by leachate from the tip will occur.'. New Clause 19—Maintenance of ground water standards'Before the commencement of impounding the under-takers shall commission and publish proposals for the proper disposal of algal scum arising in the inland bay that are consistent with the preservation and maintenance of good water quality standards at the site of disposal and in adjoining waters.'.—

Dr. Howells

Two rivers are to be dammed—the Taff and the Ely. They constantly carry effluent and litter down to the Bristol channel from what is probably the most densely populated area in Wales.

Mr. Rogers

I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend so early in his speech, but I cannot allow him to proceed by closing the number at two river valleys. One of the most substantial contributions to the River Taff is from the two Rhondda rivers which meet at Porth and enter the Taff within 100 yards of my hon. Friend's—

Dr. Howells


Mr. Rogers

No. My hon. Friend lives not in a house but in a home, and the river comes very close to it. I know that he is diligent in ensuring that that river is properly cleaned and is not polluted in any way. Does he not think it rather odd that—

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)


Mr. Rogers

It is a resigning matter.

When he is talking about the pollution of our rivers, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) will, at some stage, refer to the chairman of the National Rivers Authority, who has the prime responsibil-ity of ensuring clean rivers, not only in south Wales, but throughout the United Kingdom. I refer to Lord Crickhowell, who is a well-paid non-executive director of Associated British Ports, which has a strong interest in the Cardiff bay development. Lord Crickhowell was the Secretary of State for Wales when it was decided to put public money into the land owned by the company of which he is now a substantial director.

Dr. Howells

I thank my hon. Friend for his learned intervention.

I was about to mention the extensive involvement of Rhondda—I have been told that I am not supposed to call it "the Rhondda". To amplify my original point, the rivers that I have mentioned flow through some of the most densely populated areas of Wales. Almost 77,000 people reside within Rhondda's administrative boundaries; almost 64,000 people live in Cynon Valley; 58,000 people live in Merthyr; and almost 95,000 people live in Taff-Ely.

Mr. Rogers

My hon. Friend is referring yet again to my constituency. Perhaps he will tell the House that, of the 77,000 people who reside in Rhondda, 35,000 voted for me.

Dr. Howells

I am again astounded at my hon. Friend's knowledge and will learn from it.

At least 295,000 people live close to the rivers that drain into the Taff and the Ely, the rivers that are to be dammed, and that does not include the people who live in Cardiff or its environs. Probably nearly half a million people live close to those rivers. I make that point because it is important that people who do not know the area realise the implications of the provisions for the quality of water in those rivers.

We in the industrial areas of Wales have long neglected our rivers and the quality of their water. I have said on other occasions that I would dearly love the rivers of the industrial valleys of south Wales to resemble those in the area represented by the hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North (Mr. Howells), which are some of the most marvellous rivers in Wales. I do not see why the rivers of industrial south Wales cannot resemble those rivers.

This is of direct bearing to the new clauses that we are discussing because if Cardiff—[Interruption.] I am afraid that the Minister does not seem very interested, but I understand that he has responsibility for these matters.

Mr. Ron Davies

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is ironic that during the previous debate my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) spent at least five minutes trying to encourage the Minister to rise to give the House the benefit of his wisdom—if he has any? Does he also agree that it is a sign of absolute arrogance and an offence to the House that, while he is making a speech of critical importance to his constituency and to the outcome of this debate, the Minister has nothing better to do than to sit on the Front Bench like a grinning martinet, chatting to his hon. Friends behind him? The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) would be better advised to listen to my hon. Friend's speech.

Dr. Howells

I hope that the Minister will take note of what I am saying because an intelligent response from him at the end of the debate would help him to salvage at least some votes in the coming general election.

Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

I must advise my hon. Friend that I visit the Minister's constituency of Pembroke once, sometimes twice, a year without fail. The people in the pubs in which I drink in Meinclochog are appalled by the Minister's behaviour, and therefore—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Order. That is not relevant to the new clauses.

Mr. Sedgemore


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman's comments are not relevant to the new clauses.

Mr. Sedgemore

If you will allow me to develop the point, Madam Deputy Speaker—

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I will not allow the hon. Gentleman to develop the point. He must be more specific and deal with the new clauses. That would be welcome.

Mr. Sedgemore

If I could be more specific and deal with the new clauses, the question often asked about the Minister is now being asked in the House on this Bill. Unlike most English hon. Members, I have visited the area of the Cardiff bay barrage. I have come down on the side of my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells). The question often asked is, why does not the Minister know what he is talking about?

Dr. Howells

My hon. Friend makes his point very well—

It being Ten o'clock, further consideration of the Bill stood adjourned.