HC Deb 17 January 1994 vol 235 cc511-2
1. Mr. Llwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will discuss with Welsh local government organisations the level of representation the planned unitary authorities should have on health authorities; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Gwilym Jones)

I have no plans to alter the present arrangements.

Mr. Llwyd

How does the Minister square last week's appointment of Mrs. Lynette George to the chair of Derwen health trust in Dyfed with the Welsh Office's recent pronouncement that membership of quangos would be open to all and that there would be wide and extensive advertisement of appointments? Does he accept that the appointment was not advertised in the local newspaper that serves Dyfed, Powys and South Gwynedd and that Mrs. George is the wife of a previous Tory parliamentary candidate in Ceredigion? Does he also accept that the process is a complete sham and is wholly unacceptable to the people of Wales, who are not so easily fooled?

Mr. Jones

I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman. He should be aware that there is extensive advertising for all public appointments in Wales and that that has resulted in many people putting their name forward for our register of such appointments. I resent his implication about that particular appointment, not least because Mrs. George is well acquainted with health matters and is presently a member of the national health service trust for Ceredigion.

Mr. Sweeney

Does my hon. Friend agree that it will be easier to deal with that question when the Opposition have resolved their differences about the future shape of local government and, in particular, the dispute about the boundary between Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, about which my constituents are extremely concerned?

Mr. Jones

I know from my hon. Friend about his constituents' opposition to the proposal. I am also aware, as I think he is, of the way in which the imperialist ambitions of South Glamorgan are hotly resented by the Labour parties in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. I have sympathy for the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies), who has continuing difficulties in obtaining agreement among his comrades.

Mr. Rogers

The Minister must be cuckoo if he thinks that merely asking people to put their names forward for authorities introduces an element of democracy into the system in Wales. What matters is not the people who put their names forward but the selection of the people who are appointed, and that selection will remain in the hands of Ministers. There is no democratic accountability or relationship with the new local authorities that have been set up, so will the Minister accept that we do not like his system and wish that the people appointed were more accountable?

Mr. Jones

Accountability never stops because my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State remains answerable at the Dispatch Box to all hon. Members for his actions, including appointments and the activities of those appointed. We welcome recommendations and suggestions from everyone so that we have the broadest choice and my right hon. Friend always tries to appoint the best person to every post.

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