Commission on the Constitution

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1973.

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Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey 12:00 am, 3rd December 1973

asked the Secretary of State for Wales which organisations in Wales are being consulted about the report of the Commission on the Constitution ; and what part he will take in these discussions.

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

I shall welcome views from any Welsh organisation or individual, and these will be fully considered by my colleagues and myself.

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman recall that the Prime Minister rightly said that there should be a reasonable period for consultation and public discussion of the report? Will he consult, in particular, the Welsh Council and Welsh local authority organisations, in view of the implications of the report for them and possibly upon their functions?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

I understand that the Welsh Council has already begun a study of the report. I am sure that political and other bodies are also considering it, and I very much hope to receive their views in due course. Indeed, I would welcome their views at any time.

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

Is the Secretary of State aware that my Welsh right hon. and hon. Friends are largely agreed on this matter and that we should be happy to facilitate the passage of a Bill giving effect to the major recommendation of the report?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

I am delighted to hear that right hon. and hon. Members opposite are agreed. I read in a newspaper a report of a speech by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas), made, presumably, on behalf of the Labour Party in Wales. I found it very interesting. I did not detect much enthusiasm in it, but it was quite clear.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

The Secretary of State must learn to read with care. The Opposition are clear, unanimous and unequivocal on this question. We are united in our determination—

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. This is the time for questions, not for policy statements.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

No one holds you in higher regard than I do, Mr. Speaker. [Interruption.] I am simply casting my bread upon the waters. Is the Secretary of State aware that on this matter the Opposition have declared their position quite clearly, which is for a directly elected assembly in Wales? When may we look forward to the Secretary of State's clear observation on the question?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

I was interested to find that the right hon. Gentleman, for the first time for a very long time, appeared to be speaking on behalf of all his colleagues in the speech which he made last Friday. I assure him that I shall study what he says with great care, and I welcome the views which he has expressed. The Government wish carefully to consider this large and complicated report before coming to a decision. We hope to receive, and, indeed, will welcome, views from all interested bodies in Wales, which in many cases will be very different from those of the right hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Flintshire West

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that, unlike right hon. and hon. Members opposite, many of us on the Government side of the House do not wish to bury this matter in a cloud of ambiguity and would welcome a forthright statement from my right hon. and learned Friend to the effect that the report is totally and utterly misguided and that with local government reorganisation, new authorities, and so on, the people of Wales have been pushed around quite enough? The Welsh people want to see the report decently buried as soon as possible.

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

My hon. Friend has expressed a view which I know exists. The Government intend to put forward their proposals as soon as they are in a position to do so. Those proposals will be put forward clearly and unequivocally, just as the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas) suggests his proposals were put forward. But we do not intend to put them forward until public opinion has had time to form.