HC Deb 25 November 1991 vol 199 cc632-82

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. Speaker

I have selected the reasoned amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

3.33 pm
The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. David Hunt)

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

The Bill will authorise the construction of a barrage and associated works across the estuaries of the Rivers Taff and Ely in Cardiff bay. It provides for the acquisition of land and rights associated with these main works. There is also provision for the necessary framework to enable the barrage to be operated in an appropriate manner with regard to water quality, flooding, the protection of fish, and for the management of the lake so created.

The scheme embodied in the Bill is absolutely vital for the future of Cardiff. It provides an opportunity for the docklands to be redeveloped as a high quality, high density part of the city itself. It will permit the development of a city waterfront that would be an asset to a major city anywhere in the world. It will create an environment in which housing and jobs will be created on a scale which could not be achieved in any other way.

Before I describe the detailed provisions of the Bill, I would like to remind the House of the background to the scheme and why, sadly, the very many benefits which would arise from the construction of the barrage have, so far, been denied to the people of Cardiff.

Seldom can the provisions of a Bill coming before this House for a Second Reading have been so thoroughly debated and examined already on the Floor of the House, in Committee and in another place. Many hon. Members will remember that we last debated the provisions of a Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill on 16 April this year. That was a private Bill promoted jointly by the Cardiff Bay development corporation and South Glamorgan county council. It had completed its passage through another place. It had undergone detailed and lengthy examination by a Select Committee of this House. Sadly, however, a few Opposition Members sought to block the Bill as it neared the end of its passage through Parliament.

For our part, the Government were just not prepared to stand by and see our capital city and its people denied the benefits of this imaginative project. That is why, on 16 April, my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council immediately announced that we would introduce a Government Bill to achieve the main objectives of the private Bill. This Bill fulfils the commitment given by my right hon. Friend.

Of course, the Cardiff bay barrage proposal goes back much further than that. In November 1985 the then Secretary of State for Wales, Nicholas Edwards, now Lord Crickhowell, commissioned studies into the feasibility, costs and benefits of a barrage between Penarth dock and Cardiff docks. In parallel with the technical feasibility studies, an investment appraisal study was also commissioned. These reports, published in June 1986, suggested that a barrage would not only be technically feasible but would be likely to create significant new development opportunities in the Cardiff waterfront area and beyond.

Further studies on engineering aspects, conservation and investment potential were also commissioned. In December 1986 Lord Crickhowell announced that the plans to transform the Cardiff docklands would be taken forward by an urban development corporation—Cardiff Bay development corporation—established specifically for that task. The corporation was set up in that far-sighted move to stimulate and control the regeneration of the docklands area. In particular, it was to carry forward the engineering and financial planning of a barrage between Penarth head and Queen Alexandra dock.

Following its formal establishment in April 1987, the development corporation commissioned detailed studies of all aspects of the barrage, including environmental and conservation implications. Together with South Glamorgan county council, it introduced a private Bill into this place in November 1987. This was subsequently withdrawn in order to incorporate provisions enabling the construction of alternative feeding grounds for birds displaced once the barrage was constructed.

A new private Bill was introduced in November 1988. It completed its passage through another place with very little amendment. Progress through this House took far longer. It was debated no fewer than five times on the Floor of the House and was given long and detailed scrutiny by a Select Committee over 26 days. The Committee heard a great deal of expert evidence from the promoters and petitioners. Local residents were given an opportunity to present evidence at first hand when the Committee sat in Cardiff. The Committee concluded that, subject to some important amendments and undertakings relating to groundwater, the Bill should be allowed to proceed. Unfortunately, a small minority disagreed.

It is against that background that the Government are introducing the Bill. It falls into five main parts supplemented by seven schedules. Part I provides the necessary powers for the construction of the barrage and associated works. Part II deals with the acquisition of land. Part III deals with the operation of the barrage and the management of the inland bay, the outer harbour and the lagoon which would serve as an alternative feeding ground for wading birds. Part IV makes provision for a scheme of groundwater damage protection, the details of which are set out in schedule 7 to the Bill. Finally, part V covers a range of miscellaneous items.

The proposed line of the barrage was one of several options considered in the early feasibility studies. It provides the greatest area of enclosed water, retains the operational use of Cardiff dock and provides the greatest opportunity for waterside development and water-related recreational uses. It is a fundamental principle that the design of the barrage authorised by the Bill should impound the estuaries of the Taff and Ely. In doing so, it should not impound the entrance to the operational Cardiff dock, but should enclose the Penarth marina.

The tidal lagoon would provide alternative feeding grounds for birds displaced from the bay by the impounded lake. It would cover an area of 23 hectares and provide mudflats similar to those which would be permanently covered within the bay area. Discussions with the Countryside Council for Wales and other conservation bodies about the best method of achieving wildlife measures are continuing.

The Bill requires the development corporation to operate the barrage so that the water immediately behind it should be maintained at a level between 4 m and 4.5 m above ordnance datum except in certain circumstances defined in the Bill. That is consistent with the provisions of the former private Bill and with the views of the Select Committee, which recommended that the water level should not go below 4 m. It is a fundamental principle of the Bill that the impounded lake should permanently cover the existing mudflats. We believe that the proposed water level as set out in the Bill strikes an appropriate balance between development needs and the practical considerations after impoundment. It would provide the maximum area of water within the engineering constraints and would be broadly equivalent to mean high water mark.

As I have already said, the Government believe that the economic case for the barrage is very strong. The attractive new environment created by the barrage will result in 25,000 direct and 7,500 indirect jobs. Private sector investment of well over £1 billion will be attracted into the area and 4,800 homes will be built, of which a quarter will be low-cost social housing.

Against that background, it is regrettable that the Opposition intend to move to deny the Bill a Second Reading this evening. I very much hope that they will consider their position. I have studied the reasoned amendment carefully and, as far as I can see, all the points covered would be more relevant for discussion in Committee. There are answers to all the points.

I have just met some colleagues in the House—and I do not dare to name the Opposition Members—who asked me questions about the amendment because there were points that they could not understand or that they had not seen before. I do not know why the amendment has been tabled. Parts of it were not raised with me before today's debate. Somebody quite disgracefully suggested that the amendment was just a fictitious fig leaf which was designed to cover the cracks in the Labour party!

I very much hope that the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) will be courageous this afternoon. I urge him to stop any move to allow the barrage project to continue to be used as a party political football. I believe that the project is so exciting, innovative and imaginative that it should be approached on an all-party basis. I invite the hon. Gentleman to consider that and to endorse the Bill. I invite him to join me in welcoming this magnificent project, which will do so much for Wales.

Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)

For a moment I thought that the Secretary of State had reached his peroration. Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the financial consequences of the Bill?

Mr. Hunt

First, I shall deal with the environmental sensitivities of the project, because, when considering the economic benefits of the project, the Government were fully aware of those sensitivities.

The Institute of Terrestrial Ecology was commissioned by the Welsh Office to assess the affects of the project on over-wintering shore birds. That study and other environmental studies commissioned by the Cardiff Bay development corporation and South Glamorgan county council were brought together in a detailed environmental impact assessment by Liverpool university.

The House will know that a new Standing Order came into force at the start of this parliamentary Session. It requires Bills authorising certain works to be accompanied by an environmental statement. This Bill is the first to meet that requirement. The environmental assessment prepared for the private Bill has been updated so as to comply with the new Standing Order. Copies of the environmental statement and a non-technical summary of it have been placed in the Vote Office. The House will wish to satisfy itself that any decision to enact the Bill is taken on the basis of a full consideration of that assessment of the Bill's environmental effects.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that environmental assessments, or statements, that accompany private or hybrid Bills may take two forms? Annex 1 environmental impact assessments must be referred to the appropriate regulatory agency, such as the National Rivers Authority should it deal with water quality or, especially in this case, the local environmental health office of the city council in respect of water use. The other type of assessment may comply with schedule 2 to the original environmental impact assessment directive from the European Community and it does not have to be referred to the appropriate regulatory agency. The environmental impact assessment prepared for the Bill is an example of the latter type as no reference has been made to the NRA or to the environmental health department of Cardiff city council. Why did the right hon. Gentleman not decide to have a higher grade environmental impact assessment?

Mr. Hunt

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has had an opportunity to get a copy of the environmental impact assessment from the Vote Office and to read it. I am advised that it more than fulfils the requirements of the Standing Order, which is the basis on which I have proposed that the environmental impact assessment should proceed. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will make some further reference to that assessment in his speech, and I look forward to that.

The guidance on the production of environmental assessments says that the promoters should consult those bodies with relevant information before preparing their statement. I understand that Cardiff Bay development corporation and my officials have consulted a wide range of interested bodies, including the NRA, Cardiff city council and the Countryside Council for Wales. It would have been a pointless duplication for the authors of the environmental statement to have consulted separately.

Mr. Ron Davies (Caerphilly)

The problem is that the Secretary of State second-guesses the advice that he receives from his advisers. Will he confirm that the Government's statutory adviser on nature conservation is the Countryside Council for Wales?. Will he also confirm that it recommended that Cardiff bay should be included in the Severn estuary special protection area? Will he tell the House why he decided to override that advice?

Mr. Hunt

I have placed in the Library a copy of the letter that I wrote explaining the issues in great detail.

An inevitable and regrettable consequence of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill is the loss of the Taff-Ely site of special scientific interest. We have never denied that there would be environmental costs—I hope that the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) recognises that. Those costs had to be weighed against the economic, environmental and other benefits. Clearly, the barrage and the type of development associated with it would be incompatible with the SSSI. It is a fundamental principle of the Bill that it would enable the impoundment of a fresh water lake in place of the existing salt water tidal area. It follows that the existing site of special scientific interest could no longer be sustained.

From earlier debates, the House will know that the Nature Conservancy Council had proposed that the lower Severn estuary, of which Cardiff bay is a part, should be a special protection area under the European Community directive on the conservation of wild birds. On 1 November, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and I announced our decision—to which the hon. Member for Caerphilly referred—to exclude the area of the inland bay as defined in the Bill from further consideration as part of the area proposed as a special protection area. The reasons underlying that decision and the factors that my right hon. Friend and I took into account are fully set out in the letter of 1 November to the chairman of the Countryside Council for Wales, copies of which have been placed in the Library.

There have been understandable worries about the possible effects on houses of rises in groundwater levels once the barrage is built. The former private Bill contained detailed protective provisions in respect of groundwater. I should like to make it clear that the provisions of the Government Bill will provide householders with the same level of protection as that which existed under the private Bill, and they are set out fully in schedule 7.

I have done my best to understand and respond to the desire of people in Cardiff that the scheme should be set out in the Bill so that Parliament can consider it. However, by its very nature, the scheme is complex, and we cannot guarantee that minor difficulties may not emerge when we put it into practice. Therefore, the Bill contains a power for the Secretary of State to make regulations to amend the scheme of protection.

The reasoned amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) and other Opposition Members seeks to make the point that the provisions would enable the Secretary of State to weaken the protection, which, I suppose, goes alongside the need for provisions to strengthen the protection. I wish to make it clear that I have no intention of using that power at present, but I would be prepared to use it if it emerged that individuals' interests were not being properly protected by the scheme in practice. If I decided to act in that way, any regulation to amend the scheme would be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. Therefore, the House would have the opportunity of debating any proposed changes to the scheme.

An enormous amount of detailed technical evidence on groundwater was presented during consideration of the earlier Bill. The Select Committee that examined the Bill took a very close interest in and sought several undertakings about groundwater. One such was that further detailed studies of the possible effects should be undertaken over a 12-month period. The results of those studies were published on 25 September, and on the same day I announced the start of a three-month public consultation period during which interested parties could make written representations to me on the contents of the reports produced by Hydrotechnica. The public consultation exercise ends on 31 December. The documents are technical, and I have arranged for them to be placed in all public libraries in Cardiff, and notices to that effect have been placed in local newspapers.

I gave the Select Committee an undertaking that I would consider the Hydrotechnica studies and the commentary produced by Cardiff Bay development corporation, and I shall do so. I shall also consider any representations received during the consultation period. I have appointed an eminent expert, Mr. Roy Stoner, the director of the Institute of Irrigation Studies at Southampton university, as my specialist groundwater adviser. Once the consultation period is over, I shall consider all the evidence.

Only if I am satisfied that the economic, safety and technical criteria relating to groundwater can be met will public funding be made available for construction of the barrage. That is the undertaking that I gave to the Select Committee. Subject to that undertaking, I am pleased to announce today that I have increased the funding planned by the corporation by £22 million, bringing provision for the next three years to £130 million. I do that in the context of the proposals in the Bill, which I believe are vital for the future of Cardiff. Accordingly, I commend the Bill to the House.

3.55 pm
Mr. Barry Jones (Alyn and Deeside)

I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill because of the inadequacy of the groundwater protection provisions in that the powers granted to the Secretary of State in the Bill would enable him to weaken the protections specified in the schedule, because the public consultation on the Hydrotechnica report is not yet concluded, because that consultation process has allowed no mechanism for public discussion of the report, and because the Bill makes no provision for an independent final arbiter on matters concerning the quality of the water environment in the inland bay.

There can be no doubt about the need for urban regeneration in the Cardiff docklands. The docks of Cardiff were at the centre of the coal-based prosperity of south Wales. Coal from the valleys of south Wales made Cardiff the world's leading coal-exporting port. The decline of the docks has mirrored the decline of the south Wales coal industry. Now, with fewer than 2,000 workers in our pits, Cardiff docklands must find a new identity and a new prosperity.

Cardiff has already begun a brighter future. South Glamorgan county council and Cardiff city council have sought to bring new industries and new jobs to the area. Like other responsible, Labour-controlled local authorities in Wales, they have worked in partnership with the Welsh Office, the Welsh Development Agency, the European Commission and in this case the development corporation.

Our criticism is not of the economic regeneration. Our criticism of the Bill rests on some of the ways in which the Government have approached the project, or failed to provide adequate safeguards. Indeed, the Government tried to rush a Bill through in July of this year, but the Select Committee on Procedure said no. I have been unable to find anyone who wishes to praise the private Bill procedure; it is an anachronism. Indeed, the Transport and Works Bill which will come before the House next week reflects anxiety about the operation of the private Bill system.

Our reasoned amendment centres on three clear propositions. Each relates to safeguards and protections on issues which we all agree are serious for the project. The first is groundwater. The groundwater protection provisions are inadequate in that the powers granted to the Secretary of State in the Bill would enable him to weaken the protections specified in the schedule. I refer to clause 21, which is supposed to be about reassurance. What reassurance does it give to people who might suffer damage due to a change in groundwater level when the Bill permits the Secretary of State to weaken the groundwater provisions? The Bill gives protection with one hand and takes it away with the other.

We welcome the fact that provisions have been put in the Bill. In July it was intended that they should be contained in regulations. By agreeing to their inclusion in the Bill the Secretary of State has responded to the anxieties of my hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) and for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), and of South Glamorgan county council, Cardiff city council and many other bodies.

