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Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli) : It may seem trite to say so, but the Bill seeks to build a barrage. If one looks at the long title to the Bill, it is also intended to build a lagoon at Wentlloog. I understand, from reading the evidence in the other place and from listening to what has been said tonight, that if the Bill does not become law, the development of the dockland area in Cardiff will still go ahead. It is not the purpose of any of us who oppose the barrage to oppose such a development. I concede readily that the development may be of a different form, and that it may be at a slower pace, but no one has argued that there will be no development.
There have been various objections, which I shall merely mention because I am not competent, as the Member for Llanelli, to deal with them. They are matters for my hon. Friends who represent Cardiff constituencies. One objection is that the barrage scheme will have a bad effect on the local community and there is the danger of flooding. There are also environmental problems, including problems for bird life, and the question of public subsidy. I have read the reports of the previous debate in this House and the debates in the other place, and the evidence that was given to the House of Lords Select Committee. It is surprising that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) and other hon. Members did not mention the public subsidy. We deserve to know about it and I hope that the Minister will realise that he has a duty to tell us about it.
The Welsh Office issued a press release on 11 December
Column 296this year which, in effect, boasted about the £100 million to be paid to the development corporation out of Government money over a period of three years, as I understand it. We were not told in the press release what the money would be spent on or what part of the Welsh Office budget the money would come from. I hope that we shall be told tonight what the money will be spent on, where it will come from and how much there will be. Apparently, the private sector can put in £8 for every £1 of public sector money. Let us be told how much the public sector will put into what is, in effect, a private venture.
All those objections are valid, but I should like to widen the debate a little and to concentrate on some other aspects of the scheme. To me and to some of my hon. Friends--I am sorry to say this in respect of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth--this scheme seems, as do so many others of its kind, to epitomise much of what has been wrong about 10 years of Thatcherite Britain. The scheme will contribute little, if anything, to primary production. It is concerned with consumption, not with production. It is about property, up-market housing, shopping malls, leisure and tourism.
Those are all no doubt good and worthy when they are the by-product of the fruits of production in a healthy economy. Such projects may be very worthy in France, Germany, Scandinavia, Japan and other countries with strong economies, but they are not something to boast about or to embark upon in the Britain of the late-1980s and 1990s, given our weak industrial base. Britain cannot afford them, and south Wales, with an even weaker industrial base, can afford them even less.
The scheme is all too familiar and predictable. Most of us know the syndrome, although perhaps on a smaller scale. First, one finds a consultant. The very word "consultant"--especially if one puts the word "management" in front of it--strikes awe and terror in many people's hearts and minds. Once one has found a consultant, he goes away and looks into the matter. I am sorry to say that very few of these guys have much imagination. They follow fashion and they are good at drawing up Bills, but they lack imagination. I have not seen a Leonardo da Vinci among them so far.
The fruits of the consultants' work are predictable. In this case, we have a barrage, or a lagoon, or a lake : it does not really matter what one calls it. As Cecil B. De Mille might have said, "You've got to get water, and plenty of water." That is where they start ; then they put little boats on the water and build houses round it. Once they have done that, they need a golf course. After all, these hard-working consultants have to have a break between one report and the next. Then, if they can, they make a ski slope, which might be very difficult in Wentlloog.
Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney) : Come to Merthyr. We have a fine ski slope there.
Mr. Davies : Indeed, but my hon. Friend does not have a lagoon. I suppose that we could have a water ski slope in Wentlloog. I am sure that the corporation, whose representative must be listening to the debate, could come up with some sort of ski slope.
If one pays a little bit extra, one can also get a park for rare breeds of animals, such as Jacob sheep, or whatever. In Llanelli some time ago, it was suggested that land that used to be employed for a modern steelworks that was
Column 297destroyed in the early phases of Thatcherism --in the early 1980s--could be used as a park for pink pigs. Luckily, with their well-known wit and sense of the ridiculous, my constituents managed to laugh that bit of consultancy out of town.
