HC Deb 03 November 1993 vol 231 cc375-89

  1. 6.—(1) The Speaker shall put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for the appointment and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons.
  2. (2) Such a Committee shall report before the conclusion of the sitting at which it is appointed.
  1. 7.—(1) In this paragraph "the proceedings" means proceedings on Consideration of Lords Amendments or on any further Message from the Lords on the Bill, on the appointment and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons and the Report of such a Committee.
  2. (2) Paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to the proceedings.
  3. (3) No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of, the proceedings shall be made except by a Minister of the Crown, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.
  4. (4) If the proceedings are interrupted by a Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on the Motion shall be added to the period at the end of which the proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion.
  5. (5) If the House is adjourned, or the sitting is suspended, before the expiry of the period at the end of which the proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion, no notice shall be required of a Motion made at the next sitting by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.

The Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill has a long history all of its own. The original private Bill was introduced into another place five years ago this month. It was considered by a Select Committee of the other place for 13 days and received the usual Second and Third Readings. In this House it was debated for a total of twenty-five and a half hours. It was twice carried over into new parliamentary Sessions, and was finally considered for sixteen and a half hours in an all-night sitting in April 1991. It was considered for 27 sitting days by a Select Committee, including three days of evidence taken in Cardiff.

The present Bill was introduced two years ago tomorrow. Seldom can a Bill coming before the House for a Second Reading have been already so thoroughly debated and examined. This Bill has been debated even more thoroughly since. It was considered for 14 days by a Select Committee of this House, including three days in Cardiff. There were five sittings for the Standing Committee, lasting twelve and a half hours. Report and Third Reading lasted over 10 hours.

The two Bills together have had Second Reading after Second Reading and Committee day after Committee day of discussion. There are those who think it is challenging for a place in the "Guinness Book of Records" for the length of time its passage has taken.

The Bill has also been through another place, including 11 days before a Select Committee. It was not greatly amended there.

The time has come to bring consideration of this Bill to an end. The timetable motion provides for two more hours of discussion. In paragraph 2, the motion contains the usual provision for questions to be put at the end of the two-hour period.

Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)

The Secretary of State is correct to talk about the long time involved with this Bill. If he studies the history, he might agree that, if the Welsh Office had advised in the first place that it should be a hybrid Bill, as it is now, rather than a private Bill, a great deal of time and agony might have been saved for many of us.

The Secretary of State is talking about cutting the time allowed for these last amendments. Given that these are generally helpful and non-controversial amendments, it seems rather odd that he should be introducing a guillotine at this stage.

Mr. Redwood

If the amendments are non-controversial and helpful, it will not take more than two hours to deal with them in a sensible way.

It is decision time for the House, and decision time for Cardiff.

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the unflagging energy that he has put into this project. He will be handling the remaining stages with his usual skill and great knowledge of the subject.

Everything about the barrage and the bay proposals has been extensively debated. This House has heard how the rising water table will be handled, how transport will be organised and how development should follow the project. The Bill is eagerly awaited by the construction industry and by many in Cardiff. Its final passage tonight represents the go-ahead for a large civil engineering project, a green light for the bay development, a landmark in the history of Cardiff. The development corporation will ensure that the city is once again linked to the bay properly, and that the old docks areas will again become commercial centres, bustling with a new kind of trade.

I want to see Cardiff reunited, with its waterfront thrusting ahead with new investments in its business district, and proud of its bay-led development. The bay development will help Cardiff to retain its critical role in the business of Wales. In five years' time, people will look across the bay from Penarth and wonder how Members in this House could have stood in the way of regeneration for so long.

A new maritime city for the next millennium, a symbol of all that is best in Welsh enterprise, architecture and environment, will be constructed. It will be a celebration of the best of Wales, a symbol that the best of Wales is world class. I urge the House not to stay the bulldozers longer. I urge hon. Members to support the motion.

5.24 pm
Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

The Secretary of State has just given his Third Reading speech. He has issued a clarion call for getting on with the job and not standing in the way of the bulldozers. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) has correctly pointed out, the problem is that the Secretary of State has not explained what the timetable motion has to do with the content of his mini-speech.