However, by retaining his flexibility of action the Secretary of State has drafted the Bill so as to allow him to weaken the necessary protections. That is unacceptable; we detect the Treasury's fingerprints in this. That is why we ask the right hon. Gentleman to give a categorical assurance to the House that at some later date cash limits will not be imposed on deserving claims for compensation. As the legislation stands and under the powers contained in clause 21(2), the Secretary of State could alter the rights of householders to cover only compensation instead of remedial work, as specified in schedule 7. He could also shorten the period in which residents could make a claim for compensation and alter the cost of a survey of buildings outside the protected property area. These are not peripheral issues; they are key issues to individuals, families and local communities.

Public consultation is our second major point of contention. On the results of the Hydrotechnica report—

Mr. Chris Butler (Warrington, South)

The hon. Gentleman supported the previous private Bill. Does he want a Cardiff bay barrage to be built? Why is he trying to stop this Bill instead of amending it in Committee?

Mr. Jones

I shall state my position and that of the Opposition in my speech. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will find my remarks persuasive. He should not put words in my mouth, however, or make false assumptions. I know that his intervention was well meant and had not a whit of political mischief about it. Knowing him very well, I know that he would not rise just to dissemble.

As for public consultation—

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Bennett)


Mr. Jones

I want to get on. The Under-Secretary will have a chance to catch Mr. Speaker's eye later, no doubt.

I was saying that the second major point of contention has to do with public consultation on the results of the Hydrotechnica report. As we debate the Bill, the period of public consultation is only halfway through. Surely arrangements should have been made to allow the Secretary of State to report to the House on the outcome of the consultations and on the advice of his expert, Mr. Roy Stoner of Southampton university, about the objections voiced during the consultation period.

The consultation period ends on 31 December and only then will the Secretary of State's consultant start to prepare his final report. We do not even know whether the Stoner report will be available to the Select Committee when it begins to sit. In any event, it is surely wrong, for the sake of a few weeks, to decide on the principle of the Bill by giving it a Second Reading while hon. Members still do not have the Stoner report.

There has been concern about and criticism of the manner in which public consultation has been undertaken. It has not allowed for public discussion or exchanges in which people can ask questions and receive answers from those who undertook the research. I agree with the Secretary of State that the matters involved are highly technical and that the Hydrotechnica report deals with matters that have been at the heart of the controversy. People want a chance to discuss the report, and the lack of debate is a serious flaw in the procedures that have been followed.

The third major element of our amendment relates to the quality of the water environment in the inland bay. Many points made during the passage of the previous, private Bill require to be considered. Not least are the problems of sewage discharge, the pollution of rivers flowing into the bay, leachate from the Ferry road tip, algal growth and fish protection. We have real reservations about the role of the Secretary of State for Wales as the final arbiter in any dispute between the National Rivers Authority and the development corporation. In that context I refer to clause 12.

The corporation may argue that a direction given to it by the National Rivers Authority to improve water is unreasonable. If that happens, the Secretary of State will be called on to adjudicate, and there is a suspicion that he would be inclined to side with the development corporation which, of course, is his creation, his creature.

Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd)

The rivers that are to be dammed, the Taff and the Ely, flow through my constituency. My hon. Friend knows that the NR A has done sterling work to clean up those rivers. However, its task is made much more difficult by the fact that derogations granted to the Welsh water authority allow it to pump raw sewage into both those rivers. If a lake is built behind the barrage, it will be nothing more than a sewage pit. How does the Secretary of State propose to tackle that problem?

Mr. Jones

My hon. Friend's point is central to the debate and I am sure that the matter will be pressed hard in Committee.

It would be unwise to allow even the possibility of criticism on a matter as important as adjudication. Therefore, there should be expert, independent adjudication in any such dispute, either by arbitration or by an appropriate expert body. That would mean that even if the final decision rested with the Secretary of State he would be seen by all concerned parties to be basing his judgment on neutral, expert scientific advice.

Not only is there a lack of independence in determining the quality of the water environment but the Bill ignores the statutory role of Cardiff city council as public health authority or port health authority. Clause 70 of the previous Bill required the undertakers to install monitoring apparatus to monitor water level and quality for infectious diseases. All records were to be available to Cardiff city council to allow it to discharge its statutory responsibilities. The Bill disregards the statutory role of local authorities with regard to impounded water and that can only be to the detriment of local people.

Not the least of our criticisms of the Government's approach relates to the Cardiff Bay development corporation, which is unelected and unaccountable and has too often been insensitive to the concerns of local communities. It is a creature of the Secretary of State for Wales and the right hon. Gentleman has shown that its first responsibility is to him and not to the local community. We saw that only a few months ago when the right hon. Gentleman vetoed the appointment of a Labour city councillor in favour of the appointment of his Tory placeman. The imposition of councillor Jeff Sainsbury says much about the right hon. Gentleman and about the unrepresentative character of the development corporation.

The appointment also says much about quango politics in Conservative Wales. A man who knows more than most about quangos is the chairman of the development corporation. It is surely unique in Britain for a failed Conservative candidate to be chairman of not one but two quangos. I do not blame those involved in the development corporation, particularly the five council members who are in a minority on the board. At least they have won an election for their seats on the council. The development corporation is a creature of the Conservative Government, who clearly do not trust democracy in operation in Wales. They claim to support democracy in other parts of the world, but in Wales local communities cannot choose how best to regenerate their local economies.

That there was no need for this artificial regeneration is shown by the successful regenerations of central Cardiff, spearheaded by Cardiff city council, and of the Atlantic wharf area, spearheaded by South Glamorgan county council. Both were achieved in partnership with other public agencies and the public itself.

Mr. David Hunt

I sensed that the hon. Gentleman was coming to the conclusion of his speech. He has not yet come off the fence and told us whether he supports the barrage project.

Mr. Jones

The detail of my speech made it far more informative than that of the Secretary of State. The right hon. Gentleman is in a feeble position. He has had to come to the House with the Bill because he was unable to deliver. I understand that he wrote to all members of the Cabinet asking them to turn up and support him in the votes after previous debates on this project. However, he was not able to get enough Cabinet members to support him. He has a lot of ground to make up before he can criticise the Opposition.

The Opposition always deal with the arguments. We shall press to a vote our reasoned amendment, which will redress three important issues. I urge the Secretary of State to accept the validity of the argument set out in the amendment.

4.15 pm
Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd)

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), I support the redevelopment of Cardiff docks. The area has made a unique contribution to Welsh commerce and to Welsh culture, not least because it produced Shirley Bassey, among others. It would be churlish if I or anyone else were to say that the area should not receive whatever funds are needed to redevelop it.

We are, however, debating the wisdom of building a barrage. I do not think that there is anyone in the Chamber who would deny that the area of Cardiff docks needs redevelopment; the question is whether there should be redevelopment by means of impounding the Rivers Taff and Ely. Cardiff bay has a great deal to offer Wales in the way of prestige projects, for example. It is directly to the south of the hub of administrative Wales—the capital city of the Principality. There are already several institutions of which we can be proud, and I understand that Cardiff may have a centre for the performing arts in the form of a new opera house. I am sure that we would all be proud of that. I hope that such a project will be a centre for other arts, too.

At Pierhead there is a science centre called Techniquest, which attracts about 100,000 people a year. Those who are involved with it want to move to larger premises. They have plans to incorporate a science park in an area of about 135,000 sq ft. We have seen Welsh industry change. There has been a transformation in the economy of Wales, which is now as much electronics and science based as it is steel and coal based. The science project to which I have referred could be a great flagship for Welsh industry, for Welsh commerce and for British science generally.

Why does not the Secretary of State for Wales wave the flag for Pierhead and say that the new project could become a great science centre? I understand that others will try to grab it. Apparently Bradford is interested in having it and Bristol has also made noises about it. There is already a wonderful location for a new science centre to be developed. I should like to see the new Techniquest look out across a natural estuary that has seen the tide rise and fall for a million years. I should like to see the rivers that flow into the estuary—and indeed the entire Bristol channel—cleaned. Those are monumental tasks, but they are imaginative ones.

It seems that we would be much better off if we spent money not on constructing a barrage but on cleaning up the various sewage works that I have castigated over the years. It would be well worth spending money on such a project. We would be giving future generations an inheritance of which we could be proud, and which we would surely be proud to pass on. I am worried that, instead, we shall be handing over a barrage that will do little apart from create what is hoped to be an aesthetically pleasing impounded area of water. Such projects were popular constructions in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and I am worried that once again the Welsh Office is trying to catch up with a fashion or a phase that has passed. Instead, we should be in tune with what is happening environmentally in the most progressive countries in Europe and throughout the world.

We should give thought to cleaning up the environment generally. We could be proud of such an achievement because the tide could flow in and out, the natural environment would be enhanced, and the flora and fauna would flourish close to the heart of our great capital city. Instead, it seems that money is to be spent in an almost futile attempt to attract to the bay, at a time of recession, companies and start-up projects that, by rights, should be located elsewhere.

I refer, for example, to the Welsh health common services authority which, under the leadership of Brigadier Peter Crawley, decided that it would locate in the bay rather than at Merthyr Tydfil or some other place along the A470—or even at the refurbished BBC studios building at Gabalfa, which is where we all thought that authority would go. Instead, there was an announcement, accompanied by a great hoo-hah, that the authority and its 800 jobs would be moving to the bay.

I am not saying that that had anything to do with the fact that Brigadier Crawley was in the same regiment as Lieutenant-Colonel Inkin, who is the chairman of the Cardiff Bay development corporation. On inquiring about the matter, I was told that the health common services authority had decided to move to the bay because it had been told by an independent property consultancy that it was a much better choice of location than anywhere else.

It turns out that the independent property consultancy was none other than a subsidiary of the national ports authority, which is a major shareholder in the Cardiff Bay development corporation. The Secretary of State has a duty to tell the House why that decision was made. Did it come as a sudden revelation and a flash of light to Brigadier Crawley, or was it that the development corporation, with its vast capital expenditure, needed a prestige project to give it credence in the eyes of the commercial world?

This is not the politics of jealousy from those of us who worry about such matters. We are glad to see the bay being redeveloped, and hope that it will be a great success.

Mr. Gwilym Jones (Cardiff, North)

Before the hon. Gentleman moves on from his point about the proposal to locate the health common services authority in the old BBC offices at Gabalfa, perhaps I may take some credit for that not having come to pass. There was great resentment among my constituents on the Three Horseshoes estate at that suggestion, which they feared would dramatically worsen the quality of their lives. Apart from the traffic implications in grid-locking the roads of Caerphilly, up Manor way, it might even have had repercussions for the hon. Gentleman's constituents. I certainly lobbied against the authority making that move, and if I played any part in influencing its choice of the bay instead, I am very pleased at that outcome.

Dr. Howells

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his helpful intervention. I am sure that that proposal would have affected the lives of my constituents. More of them would have obtained jobs. There is still planning permission for the Gabalfa office development, so someone will move there. It would have been nice if the health common services authority had sone so—and created 800 jobs. I would rather have seen it move to Merthyr Tydfil, Brecon, or anywhere else, because it is an authority for 'Wales. According to the Secretary of State, companies are queuing up to move to the bay, but there seems to be no proof of that.

I concede that the current recession and the Government's mismanagement of the economy have a part to play in the fact that prestige projects are not lining up to locate in the bay. My concern is why the health common services authority, with its 800 valuable jobs, should suddenly decide to change direction and head for the bay. That seems to be a face-saving exercise rather than one that makes any sense in administrative or traffic terms —as the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones) said.

As that hon. Gentleman knows, journeying to and from the bay at the moment is appalling. One has to travel through the middle of Cardiff, or through a curious maze that takes one off the western approaches, along the new dockland link road. It may be that in future the bay area's traffic needs will be better served. I have no doubt that they will. I also hope that the hon. Gentleman will press for better traffic arrangements for the rest of us, on the A470 and everywhere else.

Mr. Rowlands

I had not realised that other sites had been considered, including Merthyr. Does my hon. Friend know the comparative costs involved?

Dr. Howells

As most Cardiff property developers know, in the docklands the average annual rent is about £14.50 per sq ft, while it is under £10 in Merthyr. I am worried about other costs, such as the cost of fitting out offices. Whence came the inducements for the move down to the docks? I fear that they will eventually prove to have come from the Welsh Office, via the Cardiff Bay development corporation. Who will provide the £1 million or £2 million for the offices to be fitted out? I understand that they have not even been built yet.

Many of us are keen for the bay to be redeveloped, and are glad to note that low-cost housing is being provided there. We are still worried about the groundwater mystery, however. I shall not attempt to express an opinion, but I well remember a very good party that was held in our front room in Portmanmoor road, Splott, back in 1970. About 50 paisley-shirted individuals suddenly found themselves up to their knees in wet mud. The floor had collapsed—people danced a good deal harder in those days, as the Secretary of State will no doubt remember.

Cardiff was, of course, built on mud flats, and nature takes a long time to change. Problems will be caused by sewage flowing down the Taff and the Ely into the bay. At least I know something about such problems; they were my original reason for opposing the scheme, and I have not changed my mind in the slightest. Ultimately, the people of Cardiff must decide, but they have good representatives in the House who are capable of making the right decision.

Many of us who represent the valleys would like the same amount of money to be spent on matters other than the bay, which has no God-given right to it. Although I am pleased to note that the money is designed to prime the pump of private capital, I see no evidence of that as yet. I hope that the House will support the reasoned amendment, and that the whole project can be examined properly and thoroughly.

4.27 pm
Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

As the Secretary of State has said, today's debate is to some extent a re-run of the debate that took place on 16 April, and we shall be deploying some of the same arguments. As on 16 April, we shall be voting at 7 o'clock, but this time it will be 7 pm rather than 7 am.

This could be described as a hybrid Bill and, in a sense, we are considering two questions at the same time. The first is whether the barrage should be given funds, and the second is whether, if someone else's money and ideas were involved, the development should be given permission to proceed. If the decisions were being made by a planning inquiry and we were the planning inspectors, would we give permission for the spending of someone else's money on such as project? Has it proved itself sufficiently?

We shall vote against the Government's proposals. Our reason for doing that is stated in the amendment: there are still a large number of unanswered questions.

It is difficult for Opposition Members to say that there is no problem and that money can be spent because the general tide of expert opinion is in the Government's favour. In fact, the general tide of expert opinion is deeply divided. Geologists and civil engineers who have worked for the Cardiff Bay development corporation as consultants have in general been willing to give the green light to the package. We do not know, however, what other experts will say. They have not yet reported. The Secretary of State's own consultant, Mr. Roy Stoner, the head of the Institute of Irrigation Studies at Southampton university, has not yet reported and we do not know what he will say. I noted that the Secretary of State omitted to refer to the date when he will be able to tell the House about Mr. Stoner's opinion.

I had imagined that if the Secretary of State was interested in doing his job properly he would have said to us, "Mr. Stoner's opinion will be made available to the first meeting of the Select Committee." I do not know whether the Under-Secretary of State for Wales will tell us when Mr. Stoner's report will be made available.

There are also the geologists and civil engineers who gave evidence for Cardiff residents against the barrage during the Select Committee stage of the proceedings on the private Bill in February, April and May of last year. One of them—Dr. John Miles from the civil engineering department of the University college Cardiff—stated that there was a danger that parts of low-lying Cardiff could be turned into an urban slum. That somewhat chilling prediction was made in the presence of the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Sir G. Neale), who was here to listen to the opening speeches but who is not here now. When a highly qualified professional makes such a dire prediction, one has to sit up and take notice. If the geologists are divided, it is not surprising that the politicians will also be divided.

