Oral Answers to Questions — Wales (Independent Parliament)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th August 1966.

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Photo of Mr Gwynfor Evans Mr Gwynfor Evans , Carmarthen 12:00 am, 4th August 1966

asked the Prime Minister if he will introduce legislation to give an independent Parliament to Wales.

Photo of Mr Gwynfor Evans Mr Gwynfor Evans , Carmarthen

In view of the fact that three candidates in the recent Carmarthen election who supported a Parliament for Wales were given 95 per cent. of the vote, in view of the appalling record of a long succession of London Governments in Wales, and as Wales as a nation has a moral right to self-government, will not the Prime Minister give this matter urgent consideration?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

While no one will query the mandate which the hon. Gentleman received in his own constituency, I am not aware that there are any other hon. Members of this House who were elected under the same mandate. We should need more than one vote to carry through this particular legislation. I should, perhaps, also make it clear to the hon. Gentleman that whatever may be his disappointment with certain previous Governments from the Welsh point of view, he will, I think, be the first to acknowledge that a great deal has been done in the last two years in getting more and more industry established in Wales, as the facts and figures will testify.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the overwhelming majority of the Welsh people deeply appreciate that he has given fuller recognition to Wales than any previous Administration? Does my right hon. Friend agree that the best advice I could now give to my compatriot is to ask him to co-operate with the Secretary of State for Wales to bring about an effective reform of local government in Wales, including, if so desired, a Regional Council, rather than to chase will o'wisps?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I certainly agree with my right hon. Friend's remarks about local government. As to economic development in Wales, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade in the debate two days ago gave some very encouraging figures. I am not sure if the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) was in the House to hear the figures given by my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

Will the Prime Minister accept that the people of Wales recognise that the future prosperity of that country lies in Wales being linked with the fortunes of the rest of the United Kingdom? Will he say why the present Government have consistently restricted debate on Welsh problems throughout this Parliament and why they have held up reports of vital interest to Wales?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I agree with the hon. Gentleman's first remarks. In regard to debates on Wales, my understanding is that the normal practice has been followed, but that, in addition, and in accordance with the principle of linking Wales with the rest of Britain in economic prosperity, Wales has played a very leading part in the debates on development areas and other economic matters in recent weeks. As to reports, if the hon. Gentleman will let me have particulars, I will certainly inquire into them.

Photo of Mr James Jones Mr James Jones , Wrexham

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the people of Wales have not yet expressed their desire for a Parliament for Wales? Is he aware that, when the last petition in favour of a Parliament for Wales was submitted to Parliament, less than 10 per cent. of the people of Wales had signed it, and that, of the Welsh electorate, less than 13 per cent. had signed?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that information. I am also aware of the way in which Wales voted at the General Election.

Photo of Mr Jeremy Thorpe Mr Jeremy Thorpe , North Devon

If the Prime Minister is prepared to perpetuate a Tory rotten borough in a third of Ireland, why should he not be prepared to give an independent and proud nation its own Parliament? Surely—and I speak as one who has some Welsh blood in his veins—if we are to tolerate a Belfast Parliament, why should not the Welsh nation have its own Parliament as well?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

If the hon. Gentleman wishes to put down specific Questions about Northern Ireland and Stormont which come within the jurisdiction of Her Majesty's Government at Westminster, I will do my best to answer them. However, I thought that the rest of his question represented a string of non sequiturs.

Several Hon. Members:

rose——

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. Questions even on Wales must be short.