HC Deb 16 July 1997 vol 298 cc386-7
8. Mr. Fabricant

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received on the conduct of the devolution referendum campaign in Wales. [7002]

Mr. Hain


Mr. Fabricant

Does the Minister recall the report in the Western Mail four and a half years ago of the attempt by the present Secretary of State for Wales to duff me up in the Corridor outside the Chamber for daring to table a question for Welsh Question Time? Does he agree that he was wrong then? Does he agree also that it is wrong now for him to employ similar bully-boy tactics against the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Smith)?

Mr. Hain

I hope that the hon. Gentleman did not lose his hair in the incident. I know that the hon. Gentleman is trying hard, as are his colleagues, to divert the debate from the main issue that will face the people of Wales in September, when they will be invited to give a resounding yes vote to establishing a real voice for Wales and thereby rejecting the bankrupt, quango-ridden, corrupt politics that the Tories visited upon Wales for 18 years. Is it not time that the Tories came out clearly and honestly and mounted their no campaign? When they do, they will be given a thrashing by the people of Wales, just as on 1 May.

Mr. Flynn

Does my hon. Friend recall that only a week ago, not four years ago, there was a splendid and crowded meeting in Newport, during which representatives of Blaenau Gwent and other areas in the county expressed their overwhelming support for the yes campaign? Did they not say with one voice that they want decisions on health and education in Wales to be taken in Wales, not in London?

Mr. Hain

My hon. Friend is right. There was a massive meeting—there was standing room only—in Newport last Friday. Such meetings are taking place throughout Wales. People want to get out and campaign for the yes vote in September because they want a real voice for Wales. They want decisions on jobs, schools, hospitals and on all the other issues that are now taken by the Welsh Office to be made in a much more democratic way. They want a new democratic constitution for Britain and a new democracy for Wales.

Mr. Hogg

Can the Minister explain why, on tax-raising powers, a distinction is being made between proposals for the Scottish Parliament and those for the Welsh Assembly? Why are the people of Wales being denied tax-raising powers? In the referendum, will the Minister ask the people of Wales whether they would like tax-raising powers to be given to the Welsh Assembly?

Mr. Hain

I congratulate the right hon. and learned Gentleman on asking a different question from those of his colleagues. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] Will hon. Members wait just a minute—or a second, even? The answer is quite clear. Scotland has its own legal system and therefore requires a different form of devolution from that appropriate for Wales.