HC Deb 03 November 1959 vol 612 cc853-4
45. Mr. Peart

asked the Prime Minister, in view of the position of the coal industry and the need for a national fuel policy, if he will reconsider his decision not to include the Minister of Power in the Cabinet.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

It is no longer practicable to include in the Cabinet all Ministers in charge of Departments; but the hon. Member will be quite mistaken if he supposes that, because my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power is not a member of the Cabinet, the Government will fail to give due attention to the problems of fuel policy and the position of the coal industry.

Mr. Peart

Why should the Minister be excluded? Surely, the Prime Minister is aware that there is a very serious position in relation to the contraction of the coal industry and that there is an urgent need for a co-ordinated fuel policy. Would it not be wise to have a Minister in the Cabinet responsible for industries which are our main concern?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that all Ministers charged with Departments can be in the Cabinet without its becoming too large. The fact that my right hon. Friend is not in the Cabinet and is not, therefore, sharing in the general work of the Cabinet will not, I think, make it any less possible for him to deal effectively with these problems. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that, for instance, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was Minister of Fuel and Power. He was not then made a member of the Cabinet, although his immediate predecessor, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), was a member of the Cabinet.

Mr. Gaitskell

I recognise that these things change from time to time, but does not the Prime Minister agree that the present difficulties through which the coal mining industry is passing, particularly the problem of contraction which weighs so heavily upon it, provide a special reason for including the Minister of Power in the Cabinet?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, has as much knowledge of the work of the Cabinet as I have, but I do not honestly think that to burden a Minister with all the other responsibilities of the Cabinet would really help him in dealing with this particular Department with which he is charged.