HC Deb 20 June 1968 vol 766 cc1280-1
3. Mr. Anderson

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether, since the fact that only two women have been appointed to the 38 strong Council for Wales is an inadequate recognition of the contribution made by women to life in the Principality, he will increase their representation.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mrs. Eirene White)

My right hon. Friend made appointments to the Council on the basis of merit, not sex.

Mr. Anderson

In this matter my hon. Friend is the exception that proves the rule. Does she not agree that this puny proportion in Human Rights Year, the year, too, of the anniversary of women's suffrage, is a very poor reflection on Welsh womanhood? Will she try to ensure that this type of attitude is not repeated in the future?

Mrs. White

The two distinguished women who were appointed to the Council represent interests which are of special importance in relation to the work which the Council is expected to perform. Having myself been a "statutory" woman, I deprecate appointing members of councils simply because they happen to be women. There will be further opportunities to appoint members to the panels of the main Council.

15. Mr. E. Rowlands

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will ensure that information provided for and obtained by the Council of Wales will be available to right hon. and hon. Members of this House.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. George Thomas)

It is not the normal practice to supply to hon. and right hon. Members information provided for, and obtained by, advisory bodies.

Mr. Rowlands

Does my right hon. Friend agree with the Minister of Technology, speaking at the annual conference of the Welsh Council of Labour, when he called for greater openness and less secrecy in government? Should not Wales set an example in this by ensuring that advisory bodies to the Government, such as the Council, should not be secretive, leaving hon. Members of this House in the dark?

Mr. Thomas

My right hon. Friend said a lot of things at Llandudno. On this point I would say that information obtained in confidence, on that basis, must be kept confidential. If there is any other information which my hon. Friend or any other Member would like, the Welsh Office is eager to help, as is the Welsh Council.

Sir E. Boyle

Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the first part of his hon. Friend's suggestion, about information provided for the Council of Wales? Would he bear in mind that it can be of interest to English Members as well as Welsh Members in trying, for example, to follow Welsh education?

Mr. Thomas

I am eager for the maximum amount of information to be made available. Of course, I will look at what my hon. Friend and the right hon. Gentleman have said.

Mr. Ednyfed Hudson Davies

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the immense value of the deliberations of the Welsh Council to Members of this House? Will he bear in mind that reports of the Economic Council have often ultimately fallen into the hands of Members of this House? Would he agree that there seems to be no earthly reason why they should not have been placed there in the first instance, and made public without jeopardising the work of the Council?

Mr. Thomas

I can give an assurance that all the information that can be made available without breach of confidence will be so made available.