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House of Commons

Monday 24 April 1995

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[ Madam Speaker-- in the Chair ]

Oral Answers to Questions


Hospitals (Emergency Admissions)

1. Mr. Gareth Wardell: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many patients have been refused emergency medical admission to a hospital in Wales in the last year because of beds being reserved for elective surgery.     [18721]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Rod Richards): Health authorities have confirmed to me that no one requiring emergency treatment has been refused admission to a hospital in Wales for the reason alleged by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Wardell: I am delighted that the Welsh Office has taken so much trouble to find out that information, and I am delighted with the result. What I would now like from the Minister is a confirmation that the Welsh Office will guarantee that no one will be refused emergency medical treatment and that all such treatment will be given within a patient's locality. Will the Minister tell us that the Welsh Office will, instead of reducing the number of forms that it sends out, collect the relevant information so that it is not guilty of the mockery of issuing statements on which it cannot deliver, with the result that people have to travel longer and longer distances for emergency medical treatment?

Mr. Richards: I can confirm that it is the Government's policy that patients requiring emergency treatment should always take priority over those awaiting elective care.

Industrial Development

2. Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what further measures he will take to encourage industrial development in Wales.     [18722]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. John Redwood): I shall pursue many policies to ensure a strong and vigorous manufacturing industry in Wales. They will include raising education standards; encouraging more engineers and apprentices and ensuring that the strengths of Wales for investment are understood at home and abroad.

Mr. Jones: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his help, but may I urge him and his Cabinet colleagues to redouble their efforts to help my beleaguered constituents who work for Raytheon in north-east Wales? Will he confirm that, together with the Welsh Development

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Agency, he stands ready with cash and grants for the Raytheon board if it is prepared to alter its strategy to close down that great factory? Does he also agree that such a closure would be bad for Britain and for Deeside? At the very least, the service station should be on track until the end of the century. Surely he will help my constituency, because Britain, Deeside and Wales cannot afford to lose that company. I urge him to help quickly.

Mr. Redwood: I agree with the hon. Gentleman that that is an important industry and facility. As he knows, I shall do everything in my power to try to keep that company with us, but unfortunately the omens are not good. I agree that regional selective assistance and WDA money are available--as I explained to the company's executive management when they visited Wales recently--for suitable investment projects, should the company wish to develop that facility or to put it to a different use. I again urge the executive management to look at other ways in which they can use the talents of the people and the facilities available for other components, at sub-assemblies and for servicing. I shall continue to argue that case right up to day when the company finally implements its decision, in the hope that it will change its mind. Raytheon has a good work force, who deserve better.

Sir Wyn Roberts: I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend mention education in his original reply. Will he take all possible steps to ensure that there are plenty of young entrants to manufacturing industry, because he will know that some companies in south Wales in particular have complained about inadequacy in that respect?

Mr. Redwood: I agree with my right hon. Friend. He will be pleased to learn that, following meetings at the local training and enterprise college, Panasonic now reports more interest in its job opportunities. We are working closely with TECs and others to ensure that there are more apprentices in manufacturing, as we require them. That also means better results at school, which, as Opposition Members will know, I am keen to encourage. I am pleased to say that the Minister with responsibility for education in Wales will shortly be able to announce to the House that the budget prospects for education in Wales are nothing like as bleak as those portrayed by the Labour party during the settlement.

Mr. Wigley: What on earth does the Secretary of State for Wales think he is doing, siding with Shropshire and with the right hon. Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) against the Development Board for Rural Wales when it is trying to attract work to Wales. Surely he realises that Shropshire has enough incentives, by virtue of its motorway link-ups, and that we are fighting against regions with objective 1 status, such as Merseyside, in trying to attract jobs to Wales. Does he not realise that his job is to stand up for Wales and to attract to Wales as many jobs as possible, from wherever they come, and not to side with authorities on the other side of Offa's dike?

Mr. Redwood: That was synthetic anger if ever I saw it. As the hon. Gentleman well knows, that is exactly what I do, and I proudly stand up for Wales. It is a first-class place for investors to come to. However, we have a common policy in Merseyside and in north-east Wales,

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because it does not make sense for the British taxpayer to pay grants to move a business from one side of Offa's dike to the other in either direction.

