|Previous Section||Home Page|
Column 236stated case in total isolation. He has to look at it as part of the pattern of public provision for the area--which, after all, is what it is.
So much for statute. I might add that it would run against the grain of the Government's policy that any school in the public sector should close its door to a whole class or category of parents. That would be a denial of choice, whereas we are seeking to maximise choice.
All sorts of fears have been expressed, including the fear that self- governing schools would become, in one way or another, selective-- academically, socially or on religious grounds. I do not know how far these fears have been artifically stoked up, but, whether they are genuine or not, I do not believe that they are well founded.
Parents who look to self-governing schools to provide an exclusive haven of any sort are likely to be disappointed. We have specifically provided that the right of a parent to have his child admitted to a self-governing school shall be the same as his right to send the child to the education authority school of his choice.
As for the question of exclusion on religious grounds, which has been raised from time to time, it is a general provision of the law--and has been so in Scotland since 1872--that any public school shall be open to any child, regardless of religious affiliation. That goes even for denominational schools at present, and it will apply equally to self- governing schools.
Finally, I doubt whether in practice there will be much demand from parents with children at self-governing schools for such a change of character, except where it is obviously forced on them by circumstances. The parents will have chosen the school as it is and will value it for the character that it has. Moreover, if the school ceases to attract pupils who want to send their children to that school, it will not remain financially viable for long. Schools will be unable to afford to be exclusive.
Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan) : The Minister said that it is difficult to envisage circumstances in which a school would wish to change its character, but he said earlier that he thought that one circumstance might be a shift of population. Can the Minister provide more detail about why a shift of population would lead school authorities to believe that they should change not the size but the character of the school?
Mr. Lang : Circumstances change outwith a school's control. Any school--whether local authority, private sector or self-governing--has to reappraise the surrounding environment, to take account of it and to make whatever alterations might appear to be necessary and appropriate.
Mr. McFall : The Minister said that schools may find that they are not financially viable. If an opted-out school was not financially viable because it could not attract pupils and the school approached the Government for financial assistance after opting out, what would their response be?
Mr. Lang : The Government would approach the financial needs of opted-out schools in exactly the same way, using the same criteria, as they approach the financial viability of schools that had not opted out. They would use the same criteria as local authorities use. The hon. Gentleman will find no grounds for complaint on that score.
Column 237Our policy is clear. It has never been the Government's intention that opting out should be a device for changing the character of a school. We have made that clear from the outset. The amendment puts the matter beyond any doubt and I commend it to the House.
Mr. Worthington : The Minister has used mild and gentle words, but I must repeat the words of the hon. Member for Stirling--that this is the most radical and profound change in Scottish education within a generation. How does one square the two statements?
We welcome the safeguards that the other place has introduced. It will not now be possible to change the character of a school for five years. A Labour Government will have been returned to power before any school can change its character, and we will repeal this measure--make no doubt about it.
A disturbing feature of the Bill is the funding of opted-out schools. As the Minister said, it is not a question of the Government wanting, by giving schools the option to opt out, to provide more choice. As the hon. Member for Stirling said, the Government want to introduce most radical and profound change. There can be radical and profound change only if schools apply for opted-out status. Schools will apply for opted-out status in two ways. First, some areas--they will tend to be relatively well-off--will wish to embark on the long-term strategy, of turning all their schools into selective schools and, I have no doubt, in the long term into private schools in the independent sector.
Secondly, other schools that wish to opt out will be in areas where closures are threatened. Any councillor, or former councillor, who has experience of school closures is scarred for life. Everybody acknowledges that there is a surplus of school places and that schools should be closed. But when one gets down to it, it is never "our school." It is always somebody else's school that should be closed, whether it has only a few or a great many pupils. Whenever the possibility of closing a school is talked about in future, the appeals procedure will be there as a backstop. As part of their strategy, groups of parents will decide to apply to the Secretary of State for opted-out status. The Secretary of State will then choose which schools should have that status. Labour-controlled areas will be ignored by him. Under the 1980 legislation, the Secretary of State said that he did not want to be involved in school closures--that he wished to return the power to close schools to local authorities. Very difficult school closure issues will, however, be decided by the Secretary of State. He will say, "Tory areas will keep their schools. Labour areas will close their schools." It is as simple as that.
