HC Deb 18 June 1997 vol 296 cc295-6
4. Mr. Bernard Jenkin

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received on the question to be put to Welsh local government electors as proposed in the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill. [2597]

Mr. Win Griffiths

We have received several.

Mr. Jenkin

Can the Minister explain why the Welsh people will not be offered in the referendum the option of an Assembly with tax-raising powers? In Scotland, a Parliament without tax-raising powers is regarded by the Secretary of State for Scotland as a non sequitur.

Mr. Griffiths

If the hon. Gentleman had arrived but two minutes earlier, he would have heard a full response to that question. I shall explain to him once more that the circumstances of a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly are different. {HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] They are different because we have put the proposals to the people. I remind Opposition Members that they were badly defeated on 1 May. We are happy to hold the referendums, for an Assembly without tax-raising powers in Wales and for a Parliament with tax-varying powers in Scotland.

Mr. Llwyd

Will the Minister please confirm that the Welsh Assembly will have the power, or be obliged, to consider the overall structural approach in Wales, with regard to the Welsh Development Agency and the Development Board for Rural Wales? He will know, as all Welsh Members know, that the imbalance between job creation and investment in the east of Wales and that in the west has caused great concern. Is that not one sure subject for the Welsh Assembly to consider as soon as possible?

Mr. Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman will know that we have already announced that we will make an effort to extend prosperity throughout Wales, concentrating especially on western areas. I am sure that proposals will be made in the White Paper and that the Assembly will wish to pursue the matter with great vigour.