Mr. Ron Davies : What was their colour?
Mr. Denzil Davies : They were pink.
Mr. Ron Davies : Well, most of them are.
The Bill is not about water but about residential and commercial property. No doubt somewhere in the pretty plans there will be a few sites for factories, just to satisfy those of us old-fashioned enough to believe in production and manufacturing. But most of the property will be residential or commercial because residential and commercial land values in that area are far higher than land values for factories, and it is easier to borrow on the basis of those higher land values.
Most of the properties will be housing ; not any old housing, oh no! I have read the evidence from the other place and the Select Committee report, and I know that it will be up-market housing for the professional classes. The Select Committee gave the game away. If there is no barrage, we are told, there will still be about 2,700 houses, but unfortunately very few of them will be "of high quality". That means that they will be houses for the working classes, and that, of course, will not do. So--hey presto!--we have a barrage. Then we are allowed 5,000 houses, and three quarters of the 5,000 houses will be of "the highest quality". That means houses for the professional classes.
We have not heard any economic analysis. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth did not mention any economic benefits and there has been no study of them. Presumably, the "trickle down" theory applies. If houses are built for surveyors, stockbrokers, solicitors, lawyers and accountants, their expertise, wealth and everything that they contribute will trickle down and irrigate the land and the economy all around them. That is the theory, but I do not believe it and the history of south Wales during the past 10 years does not show that it happens. Indeed, despite all these wonderful developments, income per head of population in Wales during the past 10 years has fallen dramatically.
Housing in Britain is heavily subsidised. In my opinion, it is too heavily subsidised, but we could debate that matter on another occasion. Although it is heavily subsidised, the money that the Welsh Office will put into this project may not go directly into housing. However, it will be spent on roads, sewers and other ancillary matters needed for house building. In effect, the £100 million will be a subsidy to private sector housing-- and to up-market private sector housing at that. If money is available for housing, I, and I am sure most of my hon. Friends, can think of better places and better ways of spending it.
Mr. Gareth Wardell (Gower) : Does my right hon. Friend agree that a quarter of the housing that is to be provided will be low-cost housing for first-time buyers and that that will be of tremendous benefit to people in Cardiff?
Mr. Davies : I said that three quarters of the housing would be high -quality housing, so on that basis presumably one quarter will be low quality. About 25 per cent. of the housing will be for the low-quality end of the market-- [Interruption.] Yes, my hon. Friend cannot deny that --
Mr. Wardell : It will be low-cost housing.
Mr. Davies : Well, "low cost" and "low quality" sometimes go together-- [Interruption.] --but not always.
During the past 10 years, one third of Britain's manufacturing industry and base has disappeared. Probably more than one third of our industrial base has disappeared in south Wales and we may never get it back. Britain has a balance of payments deficit of £20 billion. We have an inflation rate of 8 per cent. and interest rates of 15 per cent. During the past 10 years, money has been poured into property development in the residential and commercial sectors, causing the kind of inflation that we now have and contributing to the high interest rates that are crucifying manufacturing industry. If the property companies that are to be part of the development examine the cost of borrowing the money that they will need for the development, I wager that they will find that the average cost of the interest is far below the best or market rate of interest when amortised over the life of the property. Although small engineering companies, small foundries and small machine tool companies pay interest at 16, 17 or 18 per cent., pension funds or property companies pay nothing near that rate.
However, without the manufacturing concerns, the foundries or machine tool shops, all these developments will wither on the vine and eventually become white elephants. As for jobs, we know the kind of jobs that will be produced by the development. They are part-time, low-paid jobs. That is what we have suffered from in south Wales during the past 10 years.