If a company wishes to change its premises or to expand, or seeks a new location, I hope that the Welsh agencies will be the first knocking on the door with an offer that it cannot refuse, but we shall not waste British taxpayers' money on moving a company that is happy where it is, and we certainly do not want the English authorities to do that to our businesses.

Mr. Ron Davies: I assure the Secretary of State that my hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) enjoys the full support of Opposition Front-Bench Members in his campaign on behalf of Raytheon, and we wish the Secretary of State well in any intervention that he can make on its behalf.

Does the Secretary of State realise, however, that he would enjoy far greater credibility if he intervened where he had the power to intervene-- for example, to save the hundreds of aircraft maintenance jobs that are threatened by the Government's policy at RAF Valley in Anglesey? Does he realise that, as a result of the Government's disqualification of the in- house bid there, market testing has degenerated into forced privatisation, and that there is every likelihood that jobs will be exported from Anglesey in exactly the same way as they will be exported from Raytheon? How on earth can the Secretary of State justify the double standards that he is applying there?

Mr. Redwood: Like the hon. Gentleman, I am worried about the position arising from the RAF Valley decision. My hon. Friend the Under- Secretary, the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones), is in discussions with the Ministry of Defence, and we have asked the training and enterprise council to make absolutely sure that as many people as possible in that district either have the skills or can be trained to gain the skills, so that there is the opportunity of employment for them. Like the hon. Gentleman, I wish something to be salvaged by way of employment for local people, and my hon. Friend and I shall try to do that.

Welsh Development Agency

3. Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what developments there have been in respect of the sale of Welsh Development Agency land.     [18724]

Mr. Redwood: The WDA will be selling land and property currently valued at £180 million over two years. That will include 1,000 acres of land, much of it with development potential.

Mr. Smith: Will the Secretary of State comment on some correspondence that I have received from a local employer in Blaenau Gwent? He states:

"Estates which were to form the bedrock of the modernisation of industrial Wales, are to be handed over to a single landlord, who will by that fact, be empowered to determine the economic development of the area . . . Had such been the case when we were seeking to relocate we would not have"

come to Wales. Does the Secretary of State believe that Wales should be run by landlords--

Madam Speaker: Order. I must correct the hon. Gentleman. I think that he is not aware that we do not use

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quotations during Question Time. However, I think that he has asked his question. Perhaps the Secretary of State will attempt an answer.

Mr. Redwood: How wise you are, Madam Speaker.I did understand the question.

Of course I wish a multitude of landlords and of people to develop property in Wales for industrial and commercial purposes in places where councils wish that to happen. The plan of selling some of those industrial parks does create more choice because at the moment there is only one landlord in many cases--the WDA.

I believe that the issue of whether a tenant can or cannot buy his own property underlies the hon. Gentleman's question. I am urging the WDA to offer the property to the tenant first whenever possible. In the case of the company in the hon. Gentleman's constituency, I believe that negotiations are under way to ascertain whether that tenant company can purchase, which may well be the best answer.

Mr. Morgan: Does the Secretary of State agree that the WDA's budgeted expenditure has never until this year been made conditional on land sales and European regional development fund receipts? Does he agree that he has perpetrated an outrageous act of book cooking on the people of Wales, which would shock his previous superiors at N.M. Rothschild and Sons, the merchant bank where he used to work--I am not sure whether it would have promoted him or sacked him--and that ERDF receipts can be harvested into the Welsh Development Agency's coffers only if they are stolen from the local authorities, at a cost of tens of millions of pounds every year to council tax payers in Wales?

Mr. Redwood: That is another muddled effort from the hon. Gentleman. As he should know, the ERDF moneys are additional; they have nothing to do with the main argument between us. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that I expect the sales proceeds from those property sales to be used to finance part of the WDA's programme. He is also right to say that I want to step up the sales. It seems common sense to want to recycle the money--a green policy--and to ensure that the money is reused to good effect. There is no need to warehouse all the successful tenanted properties in the public sector when the money can be freed for something else. There is no book cooking--the matter is transparent and I have announced that policy many times to the House.