After all, it has taken six years to get this far with the Bill and it is difficult to see why an hour or so either way will make very much difference. If a Bill has taken longer than world war 2 to get to this stage, a guillotine hardly seems appropriate. We are discussing Lords amendments, not the Third Reading.

The Secretary of State is right to point to the fact that the Bill has a long and tangled history—in fact, he omitted one part of it. It first entered their Lordships' House in November 1987, not November 1988, and was withdrawn.

Perhaps the lesson that we can learn from this Bill is that, if one does one's homework, any Bill, whatever the objections to it, will have a much cleaner and smoother passage through the House.

The homework was not done on this Bill, and its tangled history saw the two Under-Secretaries of State before the present incumbent—Ian Grist and Nicholas Bennett—lose their seats in the last general election. We may have the triple crown of Under-Secretaries of State, in that the present Minister may also lose his seat after his association with the Bill.

We are dealing with what might be called legislative coitus interruptus on a monumental scale. The Secretary of State has said that he does not believe that the Bill's sell-by date has been exceeded. However, the Bill was conceived in the boom conditions of November 1987 and, six years later, it is just reaching its final proceedings in the Hosue. If it ever was the answer to Cardiff's problems, is that still the case?

We object to the timetable motion, not only because we cannot see the point of a guillotine on Lords amendments, but because of the precedent of a guillotine on a hybrid Bill with this unique history. It is unprecedented to have a hybrid Bill that is six years old—if we include the three previous versions—and to have a guillotine on Lords amendments to a Bill that has been carried over not only from one House to another and one year to another but from one general election to another. That is the problem that we are facing in trying to find a way in which the Secretary of State can justify the timetable motion.

There is not a vast number of Lords amendments, but they do require unrestricted debate. The Government will be well aware from events in another place already tonight that, when they mess about with Lords amendments and guillotine them in this place, nasty accidents sometimes happen. It is much better to allow Parliament to have unfettered debate, because if it does not, Bills can become accident-prone.

The Bill was given a Second Reading two years ago, and when a Bill is given a Second Reading, the principle contained in it is established. A problem arises, as in this case, when a Bill is altered in the other place and this House has no opportunity to consider it in its proper form.

The House did not have that opportunity, because it was rushed into Second Reading before the groundwater studies had been completed. It is a generally accepted constitutional convention that, following Second Reading, the principle of the Bill cannot be opposed. That establishes the principle, and binds the hands of the National Rivers Authority and of the Countryside Council for Wales.

When the Bill is altered in another place, that constitutional principle is undermined, because it means that one is now looking at a package different from that considered at Second Reading. It is fair to say—I am sure that many of my hon. Friends and the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary would agree—that the changes which have been made in another place undoubtedly provide improved protection against potential damage.

However, we did not have a chance to consider the complete package properly on Second Reading. I am arguing for an unrestricted debate tonight, because a fundamental constitutional principle could be undermined. Following Second Reading—after which the principle of the Bill cannot be discussed—the House should have a proper chance to discuss the consequences for farm and livestock and for individuals, as well what appears in the Bill.

The same applies to the rights of petitioners, which have been considerably abridged by the omission of a matter under new clause 22, which I may come to later in the debate. I see that the Minister is shaking his head. Obviously, the reason for that is his own tangled involvement with clause 22. He denied that the clause would re-hybridise the Bill when I directly put it to him in the Standing Committee. Does the hon. Gentleman wish to challenge me on that? [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)

Order. If the hon. Member wishes to intervene, he should seek to do so.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Gwilym Jones)

The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) is completely incorrect in his assumption. The specific question was not raised. The hon. Gentleman has misinterpreted the matter previously, and he ought to know by now that his interpretation is wrong.

We fully acknowledge, and we have done so throughout, that the amendment to which he refers now re-hybridises the Bill. It has been treated as such. There has been an opportunity for anyone to petition against it. It has been fully advertised, and I do not know why he persists with the point.

Mr. Morgan

In saying that I am wrong, the Under-Secretary is denying what is in the record of the Standing Committee. Reference was made to the matter in Committee on 17 May, and I questioned the hon. Gentleman in Standing Committee in July 1992. I asked whether he accepted that the amendment would, in effect, re-hybridise the Bill. The hon. Gentleman replied that it would not, and he urged the Committee not to pursue the amendment.

