HC Deb 25 November 1964 vol 702 cc1248-9
2. Sir K. Joseph

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster which social services he is responsible for co-ordinating.

Mr. Houghton

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, it is not the practice to disclose the methods which Ministers adopt for discussing matters of common concern, but the work of co-ordination is proceeding in close co-operation with the individual Ministers responsible for administering the social services. I am responsible for co-ordinating all the State administered social services, including those concerned with social security, health and welfare.

Sir K. Joseph

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that while we wish him well personally, and while we note with approval that his appointment has not led, so far at least, to the addition of large numbers of civil servants, we do have some doubt whether he can operate effectively without any transfer of either staff or powers from the Departments to be co-ordinated? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we find a great deal of ambiguity in his Answer, in that we do not know now whether his rôle is to co-ordinate all the social services or only those which he has mentioned? May I ask whether he sees his office as a step towards the creation of a Secretaryship of State for some of the social services, having the same relation with the individual social service Ministers as the Secretary of State for Defence has for individual Service Ministers?

Mr. Houghton

On the latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's question, the answer is, no; I do not foresee that position arising at all. As to the first part of the question, I hope there is no complaint that a Minister has not a large staff of civil servants and has no proposals for having one. I am still working my way through all the complexities and pitfalls of co-ordination, the results of which are, so far, satisfactory to me and will, no doubt, in due course be visible to the whole House.

Mr. Wood

In view of the exclusion of the Minister of Health from the Cabinet, would the right hon. Gentleman say whether or not he exercises any supervisory functions over the Departmental affairs of his right hon. Friend?

Mr. Houghton

The word "supervisory" is the wrong one to use. The answer is that I do not supervise, I co-ordinate. It has been suggested that it is an overlordship with a small "o"; but it is collaboration, co-operation, co-ordination, and it is all working very well.