The Select Committee's recommendations have been complied with, in that a further 12 months of groundwater studies have been carried out. The firm that carried out those studies was designated by the Select Committee—Hydrotechnica—but there has been much dispute about the way in which the 12 months' study was carried out. It was understood on both sides of the geological and civil engineering argument that the 12-month period was the absolute minimum and that what was required was a full 12-month reading of the boreholes on a four-seasons basis.

The borehole readings were very sporadic. Most of them were not sunk in the first three months, let alone at the beginning of the 12-month period so that a full set of four seasons rainfall readings could be obtained in order to work out exactly how the groundwater flows under the low-lying areas of Cardiff that would be affected. A model could then have been constructed to show what would happen during periods of heavy rainfall after the construction of the barrage.

While the geological experts are still arguing among themselves, the Secretary of State should not be too surprised that Opposition politicians are unwilling to give the scheme the green light. He cannot expect us to say, "We know that some geologists and civil engineers still oppose the scheme, but it does not matter whether they are right or wrong, so long as some geologists and some civil engineers are willing to give it the greeen light." The Opposition's job is to scrutinise critically the Government's proposals. We are waiting, therefore, for the geologists and civil engineers who have studied the scheme closely to come to a unanimous opinion and say that they are prepared to give the barrage the green light. That has not yet happened.

May I mention the water budget for the development? Some hon. Members may wonder what a water budget is and may not think that that question is worthy of the Secretary of State's attention, but it is critical because the Rivers Taff and Ely are flashy. The difference between their minimum and maximum flows is greater than that of any other river. Water runs straight off the coalfield plateau into the Ely and off the Brecon Beacons into the slightly longer Taff. A flow in a dry summer of 3 cu m per second and in flood conditions of 8 or 9 cu m per second leads to a staggering difference between the constituents of the water entering the lake. Somehow, the system must encompass the high flows in January and February or severe rain storms and the low flows when both rivers reduce almost to a trickle in dry August.

The water budget becomes critical because the fish pass must be operated to the satisfaction of the National Rivers Authority, the sluices must allow salmon to remigrate to head waters for spawning purposes, the boat lock must allow people to get into the Bristol channel, the sluices must flush out salt water that entered the lake while the boat lock was in operation and, finally—this is the major fly in the ointment—Associated British Ports has the right to abstract 4 cu m per second at Blackweir.

Has the Secretary of State negotiated a deal with Associated British Ports whereby it gives up some of its rights to abstract water at Blackweir, which it uses to top up the commercial dock? Associated British Ports inherited the Marquis of Bute's legacy and has the right to abstract virtually all the water that flows down the Taff in the summer. Unless it gives up those rights, insufficient water will enter the lake to operate the fish pass, the boat lock and salt water flushing.

I am aware that the Secretary of State has given the NRA an assurance that before the Bill is enacted the Government will get ABP to sacrifice some of its abstraction rights at Blackweir, but the right hon. Gentleman has not yet persuaded or paid Associated British Ports the sum required to reduce those rights. Therefore, he is not in a position to tell the House that water quality in the bay can be assured. Without ABP's right to abstract water being reduced from 4 cu m per second to, say, 1 cu m per second, the fish pass will not be operated to the satisfaction of the NRA and the boat lock will not be operated to the satisfaction of members of Cardiff yacht club. In a dry summer, everybody will want to sail in the Bristol channel, but the NRA will tell Cardiff bay development corporation, "You cannot use the boat lock because we need the water for the fish pass."

Will the Secretary of State assure the House that that job has been done? Perhaps the Under-Secretary—I see that some negotiations are going on—will tell us something about that; so far we have heard nothing. I was rather disappointed that the Secretary of State did not deal with that point.

The other important general principle that we are asking about, which the Secretary of State did not mention, is the development proposals that he expects for Cardiff bay—with or without a barrage. The proposition that he is putting to the House is that, without a barrage, there will be little or no development, but with a barrage there will be intensive development and many jobs. The only development that we heard about today was from my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells), who referred to the new office development by the Welsh health common services authority at the Roath basin. That decision was made recently. Some 800 people will be accommodated when the office block is built. Perhaps that is part of the deal with ABP, making it give up some of its water abstraction rights in return for being the landlord through its subsidiary, Grosvenor Waterside. I hope that we will be given more details about that development.

Much more important, the Secretary of State failed to mention Cardiff university's proposals to occupy a semi-derelict site adjoining the new county hall, between Bute street and the city centre. Are such developments dependent on the barrage? Could development go ahead anyway, but without some of the risks inherent in a barrage?

I should like the Under-Secretary to comment on the university's proposals to relocate Cardiff business school and the economics faculty as well as 12 student halls of residence and about 400 houses for graduate students and married students. If that development went ahead, it would make a colossal difference to whether a barrage is needed to bring about development and to whether the most speedy and most job-productive way of developing Cardiff bay is by developing from the city centre southwards or from the barrage north towards the city centre. Many developers in Cardiff believe that there should be development from the city centre southwards, through Tarmac's South crescent proposal, linked with the university's proposals.

Universities will expand massively in the future. I think that the hon. Members for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones) and for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist) would agree that a developer is unlikely to find the land necessary for expansion of the university anywhere north of the city centre. South of the centre may well be the most appropriate place. We need more information. We do not want an information vacuum in the House when we are deciding on the principle of such a major proposal. I am disappointed that the Secretary of State did not touch on those questions.

I should like also to criticise the use to which Cardiff Bay development corporation has put its massive advertising budget. Given that the House of Commons is about to make a major decision and that the public are being consulted in Cardiff, we do not believe that it is democratic for the development corporation to launch into a massive advertising campaign costing £2 million.

The development corporation initially said that that money would be spent in key signboard areas such as Swindon, along the M4, at Bristol Parkway station, in Paddington and elsewhere in London. I am not against advertising "Come to Cardiff", but half the advertising budget seems to be spent in Cardiff. That raises the question whether the purpose of the advertising budget is to bias debate. Money is being splashed all over prominent advertising sites in Cardiff while there is public consultation to try to ensure that the development corporation is seen in a more positive light.

One does not attract inward investment to Cardiff in the city itself; one attracts it from Bristol, London or elsewhere. It appears that much of the advertising budget is used in an anti-democratic fashion to bias public debate in Cardiff. That is a completely inappropriate use of money. The Secretary of State is probably aware that the Advertising Standards Authority has been asked to rule on whether it is an offence massively to advertise a development that is to be debated in the House of Commons. Perhaps the Under-Secretary, whose idea it may have been to advertise on this flash basis before this debate, can tell us whether this beloved anti-democratic procedure is one of his wizard wheezes.

Mr. Irvine Patnick (Sheffield, Hallam)

Does the hon. Gentleman like it?

Mr. Morgan

It is a matter not of whether I like it but of whether Pembroke constituents like it.

Seven questions remain unanswered, and that is why I shall enthusiastically go into the Division Lobby in support of the reasoned amendment. Those questions should have been answered before Second Reading.

First, does the Secretary of State believe that the geologists and civil engineers, Dr. John Miles, Dr. Stewart Noake and Dr. Gordon Saunders, are wrong in their urban swamp thesis?

Secondly, will the Government encourage the university developments in the central section, linking the city centre and Pierhead?

Thirdly, what is the verdict of the Secretary of State and of Cardiff Bay development corporation on the Ferry road tip being removed or remaining in place? The right hon. Gentlemen did not say anything about that. First the tip was to be moved, then half was to be moved and then none was to be moved. Will it be moved? The Secretary of State will be aware of the massive consequences that has in terms of potential pollution of the water and the economic case for redevelopment of the western side of Cardiff bay.

Fourthly, has ABP agreed to give up some of its rights to water abstraction in Cardiff bay? If not, how will ABP satisfy the NRA that there is a scheme to manage water supplies during dry summers?

Fifthly, why did the Secretary of State allow an environmental impact assessment to be carried out by Liverpool university's environmental associates without any reference to the NRA and to Cardiff city council's environmental health office? When I intervened, the right hon. Gentleman gave an unsatisfactory reply. The matter is in his hands. If he says that an environmental impact assessment should be carried out under the principles of annex 1, the matter must be referred to the appropriate regulatory agencies. It is not adequate to say that the matter was referred to Cardiff Bay development corporation and that it had spoken to the NRA and the city council's environmental health office. If the Secretary of State had said that an environmental impact assessment had to be carried out under the principles of annex 1, so it had to be referred to the regulatory agencies, that would have been done. The right hon. Gentleman must not shirk his responsibility.

My sixth question was raised in an intervention by my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies). What will happen if there is a judicial review or a review via the European Commission, and possibly the European Court of Justice, of the exclusion of the Cardiff bay site of special scientific interest from the special protection area of the lower Severn estuary? If that is not an important issue, the Secretary of State should tell us why he made such a fuss about sending a posse of lawyers to observe the Leybucht bay case in Luxembourg last year. A lot of public money was spent to send those lawyers there. If the verdict did not matter, the right hon. Gentleman should repay that money to the National Audit Office. I shall ensure that the NAO investigates whether that was wholly improper expenditure incurred in observing a case which had no influence on the proceedings of the House and whose findings he intended anyway to spirit away with a wave of his magic wand. If the matter is important, the Secretary of State should explain whether this major legal issue remains to be settled.

The seventh question was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd. The Secretary of State has not referred to the development possibilities for the opera house at Pierhead. He made a statement to the press saying that he was organising a major engineering and feasibility study of the proposal. I should have thought that it was appropriate to say something about what progress has been made—about whether engineering problems have been discovered or whether the right hon. Gentleman is jibbing because he cannot get any private sector support and industry will not back the proposal. This matter is material to the development prospects in the area.

Mr. David Hunt

I have listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman's seven questions. I counted 21 questions, but I shall try to deal with seven. I shall respond in detail in writing and place a copy of my letter before the House. In return, will the hon. Gentleman answer my questions: in principle, is he in favour of the Cardiff bay barrage and will he seek to oppose Second Reading once the reasoned amendment has been disposed of?

Mr. Morgan

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for asking that question. However, the question does not arise, as we do not yet know what the Government will do about our reasoned amendment. The Secretary of State is in a similar position to us. He must remember that he cannot approve a Second Reading if it means giving immediate approval to the barrage. He must wait until he receives the Stoner report. He said that until he received that report he was unable to give the go-ahead to the barrage. Therefore, I do not know why he is attempting to come the raw prawn with the House as if he knew what he was going to do but nobody else did. That gives a biased view and is a complete misstatement of the facts. He cannot put the House right and say that if we all agree with him the barrage can be started straight away. He is not in a position to do that, which is why the debate should be held in late January when we would have the advantage of having read the Stoner report. Without it, there is every reason for all hon. Members to join us and to back our reasoned amendment.

4.50 pm
Mr. Richard Livsey (Brecon and Radnor)

The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) made a number of valid points at the end of his speech about why now is the wrong time to debate this issue. Cardiff bay could be a huge opportunity or an environmental disaster; it could be an employment haven or it could be anti-community; it could mean houses being flooded or it could result in sparkling new skyscrapers. There are many different scenarios.

Mr Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Livsey

I shall not give way at this early stage.

There must be a way through for a scheme to revitalise the docks area of Cardiff but I am sad to say that it appears that this version of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill—the reasoned amendment points out some of its weaknesses—is not it. The Bill is short and it appears that the safeguards that it contains are not entirely adequate. Indeed, it does not carry sufficient groundwater guarantees.

We do not oppose the barrage in principle but we are unhappy about many aspects of the issue. For some reason, the fashion in barrages is adversely affecting my constituency. There is a barrage on the River Tawe at Swansea. That river flows out of my constituency. There is a barrage proposed for the River Taff which also flows out of my constituency. There might be a barrage on the River Usk, which is also a major river flowing out of my constituency. It appears that only the River Wye will have an open flow into the Severn estuary.

Dr. Kim Howells

Give it time.

Mr. Livsey

Indeed, give it time. Eventually that may also be blocked.

Whether we want all of these barrages is an important environmental issue for the whole of south Wales to consider. The costs and on costs of a barrage across the Taff—or certainly the maintenance costs—could amount to £150 million a year according to some of the more pessimistic views. If that is the case, one could say that the £150 million would be better spent in attracting more business to Cardiff without a barrage but possibly with better transport systems or other similar ideas.

The present barrage proposal might not necessarily be essential for the redevelopment of Cardiff bay, which was the point made by the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells). Perhaps a little mud will not put people off investing in the area and that money could still flow in.

There is also a strong environmental factor. The Government agency—the Cardiff Bay development corporation—may be the first body to destroy a site of special scientific interest. That is worth serious consideration. The main objections at the moment involve groundwater. The report by Hydrotechnica has not been available long enough to receive proper consideration. That is an important point because there are other reports in the pipeline which have not yet been published but without which the House cannot give proper consideration to the background of scientific information which could perhaps make us more able to take objective decisions.

Mr. Michael

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way because at the beginning of his speech he made some rather outrageous remarks about the dangers of flooding. We must be very careful and responsible in the House about the way in which we deal with such issues. If the hon. Gentleman has any evidence to support what he said, I hope that he will give us the benefit of it. While doing so perhaps he will tell us whether in raising such a range of objections he is speaking for his party. Some of his colleagues have previously been helpful and supportive of the Bill and we thought that the one or two people in Grangetown who came out against the barrage during the local elections were an aberration among the Liberal Democrats. Indeed, they did very badly as a result of coming out against the barrage at that time. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will enlighten us.

Mr. Livsey

I shall certainly not give a diatribe about the internal politics of Cardiff but I assure the hon. Gentleman that there is a 65 in. rainfall in the Brecon Beacons which might have some impact on flooding around Cardiff bay. That is evidence which one ignores at one's peril.

The bases of sewers in the Cardiff bay area is a serious issue. The fact that large parts of Cardiff were built on made ground in the Grangetown and Riverside area makes analysis difficult and, for the purposes of modelling, very difficult. Some residents are worried that at present there does not appear to be allowance for compensation for damage to property in areas outside the designated area. Many elderly people living in such areas may have to take precautionary measures such as putting damp courses in their houses.

Issues surrounding the Hydrotechnica report need careful analysis. The report has so far failed to produce a model that represents the historical behaviour in terms of time variant water level movement and flows. It seems that most of Hydrotechnica's efforts have been directed towards solving the computer problems that it has met in the modelling. That gives rise to some fears about the report.

One factor causing unease at present and which the Secretary of State must take into account is that, from evidence given to it, the Select Committee stressed in its recommendations that a year was the minimum time necessary to study the impact of a one-year cycle of groundwater. Unfortunately, despite the statements made to the Select Committee and subsequently to the various meetings held by the Cardiff Bay development corporation and others, the attempts during the 12-month period to collect data have been half hearted. From the evidence, it appears that sewer flow data are available only for a very short period, from February 1991 to early April. That is a total of about five weeks out of a possible 52 recommended for the study. Similarly, the approach to understanding the made ground was tardy and data were collected for only one month in July 1991. For those reasons, one must have reservations about whether we have sufficient data to make an objective judgment on the Cardiff bay barrage.