After schools have been awarded opted-out status, the Government will seek, as was intimated in the Sunday Times article to which I referred earlier, to turn them into the equivalent of English grammar schools. They will be helped, because that is Government strategy. The Secretary of State's allocation of grants over a five-year period will shovel money towards opted-out schools. It will be clearly seen that they are getting preferential treatment.
The revenue account formula is of no use whatsoever. Clear obligations are being laid on all local authorities ; they will ensure that no action can be taken against opted-out schools. What obligations does the measure
Column 238impose on the Secretary of State to play fair? We come down to that horrible word "reasonable"--a word that cannot be defined. The Secretary of State will decide, on his own personal judgment, the recurrent grant to give any school. The intention of the Under-Secretary of State, who is still manipulating the Scottish education service, is to steer grant towards opted-out schools, thus producing a two- tier system. The same procedure will operate for capital allocation. The Secretary of State will say, "We must feed our own first." By "our own" he means the opted-out schools and not those looked after by the local education authority. Inevitably, if a Tory Government remain in power, a two-tier system will be set up.
It is extremely serious, because, over the centuries, a clear culture has developed which is precious and which will be destroyed by the Bill. I notice it particularly because of my own background. I had the privilege of moving from the class-ridden English structure with an elitist, snobbish culture into a system in which 96 or 97 per cent. of the population goes to the state school. There are enormous benefits from that. An enormous sense of community and cohesion comes from that identity with the local comprehensive school. It provides choice and variety instead of grey uniformity. I know of not one comprehensive school that is exactly the same as another. The comprehensive system provides the opportunity to develop the characteristics of an area and to give choices that are appropriate to the community. For example, in the Western Isles a school might add in Gaelic and in an area with heavy industry it might add in appropriate skills. The comprehensive system provides the potential for that choice-- [Interruption.] I give way to the hon. Gentleman.
Mr. Barry Porter : On the grounds that I have been here and awake. Is the hon. Gentleman advocating that the entire education system should be controlled by the state and that it should all be comprehensive? Is that what he is saying?
Mr. Worthington : A valuable system has been developed in which there must be a role for central Government in education, but there is also a role for education authorities. The Bill proposes a formidable centralisation of control over the state system whereby the Secretary of State decides which schools close and which remain open. When a Labour Government come into power, we shall repeal this legislation and restore the special relationship between the Scottish school system and the community in which it operates. We shall stop the destruction of that relationship by the divisive powers embodied in the Bill.
Mr. Salmond : I should like to pursue the Minister further on the circumstances in which a school might wish to change its characteristics. Perhaps he can supply more detail of the characteristics that could be changed.
In another place, Lord Sanderson said on 18 October that he fully expected that most self-governing schools will have no wish to alter their basic characteristics. This
Column 239evening the Minister said something very similar. Incidentally, the debate in the House of Lords was as badly attended as our debate has been.
If Ministers in the House of Lords and here tonight can see no circumstances in which schools will wish to change their basic characteristics, why on earth are we debating these amendments? The Minister has tried to palm us off by saying that things are always evolving and that in time there will be changes and it would be ridiculous if self- governing schools could not make the same changes as other schools in the system. What changes does he perceive self-governing schools will wish to make after the five-year period? Will it be a change to single-sex education, religious education or--and this is much more likely--selective education?
I see in the amendments the possibility of schools changing their characteristics the Government's intention to move the Scottish system of education towards a selective system which has been such a failure south of the border. We have to acknowledge that the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) is a product of the Scottish education system. He is not much of an advert for it, but he is certainly a product of the comprehensive system and the Scottish university system. Many Opposition Members are appalled by the actions of the Under-Secretary of State and his approach to education because he is seeking to deny future generations of Scottish schoolchildren the advantages that he enjoyed. There is no doubt in my mind that the opening up of the possibility of changing the characteristics of Scottish schools through self-governing status is an attempt to open the door to the reintroduction of selective education in Scotland, which would be a major step backwards.
Mrs. Fyfe : During our discussions in Committee, the Opposition had to point out to the Government for many a weary hour that children should not be subjected to changes in the nature or the ethos of their schools any more frequently than necessary.