Hospital Beds

4. Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the number of hospital beds in Wales in each health authority; and if he will list the projected number for each of the next five years.     [18725]

Mr. Richards: I refer the hon. Member to the latest information on hospital beds published in the 1994 edition of "Health and Personal Social Services Statistics for Wales", a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

As for future provision, health authorities must ensure that sufficient beds are available to meet the health needs of local people.

Mr. Jones: I hope that the Minister, when he addresses the health needs of local people, will pay attention to the King's Fund report, which recommended hospital closures

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in London, but whose authors, in the light of evidence of an increasing need for emergency care, have reviewed the process. They now see that there is a need in London and elsewhere for more hospital beds. I hope that the Welsh Office will not allow the health authorities to continue to close hospitals and to reduce the number of hospital beds unless it is clear that those beds are not needed. Mr. Richards indicated assent .

Mr. Jones: I am glad to see that the Minister agrees--perhaps there is some electoral advantage for the Conservative party in doing that.

Mr. Richards: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already stated the Government's policy on that subject. I can reassure the hon. Gentleman further by saying that my Department has a working group currently looking at accident and emergency provision throughout Wales. I believe that that will help to steer the health authorities in Wales towards ensuring that sufficient numbers of beds are available to meet the demand.

Mrs. Clwyd: I support my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones)--even though he is a Whip--in his call for Cardiff royal infirmary to be kept open. As someone who has lived in Cardiff for a long time, may I say that when a hospital is threatened with closure, as Cardiff royal infirmary is, it develops a sort of planning blight? I was there at the weekend visiting a patient and I was shocked at the level of cleaning services resulting from management cuts. Will the Minister investigate levels of cleanliness? For example, the toilets in the ward that I visited had not be cleaned for three days. Such things should not happen in 1995 in our NHS. Will the Minister investigate that matter forthwith?

Mr. Richards: I can understand the hon. Lady's concern for hospitals in Cardiff as she is, of course, a resident of Cardiff. However, she makes a serious point about the hospital and I shall, of course, have my officials look into that problem as soon as I reasonably can. I am sure that the hon. Lady is aware that the University Hospital of Wales NHS trust is in discussion with the community health council in Cardiff.

Nurses' Pay Award

5. Mr. Ainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received following the announcement of the nurses' pay award.     [18726]

Mr. Richards: My right hon. Friend received 44 representations.

Mr. Ainger: Is the Minister aware that, of the 23 trusts in Wales, only six have made any offer to nurses for their annual pay award, and two of those--South Gwent community and Bridgend--offered less than the 3 per cent. that they were supposed to have offered under the pay review agreement? Is he aware that representatives of nurses and doctors feel that local pay and performance-related pay will only set trust against trust, nurse against nurse and doctor against doctor? If we are to have a national health service that takes account of the needs of recruitment, particularly in peripheral trusts in Wales, do we not need a national health service with a national pay policy?

Mr. Richards: I do not agree that local determination of pay will set trust against trust or nurse against nurse. It

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will give local trusts the opportunity to be flexible and to reward staff according to local needs and local pay provision. Six trusts have already declared what they intend to do about nurses' pay and I hope that the other trusts in Wales will soon come up with their own proposals for their staff.

Mr. Ron Davies: Will the Minister confirm that, under the local pay arrangements about which he is so keen, there will be yet another expensive tier of management, and that even more funds will be diverted from essential nursing services to inessential management activities? Does he realise that, in many cases, the bureaucrats are considering tying the nurses' 3 per cent. pay award to their acceptance of contracts with the trusts? For example, in one Welsh trust, nurses are being asked to forgo premium payments for night and weekend work, while in another trust sick pay and overtime have been targeted. Is it any surprise that the Government are neither believed nor trusted when they say that they believe in a truly national health service?

Mr. Richards: Local trusts will discuss the matter with local employees and decide what their remuneration will be. Unlike the Labour party, we do not believe in interfering at a local level. We believe in devolution of the right kind.

I remind the hon. Gentleman that, since 1979, nurses' pay has increased in real terms by 53 per cent., after allowing for inflation. When the Labour party was in government from 1974 to 1979, nurses' pay fell by 3 per cent. in real terms, after allowing for inflation.