Water quality and pollution are also serious worries in terms of the Taff and of the Ely. The probability of algae blooms occurring and the possibility of that creating a health hazard must be taken into account. The National Rivers Authority's computer model suggests that there will be a bad algal problem—possibly the worst in Britain—in the inland water behind the barrage. That could preclude water sports and could create a serious midge problem and it may be necessary to deploy anti-midge chemicals to control the problem.

I am naturally concerned about the efficacy of the fish passes on the Taff. Salmon, of course, find it difficult to arrive in one piece after going up the valleys because they face many hazards there. None the less, it would be a good idea to give them a chance. The fish pass is an important aspect and it must be properly designed. I trust that the NRA is studying the matter carefully. The provisions concerning bird life in the bay area have had close analysis and do not seem to be entirely adequate.

It would be better to debate the Bill next year because a debate then would be better informed. The idea of the barrage could be good, but we must be certain that all safeguards are in place. It would be better to have a proper, informed debate when all the reports are on the table, when we can all read those reports and when we can come to some conclusions as a result.

5.2 pm

Mr. Ron Davies (Caerphilly)

My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) reassured our hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) that those of us who represent Cardiff constituencies fully supported the redevelopment of Cardiff. I reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth that I wish Cardiff city council and the development corporation well in their attempts to rejuvenate Cardiff and to provide employment and housing in the derelict area of Cardiff. There is no question of reservations on our part about the necessity of the work being done for the redevelopment of Cardiff.

However, we have some reservations—I have three—about the way in which the work is being conducted. First, I am sad that a development corporation is in place. I would far rather that the decisions were taken by people who were accountable to the public under a proper system of democracy. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) made clear his reservations about the way in which the corporation works.

Secondly, I have reservations about the fact that the development corporation seems to have an endless pit from which to draw resources. We know that money is being splashed about in a variety of ways. I do not begrudge Cardiff that expenditure, but I begrudge the fact that my constituency is denied such largesse, and does not have a fair dip in the pool.

Thirdly, I regret the way in which the Welsh Office's spending priorities have been distorted by its fanaticism about putting all the resources into south Cardiff. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd mentioned the way in which Welsh Office expenditure on the national health service had been twisted. I am conscious of the way in which transport expenditure has been skewed towards South Glamorgan. I do not begrudge South Glamorgan receiving that money, but I begrudge the fact that South Glamorgan is receiving the money whereas my county of Mid Glamorgan is not. Over the past four or five years, on the basis of per capita comparisons, Mid Glamorgan has done badly.

With the rundown of basic industries in Mid Glamorgan, we need a proper transport system and a proper infrastructure. We are being doubly disadvantaged by being denied access to reasonable investment in transport and by having to compete with South Glamorgan, which has all the advantages in terms of investment. That makes life difficult for us in the valley communities.

The Secretary of State said that the Bill replaces the private Bill which fell in the previous Session. He rather unkindly implied that there was something undemocratic about the defeat of the private Bill.

Mr. David Hunt

indicated dissent.

Mr. Davies

I am glad to see the Secretary of State shaking his head. I presume that he is denying that he implied that there was anything undemocratic. However, he said on two or three occasions that the private Bill was killed off by a minority—

Mr. Hunt


Mr. Davies

Blocked. The implication is that we somehow subverted the democratic process. I am glad that the Secretary of State is not making that allegation. What point was he trying to make when he emhasised that a "minority" had stopped the Bill proceeding through the House?

Mr. Hunt

I was objecting to the fact that Opposition Members, who were comparatively few in number, had used the democratic process to block the Bill.

Mr. Davies

I fail to see what point the right hon. Gentleman is trying to make. The defeat of the private Bill showed that the Secretary of State carries little clout in the Cabinet. We all know that he tried diligently to get Conservative Members to be present that night so that the Bill would go through. We all know that a three-line Whip operated—[HON MEMBERS: "It did not."] The evidence is in the report of the debate on that April night. I will not rehearse the arguments now.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones), who was so pious in his condemnation of my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd, could not manage to get his act together and vote in a crucial Division. The hon. Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Butler), who challenged my hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones), could not be bothered to vote on that night. The hon. Member for Clwyd, North-West (Sir A. Meyer) could not be bothered to vote. Before the Secretary of State throws around allegations about minorities, he should ask where his hon. Friends were that night when the Government's failure to deliver a majority caused the Bill to be defeated.

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Davies

I will give way, although I want to make progress because other hon. Friends wish to speak.

Mr. Rogers

I hope that my hon. Friend will carry on.

Mr. Davies

The private Bill procedure is inadequate. I am glad that the Secretary of State acknowledged that we used the democratic process. There can be no criticism of us for that. It was abundantly clear from the time when the Bill was introduced that several of us had deep-rooted objections. It was proper for us to use the procedures of the House to achieve the outcome that we wanted.

The Secretary of State mentioned that the process will be reviewed. I hope that the lesson of the Cardiff bay barrage does not result in a new system which is equally at fault being imposed on us. There is a grave danger that a system will be introduced under which private Bills—and we all understand the purpose of private Bills and the fact that they serve a private financial interest—will be pushed through the House at the behest of the Government. That should concern us all, regardless of where we stand in the debate on the Cardiff bay barrage.

We know that, over the years, the Government have subverted the private Bill procedure for their own purposes. One valid parallel with today's proceedings is the great battle—if I can use that expression—that took place in the previous Parliament on the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill, which was presented to Parliament in 1985. Between 1985 and 1988, that Bill was subject to fierce rearguard action by hon. Members who represent the mining group and those of us who are in the conservation lobby. The Bill was designed to destroy a site of special scientific interest on the Orwell estuary known as the Fagbury flats, which were home to about 15,000 waders. It was an extremely important international site for wildlife.

The Felixstowe Docks and Railway Company presented the Bill to override the protection given to the SSSI by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It wanted to extend the docks up the Orwell, which would destroy that site. The Secretary of State of the time approved the scheme—we did not have to have an environmental impact assessment—on the basis of his assertion that the benefits to the national economy outweighed the damage to an internationally important wildlife site. That is precisely the same argument as was put to us by the Secretary of State today.

The Felixstowe docks were subject to certain exemptions at the time of the Bill. They were not subject to the normal restrictive practices that operated in the docks and it was not part of the national dock labour scheme—[Interruption.] I shall explain the importance of that to the Secretary of State in a moment. Those exemptions gave temporary advantages to the docks. However, the judgment of the then Secretary of State was based on the need to allow those docks to expand to benefit from those advantages.

The Government then removed the advantages that the Felixstowe docks once had. They got rid of the national dock labour scheme and, shortly after the Bill was enacted, the docks started to lose their commercial advantage. By the time the SSSI was destroyed, Felixstowe had lost all such advantages. What happened? the port started to lose trade and all the major operators transferred their services from Felixstowe. More than 100 jobs at the port were lost.

The Bill destroyed an SSSI that was an internationally important wildlife site. That private Bill had been whipped through on the champagne vote when—[Interruption.] The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State was not in the House at the time of those votes, so I do not know what he is laughing about. I can assure him that champagne parties were held across the road from the Chamber at 8 o'clock in the morning to ensure that his colleagues voted on Report.

The Government subverted the democratic process in the 1980s and today's Bill is a direct parallel of their previous behaviour. The Secretary of State cannot have it both ways and he must accept the lessons from the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill.

Sir Anthony Meyer (Clwyd, North-Wales)

I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that the dock labour scheme so effectively sabotaged all the other ports in the country—as my colleagues and I consistently said—that Felixstowe derived immense benefit from being out of it. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that, once that scheme was abolished in other ports, Felixstowe lost its unique advantage.

Mr. Davies

I am sorry that I gave way to the hon. Gentleman if that is the best that he can make of the argument. The hon. Gentleman knows that the rationale behind that Bill was to capitalise on the special advantages Felixstowe gained because it was outwith the national dock labour scheme. Of course, when the Government abolished that scheme, Felixstowe lost that advantage, but by that time the damage had been done. The hon. Gentleman should appreciate that.

Mr. Rogers

My hon. Friend has mentioned the parallels with Felixstowe. Does he agree with me that one can also detect the hand of Associated British Ports in the Bill before us? Part of the objection to the Cardiff bay barrage development is the huge financial benefits that Associated British Ports, a private company, will receive as a result of the expenditure of an enormous amount of public money. Besides being a large contributor to the Conservative party, that company has had its hand in many tills. Its chairman, a former Secretary of State for Wales, set the ball rolling some years ago so that the company could maximise its land holdings in the city of Cardiff to the detriment of the residents.

Mr. Davies

My hon. Friend is a far better student than I of the intricacies of Associated British Ports and and his intervention establishes the case beyond doubt.

The Secretary of State has claimed that a balance must be struck between the economic gains to be had from any proposed development and the environmental losses. I accept that; it is at the heart of the debate about Cardiff bay. We must decide whether we attach greater importance to the perceived economic gains or to the need to protect a fragile environment. It is a pity that the case must be determined by assertion. The Secretary of State has asserted that the economic case outweighs the environmental case. However, if we are to benefit from past four years' debates on Cardiff bay and avoid this sort of wrangle in the future, we must have a mechanism to provide a better evaluation of the relative merits of economic gain as opposed to environmental loss. It is a pity that we have not developed that mechanism.

We no longer have a national strategy for the protection of our environment. Following the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, there was a bipartisan agreement on the way in which our environment should be protected. In the past two years, however, that agreement has been reneged on by the Government. They cynically destroyed that agreement when they decided that the Nature Conservancy Council, the Government's advisory body, was to be broken up and put under political control.

However, the Secretary of State has got the tiger by the tail. He set up the Countryside Council for Wales, which was charged with the responsibility of giving him objective scientific advice, but now that he sees fit not to accept that objective scientific advice, he sets it to one side. Earlier, I challenged the Secretary of State to justify that act. It appears that the right hon. Gentleman does not understand the importance of his decision. He does not appreciate that he has set a precedent by setting aside the objective scientific guidance provided by the Countryside Council for Wales.

It is important to put on record the view of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. It wrote to the Secretary of State after he had overridden the advice of the Countryside Council and it set out its objections. The Secretary of State announced his decision about the special protection area at Cardiff bay on 1 November in a press release and the RSPB sent a letter in response which stated: First, your letter dwells on the relative number of birds occurring in Cardiff Bay compared to the Severn as a whole, and on the relative areas involved. Estuarine ecosystems, such as those making up the Severn are not discrete and separate: each component part is integral to the interest of the whole. Birds 'displaced' by destruction of the Taff/Ely estuary cannot simply be accommodated elsewhere in the Severn: food supply and competition factors would prevent this…It was the view put formally to your Department by NCC in March 1990 when they advised that Cardiff Bay was (and is) an integral part of the area which should be designated as SPA. A view subsequently confirmed by the JnCC … Secondly, the Leybucht judgment is cited. We consider that the way it is prayed in aid of this decision subverts the intent of the Directive, which is to safeguard a sufficiency of sites (SPA's) so as to maintain bird numbers. It is not tenable to react by seeking to justify refusal to designate sites or parts of sites by changing the accepted scientific approach to site selection, simply because they are controversial. The RSPB fears that this attitude will blight conservation action on a significant part of the UK's internationally important wildlife resources in future. It is worth spending a moment to consider the logic of the Secretary of State's decision. More than 10 years ago Cardiff bay was selected as a part of the generally important Severn estuary that deserved special protection due to its over-wintering wildlife. On that basis it was designated an SSSI. In 1990, the Government's advisers recommended that, not only should Cardiff bay be protected but, due to its general importance, the whole of the Severn estuary should be included as a special protection area.

Now, the Secretary of State has turned logic on its head. He has said that the estuary as a whole will be an SPA, but the specific district that merited special protection 10 or 12 years ago should be excluded from the overall protection offered the estuary. If that decision is not challenged in the courts, I do not know what will be. The Secretary of State has done himself a disservice. It would have been better if he had accepted the case for designation, but said that he still believed that the economic case was overwhelming and, on that basis, the Government were prepared to make an environmental sacrifice. However, the Secretary of State seems to be trying to cheat on the rules.

I shall now consider the latest development at a European level to standardise protection. At the Hague, between 19 and 21 November, there was a conference on European coastal conservation. The Government were represented at the conference and were signatories to its three major conclusions. The first stated: that there is an urgent need to adopt and implement a European strategy for integrated planning and management of all European coastal zones based on the principles of sustainability and sound ecological and environmental practice". There can be no conceivable circumstances in which the development proposed for Cardiff bay meets any of those criteria.

The conclusions continue: that conservation and sustainable use of coastal zones is one of the fundamental aspects of such a strategy and that accordingly high priority should be given to specific action to implement this". The conference was saying that a high priority should be given to designating areas deserving of protection—in complete contradiction to the decision announced 20 days before by the Secretary of State for Wales.

The third conclusion was: that this strategy should he applied to the coast as a single coherent system including the coastal waters and estuaries and the land directly or indirectly influenced by and influencing the coastal zone". That argument, that the strategy should apply to a single coherent system, lies at the heart of the matter. All the conservation organisations that have opposed the measure have done so on the basis that we cannot set aside and sacrifice a specific district and expect that to have no impact on the greater whole.

The British Government attended that conference and were signatories to its conclusions, as were 20 or 30 of their European partners, organisations including the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Commission. It is difficult to conceive of a more bizarre occurrence. Last week, the Government were putting their name to a declaration that enshrined the principle of the protection of our fragile eco-systems; today—a week later—they present a Bill to the House that is at complete variance with the principles to which they put their name a week earlier.

We need a clear and consistent policy from the Government showing their approach to the protection of our fragile ecosystems if we are not to have increasing conflict between development groups and conservation pressures. I do not believe that debates such as this provide the proper way to reconcile such conflicts, which we must take out of the political arena. One week a certain pressure might be given priority and the next week another one could be given priority. We need a consistent set of policies to protect the environment and ensure that beleaguered communities such as mine in the valleys and those in Cardiff know precisely how they can develop. The Government would do us all—certainly the electors of Cardiff—a great favour if they were to remove the uncertainty about such developments and lay before the House a system for reconciling the conflicts.

If there is one lesson to be learnt from the five Bills presented on the development of the Cardiff bay barrage it is that there are contradictory pressures and almost overwhelming forces on both sides of the argument. Political debates such as this are not the proper way to resolve those conflicts.

5.26 pm
Mr. Gwilym Jones (Cardiff, North)

I fear that the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) allowed his fertile imagination to run away with him and to ignore the facts. He hurled out charges that my hon. Friends the Members for Clwyd, North-West (Sir A. Meyer) and for Warrington, South (Mr. Butler) and I had not had the courtesy to stay to vote in all the Divisions when we last debated the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill. Since he made that charge, I have looked at the records and can assure him of my presence at each of the Divisions at 9.13 pm, 9.29 pm, 10 pm, 12.52 am and 4.11 am. The hon. Gentleman may have missed the fact that for three of those Divisions I acted as a teller.

Mr. Ron Davies

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely correct. I have a copy of the Division list now; I made a mistake and I offer my unreserved apologies. He was recorded as a teller. I should have known better and checked the voting list. As a teller, he did not vote, and I offer him my apologies.

Mr. Jones

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman, and normal relations are restored. I look forward to his future career as Chief Whip of the Labour party.

