HC Deb 16 July 1997 vol 298 cc385-6
6. Mr. Green

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received concerning the no campaign in the referendum on an assembly in Wales. [7000]

Mr. Ron Davies

I have received several such representations.

Mr. Green

Since the Secretary of State has failed twice to answer this question, I thought that I would give him another opportunity. Can he say whether he uttered the threat of expulsion from the parliamentary Labour party to the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Smith)? If he says as he has before that he never uttered it, can he explain why the hon. Gentleman insists that he did?

Mr. Davies

I have answered that question several times.

Mr. Barry Jones

Does my right hon. Friend recollect the meeting in Flintshire, north Wales, on 7 July, which he addressed and which was so crowded that many people had to stand throughout the duration of the meeting? Surely there will be a yes vote victory. How will he ensure a large turnout for the referendum, and how will he seek to bring the governance of Wales closer to the people?

Mr. Davies

I should say at this stage that I was grateful for my hon. Friend's support at that meeting in Mold, which was very well attended. We will be producing a White Paper next week. We will be ensuring that a popular version of that White Paper is distributed to every household in Wales. As I said, it will then be a matter for the political parties in Wales to persuade people to vote in the referendum.

It is certainly my intention, along with that of my colleagues in the Cabinet, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and many Members of Parliament from all political parties in the House, to campaign as vigorously as I can in the summer and in the run-up to the referendum. When the people of Wales are given the opportunity to create a real voice for themselves and a democratic framework to improve our economic performance and the quality of our public services, they will turn out in large numbers and give a positive yes vote.

Mr. Forth

In regard to an assembly in Wales, what proposals do the Government have for consulting the people of England, who will probably end up paying for most of it anyway?

Mr. Davies

This is Welsh Question Time. The Welsh Office has no proposals to consult the people of England.

Mr. Wigley

Will the Secretary of State tell the House how many constructive representations he has received from the no campaign for improving government in Wales, or is its campaign entirely based on retaining the status quo, quangos and all? Is it not true that the general election result in Wales showed overwhelmingly that, whatever our other differences, the overwhelming majority of the people of Wales rejected the status quo as totally unacceptable?

Mr. Davies

All 40 Welsh Members were elected on the basis of manifestos that were committed to changing the discredited status quo. I understand that the no campaign is being fronted by a tax exile from Jersey. It is supported by the Conservative party and it has a large measure of support from hereditary peers in another place. I am not sure which is the least attractive.

Mr. Hanson

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the climax of the no campaign was reached on 1 May, when the only party arguing against the Welsh Assembly secured no seats in Wales?

Mr. Davies

That was not quite the climax, as I understand the meaning of the word. I hope that we shall have a rather more exciting occasion in the middle of September, when we celebrate a yes vote.