We had to point out that it would be unreasonable to do as the Government first intended and allow changes in the nature of one to take place virtually as quickly as any group of parents could succeed in winning a vote to do so. Therefore, we welcome the protection in the Lords amendment, especially bearing in mind some of the changes that could be envisaged. For example, a school could change from one teaching both sexes to a single-sex school and back again. It could change from a non-denominational school to one serving a particular denomination and back again. It could change from a school promoting particular abilities and skills such as music and dancing or maths to one teaching whatever subject took the fancy of those deciding these matters.
We debated whether we approved of giving specialist education to children in skills such as dancing and music as we wanted all children's abilities to be fostered. Although we agreed that certain skills should be fostered, we certainly drew a distinction between that and the prospect of a school changing from a comprehensive to one which was aimed at the fast stream-- the children who were seen as academic high fliers.
Column 240Comprehensive schools are commonplace in Scotland. They exist in many small Scottish towns not because of educational policy but because that was the nature of the beast--in a small area, all the children in the locality came together in such schools. On the whole, it has been a success. We should not exaggerate that success, because under any system some children do not receive the education that they should.
Conservative Members have been dishonest about our education system. Many of the problems with the English comprehensive system are caused by the way that it is run. It is commonplace for teachers to teach subjects for which they do not have a degree, never mind teacher training. A teacher in a secondary school in Scotland is required not only to have the relevant degree but to have the relevant elements in that degree before being allowed to teach that particular subject. For that reason alone, it is hardly surprising that comprehensives in Scotland have been more successful. The egalitarian ethos appertaining to so much of Scottish society is seen in our education system. It is natural and normal to bring together all our children in one building to share their experiences, and they are all treated the same whether they wear a uniform or not. Conservative Members representing English constituencies served on the Committee considering the Bill. We express our anger once again at their continuous ill-informed and ignorant interventions, their endless disturbances, their schoolboyish raising of points of order and their nonsensical manoeuvres. As the debate draws to a close, thereby offering no further opportunity to debate Scottish education, only two Scottish Tory Back Benchers are present, and only one of the English Tory stormtroopers of the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth)-- [Interruption.]
Mr. Leigh : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) to comment on the number of Conservative Members present, when only four Scottish Labour Members are present?
Mr. Allan Stewart (Eastwood) rose --
The Minister brought on to the Committee a bunch of English Tory Members not because of their interest in Scottish education but merely as stormtroopers to make pests of themselves. Only one has the guts to remain here to defend their position, but he has not been paying attention for most of the evening. He has been wandering in and out and reading something, I cannot see what.
Column 241the "qualy" was but did not know? We offered them an awayday ticket to Scotland to find out what it was, but they were so ignorant that they rejected it.
Conservative Members displayed their ignorance of Scottish education in many other ways, but it did not prevent them from wasting hours of our time with their nonsense. They are pushing this legislation through regardless of the wishes of the Scottish people, but they will pay in the end through the loss of seats in Scotland. Tory Members are sure to lose-- [Interruption.]
Mrs. Fyfe : I am not surprised that Conservative Members are attempting to prevent Labour Members from expressing their views. They are making much noise because they have nothing to say. They have nothing to contribute to the debate other than schoolboy manoeuvres. Their behaviour will soon be exposed when the House is televised. I wonder whether they will then continue to conduct themselves like stupid public schoolboys. I am sure that you, Mr. Speaker, would welcome an improvement in their behaviour. I am an ex-teacher in further education, but I never had a class that conducted itself in the way that Conservative Members are now doing. I know that you are often appalled by the conduct of Conservative Members, particularly when a woman Member is speaking.
It being three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. Speaker-- proceeded, pursuant to the Order this day, to put the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that hour.
Lords amendment agreed to.
Lords amendments Nos. 38, 45 and 46 agreed to.
There being private business set down for consideration at Seven o'clock Mr. Speaker-- suspended the sitting, pursuant to Standing Order No. 16 (Time for taking private business).