I shall make my contribution fairly brief because I have a sense of deja vu, or, put more simply, here we go again. Although I do not speak for my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist), who, because of other parliamentary pressures, greatly regrets that he cannot be here, I am sure that I echo his thoughts when I say that the sense of "here we go again" is very much abroad in Cardiff.

I disagree with the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) that now is the wrong time to be debating the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill. It is certainly not too early to be doing so. In Cardiff I am frequently asked why the measure is not yet on the statute book after so much time has been spent on it. I say that as strongly as possible. The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor did not wish to indulge in a diatribe on the politics of Cardiff because that city is, I think, foreign to him. Were he to spend more time in Cardiff, he would realise the importance that many of its citizens attach to the rapid progress of this and many other important measures.

Mr. Livsey

I said that in the context of the fact that not all the reports are out, which means that we cannot have an objective analysis of the issue. In that context, the debate is too early. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will accept that I know much about Cardiff as my grandfather lived there for 50 years.

Mr. Jones

I fear that, like many a good Liberal, the hon. Gentleman is 50 years out of date.

The people of Cardiff want the measure to progress, and the hon. Gentleman would be at variance with that sentiment were he to say otherwise. There is great frustration among the people that a handful—on looking at the voting list I found that it was at most 29—of hon. Members sought to thwart the progress of the previous Bill. That handful dwindled between 9.13 pm and 9.29 pm. The number continued to drop until by the last Division only eight Members were left in the No Lobby, trying to stop the measure progressing for the capital city of Wales.

Mr. Ron Davies

That is correct. But will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the failure of the promoters of the Bill to find 100 Members to close the debate led to the downfall of the measure?

Mr. Jones

I suggest that a moral and intellectual bankruptcy on the hon. Gentleman's side failed to produce any impressive vote against the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill. Although we did not make sufficient progress that night on mere technicalities, there was a clear, even at times a large, majority in favour of the Bill. I accept that we did not have enough Members to satisfy the rules of the House. That is why the proponents of the measure were at the greater disadvantage. I do not count it as a great loss to be defeated by a mere eight.

Mr. Michael

In the spirit of amity in the Chamber tonight, does the hon. Gentleman accept that one thing on which we can all agree is that the private Bill system caused disadvantage to all, whether for or against the barrage? Does he agree that the procedure created many of the disagreements and problems that underlay the arguments which persisted throughout the process until that date?

Mr. Jones

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, but we have moved on and the measure is now a Government Bill. We have the problems of the private Bill behind us and I hope that we can make progress. On behalf of my city and as representative for Cardiff, North, I inform the House that there is great regret that so much has been done which will have to be done again. We are having only our first debate on the Bill—the Second Reading debate—tonight.

The delays which have come to pass so far will pale into insignificance when eventually we can look back on the successful creation of the barrage in Cardiff and the regeneration of the area. It is no short project. It will take a long time to come to pass. The time that we have wasted and the hours that we have spent through the nights will pale into insignificance when it has all happened.

However, I would be failing in my duty if I did not tell my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that there is continuing anxiety about a further point. It is feared that the general election will intervene to frustrate progress on the Cardiff bay barrage. The Opposition have tabled an amendment described as a reasoned amendment which refers to groundwater, consultation and water quality. The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) spoke at great length about the various points in his reasoned amendment, including his reservations that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State might be the arbiter in matters of water quality. He said that he would prefer an independent arbiter. Yet on the whole the hon. Gentleman's speech was lightweight. He made points which essentially were not Second Reading points but points which deserve to be properly considered in Committee. I am sure that they will be considered in Committee.

I was amazed that the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside, who occupies the position of shadow Secretary of State for Wales, could waffle on for so long saying nothing. Even when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State asked whether he supported the central principle in the Bill, and whether he was in favour of the Cardiff bay barrage, he was never prepared to come off the fence and answer the question. He refused to say. He waffled and simply would not come to the point. That was not untypical of his hon. Friends. Perhaps with more credence, they advanced their reservations about parts of the Bill. But in their turn they avoided the central principle of the Bill.

Surely the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside and other Opposition Members cannot be blind to the advantages that the Cardiff bay barrage will bring and the comparative disadvantages that would occur if the barrage was not built. Opposition Members must have researched the matter, but if they have not I remind them that in January 1990 a definitive planning update and economic appraisal statement was published by a group of development consultants. The consultants were Roger Tym and Partners, Conran Roche, Chesterton, and Peat Marwick McClintock. A major part of the study compared the likely outcome of the Cardiff Bay development corporation project with and without the barrage. The analysis of their conclusions is worth recalling.

The study said that there would be 24,850 permanent jobs with the barrage but only 12,700 jobs without it. There would be 24,000 man-years of construction jobs with the barrage but only 11,000 without it. It is calculated that the project will generate 4,774 new homes with the barrage but only 2,543 new homes without it.

Mr. Rogers

I am interested in what the hon. Gentleman says. The views of the valley Members have been badly misrepresented in the debate. It has been suggested that we are selfish and that we do not want the development in Cardiff. That is untrue. I will vote to give Cardiff Bay development corporation any powers, but I do not see how the expenditure of about £400 million of public money will increase economic development in the Cardiff area. That is why I am interested in the report to which the hon. Gentleman refers. Perhaps he will disabuse me if I am ignorant of the advantages, but I understand that the barrage will create an area of water in which people can park boats and which people will be able to see from their houses. It will not add one square inch of land.

I am interested to know how the barrage will create more jobs. Is it expected that people will build factories in Cardiff if their workers can go out fishing at lunchtime or park their boats in the bay? I genuinely want to be converted.

Mr. Jones

I fear that the hon. Gentleman has not done any real research. He cannont have read any of the reports, such as the appraisal statement to which I have referred. How can anyone doubt that the Cardiff bay barrage and the freshwater lake that it would create would result in a total transformation and regeneration of the south Cardiff area? Without the barrage the area will be exactly as the advertisements to which the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) referred suggest. In various places we have seen the two pictures. One shows a stagnant landscape and the other shows a transformed, vibrant landscape. That transformed vibrancy would provide a real incentive to the development. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that if he studies the matter he will realise that that real incentive and that transformation will encourage people to build and expand their horizons. That is where all the extra growth will come from.

I reiterate the figures. I invite the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) to study the report produced by the development consultants. They estimate that there will be 7,440 million sq ft of commercial space with the barrage but only 3,991 million sq ft without it and that the project will achieve £125.55 million of capital investment with the barrage but only £54.2 million without it.

Most interestingly, private sector leverage would occur at a ratio of 7:1 with the barrage but at only 3.5:1 without it. Those effects of transforming our waterside in Cardiff will be brought about only by the barrage. Compared with a barrage-less development, the barrage will bring 49 per cent. extra permanent jobs to Cardiff bay, 47 per cent. extra houses, 54 per cent. extra construction jobs, 46 per cent. extra commercial space and 50 per cent. extra private sector leverage on investment.

Dr. Kim Howells

I am intrigued by the extraordinary exactitude of the hon. Gentleman's figures. Why does the Conservative party appear to have a sexual obsession with damming and impounding flowing water, and why does it see stagnant water as a magnet that will attract jobs?

Mr. Jones

That was a fascinating selection of adjectives, but if the hon. Gentleman wants to go into sexual fetishes I refuse to follow him.

The research has been thorough and it has been carried out by development consultants and others. What it describes will come to pass; the essential catalyst will be the construction of the barrage. Obviously, construction jobs depend on that, but there will also be a transformation of the landscape. I invite Opposition Members quietly to reflect on the pictures in the advertisements of the Cardiff bay development corporation. They show the difference between stagnation and a vibrant landscape. The figures are not mine; they have been excellently researched by the consultants.

Mr. Morgan

I find the hon. Gentleman's touching faith in the veracity of the advertising breathtaking. He reminds me of the old lady who was once discovered wandering disconsolately around a supermarket, unsure of what to buy. The supermarket manager asked her why she did not know what to buy. She replied that her telly was broken, so she had seen no advertisements. The hon. Gentleman similarly seems to think that what advertisements say must be true. As a Member of Parliament, he should involve himself in discovering whether these advertisements mean anything and whether the consultants' reports mean anything.

We have all seen consultants' reports commissioned in our time. The consultants always ask the person paying for the reports what he wants them to say. If they are paid for saying that, they will say it, as they have done on this occasion. The hon. Gentleman must use his independent judgment to put a value on the consultants' figures, which have been dreamt up out of thin air.

Mr. Jones

The hon. Gentleman brought a smile to my face then. For a moment I detected a return to the old good humour that used to typify his contributions—he approached every fresh problem with a fresh joke.

Mr. Rogers

It was not a very good one.

Mr. Jones

I agree. It is just that I was pleased to hear a note of humour that has been absent for too long returning to the hon. Gentleman.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, West should raise his sights above his cynicism. Certainly there is a place for cynicism and we should all be critical from time to time, but this project has been so well researched that the time for cynicism has passed. Now is the time for a grand vision of what can be brought about in Cardiff bay. It can only come about if the barrage is built. The case for it deserves better than the cynical examination to which it has been subjected.

As I was saying, the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside refused to get off the fence. I can recall times when the hon. Gentleman voted with me in favour of the former Bill. We were almost appreciative of his support, which was offered in the true bipartisan spirit that has characterised this measure.

What has happened to the Leader of the Opposition, whose name is among those heading the amendment? I can remember him saying at the Dispatch Box that if other business had not kept him away he would have supported the Bill in the Lobbies.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Would my hon. Friend concede that the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) are following that excellent precept for leadership—"I must follow them because I am their leader"?

Mr. Jones

I cannot top that.

Where is the consistency of the Leader of the Opposition on this matter, important as it is to the capital city of Wales and to south Wales? The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside padded out his remarks with artificial indignation about the lord mayor of the capital city of Wales, councillor Jeffrey Sainsbury, having been appointed by my right hon. Friend as a director of the Cardiff Bay development corporation. The hon. Gentleman tried to suggest that that was wrong. I believe that it struck the right balance. There are positions for five local councillors on the development corporation—two from Cardiff, two from South Glamorgan and one from Vale of Glamorgan council—

Mr. Michael

The hon. Gentleman will not help his right hon. Friend by pursuing that. I was chief whip of the city Labour group when the arrangements were made, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that his suggestion is way out of order. Before the 1987 election an arrangement was made for the period following that election, so the suggestion of evenhandedness means that the decisions of the voters of Cardiff can be disregarded. That is not a sound argument, and I suggest that the hon. Gentleman will draw his right hon. Friend into deeper waters by pursuing it.

Mr. Jones

The hon. Gentleman does not anticipate me very well; that is not the point that I was trying to make, which is that the Labour party sought after elections this year to take not just two, three or four but every one of the local council seats on the Cardiff Bay development corporation. How did that constitute a balanced approach? My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made the right contribution by maintaining the bipartisan approach, after taking advice from the council. He appointed one Conservative and one Labour member from the Cardiff city council while accepting the three Labour nominations from the other two councils.

Mr. Michael

If the hon. Gentleman reads the speech by the Secretary of State's predecessor, he will find that he promised that five places would be set aside to be decided by the local authorities. Those local authorities contain the number of Labour members that serve on them due to the choice of the electorate. Again I suggest that this line of argument is unsound. The hon. Gentleman is not helping his right hon. Friend: he is making matters worse.

Mr. Jones

I do not accept that line of argument from the hon. Gentleman. My right hon. Friend can choose to appoint whomsoever he thinks fit. Naturally, he listens to recommendations from the local councils, as he clearly did on this occasion, but he was absolutely right not to adopt all their suggestions.

The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside cited the example of Cardiff city centre's redevelopment around the St. David's centre. He mentioned that as an example of partnership. The person who should be given the credit as the father of the redevelopment of the city centre and of the fine St. David's centre was the late councillor Ron Watkiss. It was his place on the development corporation that fell vacant because of his untimely death before the local elections, and the appointment of the lord mayor followed on naturally from that. The advantages accruing from the redevelopment of the city centre, as cited by the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside, have been maintained by upholding councillor Watkiss' guiding spirit.

Mr. Michael

In that case, will the hon. Gentleman tell us whether the occupancy of the development corporation board place will change when the occupancy of the lord mayor's seat changes?

Mr. Jones

That will depend on what happens when the incumbent's term expires—as the hon. Gentleman knows full well.

Mr. Rogers

Should not the more important issue of the large salaries being paid to these local authority members be looked at? Does not the hon. Gentleman think it wrong in principle that elected councillors should be paid such salaries on these corporation bodies? These duties are merely an extension of their usual council duties. It is fair enough for the councillors to claim the normal allowances, but the hon. Gentleman's proposition would give them a biased view of what is in the interests of their citizens. If they are receiving thousands of pounds as members of Cardiff Bay development corporation, they are unlikely to look dispassionately at the interests of their wards. In all fairness, they would be under a great deal of pressure.

Mr. Jones

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's fear. I am confident that councillors such as John Philips, Lord Brookes and Paddy Kitson will do their duty as members of the corporation and as local councillors. I do not know the name of the other Labour nomination for the Vale of Glamorgan council, but I know of Jeff Sainsbury. The small salaries that they would be paid as directors of the corporation will not sway them. The work is not merely an extension of the work that they already do. They will be expected to put a great deal of time into their offices and deserve to be compensated.

The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside spoke about co-operation. Co-operation is not always evident in Cardiff. South Glamorgan council is seeking to usurp the planning authority that is normally the preserve of Cardiff city council. An example is the medicentre at the University Hospital of Wales. The Labour-controlled South Glamorgan council is trying to set up a commercial development on a national health centre site and wants to be judge and jury in its own court. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside is not in his place. If he were, I would ask him to try to persuade South Glamorgan council away from the fait accompli that is threatened. Developments such as the medicentre should be situated in Cardiff bay. That would be better than further intensifying the use of the University Hospital of Wales site, with all the consequences for my constituents who live nearby.

I had an exchange with the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) about the old BBC offices. He was right to remind us about the granting of planning permission. I apologise to no one for doing all that I can to frustrate office development on that site. The most obvious place for that development is Cardiff bay. However, I am happy for claims to be advanced by Merthyr, Pontypridd or Rhondda, or by anyone else. I shall continue to oppose over-intensive use of the site because that has grave traffic implications. Conservative councillors and I managed to persuade Labour-dominated Cardiff city council to turn down the scheme. The issue went to appeal and the Welsh Office found that as the site was already in office use it should remain in such use. I am sorry that the Secretary of State could not have reached a different conclusion.

South Glamorgan council offered to facilitate the development by providing a new junction at Caerphilly road and Manor way where there was potential for grid-locking traffic in north Cardiff into the constituency of Pontypridd and possibly Caerphilly. I agreed with the hon. Member for Cardiff, West when he suggested that future expansion of University College, Cardiff was unlikely to be able to proceed in the north of the city. That is right, and I rushed to agree with the hon. Gentleman. I should like to see a statutory green belt policy applied in the north of Cardiff, possibly using the line of the M4. Other areas south of the M4 should also be protected by a statutory green belt. South Glamorgan council persists in trying to develop green fields and should be stopped by a green belt policy.

It has been suggested that the Opposition amendment is merely a cosmetic exercise to cover the cracks in the Opposition. It is felt that Labour's approach to the Bill and to other matters will prove embarrassing at the election and could cost Labour votes in the marginals in south Wales. Where does Labour stand on this issue? Perhaps in his winding-up speech the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) will tell us.

