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Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West): Clause 2 commits the Government to holding a referendum in

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Wales on the Government's proposals. Many people have talked about a referendum in the past, but the clause actually commits the Government to providing one. Before going any further, I want to pay tribute to the new Member for Gower (Mr. Caton)--[Interruption.]

The First Deputy Chairman: Order. I appeal to hon. Members for quiet while an hon. Member is addressing the House.

Mr. Morgan: I am grateful to you, Mr. Martin, for your protection. I was just going to say how good the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Gower was. I have a special interest in this because of my family history. My hon. Friend is my mother's and brother's Member of Parliament, as was Gareth Wardell before him. I knew from my hon. Friend's delivery of his speech that he is going to be a superb representative of the whole constituency of Gower--including my ancestral home of Cwmcile in the northern part of the constituency. It was there that my great-great-grandfather, Morgan Morgan, at the height of the Rebecca riots, shot--I am not sure whether he killed--Colonel Napier, the head of the Glamorgan yeomanry; aided by his mother, who struck with a frying pan one of the sergeants who had been sent to arrest him. The relevance of all this to proceedings on the clause is that it took place in the 1840s, when the people of Wales, in Gower and across west Wales--including the area from which the former Home Secretary comes--were rioting because of the way Wales was being run. At the time, Wales was run by the squires and their friends by means of a system of quangos, very much as it was, increasingly, during the past 18 years. The squires appointed the justices of the peace, the poor law guardians, and the turnpike trusts. It was against these trusts that the Rebecca rioters rebelled. Finally, there were the school boards. It was very much the squire and his pals--a squirearchy--and there was widespread rebellion. The Chartists were active in some of the industrial areas, such as Newport, and in the rural parts of west Wales including Cwmcile and the Gower area. The rebellions were specifically against the turnpike trusts and the imposition of taxes. What the rebels wanted was democracy. At that time, because Wales did not have a proper democratic franchise, it was run very much in the interests of the squires and the landowners, and, by and large, only the squires and their friends could vote. That is one of the reasons why, when the secret ballot was introduced, the tenants lost their fear of being evicted if they did not vote for the squire or his nominees to come to this place and represent them. Ever since then, Wales has voted against the Tory party. It has never forgotten the lesson that it was taught by people like my great-great-grandfather Morgan Morgan in the Gower constituency, and the spirit that they represented. My great-great-grandfather may have gone too far on that occasion, but the lesson of that period of rebellion in the 1830s and 1840s--of the Chartists and the Rebecca rioters--is very relevant to tonight's debate. During the past 18 years, the Tories have tried to turn the clock back and reproduce a Victorian society in which the squire and his pals--or, in this instance, the Tories and their pals, by means of quangos--took Wales away from what its people thought that they had gained by

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securing the secret ballot and the universal franchise. My hon. Friend the Member for Gower may not want to assault the captain of the Glamorgan yeomanry--indeed, the Glamorgan yeomanry no longer exists--but I know that he has done a very good job for all the people of Gower. I also know that, by supporting clause 2, we can do the job for which the Welsh people were looking in the 1840s. How do we achieve some form of democracy in Wales, and how do we ensure that the people of Wales can secure what they want by means of a democratic system? That does not mean shooting the Glamorgan yeomanry, and it does not mean riot, but it does mean using the ballot box and democratic procedures, and that can be done only if people respect the fact that there is a deep-rooted dislike of the Tory party in Welsh history. In that respect, there is a difference even between Wales and Scotland. Members of Parliament--perhaps they include you, Mr. Martin--may be old enough to remember a time when Scotland actually produced a Tory majority. That happened at the 1955 election. We have never done that in Wales: we have a very different history. We have not voted for the Tory party since the secret ballot was introduced, and, given the spirit of Wales, even if the ordinary people had been able to vote back in the 1830s and 1840s they would undoubtedly not have voted Tory then. It was only because of the phoney, funny franchise that operated at the time that occasionally the squire's pals would get in. Clause 2 is a way of putting right all the injustices that Wales has suffered because of its inability to secure a form of democracy that would give it some control over its domestic affairs. The clause will give Wales a chance to have its own Welsh Assembly. It does not commit the Government to establishing such an Assembly; it does something even better, because the Government are committed to two forms of direct democracy. The manifesto for which everyone in Wales voted so overwhelmingly on 1 May said that people could vote for the party that would bring them--among other things--a Welsh Assembly, subject to having the direct democratic right to veto that Assembly. After all, some people in Wales might be in favour of a Labour Government but against a Welsh Assembly. The manifesto said that those people could vote for Labour on 1 May, but could vote against the Government, given the right to veto a Labour proposal, in a direct referendum that would be held in the autumn. That is a very democratic action. That is what the Tories denied Wales back in the 1840s, and what they took away from Wales when they reduced local government powers by appointing all their pals to quangos during the 18 years which, thankfully, came to an end on 1 May. That is why I think that clause 2 is so important to the history of Wales, and to the relationship between Wales and this Parliament. It could be said that we have a unitary state, and that we should worry about all the anomalies that will be created if Wales and Scotland have separate Assemblies or Parliaments. We hear people express worries about the so-called West Lothian question, as though it were a reason for doing nothing to modernise the constitution. We have heard Opposition Members express, by implication, the view expressed by the Prime Minister when he referred to a thousand years of British history, suggesting that in some way the constitution of this