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Promoters of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill [Lords] shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office of their intention to suspend further proceedings not later than the day before the close of the present Session and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid ; That if the Bill is brought from the Lords in the next Session, the Agents for the Bill shall deposit in the Private Bill Office a declaration signed by them, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill which was brought from the Lords in the present Session ;
That as soon as a certificate by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office, that such a declaration has been so deposited, has been laid upon the Table of the House, the Bill shall be deemed to have been read the first and shall be ordered to be read a second time ; That the Petitions against the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session ; That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business ;
That, in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)' were omitted ;
That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session ;
That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.-- [The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]
Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth) : My main reasons for supporting the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill fall under two headings--jobs and the environment. I want to say a little about each. By convention, I must be extremely brief, but I should be happy to answer points if given leave of the House to do so-- [Interruption.]
Mr. Michael : I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) for raising that point of order. As I was saying, I shall be happy, if given the leave of the House, to clarify points at the end of the debate or before Second Reading. Having worked with young people and unemployed people in Cardiff, I have direct experience of the depression and degradation that unemployment brings, and I want to see an end to it. I have also been involved in the economic regeneration of Cardiff and I know just how hard it has been to achieve. We have had successes, but there are still massive problems. Unemployment in south Glamorgan is still above the Welsh average. Much of that unemployment is concentrated in my constituency, in the
Column 243very area covered by the Cardiff bay development, and in areas such as Riverside in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan).
As the Committee will hear in due course, I hope, the barrage is the key to the redevelopment that will bring the jobs that are so vital to the area. Those jobs will help my constituency, but the impact will be felt throughout the region. About 30 per cent. of jobs in Cardiff are filled by workers outside the city and it is estimated that up to 10,000 jobs will be filled by workers from the rest of the region. In cash terms, that is about £75 million in wages, without taking account of the effect of the multiplier or of jobs during the construction period. The figures will be open to testing in Committee, but they show that the Bill should be carried over because it is so important to so many people. In 1981, 20,000 people a day were coming from the valleys of south Wales to work in Cardiff, and road and rail flows have increased since then. People in the region are increasingly interdependent.
There is also the matter of the environment in which we live. I became a member of the city council in the early 1970s because I felt that the city was failing to create real communities for people to live in. At that time, we wanted to stop extending the city ever outwards towards Newport, Barry and Caerphilly and to bring people into the city centre to live. Our efforts were frustrated, but the death of the steel works and other heavy industries and the decline of the docks have created an opportunity, as well as leaving dirt and dereliction behind them.
A start to the regeneration was made when Labour councillors in South Glamorgan spearheaded the Atlantic wharf development with the new county hall. That ambitious development saved money for the ratepayers. This very night the Association of County Councils is presenting its major national award to south Glamorgan for that initiative in this, the centenary year of county council government. The regeneration of south Cardiff needs a more powerful catalyst which will catch the imagination and create opportunities and jobs. That catalyst is the barrage. It has already caught the imagination nationally and internationally.
The real challenge is how we manage this change. It must repsect the existing communities. It must involve affordable homes for local people and their children and grandchildren. These are the things that we are tackling in my constituency. We must keep existing jobs, even if they need to be relocated to make way for development. That is why I am pleased by the encouraging answer given to my question by the Secretary of State for Wales yesterday when he said that assistance for relocation and expansion of local firms would be forthcoming.
We must redevelop south Cardiff so as to enhance and respect the existing city, but to create the jobs that we need and improve the environment in the way that we need, the barrage is the essential catalyst.
Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda) : As one who represents a constituency not far from Cardiff and who had a close connection with the dockland area of Cardiff some years ago, I accept the need for redevelopment of that area, but I have yet to be convinced of the need for the barrage. My hon. Friend, perhaps not intentionally, is twinning the ideas of relieving unemployment and constructing the
Column 244barrage. Unemployment and dereliction in Cardiff could be easily improved by the development of the dockland area, without building a barrage across the rivers.
"The Committee was convinced on the evidence that the economic case was sound and that the investment prospects were good."
That was an expression of the dependence of jobs on the barrage. I accept that this link needs to be questioned closely, but I cannot go into the detail today. The carry-over motion should be accepted so that this issue can be investigated, as my hon. Friend would wish. I contend that the case for the barrage is strong and urgent. Consideration should be carried over so that opposition to the Bill can be scrutinised by a Committee.