The Minister will be aware that the Chairman of the Select Committee—now the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee—said that the matter should be put right in Standing Committee or in another place. The matter was dealt with in another place, but when I put it to him in the Standing Committee in July 1992, he denied that the effect of the amendment would be to re-hybridise the Bill.

Mr. Gwilym Jones

The amendment that we were debating when the hon. Gentleman raised the question in Committee did not re-hybridise the Bill. It is the land drainage amendment that has re-hybridised it.

Mr. Morgan

I am terribly sorry that the Minister has not grasped the fact that land drainage amendment was the one that we were referring to in July 1992 in implementing the recommendations of the Select Committee.

That is the type of problem we face. The rights of petitioners should have been clear to all potential petitioners whose private property rights would be affected. The Conservative party often claims, falsely, to be the only party that looks after private property owners. The rights of those petitioners were affected by the fact that it was not clear whether their properties would be affected at the time of Second Reading and when the Bill was advertised, two years ago tomorrow. That matter was affected later in the Lords, but petitioners did not have a chance to petition both Houses of Parliament.

If the Bill had been delayed for another two months, from November 1991 to January 1992, and if the Secretary of State's groundwater adviser had completed his report, the job could have been done properly. The House would then have had the opportunity, which has now been lost, to debate the implications of the Bill for petitioners.

We could also have debated the problems that can be caused to the occupants of property in the affected areas in my constituency and in the constituencies of my hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff, South and Penarth and for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones) from rising groundwater that would be occasioned by the barrage.

That is the problem we have, and that is why an unrestricted debate on a relatively small group of Lords amendments would make far more sense. I feel that the rule that the principle of a Bill cannot be amended after Second Reading has been fundamentally undermined, in particular by the attitude of the Minister. He did not accept the offer that was made to incorporate the matter on the advice of the Chairman of the Select Committee when it was raised in Standing Committee in July last year.

As late as 2 August this year, new material was still coming to light that would require examination in the light of the Secretary of State's ringing comments tonight. I may have an opportunity later tonight to refer to the impact of the EC urban waste water directive which comes into effect shortly and will massively affect the way in which the waters of the Taff and the Ely are to be treated. The habitats directive which will be introduced on 5 June next year will also have a massive effect on the way in which nature conservation objections have to be looked at.

A European Court of Justice ruling on the Santona marshes case—a case fairly similar to Cardiff bay—in the matter of proposed special protection areas raises new issues which we have not had an opportunity to look at. That is why I say that a hybrid Bill should not be guillotined. Above all, a re-hybridised Bill should not be guillotined when it has come back from another place with those amendments which re-hybridise the Bill to this House, because hon. Members never had a chance to look at the amendments properly.

The House has not had the chance to look at the powers to go into people's back gardens and dig agricultural land drainage trenches, which have never before been tried in a densely populated area of terraced houses.

Obviously, the powers to get rid of the saturation flooding which is now a danger have been improved. There are amendments covering that subject to which I will refer in a moment. My objection to a timetable is this: why should we restrict a debate on a question that relates to unprecedented engineering works in a densely populated terrace area? That is no problem in sports grounds or in agricultural areas. However, digging under people's back gardens, their favourite goldfish ponds, rockeries, tool sheds and back walls has never been tried before. That should have been properly aired tonight.

The House is on dangerous ground if it allows a guillotine that has never been used before for hybrid Bills. Potential petitioners on future Bills will feel that their rights have been abridged if they are able to petition only one House and not the other. Hon. Members were not presented with a proper package on Second Reading, because at that time we did not know what the groundwater side effects were.

I will refer to the November 1987 private Bill, which I also referred to earlier in connection with the Secretary of State. Let us assume that the Bill had made great progress in the House, or had started in the Lords before coming to this House. The Bill did not refer to groundwater side effects at all, because work had not been completed.

Let us say that the Government had wanted to get the Bill into the Lords, where it would have been whistled through, with no reference to groundwater side effects. The Bill would have come to this House by the time the initial studies into groundwater had been done by Wallace Evans and Partners. Hon. Members would have said, "My goodness me, 6,000 families may now have their rightful ability peacefully to occupy their houses without groundwater side effects." We did not have an opportunity to consider the Bill's implications on Second Reading in this House because the engineering work had not been completed. We would have been scandalised to learn that 6,000 residents of downtown Cardiff were not to have an opportunity to petition this House when the Bill began its parliamentary process because the corporation had not completed the engineering work.

