HC Deb 12 December 1961 vol 651 cc208-10
Q1. Mr. C. Hughes

asked the Prime Minister if he will define the present functions of the Minister of State for Welsh Affairs.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

The functions of the Minister of State for Welsh Affairs remain as defined in the 1957 Command Paper on Government Administration in Wales. He assists, and when necessary acts for, the Minister for Welsh Affairs in his responsibilities affecting Wales, which are to ensure that its special interests are represented and taken into account in all aspects of public business which may affect them.

Mr. Hughes

Is it not a weakness of the office that the Minister of State has no specific Departmental responsibility and that this allows him time to travel a great deal around Wales, doing a good deal of Conservative Party propaganda? Is not this a very strong argument in favour of appointing a Secretary of State for Wales with responsibilities in certain fields?

The Prime Minister

I think that the system has worked well, and I understand that my noble Friend's work has been of great value in helping Wales.

Mr. Gower

Will my right hon. Friend take note that, whatever the constitutional arrangements for Wales, they have been vindicated by the fact that Wales has never been so prosperous?

Mr. Donnelly

Is the Prime Minister aware that Lord Brecon was appointed in special circumstances after a university rugger match? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think this an appropriate day to terminate the appointment?

Mr. G. Thomas

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Welsh people regard this office as being merely a shop window, as a front without any real contribution to the life of the Principality? Will he give us an office in which we can feel that there is real Parliamentary responsibility on the Minister concerned?

The Prime Minister

Parliamentary responsibility lies with the Minister in this House. We are speaking now of the office of the Minister of State. I believe it to be generally recognised that Lord Brecon's work in helping towards a solution of the problems of Wales has been of great value.