In conclusion, the building of the barrage is a product of the excesses and profligacy of Thatcher Britain during the 1980s--of the borrowing and reborrowing on property. I do not know whether the Bill will become law, but if the provisions are enacted in 1990, the building will no doubt begin in 1990. However, the boom is over and the excesses will have to be paid for. I do not know whether the country will be prepared to pay in the early 1990s for the excesses of the 1980s. I do not know whether it will be prepared to pay for this development and, whether or not the Bill goes through, I suspect that we shall not be able to pay for this development.
Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West) : My qualification for speaking in the debate is that I spent the first 30 years of my life living in Grangetown, an experience that few, if any, hon. Members will have shared. I have a passionate interest in the area and a desire to see its improvement.
I can speak about Llanelli with the same authority with which my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) spoke about Cardiff--nil. He clearly does not understand the effect that the Bill will have on a great circle of working-class homes that are already there. The area of Channel view, the Marl, Avondale road, the Hamadryad and going round to Splott has for several generations been shunned and despised by Cardiff.
Column 299We hear talk of Cardiff bay. When I was a boy I knew all about Tiger bay, but I had never heard of Cardiff bay. It has suddenly been presented as an area that is desirable and unique. It is unique in some ways. It is a vast mud slum surrounded by refuse tips. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds finds it beautiful. I know that distance lends enchantment to the view. We know that Cardiff bay looks attractive from Caerphilly, and from Scunthorpe it looks magnificent.
Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe) : Does my hon. Friend accept that I have had letters from people who live in the area who share the view of the environmentalists that the bay is not only important environmentally but should be built into the city--that it is part of the city's heritage and should be developed and improved? I accept my hon. Friend's points, but does he accept that if the barrage were scrapped, the money could be diverted to enhancing the area so that we could have the bay, the birds and the improvements?
Mr. Flynn : I shall come to that point. My hon. Friend is a member of the ruling body of the RSPB, whose president comes from Iceland. From Iceland, Cardiff bay looks as beautiful as the Bay of Naples. It looks wonderful. When we previously debated the matter, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) complained bitterly that if the barrage is constructed the water will not be blue. But even the Bay of Naples is not blue. The Bristol channel is brown. Roath park in the centre of Cardiff is an ugly green colour, but it is acceptable and many of us use such areas with pleasure for recreational purposes. The only chance of the water becoming blue is if there is an outbreak of blue-green algae, which is the great threat to the barrage and could result in toxins being released. But the great lesson here is not in the pessimism and the hundreds of reasons that people can think up why the project will go wrong. Rather we should look at the environmental crime that has been committed in Cardiff over the years. When I was a boy I used to swim in the River Taff from Penarth road bridge. The water there was not blue or brown, it was black, but it has improved enormously since. The crime is not that we shall create a lagoon that will be polluted ; the crime is that we have allowed such pollution to continue all these years. The need to clean up the Rivers Taff and Ely must be part of the construction of the barrage.
I worked in the area for many years. I have walked from Grangetown to Victoria wharf. Such a slum of industrial buildings would never have been allowed in any other part of the city. Many people have come from elsewhere and they are playing on the fears of the people of Cardiff. I remember the two great floods and the terror and squalor that they caused. We must avoid a recurrence, and the issue of groundwater must be properly investigated. However, I understand that attempts--not made on a basis of fact--have been made to arouse people's fears. It is a shame that emotions should have been aroused so unnecessarily.
We have heard a great deal about birds and about the great environmental offence that is about to be committed. My hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) said that for the first time a national body is to destroy an entire site of special scientific interest. It is interesting to consider just how many SSSIs there are. They already
Column 300number more than 5,000, and the figure is rapidly approaching 7, 000. There will be a time when 10 per cent. of the whole land area of the country will be designated as special.
We are talking here about the estuary of the Taff and the Rhymney--not about the estuaries of the Mawdduch Towry, or Tawe, or about various magnificent other estuaries in Wales. One could argue a case for preserving them.