It was thought that there was a bipartisan approach because the previous Bill was promoted not only by the development corporation but by Labour-controlled South Glamorgan council. It is perhaps germane to recall the words of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), who said, "If we can change our policies to win, we can change them back just as quickly afterwards." The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside previously supported the Bill, and the Leader of the Opposition has said that he would have supported it if he could have been here.

It will be interesting to see how Opposition Members vote on Second Reading. There is already a tendency in south Wales for the Opposition to be identified as Luddites. The leftward shift of Cardiff city council means that it is now moving to oppose the Bill, and I understand that the council will petition against it. It brought out a long-winded summons which concludes that the council will oppose the Bill. However, it is a summons for a meeting of the council at 8 am. What opposition is the council trying to avoid by calling a meeting at that time? Suggestions of cosmetic exercises and Luddites could be very much to our political advantage. We could have another London factor leading to votes for Conservatives in south Wales.

I hope that we can put all that behind us. The Bill presents a tremendous opportunity for regeneration and transformation of the capital city of Wales. It will lead to many jobs and new homes and environmental improvements. Not least, it will improve the flood defences of our city. Cardiff grew dramatically in the last century because of coal, the railways and the port. That has been reversed since the 1920s because coal has not been exported in such quantity and the tendency has been for coal to be imported through the port of Cardiff. The Bill is an opportunity for a 21st century rebirth of our capital city through 25,000 new permanent jobs and new housing. A quarter of that housing will be social housing, which is necessary for that part of our capital city and for south Wales generally. The jobs will benefit not only Cardiff because their impact will be felt over a much wider area.

It has been overwhelmingly proved that the Bill will be of tremendous advantage to Cardiff. We must grasp the opportunity. All the problems are envisaged or are being tackled. Now is the time for vision, not cynicism. Let us put behind us all the time-wasting of the past.

5.59 pm
Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)

I was looking forward to saying what a good-tempered debate we were having, but then the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones) was mischievous at the end of his speech. I am sure that, deep down under that mischievous surface, he appreciates that to support a reasoned amendment is to make a reasoned argument. He knows the enthusiasm with which I have supported the barrage project since its earliest days. He will not succeed in dividing the Labour party. He did not help his case by accusing Labour Members of being Luddites when all of us know the tremendous work that has been done by Labour members of local authorities to encourage inward investment and the redevelopment of south Wales. That is true not only of Cardiff city council and South Glamorgan county council but of other Labour-controlled county councils in south Wales.

When I spoke at the end of the debate on the private Bill, in response to the comments of a number of my hon. Friends, I pledged my support for the needs of the valleys. I appealed to my hon. Friends not to deny Cardiff the development associated with the barrage and said that in return I would support, with every possible effort, the redevelopment of the valleys. Despite the efforts to bring jobs into Cardiff, unemployment is very high there. Cardiff, Central is the constituency with the highest unemployment in Wales while Cardiff, South and Penarth and Cardiff, West are among the 10 constituencies with the most unemployment. There is a considerable unemployment problem to be overcome, and the regeneration of Cardiff is as essential as the regeneration of the valley communities represented by my hon. Friends.

Our amendment states three important principles. The first is that nothing should be done to weaken the protections available to any who might—I stress "might"—be adversely affected by groundwater. Secondly, it says that the results of the public consultation on the Secretary of State's expert advice should be available to the House at this stage, but that the exercise is not yet finished. Thirdly, it says that there should be independent scrutiny involved in the event of any disagreement between the National Rivers Authority and the Cardiff Bay development corporation over water quality. Other issues have been touched on in the debate, but are not part of the reasoned amendment and I want to ensure that the House is not misled and that the voice of my constituents does not go unheard on these points.

I welcome the Secretary of State's reference to additional finance. We have been worried by the impact of the recession at a time when there is a danger that the development might be distorted because of the need to keep moving and to retain confidence.

Three issues have not yet been fully dealt with. The first is housing. The development corporation has given an undertaking that 25 per cent. of the housing constructed will be social housing for rent. That percentage does not include student housing, which was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan), or sheltered housing for the elderly for sale. That undertaking is important because it gives the existing community an undertaking that its children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to stay in south Cardiff. In view of the housing crisis in Cardiff, that contribution is not insignificant, although many of us would like the proportion to be even higher.

The second issue is training. People living in the area, especially young people, should be given the opportunity to have the training necessary to give them the chance to get the jobs that will result from the redevelopment. An important start has been made through work between the development corporation and the private sector employers; it is a fragile start, but it should be encouraged and placed at the forefront of people's minds as the development proceeds.

The third issue is relocation of existing businesses. That has been particularly difficult, because many businesses in older areas where the rental levels and the value of the land are low are having problems because of the impact of the recession. I hope that the Secretary of State will take to his Cabinet colleagues the experience of Cardiff and suggest that there be a change in compensation legislation. In France, for example, compensation for a public development is value plus 20 per cent., which allows an element of flexibility to encourage movement when that is in the greater public interest.

The civil servants in the Welsh Office, the people working in the Cardiff Bay development corporation, and those in local authorities who have helped firms to relocate without the loss of jobs have been in difficulties because of the system that we have. A change is necessary, and I hope that we learn from this. Because of existing legislation, the Secretary of State cannot be more flexible, but I hope that he will continue to be as positive as he can and will encourage his civil servants to be as positive as they can on all these issues.

Hon. Members have spoken about representation on the development corporation. The Labour party has always said that there is no need for a development corporation. We redeveloped the centre of Cardiff on a cross-party basis and in co-operation with the private sector. The hon. Member for Cardiff, North was, like me, a member of the council during that important time. It is sad that the undertaking given by a previous Secretary of State, Lord Crickhowell—to provide five places to be decided by the local authorities—should be cast in doubt. I had not intended to touch on this matter today, but I must correct the hon. Member for Cardiff, North. It may have been a mistake by the then Secretary of State, but he gave a promise and I hope that, when the opportunity arises, the hon. Member for Cardiff, North will recognise the benefit that the councillor who was not accepted, councillor Geoff Mungham, would have brought to the operation of the development corporation. I am sure that it was not a personal decision, but it was a mistake.

My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) referred to the advertising budget. The main criticism of the Cardiff Bay development corporation is that it has not made its case locally as sensitively as it might have done, and has left it up to me, the county councils and others to do so. It is that rather than the spending of money in the area that is open to criticism.

My hon. Friend made a number of telling points. I understand his point about the location of the Welsh health common services authority. I would hardly not welcome jobs coming to my constituency, but I recognise the validity of his case. I remind him that I have given an undertaking that I will work hard in co-operation with him and other colleagues to regenerate the economy of the whole area.

Dr. Kim Howells

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend's latter remarks, and I hope that the common services authority will flourish in the bay and will bring more employment to the area. However, my observations were directed at the way in which the decision was arrived at by, among other people, the Welsh Office.

Mr. Michael

I accept the validity of my hon. Friend's point, which he made well.

My hon. Friend also referred to Techniquest. I had the pleasure the other week of visiting the science centre in Toronto and seeing examples of equipment from Techniquest. I saw its logo used in that centre. The Secretary of State has taken an interest in this. It is now moving into such sectors as chemistry, in which it is difficult to arouse public interest. I hope that it will be encouraged to develop naturally, in the way and the character that it assumed when it was developing under the innovative approach of Professor Beetlestone and his colleagues.

I am sure that we want the project to be ambitious and a world leader and that everyone would unite in that aspiration. The problem is that we need the cash to develop the project, and that is where the relevance of the barrage comes into the equation in terms of development in south Cardiff.

I agree also with my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Pontypridd on the importance of the centre for the performing arts. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), who has a love of opera, might agree with that, as long as the benefit of Welsh National Opera is retained and developed in south Wales and is of benefit to all parts of Wales and not only of the capital. It is important, of course, that other performing arts are involved.

When we consider the leverage figures on the options, with or without the barrage, there can be no doubt of the importance of the barrage, even if that is discounted by a percentage. Let us say that the leverage of private sector investment is 3.5:1 without the barrage and 7:1 with it. There would be 12,700 net jobs without the barrage and 24,850 with it. There would be a net value of minus £166 million without the barrage and a positive net value of £301 million with it. These figures are telling. With the barrage, there is an opportunity to secure the major investment, the major draw of jobs to the area and the major positive changes in the environment, in housing and in benefit to my constituents that we want to see. I recognise now that my hon. Friends who represent valley constituencies do not wish to obstruct those opportunities, although there have been occasions in the past when I have had momentary doubts about that. However, those times have past.

As the percentage of the development has been discussed, it is surely right to refer to the courage that has been shown by those who have supported it from the beginning. The hon. Member for Cardiff, North mentioned councillor Ron Watkiss. I have spoken on previous occasions about the involvement of councillor John Reynolds, to whom I pay tribute. It is sad that neither of those cross-party colleagues is present to see their efforts come to fruition.

I pay tribute also to the courage of South Glamorgan county council in creating a flagship at the heart of the development in south Wales. It is interesting that the county council can claim to have saved nearly £2.5 million already as a result of the development in south Cardiff. As it disposed of the former county headquarters to an inward investor, about 500 jobs have come to the city. Basically, and more importantly, the county council showed leadership and confidence in going forward into the development. As a result, others—especially in the private sector—shared the authority's confidence and went in behind it.

I am disappointed that the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) made a lightweight contribution to the debate. I asked him to substantiate his outrageous and unsupported suggestion that houses would be in danger of being flooded, and he failed to do so. I asked him to tell us whether he was speaking for his party, and he failed to do so. A common misapprehension of those who have not gone into these matters seriously is that the construction of a physical barrage across Cardiff bay will prevent flow out of the rivers. The barrage will, of course, be fitted with sluices to pass river flow when tide levels permit. It is not always realised that flow out of the rivers does not occur at high tides in present circumstances due to the presence of the mass of tidal water in the Bristol channel.

It is clear, therefore—this was not in dispute when these issues were considered by the Select Committee—that the main beneficial effect of the barrage will be in excluding the high tide levels in the bay and the rivers. The barrage has a generally neutral effect on levels due to high river discharges. There is, however, a considerable question mark over the flood levels and what will be needed to deal with them in the event of global warming and the continuing rise of sea levels. In such circumstances we might thank our lucky stars for the existence of the barrage, which would provide protection. Alternative investment would have to be massive to protect Cardiff from the danger of flooding.

During the Select Committee's deliberations the danger of groundwater was at issue, not flooding. When I questioned the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor about that, he told the House that 65 in of rain falls in the Brecon Beacons. That was less than helpful. It is clear that the hon. Gentleman has not researched the danger of groundwater before coming to the Chamber to pontificate about it. It is clear also that he does not understand flooding issues generally.

I have been concerned from the beginning whether the building of the barrage will give my constituents a better chance of a job, will increase their chance of a decent home, will improve their environment and will offer training opportunities. At the same time, it is necessary to consider the drawbacks. That is why my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West and I have always considered groundwater to be of crucial importance. I am not sure whether it is wise to use expressions such as "urban squalor" when they are not justified by scientific evidence. I recognise that that was a quote from one of the individuals on whom the campaigners against the barrage have placed great store. It is important to scrutinise all the evidence, and equally it is important not to worry people living in areas of Cardiff where there is no threat of a rise in groundwater. For that reason, my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd was wise not to enter into the groundwater argument.

That is why I sought the independent advice of Glyn Jones—now Professor Glyn Jones—and provided him with a brief, which was to be as searching and critical as possible in his study, the results of which would be made public, irrespective of whether they damaged the case for the barrage. The brief was provided also on the condition that the Cardiff Bay development corporation, and Hydrotechnica subsequently, would make available all reports and raw data required by him in preparing his advice to me.

In his original report, Professor Glyn Jones stated that the consultants had built in a generous safety factor that had improved confidence in the calculations used for predictive purposes. He added that people living in the affected area could be considerably more assured than had previously been possible about the likely effect of the proposed barrage on groundwater conditions. Since then we have had the Hydrotechnica report, on which opponents placed such considerable emphasis.

There are a couple of factors that Professor Glyn Jones as an independent adviser has drawn to my attention. They should be considered in addition to the reassurance that has already come from Hydrotechnica, as well as from Professor Lloyd, who scrutinised the report for Cardiff city council. This will be prior to the detailed scrutiny that the Secretary of State's adviser will be undertaking. It will be important for us to read his findings and I regret that they are not before us for the debate.

Professor Glyn Jones says, first, that the terms of reference were agreed between the expert technical advisers to the corporation and the petitioners. Secondly, he observes that Hydrotechnica was free to include such work as it considered necessary over as large an area as it deemed appropriate. In short, the terms of reference were to be interpreted as guidelines and not as a straitjacket.

In the time available, I cannot go into the detail of Professor Glyn Jones's comments. I am merely saying that it is reassuring to those of us who have been looking forward to the Hydrotechnica results to give us a sound foundation on which to pass judgment on the groundwater issue. He tells me that the report showed the geological succession identified from previous investigations was confirmed as being fundamentally correct. He considers that the greatest advance has been made in the additional work on made ground. It is significant that about one third of the boreholes drilled into the made ground were dry and that the others showed only a thin saturated zone. All the evidence points to rapid vertical recharge and equally rapid horizontal drainage.

It was Professor Glyn Jones's conclusions that Hydrotechnica had fulfilled the requirements of the agreed terms of reference without conceding any independence of action, that it had confirmed the general understanding of the hydrogeology of the area that was presented in previous works and added considerably to knowledge of the response of the made ground to natural and artificial inputs, that it had identified and quantified all but a few of the separate elements that make up the complex integrated system and demonstrated a functional water balance of flow through this system in support of its conceptual version of the model. The professor said: One can be satisfied that in their numerical model the consultants have incorporated as much relevant information as is practicable, and that this model provides as reasonable a simulation of the prevailing conditions as is likely to he obtained. He concluded: In their most probable version, the predicted rises in the critical areas of less than 0.1 metre should cause no concern, and are less than those predicted in the WEP report. Inclusion of the extreme cases as a safety factor results in no significant difference, except for a few identifiable localities where land drainage works would be advisable to allay any concern among residents. That is an extremely important reassurance, and when we have the observations of the Secretary of State's adviser, it should help to allay the considerable fears that were aroused during the debates on the Bill.

As to environmental matters and sites of special scientific interest, I believe that a mistake was made in characterising the Leybucht bay case as being relevant to Cardiff bay, because it dealt with construction works in a special protection area already designated under the EEC birds directive, which establishes a strict regime of development and control within such areas.

In the case of other areas, such as Cardiff bay and the Severn estuary—which together may be being considered for designation as special protection areas—the Leybucht judgment made it clear that member states have a discretion to take various factors into account, including economic considerations of benefit to local people. As my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) emphasised, the Leybucht finding was important, but it is not relevant to the Cardiff bay argument.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly for his support today and for recognising that arguments must be balanced. I acknowledge his great concern about the impact of development on estuaries and on wildlife generally. It is a question of disagreeing over the analysis of the impact of developing the bay area. In my view, from all the evidence I have seen, the Secretary of State was right not to include Cardiff bay in the Severn estuary for European designation.