Because the engineering work was completed late, it was not apparent on Second Reading that there would be massive groundwater side effects across the flat lands around downtown Cardiff. Those effects were discovered when the Bill went to another place. Therefore, the Bill was amended accordingly there, and a pack of amendments were sent back to this House. In effect, those amendments say, "Sorry, we didn't know that there were groundwater side effects when the House of Commons gave the Bill a Second Reading."

Because of the delays with the Bill, we are not facing such a gross abuse of parliamentary procedure. However, we are facing an abuse of parliamentary procedure. The Bill was rushed through this place. If it had been left until January 1992, all the new measures could have been incorporated. However, although it was clear that the groundwater studies would be completed within two months, Second Reading took place in November 1991. That meant that the House of Commons and petitioners could not, on Second Reading, consider the total package.

I have already referred to the first Bill, which appeared in 1987. It is clearly important for us not to curtail debate when petitioners' rights are being undermined and when these problems were not apparent when this House gave the Bill a Second Reading.

On that occasion, there was no reference to the need for an extension of land drainage legislation powers to enable the city council to enter people's backyards to cope with the effects of saturation flooding. That possibility should have been apparent to us on Second Reading. Because it was not, there must be great doubts about the validity of the process by which we will consider the Lords amendments which attempt to correct the defects in the Bill that we considered on Second Reading. That is a strong case for unrestricted debate and against the guillotine as the correct way to proceed.

The Under-Secretary of State the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones), will no doubt explain later why he opposed the original Bill about the Taff crossing. That little barrage was proposed by a Labour-controlled county council. The hon. Gentleman was against that. He will no doubt explain how he came to change his mind, and became a super-salesman for a large barrage proposed by a Tory Government. No doubt he will be able to explain why his predecessor and the Secretary of State's predecessor were also very much against the Usk barrage and very much in favour of the Cardiff bay barrage. Also—

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. Before the hon. Gentleman goes any further, how does this historical sketch relate to the guillotine motion before us?

Mr. Morgan

A great deal more than the Secretary of State's speech, but perhaps we should consider that tomorrow in the full light of day.

The need for uncompressed debate on the Lords amendments, without a guillotine, is clear. The scene is changing very quickly in Cardiff, and new factors are coming to light. Many of those factors are covered by the amendments and can be discussed in detail. However, some are not.

The Secretary of State hardly referred to the Lords amendments. He maintained that lakes create jobs and he did not want the lake to be delayed as he believed that it would create jobs. That is why he wants to introduce a guillotine motion. I believe that we should consider whether lakes create jobs. We should consider this new voodoo religion about lakes and jobs. No doubt the Minister will be able to justify that when he debates the amendments.

However, the Secretary of State maintained that speed was of the utmost importance. He said that we must get on with the job and set a starting date for the bulldozers to get in.

Mr. Redwood


Mr. Morgan

Perhaps the Secretary of State wants to start his bulldozer up tonight.

Mr. Redwood

I confined my remarks to the guillotine motion and to whether we should make a decision in good time tonight. I argued strongly that we should do that. I did not discuss the amendments, because that is what we will do next. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State and the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) will be able to discuss the amendments later. If the hon. Gentleman got on with the job, we would have more time to discuss the Lords amendments. I believe that that would be the best thing to do in the circumstances.

Mr. Morgan

I am not sure what the Secretary of State is trying to say. He wants to start the procedure for building the barrage as though that would happen tomorrow if we approve the guillotine motion tonight. Whether or not we approve the guillotine motion has no bearing on the start date for the barrage.

We want to raise many points as a result of the concerns that have been expressed. Some of those points will be dealt with later. The Secretary of State should realise that the way in which the Bill has meandered its way through both Houses of Parliament is the result of the Government's inability to do their homework before presenting the Bill to the House. That is why there are Lords amendments.

Most of the Lords amendments stem from the Government, at the request of the local authorities and some objectors. Therefore, some of those amendments must be debated tonight. Should we curtail debate on those amendments when they relate to the protection of ordinary residents of downtown Cardiff, many of whom are in my constituency and in the other two Cardiff constituencies which are affected? That is a strong argument against the guillotine motion, and that is why we will oppose it tonight.