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country was immutable; but it has never been immutable, particularly when it comes to the relationship between England and the Celtic fringe. Over the centuries, there has always been a need for change in regard to the way in which we deal with relationships with the small Celtic countries--Ireland in the 19th century, and Scotland and Wales later in that century and, indeed, in the 20th. In our Parliament, we have always found it necessary to adjust the relationship between England and the other countries. England is, in that context, a very big country, comprising 82 per cent. of the United Kingdom population. As for the three small countries, or provinces, Scotland has 9 per cent. of the population, Wales 5 per cent. and Northern Ireland 3.5 per cent.

Sir Teddy Taylor: Could not the problem be solved by the establishment of three Grand Committees composed of Welsh, English and Scottish Members who would pass their own domestic legislation? Would that not avoid the extra expense, the constitutional problems and the West Lothian question?

Mr. Morgan: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his constructive contribution, and for his acceptance of the principle of what I am saying.

England is a big and a dominant country, containing well over three quarters of the UK population and of its Members of Parliament. It is a case of the elephant and the three Celtic fleas. Obviously, when people have fleas they scratch from time to time, and there is currently a desire to readjust the relationship between, in this instance, England and Scotland and Wales. Under the last Government, an attempt was made to readjust the relationship between England and Northern Ireland. That does not mean that the British constitution will collapse; if it did, the British constitution would have collapsed every time we readjusted the way in which we dealt with the affairs of Scotland, Wales, Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.

I was very pleased by what the Prime Minister said about the Irish potato famine. He apologised to the people of Ireland for the part that the British Government had played in it, and that is very relevant to clause 2. Before the famine, everything was about expanding the United Kingdom constitution to take in first Wales, then Scotland, then the Republic of Ireland. The potato famine, however, was such a devastating experience for one particular Celtic country that its people never forgot it, and it eventually left this Parliament altogether.

After the famine, the issue was no longer expanding to take over the rest of the British Isles--Wales, then Scotland and Ireland--but establishing new rights for the Celtic countries, with Secretaries of State for Scotland, then Ireland, the setting up of the Stormont Parliament in 1922 and the Republic of Ireland becoming an independent free state in the same year before leaving the Commonwealth and the Crown altogether in 1949. Since the famine, the readjustment has gone the other way. In general, it has worked to allow the Celtic countries of the United Kingdom to have more say in their own affairs, and clause 2, in two ways, gives more say to two of the Celtic countries for which this Parliament is responsible. It establishes the prospect of a Welsh Assembly and a Scottish Parliament, but establishes it via an additional

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hurdle that the legislation will have to cross by way of a direct vote by the people of Wales and Scotland in the autumn.

This Parliament should not be frightened of that. During the past 150 years, every 30 or 40 years, there has been a major change in the relationship between England and the three Celtic countries, or, putting it another way, between this Parliament as a whole and the amount of respect that is given to the diversity of those three Celtic fleas. England is in the middle, with well over 80 per cent. of the total population, wealth and representation in the House of Commons. The Government have committed themselves to a very democratic measure, which I welcome.

One could say that, in adjusting the relationship, the Celtic fringe countries are asking for more recognition of their diversity and tradition. For instance, there is the tradition that we in Wales do not vote Tory, and our commitment to helping to bring about the welfare state.

Looking at it from a Welsh perspective, one could say that we are looking for a boyo-diversity treaty; a readjustment of the relationship between Wales, England and Scotland. In the spirit of asking for that boyo-diversity treaty, I hope that the House will give warm approval to clause 2.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

It being half-past Eight o'clock, The Chairman put the Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Clauses 3 to 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.

Bill reported, without amendment.

Order for Third Reading read.

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