Patient Care

6. Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what new proposals he has to improve patient care.     [18727]

Mr. Redwood: I set out my proposals for improving patient care in my recent speech to the Welsh Grand Committee. Today, I have announced further measures to improve cancer care in the years ahead.

Mr. Flynn: Is the Secretary of State proud of the Tory do-it- yourself health service in Newport, where last week two infant victims of accidents were forced to wait two and three hours respectively for treatment? One infant had sliced off the top of a finger almost entirely and the other infant had severed her big toe almost entirely. At the end of that long wait, the families were informed that no treatment was on offer and that they would have to travel themselves 60 miles to Morriston hospital.

Is it sensible or safe to expect distraught parents to act as ambulance drivers and travel to strange towns? Is the Secretary of State concerned about the fact that one family were told that it was too late for their child to undergo microsurgery? They were then told that they could find their own way back to Newport or wait 16 hours for transportation by ambulance. Is that patient care or patient neglect?

Mr. Redwood: Those cases sound very worrying indeed. Of course I will look into them specifically, immediately following Question Time and I will provide the hon. Gentleman with a written answer. That is not the kind of thing that I wish to hear. Many hundreds of thousands of people receive very good treatment from the

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NHS in Wales and we must make sure that that is true of everyone. Like the hon. Gentleman, I am rather worried by that story.

Local Government Reform

7. Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received on the issue of constitutional change in Wales following local government reform.     [18728]

Mr. Redwood: I have received a number of representations in the course of local government reform, quite a lot of which were of a party political nature.

Mr. Jones: Given that the Conservatives have all but given up fighting local elections in Wales, with only 20 per cent. of Tory candidates fighting Welsh seats, how can the Secretary of State continue to justify ruling Wales through the unelected, unaccountable and undemocratic quango system--which is the only way that he can outrule us? Must he not now recognise the moral, democratic imperative of establishing a parliament in Wales so that we can decide our own policy priorities, which, incidentally, would include protecting jobs in RAF Valley?

Mr. Redwood: We are fielding more candidates than ever before--I would like to field rather more. Also, a number of independent candidates vote Conservative at general elections and agree with much that this Conservative Government are doing. Local government in Wales is given a great deal of trust by this Parliament, spending almost half the total Welsh Office budget through revenue and capital allocations--most in the form of block grant. Local elections are important. I recommend that people vote Conservative on 4 May because that will result in better service at less cost.

Mr. Sweeney: I thank my right hon. Friend for visiting the Vale of Glamorgan on Friday and making an excellent speech on the occasion of the Primrose dinner at Dufferin gardens-- [Hon. Members:-- "Oh!"] Does my right hon. Friend agree that the local government reforms that he has just introduced will increase accountability and improve efficiency? Does he further agree that were we to accede to Opposition desires for a Welsh Assembly or Welsh Parliament, the likelihood is that new accountability would be destroyed, the influence of Wales would be reduced, taxes would increase for the Welsh people and Welsh influence at Westminster would be substantially lessened?

Mr. Redwood: Like you, Madam Speaker, my hon. Friend is extremely wise. I agree with everything that he said. Opposition Members are jealous because they were not at the Vale of Glamorgan dinner on Friday night. It was a most enjoyable event and I thank my hon. Friend for his hospitality. He is right to say that a Welsh Parliament would take power from local people and local government as well as from this Parliament. It would be a totally unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. It is a policy on which Labour is so keen that it still has not made up its mind what such a parliament would do, who would sit in it, how it would be elected or how much it would cost. We await progress, when the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) has done more thinking.

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Rare Cattle Breeds (Export)

8. Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans his Department has to promote the export of rare Welsh cattle breeds; and if he will make a statement.     [18729]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Gwilym Jones): That matter is essentially for the industry, but the Welsh Office is able to help via the market development scheme.

Mr. Fabricant: Is my hon. Friend as concerned as I am that, whereas many Scottish breeds are well recognised in England and in other countries in Europe, the Welsh Black--which is more lean, tender, succulent and tasty than any Scottish breed of cattle--is not? Why is my hon. Friend's Department not doing more to promote the Welsh Black in Europe? Perhaps the first thing that he could do is to have it on the menu of the restaurants in the House.