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

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate and to agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) that the guillotine motion is wholly unnecessary. If it is necessary for me to do so, I remind the House that the whole of the Cardiff bay development area lies in my constituency. That is why I have taken a particular interest in this measure in its various forms and why I acted as sponsor for the Bill when it was a private Bill in this House.

The guillotine is unnecessary, for a very simple reason. All we have to deal with is Lords amendments, which are largely beneficial. There are some exploratory amendments to the Lords amendments, and it is right that they should be discussed and that we should ensure that, in the narrow area covered by the Lords amendments, this House gets it right.

The Bill is important to my constituency because it is likely greatly to improve the environment of south Cardiff. Since the last century, south Cardiff has suffered from the dirt and the impact of heavy industry as a result of the export of coal. It has been left with the detritus of heavy industry as our coal and steel industries have closed down, as the transport industry has diminished and as heavy industry generally has receded from the southern part of the city. That is a matter of grave concern. While my constituents have suffered that dirt and disruption, the jobs on which so many of them depended for a decent standard of living have also receded.

The Bill will do a great deal to improve the situation. It will create an environment in which it will be far more pleasant for people to live. It will also bring back jobs to south Cardiff, which used to be the powerhouse of the city and of south Wales. The interdependence of Cardiff and the valleys of south Wales is as relevant today as it has been over the decades.

Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)

My hon. Friend is making interesting points, and I fully respect his knowledge of the issue. However, is he not talking more in terms of the glossy brochures than the reality, which is that the market conditions are currently extremely flat? There is little or no prospect of property developers taking up the opportunities and challenges.

Although the proposal may be wonderful, it may be a prospect of a rather distant future. It is certainly more distant than when the Bill began its passage, which will be so abruptly and brutally curtailed by the guillotine motion. I can think of no better example of the arrogance of power than the way in which the Government are curtailing tonight's debate.

Mr. Michael

Interestingly, my hon. Friend brings me precisely to the point that I was about to make before his intervention. The delays that have taken place do not concern me greatly, because, if the Bill had been passed more quickly, pressure for building and the sale of land would have begun in the depths of the recession, so the project would not have returned its value either to the public purse or the city of Cardiff.

However, it is important that the barrage should now proceed as quickly as possible so that the opportunities can be taken. Over the past week, NCM has laid the foundation stone of its new premises, which I very much welcome. Further delay would be foolish, and might mean that we would miss the boat for some opportunity. My hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East is right to say that, because of the recession, nothing has been lost by the delay.

There is no need for a guillotine motion, because the principles of the Bill have been dealt with exhaustively. The Bill has passed the exhaustive tests to which it was put during its passage through the House, and it has passed tests from outside. The principles are not before us today. Instead, we face a series of amendments that I would describe as fairly minor, but helpful. There was no need for the Government to take the draconian measure of a guillotine when we need to debate, explore and get right certain aspects of the Bill. Debating the guillotine motion is preventing us from debating the amendments.

One of the important factors that should be recognised is the capacity that Cardiff has and always has had to achieve partnership such as that between local authorities and the private sector that enabled the enormously successful redevelopment of the centre of Cardiff in the 1970s, in which the Under-Secretary of State for Wales and I were involved in our previous capacities as members of Cardiff city council. That opportunity for partnership also exists with the barrage.

In the run-up to the general election, my right hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock) made it clear that there is no cross-party division on the principle of the barrage. One understands the reservations expressed earlier by my hon. Friends who represent some of the valleys constituencies, and especially by my next-door neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan), but we should recall that a vision across the political divide has led us to where we are today.

The vision of the Labour local authority, led at that time by Lord Brooks of Tremorfa, and that of the Secretary of State at that time, now Lord Crickhowell, brought together the combination of forces that began the process—initially, it was a private Bill. We should pay tribute to that vision.

The intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East encourages me to be brief. The guillotine procedure means that we have a maximum of two hours debate, which includes the time that is taken to debate the guillotine. The briefer we are in debating the guillotine, the longer we have to debate the amendments.

Madam Deputy Speaker

The hon. Member is absolutely right: the longer we spend on the guillotine, the less time we have to debate the amendments.