The precedent argument, made by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in particular, does not in itself make a strong case, for there was no real interest in protection prior to the barrage development. Secondly, as to the SSSI defence, I studied the paperwork that was involved at the time of the SSSI designation, and discovered that there was no consultation with local authorities. There was simply an instant decision. There was no process of debate of the kind that my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly rightly said there ought to be when such matters are being discussed.

It is sad that the Cardiff bay development has become a political football between warring factions. I am at one with my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly in his assertion that there is a need to take such issues out of the party political scene, and out of the scene as between those who want to see development and those who value environmental protection.

The Opposition's amendment asks the House to acknowledge that the existing Secretary of State for Wales, or any future Secretary of State, should not have the power to weaken the protection afforded to anyone who might —and I emphasise "might"—be affected detrimentally by any rise in groundwater. That reassurance should not be taken away from people.

We also regret that we do not know the outcome of the consultation or the conclusions of the Secretary of State's adviser and his comments on the work undertaken by Hydrotechnica. Reference has been made to the lack of public debate. Perhaps that is due to fears of a Select Committee among those who would have to give evidence. One of the Clerks told me that lawyers tend to regard the members of Select Committees as remote gods to be propitiated rather than as right hon. and hon. Members requiring to be persuaded. Perhaps it is that which has made Hydrotechnica and others reluctant to provide answers that would be helpful to the public.

As for water quality, it is important that there should be independent verification of water standards. The National Rivers Authority is unsatisfactory, and the Cardiff Bay development corporation is unaccountable and is the creature of the Secretary of State. There should be independent verification of water quality to guide the Secretary of State, or to adjudicate. The Secretary of State said that those four issues could be addressed. Let him tell the House that they will be addressed by the House, because they are all important in enabling us to unite in supporting this important development for south Cardiff.

6.24 pm
Mr. Paul Murphy (Torfaen)

This afternoon's short debate has highlighted a number of issues regarding the development of Cardiff, and in particular the Bill's major defects. As was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies), the Bill has been both hastily and badly drafted. It is also ill-thought-out, and as a consequence it is deeply flawed.

Despite the fact that there have been four private or public Bills relating to the Cardiff bay barrage area, the enormous controversy that the issue has aroused in Cardiff, the House, and the whole of Wales, and that, quite properly, feelings have run high on both sides of the argument, the Bill is so sloppy and so obviously the work of the dead hand of the Treasury that it is a legislative clanger.

The Bill provides insufficient and inadequate safeguards against groundwater flooding; fails to ensure proper water quality; allows the Secretary of State despite his earlier remarks—to overrule proper and necessasry protection against the risk of flooding; and gives only the most cursory attention to public consultation with those Cardiff residents who will be most affected. Given everything that has occurred over the past few months and years, the Bill is so inept and clumsy that I wonder about the judgment and common sense of all those who have been involved in the bay project or in the Cardiff Bay development corporation.

My hon. Friends the Members for Caerphilly, for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones), and for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) commented that the role played by the corporation in the past few months has been less than exemplary. Perhaps that is inevitable, because the corporation is accountable to no one. If it had been, the latest and most disastrous attempt at public consultation would not have put the whole project in some jeopardy, as it has done.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) referred to the development corporation's poor attempt—backed as it is by the Welsh Office—to secure some degree of public consultation on groundwater flooding and other matters over the past few months. My hon. Friend said that the corporation has a public relations budget of millions of pounds, but there is no doubt in my mind that it has fluffed it.

Even the local Conservative party made a better attempt at trying to persuade the people of Cardiff to become involved in some form of consultation in respect of the bay development. I have a copy of a leaflet that the Conservative party in the constituency of the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist) published. It states: Your Conservative MP Ian Grist wants to know your views on the proposed Cardiff Bay Barrage. If you want to comment please fill out the questionnaire on the back page." I am bound to say that that questionnaire is a little inept and certainly very partial. The reader is asked to tick one or more of the boxes shown against four statements. The first is, I am in favour of the barrage. The second is, I am against the barrage. The third is, "I don't know"; and the fourth is, I am interested in joining the Conservative Party. Please send me further details. At least that represents some sort of attempt to persuade the people of Cardiff to express their views on the groundwater problems.

As many of my hon. Friends have rightly pointed out, the development of south Cardiff should have been placed in the hands of South Glamorgan and Cardiff city councils. St. David's hall is one of the finest concert halls not only in the United Kingdom, but in Europe. It was built because the city council—it does not matter whether it was Conservative or Labour—was responsible for the creation of the town centre and the St. David's centre. Similarly, county hall and Atlantic wharf were created by South Glamorgan county council.

Those two councils have provided excellent examples of the way in which local authorities, working together, and working with the public and private sectors and the Welsh Office, were able to develop Cardiff as the Cardiff Bay development corporation will never be able to do. With all its money, its experts, its public relations budget and its colonels and generals, the corporation has failed to reassure residents about flooding, or to gain the confidence of the people of Cardiff.

Judging by what I have heard today, so many senior officers—colonels, brigadiers and generals—are now running various bodies in Wales that I suspect that, despite the best efforts of the Secretary of State for Defence, we shall have an extra regiment there. We could, perhaps, call it the Royal Quango Regiment of Wales; that would accord with the impression gained by many who are involved in public affairs in the Principality.

None of it comes as a surprise to me. For many years Cwmbran, which I represent, was run by a development corporation. Towards the end of its life, the corporation became increasingly out of touch with the people of the area. I do not want to wish that experience on the people of Cardiff. Labour has pledged to phase out the Cardiff Bay development corporation, and to return its functions and resources to our two local authorities in South Glamorgan. That does not mean that the south of Cardiff should not be developed; it means that the work will be carried out with much more sensitivity and accountability.

My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) rightly mentioned the industry that is being introduced to the area. We must not forget, however, that unemployment is worse in the Welsh capital than it is in many of the south Wales valleys—worse, certainly, than it is in my constituency. Butetown has a 22 per cent. unemployment rate. In Adamstown, 700 are out of work; in Grangetown, 650; in Splott, 600; and, in Rumney, over 1,200. In the whole of Cardiff, at least 15,000 are jobless and—that does not take into account the 30 fiddles that the Government have introduced into the unemployment figures over the past few years.

South Cardiff needs manufacturing jobs—well-paid, full-time jobs. It needs companies that are not afraid of trade unions. We need more than pretty, cosmetic jobs that fit the Cardiff bay image.

Housing should be another key priority. Thousands of people are lingering on Cardiff's housing waiting lists; there are hundreds of homeless in our capital. We need much more rented and low-cost housing in the Cardiff bay area than the Bill would allow. The 25 per cent. proportion about which the Secretary of State has boasted was included only because the corporation's Labour representatives were anxious to ensure a proper allocation of resources. The last thing that that part of Cardiff needs is more of the expensive yuppie houses that have been built in the London docklands, at the expense of many residents. However, the housing allocation conferred by the Bill simply is not good enough.

Notwithstanding what I have said, the essence of our reasoned amendment does not concern housing or manufacturing jobs, important though both those aspects are. It concerns the environment. A good deal of criticism has been thrown at our councils, but they would never have been responsible for the miscalculation and mismanagement that we observe not only in this fourth Bill, but in the actions of the development corporation.

We must provide the strongest possible safeguards against the historic problems of flooding in parts of Cardiff. As my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly has pointed out, we must adopt a sensitive and sympathetic attitude to the birds and other wildlife in the bay; we must also pay close attention to water quality in the bay and the rivers that flow into it, not only now but later. All those principles underlie our reasoned—and reasonable—amendment.

Ultimately, of course, Cardiff will become a capital city that is both prosperous and the cultural, administrative and political centre of Wales—a city that is no longer divided between north and south—only if our economy is strong, our people are decently housed, our education and training policies are as good as any in Europe and our concern for the environment is genuine. I believe, along with my right hon. and hon. Friends, that the people of Cardiff, and those of Wales as a whole, realise that all that will be possible only with the return of a Labour Government. I urge the House to vote for the amendment.

6.36 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Bennett)

Let me begin by wishing the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) a very happy 43rd birthday. I can think of better ways of spending a birthday than defending the impossible, as the hon. Gentleman has just done from the Dispatch Box.

This has been an interesting debate. Interesting speeches have been made not only by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones), but by the hon. Members for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells), for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan), for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey), for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) and for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), and by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones).

I am sure that we were all surprised when the hon. Member for Torfaen said that only a "cursory look" had been given to the Bill. Some of us had to sit here for thirteen and a half hours on 16 April to debate just two amendments to the private Bill; the House of Lords debated Second Reading of a previous Bill for two hours, and Third Reading for 50 minutes. A House of Lords Select Committee sat for 14 days, and a House of Commons Select Committee for 27. Since November 1989, a total of 25.5 hours has been spent in the House of Commons on this Bill and the private Bills that preceded it. I do not think that anyone else would describe that as cursory.

Mr. Murphy

I thank the Minister for his good wishes. His statistics are impressive, but, when I used the word "cursory", I was referring specifically to the lack of public consultation about groundwater flooding, rather than the number of hours devoted to the four Bills that we have been considering.

Mr. Bennett

A three-month consultation on the Hydrotechnica report is now taking place, and will conclude at the end of the year. There will be ample opportunity for the people of Cardiff to examine the entire consultation document—or summaries of it—and to take part in the consultation. We shall welcome their views, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will encourage them to write to us. It is important that we hear all kinds of views.

The barrage scheme is one of the largest civil engineering projects in Europe. Only the channel tunnel project is larger. It would produce a freshwater lake of some 500 acres and more than eight miles of waterfront. As the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth said, it would produce between 25,000 and 30,000 new jobs in the area and regenerate a large part of one of our greatest capital cities. On those grounds alone, we are right to support the Bill.

I intend to deal briefly, in the short time available to me, with some of the points that were made during the debate by Opposition Members. I shall ensure that the major points raised by hon. Members that I am unable to answer now are dealt with in correspondence. Copies will be placed in the Library.

The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside referred to clause 21(2). He said that the Secretary of State will be able to weaken its provisions. We have no intention of weakening the powers provided for in clause 21 concerning groundwater protection. We intend to ensure that the protection that has been given by way of assurance will be given. The important point is that the House will have the opportunity, by means of affirmative resolution, to consider the regulations that are made.

Mr. Barry Jones


Mr. Bennett

I see that the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside wants to intervene. I shall give way to him, though he was not prepared to give way to me during his speech.

Mr. Jones

Why should we believe the Under-Secretary of State and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales? They both said that they believed in the virtues of the poll tax. Now they denounce it.

Mr. Bennett

I do not intend to enter into a debate about that. However, the hon. Gentleman opposed the rates in July 1974 when he stood at this Dispatch Box. Now he wants to return to the rates. That is not a very productive road down which to travel. We have said at the Dispatch Box that there will be no weakening of the assurances given on groundwater.

Mr. Michael


Mr. Morgan


Mr. Bennett

I have only 19 minutes left in which to deal with detailed points and have already given way twice, but I shall give way again, first to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth and then to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West. They will be the last interventions that I shall allow.

Mr. Michael

Does the Minister not accept that he cannot bind his successors? It may be his intention, as well as the intention of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, not to exercise the power to weaken the groundwater protection, but it would be possible for their successors so to do, during the brief period between now and the general election, were there to be another Secretary of State for Wales. Does he agree that people need to be reassured? That was the point raised both by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West and by me. We have sought the best possible reassurance for inclusion in the Bill.

Mr. Bennett

The hon. Gentleman can rest assured that any Conservative Secretary of State for Wales will honour the pledge that I have given. In the unlikely event of a Labour Government coming to office, I suggest that he should put pressure on whoever fills the position of Secretary of State for Wales. Both this and the next Conservative Government will guarantee the pledges that are given from this Dispatch Box. The important point about not including such a provision in the Bill is that circumstances may change. We may need to strengthen the groundwater protection, due to circumstances that cannot now be anticipated.

Mr. Morgan

I hope that the Under-Secretary of State understands why we are pressing him on this point. As soon as I read the clause I went to the Clerk's Department and asked whether it would be possible for the Secretary of State to bind himself in such a way that any amendment he might make to the subsection would lead to an increase in, not to a weakening of, the groundwater protection. I was told that it would be perfectly possible for him to do that. I have come to the conclusion that, for some strange reason, that has not been done. My hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) referred to the Treasury's "fingerprints"—to the fact that it had decided to reserve to itself the power either to strengthen or to weaken that provision. The Secretary of State could have bound himself to increase the groundwater protection, but he did not. As this is the fourth Bill that the House is considering, why on earth cannot the Government get the groundwater protection clause right?

Mr. Bennett

The hon. Gentleman should know that it is impossible to guarantee that any scheme will be 100 per cent. right. It is absolutely right that we should have the power to strengthen, if necessary, the groundwater protection. The hon. Gentleman does not appear to follow the point. I repeat the assurance that I gave a few minutes ago—the Secretary of State for Wales and the Government have no intention of weakening that protection. The only reason for its exclusion from the Bill is that there may be a case in future for strengthening it. We cannot bind any future Administration. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman does not accept that assurance.

It has also been argued that it is inappropriate to consider the Bill before a decision on groundwater has been reached. The parliamentary timetable will allow the Secretary of State's decision to be announced well before Royal Assent. The Select Committee that considered the private Bill requested this consultation and was content that the additional groundwater work and the proceedings on the private Bill should proceed in parallel. To wait until the consultation was over would have meant that a new Bill could not he introduced until next November. We have already had far too much delay over this important legislation for Cardiff.

The hon. Members for Alyn and Deeside and for Cardiff, West asked whether the Stoner report would be available to the Select Committee. That depends on the response to the consultation. It would be wrong to fix a date for my right hon. Friend's decision. He will make it only when he is satisfied that he has all the information and advice that he needs.

The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside also asked whether cash limits would be imposed on compensation. I am happy to reassure the House that there is no possibility of cash limits being imposed on the groundwater protection scheme compensation.

The hon. Gentleman asked about water quality, which is dealt with in clause 12. The Secretary of State can overrule the National Rivers Authority only when he considers its decision to be unreasonable. That is all that the Bill allows. He may not overrule the National Rivers Authority just because he would prefer a different decision. The conditions are clearly set out in clause 12. The courts would not allow my right hon. Friend to overrule a decision unless he was able to show that the National Rivers Authority had acted unreasonably.

The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside said that the Bill disregarded local authorities' powers in respect of impounded water. That is not true. The Bill removes none of the local authorities' powers—for example, their powers as environmental health authorities. The corporation has undertaken to provide to the city council any information that it needs.

In what, for him, was an unusually short speech after our experience in April, the hon. Member for Cardiff, West asked a number of questions. I shall not have time to answer all of them now. He said that there were seven. My right hon. Friend counted 21. I shall, however, deal with just two. The hon. Gentleman asked us whether we had taken fully into account the Leybucht judgment in coming to our decision on the Bill. We did. We referred to it specifically in the special protection area decision letter, written to Mr. Griffiths, which has been placed in the Library. We were aware that it could be open to judicial review. My right hon. Friend would not have made his decision if he had not believed it to be the correct one.

As for the 12-month readings of the boreholes—another question put to me by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West—we have made it clear that Hydrotechnica concluded that it had sufficient data to reach its conclusion. Hydrotechnica's report is out for consultation. Both we and Mr. Stoner will consider the responses and reach a view on whether that is so. We shall continue to monitor the boreholes.

