HC Deb 21 May 1968 vol 765 cc291-2
Q8. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister if he will define the duties of the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity when acting as First Secretary of State.

Q10. Mr. John Page

asked the Prime Minister what are the duties of the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity in her capacity as First Secretary of State.

The Prime Minister

In her capacity as First Secretary of State my right hon. Friend's duties will be such as from time to time are allotted to her. As the House knows, however, it is not the general practice to specify in detail the duties attaching to offices of this kind.

Mr. Marten

As the office of First Secretary seems to have become almost a status symbol, is it not time that it was dropped, unless there was something specific to do in being First Secretary?

The Prime Minister

I can well remember, when the post of First Secretary was created, that it was held by Lord Butler, and we had some idea of the manifold functions which he undertook outside as well as inside the House.

Mr. Page

The Prime Minister read his Answer so quickly that I did not hear what he said. Am I right in saying that the right hon. Lady is a kind of "overlady" at the D.E.A., the Ministry of Technology and the Board of Trade when questions of prices and incomes arise?

The Prime Minister

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not hear the original Answer, but on the last part of his question, as I have said, my right hon. Friend has general responsibility for the co-ordination of prices and incomes and productivity. In addition, of course, she has the traditional duties previously carried on by the Minister of Labour in respect of incomes questions in particular.