Mr. Michael

I am grateful for that confirmation, Madam Deputy Speaker. For that reason, I shall draw my remarks to a close.

I am as eager to discuss the amendments to the Lords amendments as my hon. Friends who have tabled them. Had the Government not chosen to table a guillotine motion, we would be debating the Lords amendments already—that was an error on their part.

I hope very much that we shall now be able to dispose of the guillotine motion speedily, whether by passing it or by the Government withdrawing it—it matters little. The Lords amendments are largely beneficial, and it is important that my hon. Friends should be able to make whatever exploration they wish. It is right that the amendments are phrased properly to address the issues correctly, to ensure that the legislation is as good as possible.

Across the parties, we should speed the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill on its way, so that construction can begin, the environment for my constituents can improve, and their hope for jobs and an enhanced standard of income is realised. That is why I have supported the Bill from its earliest days, and why many hon. Members of both parties have supported its principles, as have my predecessor Lord Callaghan and others in another place.

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

I approached the debate with a certain mellow resignation. Like other hon. Members who are veterans of the Bill, I have grown old during its passage. I was middle-aged when the Bill was introduced, and have become progressively mature.

That mellow resignation lasted until I heard the speech made by the Secretary of State. He said that perhaps hon. Members were trying to get an entry into "The Guinness Book of Records" for the time that the Bill has taken. The Secretary of State was clearly trying to break another record: cramming in as many banal buzz words to a square inch of Hansard as possible. All we heard from the Secretary of State was a series of banal buzz words about the scheme. As he has all the zealotry of a person who has only recently discovered the location of Cardiff bay, I ought to respond to some of his points.

Mr. Morgan

Was the Secretary of State saying that, if the barrage were built, he would agree to spend one night there during his tenure of office?

Mr. Rowlands

I am concerned that the Secretary of State should spend as much time as he can finding out the true economic and industrial needs of the nation, not only of Cardiff but of the communities that I represent.

The Secretary of State's observations exhibited the repeated belief that somehow the marina and the barrage will be the great regenerators of the economy—apparently not only in Cardiff, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) said, the whole of south Wales.

My hon. Friend rightly said that, curiously, as a result of the prolonged scrutiny of the Bill, an amazing transformation has taken place over the past five or six years. My hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff, South and Penarth and for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) have said that, when the Bill started out, marinas and barrages were the buzz schemes of the day—that is, they were part and parcel of the ethos of mid-1980s Thatcherism, that the world was all about leisure services, and that that was the economic future which involved the creation of jobs.

In the past five or six years, the bubble—the concept that the future development of great cities such as Cardiff lay in leisure complexes, theme parks and the notion that that, together with property inflation, would somehow regenerate the economy—has burst. In some ways, it is fortunate that we have seen the coming and going of a fad.

Mr. Anderson

Perhaps I should declare an interest. I live in the Swansea marina, alongside the Swansea barrage. Perhaps my hon. Friend will reflect that, during the period that the Bill has been going through the House, the Swansea barrage was built, and that no barrage, wherever it is sited, will stimulate job development if there is flatness in the economy and in the property market. Although barrages can provide a basis, an infrastructure or a possibility, much more than that is required for the jobs to come.

Mr. Rowlands

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The simple conclusion to draw from the concept of economy-derived services is that there must be other jobs creating income to spend on those leisure services. It is not a matter of creating wealth: the question is on what one spends the wealth that has already been created.

The assumption behind many schemes, of which Cardiff bay barrage is a glorious example, was that they would somehow regenerate the economy not only of Cardiff but, apparently, of the whole of south Wales. In the five years in which we have been debating the Bill, that argument has been well and truly punctured. Thankfully, the 1990s will not be about barrages and marinas: they will be about manufacturing and industrial economic regeneration, which will generate money to spend on certain leisure activities. Such schemes are not real generators of economic development.

The bubble has also burst in property and property inflation. From the start, the scheme was based upon an assumption about property inflation—that is, that one could not go wrong if one invested in property such as office blocks or high-class appartments and if one was surrounded by bobbing yachts and harbour development, because property inflation would justify such a scheme. In the past five years, fortunately—this is why I will not support the motion—we have seen that bubble burst, too.

