Mr Geraint Howells: I am grateful for the opportunity to speak so early in my parliamentary career and at such a vital time in the country's affairs. It is my privilege to represent the county of Cardigan, a county rooted in the finest traditions of Welsh life and culture. I am now breaking with one of its traditions as I am its first Member of Parliament for over 50 years who does not belong to the legal...
Mr Geraint Howells: asked the Secretary of State for Wales what action he intends to take in view of the impending increase in the water rates in Wales.
Mr Geraint Howells: Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman willing to meet representatives of both the farmers unions and the local authorities in Wales to discuss these increases?
Mr Geraint Howells: asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made in integrating the hill farming policies of the United Kingdom with those of the EEC; and whether he is satisfied with the assistance available to British hill farmers.
Mr Geraint Howells: I know that the Minister is aware that there are two schools of thought in Britain and within the EEC on the future of hill land in Britain. Many believe—
Mr Geraint Howells: Is the Minister aware that, given the right incentives, production from the hills could be doubled? Will he assure the House that he will do everything in his power to persuade his counterparts in Europe that he will fulfil this promise?
Mr Geraint Howells: asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any plans in the foreseeable future to extend the motorway through Mid-Wales from the Midlands to Aberystwyth.
Mr Geraint Howells: I am sure the Minister is aware that communications between the Midlands and Aberystwyth must be improved if we are to induce industrialists to settle in that area. I thank the hon. Gentleman for his reply, but has he any proposals to improve communications in the near future?
Mr Geraint Howells: Having had an interest in the production and marketing of livestock for many years, I declare my interest. My colleagues and I welcome the scheme, which will increase the calf subsidy by £10 per head. It is a step in the right direction, but I am sure that even the Minister is worried and disappointed by the slaughtering figures, which show a substantial increase this summer. The statistics...
Mr Geraint Howells: Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that Welsh agriculture is facing another crisis? I am sure he is aware of the Written Answer I received from the Minister of Agriculture stating that he is not reintroducing the guaranteed price system for beef. Does not the Secretary of State agree that this is an opportune time to have a Minister of State for agriculture in Wales?
Mr Geraint Howells: asked the Secretary of State for Wales what are the requirements for the recognition of independent educational establishments teaching Welsh.
Mr Geraint Howells: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his reply, but is he aware that if we are to safeguard the future of the Welsh language and its culture we shall have to spend more money on bilingual education?
Mr Geraint Howells: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the two major parties in Britain had a glorious opportunity to put agriculture on to a sound footing during the past two years and failed?
Mr Geraint Howells: My colleagues and I are deeply disappointed that very little reference was contained in the Gracious Speech to the plight of the farmers. We are all aware that the Liberal Party and the Nationals have tabled an appropriate amendment to the motion for the Address. Why, I wonder, have the Conservatives not tabled such an amendment? Is it because they were responsible for abolishing the...
Mr Geraint Howells: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The farmers were in a militant mood this morning. They said that they would not leave London until they were given the assurance that the guaranteed price system would be restored within the next few days. Is there any just reason why the Minister will not reintroduce the guaranteed price system for beef within the next few days? If he cannot do that, what are...
Mr Geraint Howells: I take it that the Minister does not intend to reply to that point.
Mr Geraint Howells: I know of no good reason why the Minister should not reintroduce the system.
Mr Geraint Howells: I am not worried by that intervention, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am quite used to that sort of thing, especially in my constituency. We have discussed inflation for a long time but another word is now coming into use these days, and that word is "starvation". Many farmers in Wales and throughout Britain are worried that much of their stock will starve during the winter months. Cannot the...
Mr Geraint Howells: I shall accept your advice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and be brief and to the point. I am pleased to welcome the draft regulations. I am sure that all farmers, especially hill farmers, will welcome any measure which will improve the safety standards for farm workers. If the regulations save only one life it will be a worthwhile exercise. Far too many lives have already been lost. I have been...
Mr Geraint Howells: asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will introduce a financial support system in addition to the Agricultural Credit Corporation to help young Welsh farmers who are on the verge of bankruptcy.