Mr. Gareth Wardell : Does my hon. Friend agree that when an SSSI is designated, great care must be exercised not to make that action counter- productive? In my constituency, there is an SSSI at Broughton, which has been designated so that the tide can come in and erode the cliff face. It is taking away a farmer's land so that a glacial till is exposed and the public can view it. One must remember that a farmer's livelihood is just as important as the facility to view a glacial till.
Mr. Flynn : I am grateful for my hon. Friend's intervention. How many SSSIs have been destroyed or threatened in the past few years? I can tell the House that the figure is nearly 300, so such occurrances are not unusual. The areas in question were not significantly special.
There has been a great deal of debate about the various species of birds on the barrage site. They include dunlins and redshanks. Is it not amazing that, since the time of the archaeopter, and through millions of years of evolution, birds have managed to survive in myriads of species, shapes and colours--all without the help of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Birds?
It is now being claimed that every possible bird habitat must be protected in aspic and left unchanged. The fact is that great changes are occurring anyway. Ports and industrial areas are closing and are being recolonised by birds. A particular feature of an estuary is that it is always changing. Cardiff bay has already changed enormously because dredging has stopped there. The area alters every year because of the growth of the salt marsh.
Birds are very robust. I remember one area being changed for the benefit of farmers, who seemed to reign supreme in these matters, in Gwent. A huge area at Collister pill was drained and the habitat of many thousands of birds was destroyed. They could no longer breed because the wetland had disappeared. Without the help of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the species concerned migrated to a wholly artificial, manmade ash pond a few miles away and happily multiplied in numbers. They found new feeding grounds on an area outside the Usk estuary.
Mr. Morley : Does my hon. Friend accept that the habitat of which he speaks is very different from that of Cardiff bay and that there is no comparison between the two? Does he acknowledge that there is a scientific case that in North and South America, as well as in Europe, many species of birds and animals are on the decline? As my hon. Friend rightly says, habitat changes are occurring, but unfortunately they are for the worse, not the better. To take out Cardiff bay would place even more stress on the habitat and hasten the decline of many species that has already begun.
Mr. Flynn : My hon. Friend gives a clue to the true purpose behind the RSPB campaign. It is interested not in
Column 301Cardiff or the bay but in the estuaries around our coast, and it is using Cardiff bay as an example. It knows that the population of dunlin and redshank is not unique. There are probably millions of dunlins in the world ; there is no threat to them. If there is precious birdlife, one has to go to Bridgewater bay to find it. The RSPB is campaigning and putting Cardiff's prosperity at risk because it wants to fight the line at Cardiff. It knows that if it can win its case in a bay as ugly as Cardiff's, it can fight and win in the Mawddach estuary, the Towy estuary and other beautiful estuaries.
Mr. Rogers : I am listening to my hon. Friend with amazement. Speeches have been made about the development of the bay and its usefulness to the people of Cardiff and the surrounding area. My hon. Friend's outlandish attack on people who are genuinely concerned about conservation does the argument no good. He should consider the far more serious issues rather than making this silly attack.
Mr. Flynn : My hon. Friend will have an opportunity to make his own speech.
One of the fauna that exists in great numbers on the marl and foreshore of Cardiff bay is the rat. If one wants to see a living waterfront, one should go to certain areas--I shall not name them now--at high tide, when rats come over the sea walls. They are welcomed by the children of the area who trepan them with hammers. The rat is not regarded as an attractive animal, and because we do not have pictures of it painted by Peter Scott on our dining room walls it has no sentimental appeal. The environmental movement here is based on animals that are attractive.
When the presentation of the barrage was made, many
conservationists and others came to Cardiff to fight the test case. The national press and its photographers were invited. I feel sympathy for Mr. Neil Libbert, a gifted photographer whose work I have followed for many years. His challenge was to present Cardiff bay as an attractive place. He had to turn down the F stop on his camera to fade into the shadows, and soft focus the squalor that surrounds it to present an attractive picture.
