HC Deb 03 July 1978 vol 953 cc12-4
9. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received regarding the future of the nominated bodies in Wales.

Mr. Alec Jones

None in recent months, Sir.

Mr. Evans

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is some confusion over whether, if the Assembly is created, the nominated bodies will cease to exist or will continue with the Assembly? Whether or not the people vote for an Assembly, the composition of these nominated bodies is causing some concern. There are accusations that these bodies are dominated by Labour or, on the other hand, that not sufficient Labour representatives are on them. Will my hon. Friend look into the question of how—irrespective of the Assembly—we can get the nominated bodies to be more representative of the people of Wales?

Mr. Alec Jones

It was an essential part of the devolution proposals that we should make the nominated bodies more democratically accountable. It is also true to say that amendments have been made in another place which are having some impact on that intention. We shall have to take account of those amendments. It is true that reference is frequently made to the composition of nominated bodies in Wales. But when one is attacked on one side for doing too much of one thing and attacked on the other side for doing too much of another thing, perhaps sitting somewhere in the middle is as near comfort as is possible.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we on this Bench believe that the question of making the nominated bodies accountable to the Welsh Assembly is one of the most attractive features of the Government's devolution policy?

Mr. Alec Jones

I am glad to hear the hon. Gentleman say so. It was the composition of such bodies—I am not referring to the people personally—that produced these fears.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Recently in the Welsh Grand Committee, the Minister spoke of the desirability of keeping the Arts Council at arm's length from Government and avoiding any Government domination of the arts. Is he not therefore a little concerned by the revelation of Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge in another place that the arts in future may be in the hands of a Department of Culture?

Mr. Alec Jones

Fortunately, I am not responsible for what is said in another place, hut, having heard the hon. Gentleman's criticisms of the composition of nominated bodies, I was fascinated to hear that the Tory Party is drawing up a "good and great" list of individuals sympathetic to the Tory cause who might serve on these nominated bodies.

Mr. Edwards

Will the hon. Gentleman answer my question about the Arts Council, which he has not even referred to?

Mr. Alec Jones

We had a long debate on the work of the Arts Council in Wales in the Welsh Grand Committee, when the hon. Gentleman implied that my right hon. and learned Friend was responsible for appointing Labour members as chairmen of panels. In fact, my right hon. and learned Friend is not responsible for appointing these chairmen.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Will my hon. Friend confirm that it is his impression that nomination to these so-called bodies has been one of the means over the years whereby the Tory Party has been able to exercise a certain control over the length and breadth of Wales, despite being repeatedly defeated at the polls?

Mr. Alec Jones

I go further. I believe that it is far more than an impression it is a fact.

Forward to