Mr. Jones: I thank my hon. Friend for his most helpful suggestions, particularly the latter. I assure him that we are already very active. Welsh Beef Promotion was recently established to undertake such work. Apart from the menus of this place, a group of west Wales producers has combined to sell Welsh beef to London restaurants, and the beef is rightly commanding a premium price.

Local Government Finance

9. Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the total Welsh Office allocation for local government expenditure for 1995-96; and how much of that total county councils have allocated to education.     [18730]

Mr. Richards: Local government expenditure, or total standard spending, for 1995-96 has been set at £2.78 billion. Not all local authorities have yet provided us with returns showing the education budgets that they have set. However, I am pleased to tell the hon. Gentleman that section 42 budget statements already received from four counties show healthy increases in budgets for schools.

Mr. Williams: Can the Minister explain to my constituents why the council tax bills that they are now receiving have increased by 16 per cent.?

Mr. John Marshall: They are from Labour-controlled councils.

Mr. Williams: No, they are from independent-controlled Carmarthen district council and Dyfed county council. Council tax bills are increasing by 16 per cent., yet Dyfed county council finds that it must cut £4.5 million from its education budget. Is it not the case that, under the Tories, we pay more taxes but receive fewer services?

Mr. Richards: I suggest that, when the hon. Gentleman returns to his constituency, he speaks to the chairman of his education authority. The general schools budget for Dyfed will rise 3.3 per cent. compared with last year. It will rise 4.2 per cent. in Gwent, 2.8 per cent. in Powys and 2.2 per cent. in South Glamorgan. Those are real increases when set against education inflation, which by definition is the increase in teachers' salary of 2.7 per cent. So I hope that that is evidence that the councils are

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doing what we want them to--prioritising their front-line service budgets, and making savings on their central and administrative costs.

When the hon. Gentleman goes back to his constituency and talks to the chairman of the education authority, will he tell him that there is no need for any cuts in numbers of teachers in his constituency or anywhere else in Dyfed? There has been a real increase in the education budget, so the education authority in Dyfed should stop frightening parents, teachers and pupils.

Dental Services

10. Mr. Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he intends to take to improve access to NHS dentists in Wales.     [18731]

Mr. Richards: On 30 January, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced that he is making£2.5 million available to improve dental services in the community. Proposals from health authorities and family health services authorities are currently under consideration by the Welsh Office.

On 5 April, my hon. Friend the Minister for Health announced the Government's plans for the reform of NHS dentistry, following the consultation on their Green Paper "Improving NHS Dentistry". We believe that the measures proposed will provide stability and security for NHS dentistry, deliver increased quality of treatment for patients and promote better use of resources by targeting care on areas of greatest need.

Mr. Hanson: It is about time too, because many of my constituents face journeys of more than 25 miles to find an NHS dentist--some even have to travel to England to get NHS dentistry care. Has that been the achievement in the NHS dental service in Wales of 15 years of this Government? Many of my constituents cannot get basic national health service dental care, so I hope that the money will be made available and will be taken up.

Will the Minister assure me today that, after 5 April, my constituents, having paid their national insurance contributions, will all have easy access to an NHS dentist, wherever they live?

Mr. Richards: Perhaps I should bring the hon. Gentleman up to date. Clwyd family health services authority has applied for one additional salaried dentist, an application that we are currently considering--

Mr. Hanson: One!

Mr. Richards: I must tell the hon. Gentleman that there are 110 dentists in Clwyd, representing an increase, since his party was last in government, of 57 per cent. So I must assume that his constituents were travelling a lot further in 1979.

Farmers (Suicide)

11. Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many working farmers have committed suicide in (a) Clwyd and (b) Wales in each of the last10 years.     [18732]

Mr. Gwilym Jones: With permission, Madam Speaker, as the information is a little lengthy, I am arranging for

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the figures to be published in the Official Report . The total numbers for the 10-year period are eight for Clwyd and 84 for Wales.

