HC Deb 19 February 1996 vol 272 c12
12. Mr. Sweeney

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to keep Duffryn gardens open to the public after 1 April. [14168]

Mr. Gwilym Jones

The lease for Duffryn house and gardens is proposed to be transferred to the residuary body for Wales for a maximum period of 12 months, to allow the new Vale of Glamorgan council to progress its plans. That will also enable the gardens to remain open to the public after 1 April this year.

Mr. Sweeney

Does my hon. Friend agree that Duffryn gardens is a unique feature not only in the Vale of Glamorgan but in the whole of Wales? Can he give an assurance that during the time when the gardens rest with the residuary body they will be properly maintained and that all co-operation will be extended to Vale of Glamorgan council to ensure that that happens until a long-term solution is found?

Mr. Jones

I rush to agree with my hon. Friend. It is a matter of the deepest regret that local government has brought Duffryn house and gardens to the verge of closure. Because of our regard for the gardens, we have acted to enable the rescue plan to go ahead. I give my hon. Friend the fullest assurance that I will do anything that I can to see that come about, including looking to the new Vale of Glamorgan council to carry forward work in the gardens.

Mr. Rogers

Twice today—first in response to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) and then in response to the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Sweeney)—the Minister has adopted not just a hypocritical but a Pontius Pilate attitude in washing his hands of major institutions in Wales. Does the Minister not realise that many of the institutions to which reference was made earlier, which were run under joint arrangements, will be cut loose as a result of his local government reforms and will not be able to continue providing for the youth and other people of Wales as they have in the past?

Mr. Jones

No. The hon. Gentleman and his friends have the expertise in hypocrisy. They are the people who say one thing and do another. We are the people who have acted, because of our regard for Duffryn gardens. It is not this Government who brought about the current situation. Local government action threatened the closure of Duffryn gardens.