The interventions by my hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff, South and Penarth and for Swansea, East were well illustrated. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth understandably said that it is perhaps fortunate that there has been a modest delay, because Cardiff bay will now catch the tide of economic revival, and that delays have not been too costly, because there has been a recession, but he has not recognised that it is not a temporary shift in the property market. I hope that it is a sea change in attitude to property, the value of property and inflation as an economic regenerator.

I hope that, in the 1990s, we will not chase huge property profits, and that we have got that attitude out of our system. The rest of the world did not follow that attitude—except, possibly, Japan, and it is now running into problems as a result. We have to ram home the message that the scheme was based upon property inflation way above normal rates of inflation. The Government preach zero inflation. With zero property inflation, the schemes that we have been asked to endorse have no future.

Mr. Anderson

It would be very difficult to submit that another property boom is just around the corner or that there are green shoots or blue shoots. Bearing in mind the housing market, with its overhangs and repossessions, and the office market, with its tremendous over-capacity, it is very unlikely that there will be anything like a recurrence as far ahead as property people can usefully plan. Does my hon. Friend agree that the only people who were certain to benefit from the development were the property developers, and that even their benefit might now be in doubt?

Mr. Rowlands

My hon. Friend is right. I hope that we have got property inflation out of our system. It was the only basis of the mid-1980s boom. When the bubble burst, the boom burst with it. Also, there was the notion that, with many office blocks being built, there would be many jobs. As we have pointed out many times in the past five years, they are only assumptions about jobs, not actual jobs.

It was assumed that, if one built an office block and divided it into the number of jobs that one could put into it, one would create that number of jobs. Some office blocks could lie empty. Scattered around the country, as a result of alterations in the economy and the coming of office technology, we will find a different attitude to job creation in the world of office development.

Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd)

Does my hon. Friend consider it ironic that, in June, across the channel from Cardiff, Avonmouth docks took its first 100,000 tonnes of coal to displace Welsh coal, and that, although we see a very welcome development on the Cardiff foreshore, on the other side of the channel we have seen real, well-paid jobs literally being exported?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)

Order. Hon. Members will be aware that we are supposed to be debating the guillotine motion.

Mr. Rowlands

I do not know whether you were in the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, when my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth based his discussion of the guillotine motion on the fact that the development was required because of the dust and noise created by the coal industry in the valleys in the 19th century, and that it was part and parcel of clearing away that tradition and history. My hon. Friend was referring to that tradition, which—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that I have heard more about the Cardiff bay barrage than almost anyone except Members who are present, so I am well briefed on it.

Mr. Rowlands

I know that you are well briefed, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was pointing out the relationship between the observation by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) and the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth.

From the start, I have been concerned about pre-emption of the public expenditure involved. It was first estimated that the barrage would cost £45 million, in the late 1980s it was costed at £85 million, and I understand that it is now estimated to cost more than £150 million. I hope that, before the night is out, the Minister will tell us what the cost is. We have seen a massive escalation in the public cost of the scheme, and it cannot be attributed only to inflation. The cost has exploded in the past five years, and so has barrage-related expenditure. We are talking about another £450 million to £500 million.

I should like to draw hon. Members' attention to one part of that expenditure. Although not directly related to the barrage itself, there is a scheme for one and a quarter miles of road, including a tunnel and a bridge, which will cost £135 million. That is the last estimate that I have received. For £135 million, the heads of the valleys road could be made into a dual carriageway.

One can argue about public expenditure, and my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth, with whom I have disagreed and argued on that matter, has often justified it, but the simple point is that a mile and a quarter of road, which is an integral and intrinsic part of the scheme to make the south of Cardiff and the Cardiff bay barrage more attractive, is costing £135 million. It is one of the most expensive roads ever to be built in Britain.

My hon. Friend will say that that mile and a quarter of road is vital to the development of Cardiff, South. If an equivalent amount was spent on the heads of the valleys road, it would have enormous economic regenerative consequences. Fifty per cent. of that money is coming out of the same budget for which we compete with other roads.