Cardiff bay is the least beautiful part of the city. Of course details must be discussed at length, but hon. Members should not be misled by the extravagance of the arguments of people who live many miles from Cardiff. There is a need to beautify the bay, and I hope that at this stage hon. Members will discuss the Bill, then sort out its detail in Committee and make a decision on Third Reading. 10.33 pm
Mr. Ron Davies (Caerphilly) : I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) will read his speech carefully when it appears in Hansard tomorrow. I know that he has a sense of humour and that occasionally he likes to be deliberately provocative, sometimes with the objective of catching the odd headline. He referred quite specifically to me in his speech. I think that his remarks were very silly, offensive and unfounded. I am sure that he did not intend any personal affront, but I hope that on reflection, having read his speech carefully, he will want to withdraw some of his wilder statements.
Column 302My hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West is the only hon. Member who has spoken in favour of the Bill, apart from my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), who moved the Second Reading.
Two tasks face those who promote or support the Bill. The first is to justify the construction of the barrage. No hon. Member so far has made any attempt to justify its construction. The second is to justify the destruction of a site of special scientific interest. My hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West poured scorn on the whole ideal of conservation, and he will regret that tomorrow. He mocked those of us who are concerned about our natural heritage. This proposal will entirely destroy an SSSI. I am prepared to accept that, where an overriding national interest is involved, those of us who normally rate conservation issues most highly would have to recognise that conservation came second. If there is an overwhelming national case to justify the destruction of an SSSI, it has not been made this evening.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth talked only in the broadest terms about the redevelopment of Cardiff. I will tell him and my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West until I am blue in the face that we entirely support the redevelopment of Cardiff dockland, but we question the wisdom of constructing a barrage and the idea that it will somehow facilitate or accelerate the reconstruction of our dockland. The House of Lords examined that in minute detail and it is abundantly clear to those who have read their reports that that case has been stripped away. There is no economic case.
Mr. Michael : Will my hon. Friend give way?
Mr. Davies : I shall make my speech. My hon. Friend will find another opportunity.
What happened in the House of Lords is a matter of record--
Mr. Davies : I would prefer not to give way to my hon. Friend. He made his speech and I have many points to make. If he seeks to intervene merely to reinterpret what has already been said, I must tell him that I am not in the business of saying that my interpretation is better than his or that my experts are better than his. That is a matter of opinion. If he seeks merely to challenge me on matters of opinion, it would be better if I could make my speech in my own way.
Mr. Michael : The House of Lords Committee was convinced on evidence that the economic case was sound and investment prospects good. It accepted the need for the barrage. If there is alternative evidence, the details should be brought before the Select Committee and argued there. If, in stating a different view from mine, my hon. Friend is sincere in his belief, as I am sure he is, it is appropriate not to oppose the Second Reading, but to allow the Bill to pass to a Select Committee where the difference of view can be properly explored in great detail.
Mr. Davies : My hon. Friend is wrong on all counts. I am opposing the Bill as a matter of principle because I believe that the construction of the barrage is wrong. It is no good my hon. Friend saying that we should refer the Bill to a Select Committee. I am opposed to the
Column 303construction of the barrage. I hope that he understands that. I referred to the evidence presented to the House of Lords Committee, not to the conclusion drawn by four or five geriatrics after considering the evidence.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker) : Order. The hon. Gentleman must not make disparaging references to Members of the other place.
Mr. Davies : I was wrong to make that remark and if I caused any offence, I withdraw it wholly and without reservation. That shows the danger of giving way.
My hon. Friend is wrong on many counts. The evidence presented to the House of Lords Committee stripped away the arguments for the barrage. If their Lordships in their wisdom decided not to accept that evidence, it is not a matter for me. I read the evidence that way presented and I hope that my hon. Friend understands that. Some time ago we debated a carry-over motion, and it was abundantly clear during that debate that there were four principal objections to the Bill : the conservation case, the argument about water quality, the question of the groundwater level and the water table, and the economic case--which my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) supported in a powerful speech.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth said that the case for the barrage has been strengthened since that debate. However, my understanding is that what has happened in Cardiff since we had that debate does not strengthen the case.
