HC Deb 04 April 1974 vol 871 cc1438-9
Q3. Mr. Wigley

asked the Prime Minister if he will appoint a Minister of State at the Welsh Office in addition to the posts which he has already announced.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on 28th March to my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Moonman).—[Vol. 871, c. 178.]

Mr. Wigley

Is the Prime Minister aware of the considerable surprise in Wales that no appointment of a Minister of State at the Welsh Office has been announced, particularly since two Minis-terms of this rank were appointed for Scotland? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that in 1970, when the last Government left one rank vacant in the Welsh Office, hon. Members of the then Opposition felt that this was an indication of a lack of confidence in Welsh Members? Finally, is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the pressure of work on the Secretary of State for Wales at this time, which means considerable delay in making appointments for people who want to see him?

The Prime Minister

That is why my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State and his two Under-Secretaries are working overtime. I hope that the hon. Gentleman does not take this matter too tragically. There are three Ministers for Wales in the Labour Government, compared with two in the last Government. In any case, it is manifest that an Under-Secretary of State in a Labour Government is worth any two Ministers of State in a Conservative Government.

Mr. David Steel

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that we are one Minister short of the usual number in the Scottish Office, the reason being that he had already appointed the 30 Under-Secretaries that he was allowed before he realised that he was one short? What is he going to do about it?

The Prime Minister

That explanation is not correct. Certainly I should have liked an extra Minister at the Scottish Office, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will also bear in mind what I said just now about quality. The restriction was introduced in good faith by the last Government before the creation of a new Department. The matter is now under consideration.

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