Opposition to the barrage is sincere, but misguided. One element rests on the view that impoundment of water will lead to a rise in ground water and affect some basements. Everyone agrees that this is an issue, and I repeat that I have an open mind on it. However, evidence to date suggests that it has been considerably overstated by the Bill's opponents. As such problems would affect my constituency to the greatest extent, I assure the House that I am vigorously seeking clarity and precision on the likely effects of ground water. It is clear--this point was recently endorsed by the Welsh region of the National Rivers Authority--that the barrage will help to prevent flooding in the city. I should say that--following the line pursued by my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) about jobs--the reassurances about ground water were unanimously accepted by the House of Lords Select Committee.
Mr. Ron Davies : My hon. Friend mentioned the role that has been played by the NRA. As I understand it, now that the scientists in the authority's employ have been freed of the political control that was exercised over them--just as it was over Welsh Water--they have opposed the barrage because of its implications in terms of flooding and water quality. My hon. Friend is obviously in touch with the Bill's sponsors and, presumably, the NRA. Perhaps he can tell us whether the NRA opposes the Bill.
Mr. Michael : I am happy to respond to that point. The answer is no. The NRA has marginally updated the position now that it is a separate body. The updated report would be subject to close scrutiny by the Committee. The NRA's position has been made clear. First, it would improve the situation to lessen dangers in the future. Secondly, it has made strong comments about the safeguards necessary to maintain water quality. The House of Lords Select Committee considered those safeguards adequate. My hon. Friend has raised a matter that needs careful consideration and scrutiny by the Committee.
The importance of Cardiff bay as a site for waders has been overstated by some, but not all, of the opponents of the Bill. The area is not a site of international importance for waders or wild fowl in its own right, but it is not insignificant. That is why the decision to create alternative feeding grounds is important. I hope that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and other groups will recognise the benefits of the barrage for the human environment, and that they will make a positive effort to
Column 245develop the alternative lagoon and get its management right. The matter deserves full scrutiny by a Committee of the House. There is real concern about the national and international environment. It is right that the Government should be under pressure to give greater priority to planning and conserving the environment. However, that is no reason to stop this Bill. We are talking not about a natural environment, but about one that was created by building the docks 150 years ago, tipping and reclamation of land, the despoliation caused by heavy industry and the pressures of a growing city.
The barrage will keep out tidal waters which the House of Lords report described as "far from clean" and it will lead to the removal of many sewer outlets from the Cardiff bay area.
Many people are understandably fearful of the changes which the barrage will bring but many more look forward with hope. One man who sailed out of Cardiff docks for many years said of the mud at low tide, "It stank then and it stinks now. Let's get on with it." He speaks for many people.
South Cardiff has long been the backyard of our city, but in it live some of the best people and some of the closest communities I know. They deserve jobs, homes and a pleasant environment. The Bill can unlock that door to opportunity. We must manage that opportunity in the best way possible for our city, for our communities and for future generations. I ask right hon. and hon. Members, please do not slam that door in our faces.
Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West) : I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to some of the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael). I had hoped to be able to synchronise our chronometers and to speak for the same length of time, but as my hon. Friend spoke for less time than I had expected, I may be unable to do that. But I shall do my best. I take a different view from my hon. Friend and others who support the motion. I doubt its validity. First, we ought to establish clearly the purpose of a carry-over motion. Why are we debating it? Why is it not an automatic procedure? It is an opportunity for the House to decide whether it wishes to give leave to the promoters of a private Bill to allow it to span two parliamentary Sessions. It is a matter for right hon. and hon. Members to consider with all the wisdom that they can muster. They have to consider the state of the Bill. It is not an automatic procedure, where hon. Members turn up, give a nod and it passes through to the next Session. We must decide whether the Bill is in a fit state to be carried over, whether it deserves to be carried over and whether it should have the leave of the House to be considered, not only in the parliamentary year which comes to an end the day after tomorrow, but in the 12 months following the Queen's Speech next week.