The weekend after we debated the carry-over motion, a river in my constituency was subject to the grossest pollution. Given the geography of the valleys, and the juxtaposition of industry, commerce and the waterways, it is an undisputable fact that there will inevitably be flooding and there will be occasions when pollutants and toxins get into the water.
At present the Rhymney river flows out to the Severn, but if similar pollution occurs in the Taff or the Ely when we have a barrage, what will be the consequences? Instead of the natural system, whereby the toxins are flushed out to sea and can be diluted and broken up by sunlight and seawater, they will be pounded up behind the barrage.
We have been told that the National Rivers Authority will have a mysterious way to ensure the maintenance of water quality. It will have a big oxygenating plant, and it is going to turn the whole of the lagoon--1.8 hectares--into a bubble bath. It will pump oxygen through to burn off all the nutrients.
People who live in the valleys know about the everyday consequences of pollution, and that is one of the reasons that we have fears about the arguments on water quality.
In the summer, the South Wales Echo was one of the most fervent allies and advocates of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth. It ran a campaign, calling Cardiff the dirtiest city in the United Kingdom. The city council and South Glamorgan county council could not keep the streets clean. Yet now they tell us that they will use new technology and all the marvellous modern methods that have never been tried before, to maintain water quality in 1.8 hectares of man-made lake. That stretches my incredulity, if not that of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth. We were told in the previous debate that the experts had been called in. Hydrogeologists and geologists have looked at the groundwater conditions in Cardiff and they say,
Column 304"Don't worry. There is nothing to worry about. The thousands of homes that are potentially jeopardised will be okay, the groundwater will not rise, it will not cause flooding, and if it does there will be compensation."
On 12 December I came across an article in the South Wales Echo referring to the Celtic Bay hotel. It is the hotel to which hon. Members were invited for a free weekend so that they could see the marvels of Cardiff bay. Many of us did not attend. It should be noted that the advisers of the development corporation would have been the experts who advised the hotel. The article reported :
"Cardiff's new Docklands Celtic Bay Hotel was flooded last night for the third time.
An urgent meeting with the architects and builders was called after carpets were ruined in the basement bar and Health Suite. The flooding of the hotel, opened in July, has followed high tides and heavy rain causing the water-table to rise."
If heavy rain and high tides make the water table rise, what will pounding all the rivers and creating an artificial lake do? The article continued :
"South Glamorgan Fire Service were called to the £3 million hotel today and used suction machines to clear the basement. General Manager Mr. Essex said, We are becoming masters at coping with it.' "
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth has to explain to thousands of people in Cardiff how they will have the resources of the county council and the South Glamorgan fire service to hand all the time and whether they will become masters at dealing with flooding.
Mr. Michael rose --
Mr. Davies : I shall not give way.
Mr. Michael : That is irresponsible and misleading.
Mr. Davies : I wish to make another point on which my hon. Friend may like to comment.
The economic argument has been the subject of debate in south Wales. It has been proved that pumping public money into the bay development is a way to put a premium on private investment and that it will be ripped off by the private sector. We know the role being played by the erstwhile Nicholas Edwards, now Lord Crickhowell, as director of Associated British Ports in 160 acres of prime development land. Cardiff city council has played sweetheart with the development corporation and the Secretary of State.
The South Wales Echo reported on 16 December :
"City hit by £40 million cut in budget. All council schemes in Cardiff --from house repairs to leisure projects--are threatened by a massive Government spending cut which will almost certainly mean loss of jobs."
It is the end of the capital building programme in Cardiff. If there is a case to be made for the regeneration of Cardiff--and there is--it must be based on decent homes for the people who already live there. It must be based on investment in manufacturing industry, in infrastructure, in hospitals and in leisure centres and recreation facilities. That is the type of investment that is needed. Instead, Cardiff bay gets money and the city council gets a £40 million cut in budget.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth may be tempted to say, as might others who live in Cardiff, that these are internal matters and that hon. Members from outside the area should not involve themselves in it. My response is that the promoters decided to come to the House to ask parliamentary permission.