Mr. Martyn Jones: I am grateful for that answer. I am sure that the Minister will have looked at the figures before asking for them to be published in the Official Report , so he will have noticed that there is a worrying trend in the suicide statistics for the farming fraternity. Has he examined any possible connection between the use of organophosphorous sheep dips and the tendency to suicides in the farming community? There is evidence that there may well be a connection; if there is, it is very worrying.

Mr. Gwilym Jones: I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's concern. Whatever the figures are, they are too high. He will be pleased to know that appropriate research is being done under the Powys mental health strategy; a study in north Powys is seeking to identify predictive factors. At the same time, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health has commissioned research from the university of Oxford. I join the hon. Gentleman in hoping that this research will make progress.

Following is the information:

Deaths of farmers       

recorded as suicide     

Year  |Clwyd|Wales      


1984  |3    |12         

1985  |1    |6          

1986  |1    |17         

1987  |-    |2          

1988  |-    |9          

1989  |2    |7          

1990  |-    |10         

1991  |-    |8          

1992  |1    |4          

1993  |-    |9          

Source: Office of       

Population Censuses and 



12. Mr. John Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the current level of unemployment; and what was the figure in December 1992.     [18733]

Mr. Gwilym Jones: Last month, the figure was 107,300; in December 1992, it was 133,400. That represents a fall of 26,100, which I am sure will be warmly welcomed on both sides of the House.

Mr. Marshall: Does my hon. Friend find it surprising that no Opposition Member has pointed out the fact that there has been a 20 per cent. reduction in the number of unemployed people in Wales since December 1992? What does he think would have happened to that figure if Britain had signed up to the social chapter or had introduced a national minimum wage? Is not ours the party that is reducing unemployment? Is it not the Labour party that would increase unemployment?

Mr. Jones: My hon. Friend is absolutely right--except in one respect: expressing surprise about what we hear from the Opposition. We know that the Opposition are comprised solely of merchants of doom and gloom, who would adopt every possible policy to ensure that such doom and gloom came to pass.

Mr. Hain: Is the Minister aware that 50 miners at Pentreclwydau pit, which is in my constituency, were made temporarily redundant this morning, because Ryan

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Mining claimed that it was not able to conclude an agreement with subcontractors because of the failure of the Coal Authority to progress the licensing arrangements speedily? Is he further aware that a whole series of other private mines in Wales, including some in Neath, have been forced to close because of the unsatisfactory licensing arrangements, which are being discussed with the Coal Authority? Will he investigate that matter as a matter of urgency and protect those jobs?

Mr. Jones: I am aware of the particular incident to which the hon. Gentleman refers. I am certainly generally aware of the matter, having met a delegation of small mine owners, including those from his constituency.I hope that progress can be made, particularly on the matter to which he refers.


13. Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many bridle-paths in the Principality are available also to drivers of horse-drawn vehicles; in which main locations; and if he will make a statement.     [18734]

Mr. Gwilym Jones: Bridle-ways are for use by those on foot, those on horses and those who are leading horses. I must tell my hon. Friend that bridle-ways are not for use by vehicles, even horse-drawn vehicles.

Mr. Greenway: I thank my hon. Friend and ask him whether he is doing anything to produce more bridle-paths in Wales. One cannot have too much of a good thing. Will he consider the position of one or two disabled ex- riders whom I know, who are now able to drive but not ride any more? Is it possible for them to be allowed to drive small horse-drawn vehicles on good, firm bridle-paths, which would not be cut up by their doing so?

Mr. Jones: I am afraid that the problem is that many bridle-ways are just not suitable for any form of vehicle, including horse-drawn vehicles. I cannot hold out a prospect to my hon. Friend of a change in the legislation that regulates that subject, but I understand that the British Horse Society has produced a leaflet to help carriage drivers and others to consider whether particular rights of way would be suitable as byways and be able to accommodate carriages. I am sure that that is a suitable step in the right direction, and I would encourage consideration of that possibility.

Nursery Education

14. Mr. Rowlands: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the development of nursery education.     [18735]

Mr. Richards: As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear last October, the Government are committed to ensuring that there is a place in nursery education for every four-year-old whose parents want to take it up. We are considering carefully how to deliver that commitment in Wales.

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