This Bill has plainly not earned the right to be carried over. I base my case on the preamble of the Bill and because it appears before us in a defective state. In effect, we are considering two Bills--the one which the House of Lords thought that they sent to the House of Commons, and the one which they sent. I informed my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth, and the
Column 246promoters of the Bill, through their parliamentary agents, some 26 hours ago of my reasons. I have not received any formal communication, although I have had some informal communication about details of the Bill.
There is no contest between anybody here tonight about whether there is a defect in the Bill. The question is whether that defect destroys the case for a carry-over motion.
When the Bill left the other place it was accompanied, as is normal, by a plan, signed by Lord Elibank, the Chairman of the Lords Committee, which gave effect to the terms of the Bill. There is a line marked on the map. Everybody who lives or who owns a business within that line is protected against ground water damage, which the promoters of the Bill have accepted will be possible after closing off the mouths of the rivers Taff and Ely.
The line offered by the promoters, in the case they presented to the Committee in the other place, was known as plan 12. The map carried two lines--describing the protected property line and the further protected property line. In Committee, their Lordships in their wisdom decided to abolish the inner line, and to make the outer line the sole determinant of the area within which compensation could be paid, or works could be carried out in lieu of compensation, to businesses and homes which had ground water ingress into basements or foundations. That was given the backing of the whole House on Third Reading in the other place.
Plan 12 was prepared by the promoters based on geological estimates, and it covered a large area. There is disagreement about whether ground water effects will be more extensive in my constituency or in that of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth. I think that they will be more extensive in my constituency, but it is a minor point. Thousands of homes will be affected one way or the other. I have not studied the matter that closely, but when I glance at the map I see that more properties will be affected in my constituency and more acreage in my hon. Friend's, but that is a moot point.
What is not a moot point is that in plan 12, as presented to the Lords, the outer boundary was to be the one within which every property had the right to a free survey at the expense of the promoters, and to compensatory work by them to put right any damage caused by water ingress as a result of the barrage. If there was any problem or disagreement about those works, people would be able to go to arbitration in the normal way. The Lords accepted that scheme. The Chairman of the Committee signed five copies of the plan. One was deposited in the Private Bill Office in this House, one in the Private Bill Office in the other place, one at the headquarters of both of the promoters--the Cardifff Bay development corporation and South Glamorgan county council--and one in the city hall. However, it turns out that the plan that the Chairman of the Committee, Lord Elibank, signed was not coterminous with plan 12--the plan which the promoters had offered.
Mr. Michael : Perhaps I can assist my hon. Friend and the House. I notified him of this earlier, so it will come as no surprise. This is a serious issue, but it has been dealt with and the formalities can be dealt with easily.
My hon. Friend first mentioned the issue to me late last night, although it could have been raised with the county council at any time during the past two weeks. I mentioned it to the county council this morning. It has checked the
Column 247situation and confirms that my hon. Friend is right. Plan 12 is the correct plan. The council has checked with the authorities and there are two ways in which the situation can be put right. It apologises for the error, which it did not notice until it was drawn to its attention. Either the Chairman of the Lords Committee can sign a new plan, or an amended plan can be put to the Commons Committee. Either could solve the problem--whichever is more acceptable to the authorities of the House. It is right that my hon. Friend should raise the matter, but it has been dealt with, and can be dealt with without difficulty. Perhaps it would be as well for my hon. Friend to leave it at that and get on to the other important issues he wants to raise.
Mr. Morgan : My hon. Friend will have to let me make my own speech in my own way. However, I accept that he is perfectly correct in informing you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that he has told me this in a verbal form. In the almost 26 hours since I communicated this to the parliamentary agents for the promoters, I have received no formal communication from the agents or the promoters to the effect of my hon. Friend's suggestion.
Mr. Michael : I want to place on record the fact that I have spoken to those individuals as well. I assure my hon. Friend that what has been said by the county council has been confirmed by those who represent them. The county, of course, had not been approached by my hon. Friend until he raised the concerns of his constituents, which I recognise are important, with me. I hope that he will accept my reassurance, which is on the record in this House.
Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is the first debate on a private Bill that I have attended. I find myself a little confused about the status of the different maps and the lines on the maps. Can you advise us, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether the whole Bill is invalidated as a result of the confusion and we thus need to start from scratch, or whether there is a way of getting round the problem?