Column 305They put the Bill in our court. Secondly, I must state in the strongest possible terms that all of us have a right to comment on a projected development which threatens our natural heritage. That natural heritage does not belong to Cardiff city council, or to Glamorgan, or to Cardiff bay or to my hon. Friends from Cardiff. It is part of our national natural heritage, and we all have a responsibility to ensure that it is safeguarded.
The overwhelming objection to the development must be that raised on conservation grounds. My hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West who I am glad to see has returned to the Chamber, suggested that only people from outside and the RSPB are objecting. The local groups who are objecting on only conservation grounds include the Severn Estuary Conservation Group, the Glamorgan Wildlife Trust, the Cardiff Naturalists' Society and the Cardiff branch of Friends of the Earth. The national bodies which oppose the plan are the RSPB, which has more than 600,000 members, the Royal Society for Nature Conservation and, most critically of all, the Government's own nature conservation advisers, the Nature Conservancy Council. They are the prime objectors to the Bill and have petition No. 1 against it. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth may have dismissed the local bodies, and he may want to dismiss the RSPB, but he should not dismiss the NCC. I do not think that he would want to do that. I can do no better than quote what the RSPB has written, although I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) will develop this line of argument. I want to stress in the strongest possible terms the importance of the combined estuary of the Rivers Taff and Ely of between 5,000 and 8,000 waders and wildfowl. It is the most important estuary within the greater Severn estuary. My hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West should remain for a while.
Ian Prestt, the director general, of the RSPB said :
"Cardiff bay is one of Wales' most prestigious natural assets holding 5- 8,000 birds each winter including dunlin, redshank, shelduck, teal and knot. Many of these birds travel thousands of miles from as far away as Iceland, Greenland and Siberia to winter on Cardiff's ice-free bay. The birds depend on this bay for their survival. We have an international responsibility to protect it." When my hon. Friend makes his throwaway remarks about people from outside daring to criticise or people from as far away as Iceland making comments about our responsibility for nature conservation, he should understand that we all have responsibility for migratory birds. We cannot draw artificial natural boundaries around them and say, "Cardiff has this responsibility," or, "Wales has that responsibility," or, "Britain has that responsibility."
We all have a common responsibility because these winter residents are the summer breeding population in the rest of--
Mr. Flynn rose --
Mr. Davies : Let me finish my sentence and then I shall give way. These birds are our responsibility during the winter when they are our residents and they are the responsibility of the north Atlantic breeding areas during the summer.
I shall give a final quote from the RSPB and then I shall give way to my hon. Friend who, I think, referred to the
Column 306president of the RSPB, Magnus Magnusson, when he talked about Iceland. Commenting on the "Living Waterfront" scheme, the RSPB's president said :
"Acceptance of the Development Corporation's proposals would be a major tragedy for South Cardiff. The alternative Living Waterfront' scheme will enhance the living and working conditions of the local people while maintaining the wildlife interest. Unlike the barrage it will not cause problems such as poor water quality, insect nuisance, flooding and the destruction of a nationally important site for birds."
I shall give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West and if my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth is so agitated I shall then give way to him, but after that I want to continue my speech and come to a fairly early conclusion.
Mr. Flynn : I apologise for leaving the Chamber but, as my hon. Friend knows, I have a deep interest in the terrible events in Romania being revealed by the hour. That was why I was absent from the Chamber.
There has been a serious environmental analysis of what is likely to happen when the barrage is built. Is my hon. Friend aware that there are still huge areas of changing mudflats that will remain outside the barrage, on which the birds can grow, multiply and on which they now nest? They will be able to use the vast hundreds of square miles that exist in the estuary. How much land outside the barrage is being used by the dunlins and redshanks?