The hon. Member for Caerphilly asked a number of interesting questions. He started with a question that has been asked on a number of occasions by valley Members: whether, in some way, the work that is being done in Cardiff bay will he at the expense of the valleys. It is nonsense to say that. May I remind the House of what is being done in the south Wales valleys. Resources are not being diverted. During the five years of the valleys initiative programme we expect to spend about £800 million. The achievements of the programme and future plans include 650 hectares of derelict land being cleared by the Welsh Development Agency, with 525 hectares planned to be reclaimed up to 1992. Nearly 7,000 homes have been improved under enveloping and block repair schemes. A whole range of new and exciting projects has been undertaken throughout the south Wales valleys during the past few years. Only last Friday both I and the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) were at Ysbyty George Thomas for the opening of that hospital by Lord Tonypandy, half of the money for which came from my right hon. Friend's valleys initiative. One can say without fear of contradiction that, far from Cardiff grabbing money that should have gone to the valleys, the valleys have been getting a fair share of the initiative that my right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) introduced in 1987.

Mr. Rogers

Will the Minister give way? He has mentioned me.

Mr. Bennett

The hon. Gentleman asks me to give way because I mentioned his name. The mention of his name was a compliment, not a criticism. I cannot believe that his attending the opening of a hospital with me last Friday is a matter of controversy, unless he wishes to deny that he shared my company. I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. I have only 10 minutes left.

Mr. Rogers

I shall not criticise the Minister.

Mr. Bennett

Then I cannot resist giving way.

Mr. Rogers

The Minister carried out his duties last Friday in an exemplary fashion. That is rather strange but true. As I have said many times, hon. Members who represent valley constituencies feel no resentment about the development in Cardiff. The area desperately needs development. My objection as the Member of Parliament for Rhondda is that I do not see the value of spending hundreds of millions of pounds on creating a lake that does not add one square inch of land for industrial development. If I could be convinced otherwise, I would support the Bill. I support everything in the Bill except the construction of a barrage.

Mr. Bennett

That is interesting. The hon. Gentleman is perhaps the most honest Opposition Member. He said that he opposes the central purpose of the Bill—he does not want the barrage. In a minute, he will support a Labour amendment that tries to pretend that Labour is in favour of the Bill and is concerned only about minor points. He has been honest and I am sorry that he is being misguided. He has posited much of his opposition on the argument that more money should go to the valleys and that the Bill is detrimental to the valleys.

The hon. Member for Caerphilly mentioned the private Bill and the Government Bill. The fact that we are considering a Government Bill in this Session is an example of the enormous clout that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has in Cabinet. Far from him not having influence, we have the Bill because he and the Lord President determined that the people of Cardiff should have it.

Dr. Dafydd Elis Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Bennett

No. The hon. Gentleman has only just come into the debate. He should have been here since 3.30 pm.

The hon. Member for Caerphilly mentioned birds. We carefully considered the Leybucht judgment, which made it clear that member states enjoy a margin of discretion in selecting the most suitable territories to be classified as special protection areas. It made it clear that after classification the only development that is permitted is development that relates to the public interest greater than the ecological interest covered by the directive—for example, the protection of human life from flooding.

Cardiff bay is located near the heart of the city in an area surrounded by poor environment and dereliction. We believe that there is a clear and urgent public interest in the much-needed regeneration of the area. In those circumstances, it would not have been right to place an SPA on the Cardiff bay area. Under the Leybucht judgment, we have the right to ensure that such an SPA is not imposed.

Mr. Ron Davies


Mr. Bennett

I said that I would not give way to the hon. Gentleman again. I gave way to the hon. Member for Rhondda in a moment of weakness. I have given way about six times in the past 10 minutes.

In April, the hon. Member for Cardiff, West said a lot about birds. I have discovered that he has not been wholly consistent. In the autumn 1988 edition of Rural Wales, which is published for the Council for the Protection of Rural Wales, he noted: Of course there would be severe management problems in handling the environmental consequences"— this is on the question of Hinkley point power station and in favour of the Severn bridge— of migratory birds and fish and filtering out the sewage but perhaps a small risk to take. The hon. Gentleman is prepared to put the environment second where he sees a benefit to the public, but on Cardiff bay we have been witnessing a complete turn around—

Mr. Morgan

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Bennett

No. I am sorry, but the hon. Gentleman has already made a speech. I cannot give way to him every time I mention him. If the hon. Gentleman is challenging what I have read, he can tell me afterwards.

Mr. Morgan

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. When a speaker wrongly accuses a Member of hypocritically representing himself as being in favour of the environment and then quotes a document that he does not understand because it refers to a barrage where the tide still goes in and out half as far as before, is not he seriously misleading and misusing the procedures of the House?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Mr. Bennett.

Mr. Bennett

The hon. Gentleman has made his point but he is incorrect. He argues against the Cardiff bay barrage on the ground of putting the environment and birds before the public interest, as we perceive it, of the regeneration of Cardiff bay, yet on the Severn barrage he was prepared to put other interests before those of migratory birds. We are entitled to reach certain judgments from that.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred to Labour's amendment as a fictitious fig-leaf. I refer to the so-called reasoned amendment as the Sellotape amendment because it is transparent—one can see straight through it to the divisions within the Labour party on this issue. It has tabled a reasoned amendment—so-called—that is not a reasoned amendment but a series of debating points for Committee. It has not opposed the principle of the Bill.

Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I just heard the Minister challenge, I presume, Mr. Speaker, because he said that the amendment was not a reasoned amendment and therefore should not appear on the Order Paper. It has been accepted. He should withdraw those remarks.

Mr. Bennett

It certainly is not a reasonable amendment. Labour has tabled nit-picking amendments but it does not have the courage to tell us that the real reason for doing so is to cover Labour's divisions. My hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Butler) asked the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside whether he favoured the principle of the Cardiff bay barrage—yes or no. The hon. Gentleman did not answer. I attempted to intervene, but the hon. Gentleman would not give way. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State asked whether the hon. Gentleman was in favour of the barrage, but he would not answer. Despite the 19-minute speech by the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside, we were not able to discover the Labour party's position on the barrage. The simple fact is that the Labour party is divided on the issue.

Several Labour Members have continually voted against the Bill. We know the real reason why the so-called reasoned amendment has been tabled. The Western Mail of 15 November reported that Labour Party managers now hope that anti-barrage MPs will unite behind a compromise amendment and not vote against the Government Bill when it is debated in the commons on November 25th. In the Western Mail on 19 April, after the debacle of the all-night sitting that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West and his friends arranged, the right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock), the Leader of the Opposition, was challenged, having sat on the fence for a long time, and said: I share the concern relating to the rising tidal level but since that is so all efforts are being made to protect the community and where necessary compensate for the effects. If I had been here, I would have voted for the Bill. I am sorry that the Opposition oppose a Bill that will regenerate one of our greatest capital cities. It will create 49 per cent. more permanent jobs in the bay, 47 per cent. more houses, 54 per cent. more construction jobs, 46 per cent. more commercial space and 50 per cent. extra private sector leverage on investment. A run-down part of Cardiff will be regenerated for the benefit not only of the people of Cardiff and of Wales but of the United Kingdom. I therefore ask the House to oppose Labour's bogus amendment and support the Second Reading of the Bill.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House proceeded to a Division

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Before hon. Members go through the Division Lobbies, I must inform them that I have been told that there is a bomb scare at Bridge street, as a consequence of which the area has been sealed off and hon. Members may be inhibited from getting into the House. In the light of that information, and pending further information, I intend to take a relaxed view about the time of locking of the doors.

The House having divided: Ayes 130, Noes 278.

Division No. 16] [7 pm
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.) Bermingham, Gerald
Allen, Graham Bidwell, Sydney
Alton, David Blunkett, David
Anderson, Donald Caborn, Richard
Armstrong, Hilary Callaghan, Jim
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Barron, Kevin Clelland, David
Battle, John Cohen, Harry
Beith, A. J. Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cox, Tom
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Cryer, Bob
Benton, Joseph Cummings, John
Darling, Alistair Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Martlew, Eric
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Maxton, John
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Meale, Alan
Dixon, Don Michael, Alun
Dobson, Frank Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Doran, Frank Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Morgan, Rhodri
Eadie, Alexander Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Enright, Derek Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Evans, John (St Helens N) Murphy, Paul
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) O'Brien, William
Fearn, Ronald O'Hara, Edward
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Patchett, Terry
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Pike, Peter L.
Fisher, Mark Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Flannery, Martin Prescott, John
Flynn, Paul Primarolo, Dawn
Foster, Derek Quin, Ms Joyce
Foulkes, George Radice, Giles
Fraser, John Redmond, Martin
George, Bruce Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Godman, Dr Norman A. Robertson, George
Golding, Mrs Llin Rogers, Allan
Gordon, Mildred Rooney, Terence
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Rowlands, Ted
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Ruddock, Joan
Grocott, Bruce Sedgemore, Brian
Hain, Peter Skinner, Dennis
Haynes, Frank Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Hood, Jimmy Snape, Peter
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Soley, Clive
Ingram, Adam Spearing, Nigel
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Strang, Gavin
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Vaz, Keith
Leadbitter, Ted Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Leighton, Ron Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Litherland, Robert Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Livsey, Richard Wigley, Dafydd
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Macdonald, Calum A. Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
McKelvey, William Worthington, Tony
McMaster, Gordon Young, David (Bolton SE)
McNamara, Kevin
Madden, Max Tellers for the Ayes:
Mahon, Mrs Alice Mr. Robert N. Wareing and Mr. Ken Eastham.
Marek, Dr John
Adley, Robert Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Aitken, Jonathan Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Alexander, Richard Boscawen, Hon Robert
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Boswell, Tim
Allason, Rupert Bottomley, Peter
Amess, David Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Amos, Alan Bowis, John
Arbuthnot, James Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Arnold, Sir Thomas Brazier, Julian
Ashby, David Bright, Graham
Aspinwall, Jack Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Buck, Sir Antony
Baldry, Tony Butcher, John
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Butler, Chris
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Butterfill, John
Batiste, Spencer Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Carrington, Matthew
Bellingham, Henry Carttiss, Michael
Bendall, Vivian Cash, William
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Benyon, W. Chapman, Sydney
Bevan, David Gilroy Chope, Christopher
Blackburn, Dr John G. Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Clark, Rt Hon Sir William Irvine, Michael
Colvin, Michael Jackson, Robert
Conway, Derek Janman, Tim
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Jessel, Toby
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Cormack, Patrick Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Couchman, James Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Cran, James Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Currie, Mrs Edwina Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Curry, David Key, Robert
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Davis, David (Boothferry) King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Day, Stephen Kirkhope, Timothy
Devlin, Tim Knapman, Roger
Dickens, Geoffrey Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Dicks, Terry Knowles, Michael
Dorrell, Stephen Knox, David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lawrence, Ivan
Dover, Den Lee, John (Pendle)
Dunn, Bob Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Durant, Sir Anthony Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Dykes, Hugh Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Eggar, Tim Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Emery, Sir Peter Lord, Michael
Evennett, David Luce, Rt Hon Sir Richard
Fallon, Michael Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Farr, Sir John MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Favell, Tony Maclean, David
Fenner, Dame Peggy McLoughlin, Patrick
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Fishburn, John Dudley Major, Rt Hon John
Fookes, Dame Janet Mans, Keith
Forman, Nigel Maples, John
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Marlow, Tony
Forth, Eric Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Freeman, Roger Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
French, Douglas Mates, Michael
Fry, Peter Maude, Hon Francis
Gale, Roger Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Gardiner, Sir George Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Garel-Jones, Tristan Mellor, Rt Hon David
Gill, Christopher Meyer, Sir Anthony
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Miller, Sir Hal
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Mills, Iain
Goodhart, Sir Philip Miscampbell, Norman
Goodlad, Alastair Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Mitchell, Sir David
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Moate, Roger
Gorst, John Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Morrison, Sir Charles
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Morrison, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Gregory, Conal Moss, Malcolm
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Moynihan, Hon Colin
Grylls, Michael Mudd, David
Hague, William Nelson, Anthony
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Neubert, Sir Michael
Hampson, Dr Keith Nicholls, Patrick
Hannam, John Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Norris, Steve
Harris, David Page, Richard
Haselhurst, Alan Patnick, Irvine
Hawkins, Christopher Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Hayes, Jerry Patten, Rt Hon John
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hayward, Robert Pawsey, James
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Heathcoat-Amory, David Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Porter, David (Waveney)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Portillo, Michael
Hill, James Powell, William (Corby)
Hind, Kenneth Price, Sir David
Hordern, Sir Peter Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Rathbone, Tim
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Redwood, John
Hunt, Rt Hon David Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Rhodes James, Sir Robert
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Taylor, Sir Teddy
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Temple-Morris, Peter
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Roe, Mrs Marion Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Rossi, Sir Hugh Thorne, Neil
Rost, Peter Thornton, Malcolm
Rowe, Andrew Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rumbold, Rt Hon Mrs Angela Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Tracey, Richard
Sackville, Hon Tom Tredinnick, David
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Trippier, David
Sayeed, Jonathan Twinn, Dr Ian
Shaw, David (Dover) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Viggers, Peter
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Shelton, Sir William Walden, George
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Shersby, Michael Waller, Gary
Sims, Roger Walters, Sir Dennis
Skeet, Sir Trevor Ward, John
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S) Watts, John
Speller, Tony Wells, Bowen
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wheeler, Sir John
Squire, Robin Whitney, Ray
Stanbrook, Ivor Widdecombe, Ann
Steen, Anthony Wiggin, Jerry
Stern, Michael Winterton, Mrs Ann
Stevens, Lewis Wolfson, Mark
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wood, Timothy
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Stewart, Rt Hon Sir Ian Yeo, Tim
Stokes, Sir John
Sumberg, David Tellers for the Noes:
Tapsell, Sir Peter Mr. David Lightbown and Mr. John M. Taylor.
Taylor, Ian (Esher)

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 60 (Amendment on Second or Third Reading), and agreed to.

Bill accordi-ngly read a Second time.

Ordered, That the Bill be committed to a Select Committee of seven Members, four to be nominated by the House and three by the Committee of Selection. That there shall stand referred to the Select Committee—

  1. (a) any Petition against the Bill presented by being deposited in the Private Bill Office at any time not later than the fourteenth day after this day, and
  2. (b) any Petition which has been presented by being deposited in the Private Bill Office and in which the Petitioners complain of any amendment as proposed in the filled-up Bill or of any matter which has arisen during the progress of the Bill before the Select Committee,
being a Petition in which the Petitioners pray to be heard by themselves, their Counsel or Agents. That if no such Petition as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (a) above is presented, or if all such Petitions are withdrawn before the meeting of the Select Committee, the order for the committal of the Bill to a Select Committee shall be discharged and the Bill shall be committed to a Standing Committee. That any Petitioner whose Petition stands referred to the Select Committee shall, subject to the Rules and Orders of the House and to the Prayer of his Petition, be entitled to be heard by himself, his Counsel or Agents upon his Petition provided that it is prepared and signed in conformity with the Rules and Orders of the House, and the Member in charge of the Bill shall be entitled to be heard by his Counsel or Agents in favour of the Bill against that Petition. That the Select Committee have power to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom and to report from day to day the Minutes of Evidence taken before it. That three be the Quorum of the Select Committee.—[Mr. Greg Knight.]