Welsh Rivers Authority

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd May 1988.

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Photo of Mr Ron Davies Mr Ron Davies , Caerphilly 12:00 am, 23rd May 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received pressing for a Welsh rivers authority; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Ian Grist Mr Ian Grist , Cardiff Central

The Government's consultation paper proposing a National Rivers Authority was published in July 1987. Nine of the 51 responses received in Wales suggested a separate authority for Wales.

Photo of Mr Ron Davies Mr Ron Davies , Caerphilly

Given that the Secretary of State is a party to the appointment of Lord Crickhowell as chairman of the National Rivers Authority, I am surprised that he did not answer my question. Nevertheless, how can the public have confidence in the integrity and independence of Lord Crickhowell, who is a paid representative of the multinational mining corporation Rio-Tinto-Zinc, in his capacity of chairman of the National Rivers Authority? Given also that the incidence of river pollution is now at a record level of 2,500 cases annually, only one in 28 of which results in prosecution, is not Lord Crickhowell just a Tory ex-politician—a Tory placeman—appointed to preside over the lowering of water quality standards in Wales?

Photo of Mr Ian Grist Mr Ian Grist , Cardiff Central

Lowering standards have been well illustrated by the hon. Gentleman's approach this afternoon. I thought that his was a disgraceful contribution.

My noble Friend Lord Crickhowell has made a notable and extremely beneficent contribution to Welsh affairs. Opposition Members should welcome the fact that a person in his position, with his love and knowledge of Wales, is there to protect our interests.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Vale of Glamorgan

Is it not a fact that legislation governing the purity of water is still in force and has in no way been altered? Is it not a fact also that where there has been an increase in pollution, it is largely due to new treatments of agricultural land, and that a major step is now being taken to improve matters in that respect?

Photo of Mr Ian Grist Mr Ian Grist , Cardiff Central

As is so often the case, my hon. Friend is absolutely right.