Mr. Michael

My hon. Friend is wrong. In referring to the Butetown area through which that road passes, he is talking about one of the most deprived communities in Britain—a community that has suffered all the worst effects of the old heavy industry and its replacement. The cut and cover does not so much help the economic regeneration of the area as stop that deprived community being cut in half, which would have been the result of the road going through without the cut and cover. Whereas I bow to my hon. Friend's expertise in regard to the finance of any issue, the community-based nature of that part of the development is absolute. I hope that he will recognise that.

Mr. Rowlands

Nothing can be absolute, everything is relative, but I recognise the significance, importance and value of that road to my hon. Friend and his constituents. I was merely drawing to his attention what the equivalent amount of public money could do in another community, and the regenerative consequences and potential of spending that amount of money—or at least half of it, because half of it would come from South Glamorgan, the other half from the Welsh Office.

From the start of my contributions to the debates, I have concentrated on one issue—the nature of the costs. I was once accused of being a one-man Public Accounts Committee on the Bill. I therefore end as I began five years ago, by saying that, when the Minister replies, I hope that he will give us the latest estimates of the relative costs on which we have challenged him during the past five years of discussions on the Bill.

6.12 pm
Mr. Walter Sweeney (Vale of Glamorgan)

Unlike you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have not been privileged to listen to debates on the subject of the Cardiff Bay barrage since November 1987. But I have been here long enough to notice a certain lack of harmony on the Opposition Front Bench on that topic.

It was particularly interesting to hear the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) expatiating at his usual length on every conceivable aspect of the Bill other than the guillotine motion, raking up the past and going right back to November 1987, and doing so in his usual rambling and disconnected manner. It was interesting also to contrast that with the enthusiastic attitude displayed by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), who has always demonstrated a positive attitude towards the barrage.

Mr. Michael

I ask the hon. Gentleman not to try to cause division between me and my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan). The hon. Gentleman will not succeed in that effort. By insulting my hon. Friend, all he is doing is taking up time that we could use to debate the Lords amendments.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that we are not yet debating the Lords amendments; we are still debating the guillotine motion—as I keep re-emphasising.

Mr. Sweeney

The hon. Gentleman has failed to dissuade the House from what is clearly obvious, that there is a conflict between him and the hon. Member for Cardiff, West. Nobody could be blind to that.

I have sympathy with the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth about his support for the barrage, but I cannot see the logic in his remarks against the guillotine this evening. Quite plainly, it would be in the interests of those who want to get on with debating the substance of the matter were the debate on the guillotine motion to be cut short so that we would then have more time to debate the Lords amendments.

Mr. Michael

Perhaps I can spell it out to the hon. Gentleman. If he sits down now, and we finish the debate on the guillotine, we shall be able to debate the Lords amendments. The hon. Gentleman is preventing us from doing so.

Mr. Sweeney

The hon. Gentleman does not seem to realise that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. He has had his say on whether we should proceed to a guillotine on that important matter, and I. believe that I should also have that right.

It is always illuminating to see such conflicts on the Labour Front Bench on this topic. In my brief period here, I cannot recall any other issue that has led to a more relentless flow of disconnected verbiage from the hon. Member for Cardiff, West.

Mr. Oliver Heald (Hertfordshire, North)

Does my hon. Friend agree that, although we hear a great deal about guillotine motions and how undemocratic and difficult they are, when the Labour party was in power, the Leader of the Opposition himself was always willing to use the power of the guillotine, as he did on devolution? Does my hon. Friend wish to make any comment on the general balance of opinion within the Labour party as to which is the best approach?

Mr. Sweeney

My hon. Friend makes a sensible point. It is interesting that, when a guillotine motion is debated, the Labour party chooses to ignore its own record on similar occasions in the past.

The Cardiff Bay barrage has already had an ample airing, both in the House and in another place. The delay in moving forward, as the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth has quite rightly pointed out, may have worked to our advantage, in that we have come to the end of the recession, land prices are beginning to rise, and this is an excellent time to move forward.

With the benefit of hindsight, I accept that, as the hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth has said, there may be some benefit from the delay. That does not justify us in further delay on that matter today. Clearly, we have reached a stage in our deliberations at which my right hon. Friend is fully justified in urging the House to proceed as expeditiously as possible with the debate.

It is interesting that not only is there a conflict between—

It being one hour after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of them, pursuant to order [27 October 1992].

Question agreed to.


That the Order of the House [27th October 1992] be supplemented as follows: