HL Deb 10 November 1970 vol 312 cc684-715

7.32 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, the painful process of parthenogenesis has taken a new form to-day, when four old colleagues and welcome new colleagues have demonstrated the beauties and glories of a second maidenhood. At more than one point in this debate there has been a reversion to the tradition of the Whig historians to besmirch the record of the Cabal—in which, of course, I have a certain historical interest. But rather than delay your Lordships and talk about the Cabal, I should like to point out that the philosophical origins of the present White Paper go back a lot further than Haldane. Thomas Paine wrote: Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil". Wendell Phillips wrote: All governing over-much kills the self-help and energy of the governed. And Pope gave us these lines: For forms of Government let fools contest; Whate're is best administered is best". So I would first of all welcome the functional principle as leading to the purpose of removing as many functions from government as possible; to make possible the aim to correct the diffusion of economic control that existed before, and to sharpen the distinction between the fiscal management of our economy that one associates with the macro-economic power of the Treasury and industrial policy sustained and supported by a Ministry of Trade and Industry specifically to sponsor that side of our economy. All this topped, as the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, interpreted the situation for us, by the central review staff.

The sharpening of this very fundamental distinction between fiscal management and industrial planning, if I may use that word, leads both to a real embarrassment with regard to regional policy and to the very necessity for the Rothschild staff. Regional development is a critical area of our policy problems. When outbreaks of violence readily attributable to a distorted society demand a fresh balance between development and the conservation of nature's womb-like role for man as a refresher and inspirer of citizens environmentally illiterate; and when the movement anatomy of our society is changing so fast that one expects air travel to multiply four times by 1980 and air freight five times, so that V/TOL sites are needed to be reserved now in some cities, and indeed plans are needed now for 7,000-feet runways for every two million cluster of our population—when these are so, then surely we need land use and physical planning along with the industrial weapons of I.D.C. control, of BOTAC, as we used to know it, and of loans and investment incentives—these weapons to plan the workshops of our country. Surely we need those things brought together.

What we find, as I interpret the White Paper, is that Trade and Industry develops a general picture of the British workshop's economics in terms of trade, both private enterprise and nationalised industry, marine, aviation, power and the rest, while Environment deals with the strategic layout of the British workshop. And if we are not a workshop, my Lords, then we are nothing at all. Out of these things one can at least expect that one of the recent enormities of compartmentalised government, when great pits were dug along the M4 to provide fill for the new motorway at a time when grant-aided colliery spoil could have been brought from South Wales—that sort of thing, one imagines, will now be avoided. Likewise one hopes decisions on, let us say, a Channel Tunnel, which will bring a growth point involving the movement of thousands and thousands of people, since it is a matter for the former Ministry of Transport, will indeed prove to be with the Department of Environment, and therefore under one physical planning hat.

But, my Lords, I should like to echo the reserves expressed by the noble Viscount, Lord Caldecote, when he drew attention to an abundance of confusion. We find that airlines and airports are with Trade and Industry, while transport is with Environment. We find that aircraft noise, for some reason, is with Trade and Industry, but noise otherwise is with Environment. We find from all this that the siting of the third London Airport, which is going to involve the movement or siting of homes for probably a quarter of a million people, is with Trade and Industry, when surely it involves major environmental considerations. We find that Maritime Industrial Development Areas are with Trade and Industry, while ports are with Environment. We find that BATOC, as it used to be, and I.D.C.s, are with Trade and Industry, while physical planning is with Environment. And the White Paper's paragraph 12 refers to the need to explore and resolve conflicts... within the line of management rather than by inter-departmental compromise". But almost the same day we have the Treasury's Bulletin No. 9 of November listing the activities of the two mammoth Departments and referring to the Department of Environment as being in charge of Regional development (in co-operation with the Department of Trade and Industry)". We go further and we find that another White Paper—namely, that on investment incentives—tells us at paragraph 11 that a thorough-going study of regional development policy (as recommended by Hunt) has been set in hand". But it also suggests that this is to be related to additional incentives to encourage the location and expansion of manufacturing industry in the development areas, This implies that this review of development area policy is again primarily a matter for the Department of Trade and Industry on its own. It does therefore look as if, instead of resolving the dichotomies of October, 1969, between regional policy, on the one hand, and industrial controls, on the other, these dichotomies are simply being deepened and strengthened.

That observation leads me to several questions; and I am sure that if my noble friend Lord Jellicoe cannot answer now (because I have not given him notice) he will be able to write later. I put these four questions. Does Mr. Walker have, as Mr. Crosland did, total control of regional strategy within which Mr. Davies (like Mr. Benn before him) simply manages the industrial component? Secondly, if we are not to have interdepartmental committees to settle differences, as seems to be implied in the Treasury Bulletin No. 9 of November, is this reconciliation between Environment and Trade and Industry to be a matter for the Rothschild staff advising the Cabinet? Then, third, since the study of Maritime Industrial Development Areas is now to be with Trade and Industry, and therefore influenced by its conjunction with BOTAC and all those weapons of I.D.C. control, instead of being with ports and planning, will not this distort thinking about MIDA against the Thames Estuary and against the south bank of the Bristol Channel, as well as against the Lune and the Humber, all of them outwith development areas? Perhaps at some stage, if not to-day, the Minister can also tell us what has become, or what will become, of the inter-departmental study group on MIDA hitherto chaired by an officer of the Ministry of Transport and now, presumably, an officer of the Department of the Environment?

It was Carlyle who wrote of the lot of the Governor, that it is: Double, double, toil and trouble and this was also said by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, just now. Do all these proposals really mean less government by fewer people? Admittedly, there are now four Ministries fewer; but merging Departments does not necessarily diminish problems or the number of civil servants. Indeed I should like to support what was said both by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, and by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, on this very point: the burden that there must be on the Ministers of these gigantic Departments. One cannot help remembering that Sir Keith Joseph, in a debate on the same subject in another place little more than a year ago, referred to these great "jelly fishes" of Departments. They will be jelly fishes unless the Fulton principle of paragraph 8 is applied ruthlessly. I refer to the promise that executive blocks of work are to be delegated to accountable units of management—the only way, it seems, that these great burdens can be hived off.

In an industrial society growing daily more complex we do confront Carlyle's "impossibility of self-government of a multitude by a multitude". All the more suitable, then, as the hiving off process gets under way (or, indeed, as it tends to slacken through time and fatigue) these lines should forever adorn every Ministerial mantelpiece: All governments are to some extent a treaty with the Devil. and: That Government is best which makes itself unnecessary. And finally: Nature our father and mother Gave us all we got … The State our elder brother Swipes the lot.

7.44 p.m.


My Lords, apart from the memorable four maiden speeches, we have had an uncovenanted bonus in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, which dissected one part of the problem of the Government's reorganisation—to wit, the environment part—in a masterly fashion which therefore I do not have to follow.

I always find it a daunting thing to address your Lordships on great matters of State because there are always serried ranks among our Members who in one way or another were personally involved in, if not responsible for, these affairs—and who are now responsible. New ideas and new approaches, however much they may be needed, must necessarily be resented by some; and in no field is this more apparent than in the matter of Government machinery. In our ranks both ex-Ministers and ex-Permanent Secretaries abound; and therefore one really speaks between Scylla and Charybdis, not knowing whether the Ministers are Scylla and the Permanent Secretaries Charybdis, or vice versa. The debate on the Fulton Report which was a memorable occasion shows this danger really very interestingly. Still, despite all these dangers and despite the fact that I am sure I shall get a wigging from my side, as much as from the noble Earl, I have to intervene in this debate; because I have, without the panache, occupied for a time—four years—the same role as Lord Rothschild I presume is going to occupy. Therefore I think that some of the remarks I make may be of interest.

My right honourable and honourable friends in another place, as well as some noble Lords here, had tremendous fun with the language of the White Paper. Who would grudge them this? I must say that I did not find in the presentation the usual reticence and English understatement which mark the true representative of the comprehensive school between London and Oxford. I can understand that. We were told that we shall have a new style of government. Perhaps this is the explanation. I firmly believe that the new idea about this unit (I would call it an "economic planning unit"; but I quite understand the noble Earl's right honourable friends calling it a "capability unit" because, obviously, capability is good and planning is bad) is excellent.

I do not know how they thought it accords with their new credo—this new Whiggish-Tory credo. If you believe in the invisible hand, why do you have the Rothschild finger in the pie? After all, the invisible hand does it so automatically and without very great difficulty—not even criticism from the Opposition Benches. The price mechanism and profit motive will do the job for you. Once you admit that competition is imperfect, that the prices are manipulated and the State must actively intervene, then, obviously, a central co-ordinating agency is needed. This will tell you, for instance, that an expansionary Budget, such as we had, wage inflation and the credit squeeze are not altogether compatible measures. Perhaps we have to regret that this unit was not already in existence; because I am sure that, had the unit been in existence, historians thirty years hence would have had some very illuminating comments to discover—just as we now discover comments made to various Governments before the war.

I think that this capability unit is extremely important, and a very good thing; and I do so for reasons which are slightly different from those of the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, and from those expressed by the Minister in this House. I think that this capability unit, or planning unit, as I should like to call it, is extremely important because the character of the State has changed; and with the change in the character of the State the characters of Ministries have changed also. The Ministries have become spon- sors and they have sponsored interests; and the more concentrated the Ministry are on the subject, the more intimate is the connection and the sponsorship. For Ministers and for civil servants it is obviously good sense not to have too many conflicts. Therefore they want to live amicably with the sponsored interest.

It is very seldom that one sees a Minister of Agriculture who is really savage with agriculture in the Cabinet. Afterwards, outside, he may appear to be savage; but, as happened in our last Government, that attitude has been dictated, either by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, as a Treasury Minister. It was obviously the mouth of the Minister of Agriculture, but the hand, apparently, was the hand of someone quite different. Therefore it follows that one must not entrust Departments with schizophrenic tasks; that is to say, with tasks that conflict with the basic sponsorship interests.

For instance, I understand (I hope that the noble Earl will enlighten us) that the new unit will not have power to analyse matters now under the jurisdiction of the Treasury. I very much hope that this is not so. This was the interpretation put by some of my friends in another place on certain phrases used there by the noble Earl's right honourable friend: that the Treasury's jurisdiction will be inviolate. The Treasury is going to advise the Cabinet. The most important function of this unit, in my opinion, just as it was with the D.E.A., will be to advise how far the Treasury's general policy—called, in the horrible language of the economists, a "macro-economic policy"—really squares with the policy of the Government as a whole.

The Treasury is a sponsoring Deparment with very important and very necessary sponsorships. It sponsors the Budget surplus and low taxation, whatever the Government. It sponsors the City; it sponsors free capital exports and all sorts of things. And very rightly so, because these are important considerations which ought to be taken into account. But they ought not to dominate, and there ought not to be a monopoly of macro-economic advice. The Treasury, as we all know from Hankey's and Jones's diaries and memoirs (and, of course, the situation has not changed much since) is a very important sponsor, and therefore has to be checked. So I hope that Lord Rothschild will have a locus standi even in policies put forward by the Treasury.

To come back to this sponsorship and the need not to entrust schizophrenic things to Ministries, one of the examples which I will quote (because this is really a question of non-political discussion of a very important problem), one of the reforms under the late Government which I deplored was entrusting the Ministry of Labour with both prices and incomes. The Ministry of Labour ought to be a concilation Department, and conciliation and arbitration do not go together. And as they did not go together very well, we had all sorts of difficulties. Now neither function is to be done, according to statements which we have seen; the whole responsibility has been passed over. But I think the Government will see in a very short time that this will not do. In that case I hope, again, that a certain balance of discussion will be arranged, because otherwise the Government will be ill-advised.

My Lords, it is no use to pretend that the Departments have the ultimate truth and that if a Department submits a Paper to the Cabinet everything has been said that can be, and ought to be, said. That is by no means so. Departments, obviously, are interested parties as much as anybody else, and we must have a system of Government which is not based upon supermen but on ordinary human beings. In that connecton I must say that I did not agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, that we want simplification and fewer inter-Departmental committees. In my experience inter-Departmental committees are the only way in which you can get a really honest, savage discussion of problems. Without inter-Departmental committees and without a supra-Departmental planning unit, decisions will get through which ought not to have been let through. It will mean that policies are determined not by the political heads but by the officials, and I do not believe that is a very good thing.

The noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, dealt with the Aid-problem so thoroughly that I shall not refer to it, but I should like to say something about the Ministry of Technology. I always deplored that the Ministry of Technology, after it was formed, absorbed the Ministry of Power. I. do not believe that the Ministry of Power industries and the Board of Trade and Ministry of Technology industries are compatible. If the Minister comes to the Cabinet about a Ministry of Power industry, either he will favour—for internal reasons; for his own reasons or for Departmental reasons—the supply industry, which is the Ministry of Power industry, or the buying industry which is alimented from there; which buys its energy and steel from the late Ministry of Power industries. If this was so before, how much more complicated a situation has arisen now.

I must very humbly submit to the noble Earl that it is no use telling us how many civil servants there are. As the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, rightly remarked, it is the higher civil servants who matter. We have 76 Under-Secretaries under the present Secretary of State. I would venture to tell your Lordships that it is quite impossible for a single Minister to oversee 76 Under-Secretaries and it is absolute nonsense to believe that it is. We have no Secretary of State who is a Newton or even a Galileo. Perhaps he is a Ptolemy in the wrong era.

I hope that we shall get the proper staff for Lord Rothschild and I very much hope that when Labour returns to power we shall not merely have a continuation of Lord Rothschild's unit but that we shall term it differently and that the unit will be put under a Minister who will be under the Prime Minister. Because obviously the Prime Minister also is mortal, and the amount of work which he has, compared with the crushing burden of ordinary ministries which was adumbrated by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, is far more crushing. I think that the the central unit is essential, but so is a Minister of State for the Civil Service Department—a role which members of this House have frequently fulfilled. I hope that we shall see a vigorous use of this new unit.

8.0 p.m.


My Lords, I must ask your Lordships' indulgence for a short intervention at this late hour, especially as my name is not on the scheduled list of speakers. I intervene because of the small announcement at the end of the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. His speech was one of great weight on matters of high strategy. Then, perhaps slightly incongruously, at the end of his speech he made an announcement in considerable detail regarding the transference of certain research laboratories. I think the House is too well aware of my interest in industrial research for me to declare it further, but that is the reason for my intervention. I had a feeling last July that some step like this was being considered. On July 8 I asked a Question in your Lordships' House to elucidate the situation and was met with a direct, monosyllabic denial from the representative of Her Majesty's Government. Well, Her Majesty's Government have seen fit to change their minds and now we have this announcement.

Arising out of it, I should like to ask the noble Earl one or two questions to elicit a little further information. I hope that the noble Earl's brief runs to answering them. If not, perhaps he will be good enough to let me know the answers later. With reference to research associations, have there been any previous consultations with those research associations, their controlling councils or the members of the industries which supply the major portion—I repeat, the major portion—of the finance of those associations? Will the general grant for research of a comprehensive nature still be continued as has been done in the past? Further, will the existing commitments regarding general and specific grant still continue to be honoured? Is it foreseen that the Department of the Environment will be linking up in any way with the National Environment Research Council now that the Department will have many research functions similar to those of NERC?

In addition, what arrangements are being made so that the new Department can have an appreciation of research philosophy and an understanding of research processes? Are suitable personnel to be transferred from the old Ministry of Technology and the Department of Trade and Industry? In view of the announcement of the policy that publicly financed research should be the responsibility of the Department whose functions it mainly supports, may I further ask what other research associations are likely to be similarly affected and to which Department or Departments their responsibility is likely to be transferred? Finally, as research associations are independent, autonomous bodies, owned and controlled by the industries which they serve, may I seek an assurance from Her Majesty's Government that no attempt will be made to violate that independence by using the grant as an excuse to subordinate them to the requirements of an executive Ministry?

I am sorry to face the noble Earl with that list of questions, but he did tuck in that little announcement towards the end of his speech, and I shall be grateful, as I am sure other noble Lords and other people will be, if we can have the answers.

8.6 p.m.


My Lords, I know that your Lordships are anxious to hear the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, and I will not detain you for very long. It falls to my lot to congratulate four maiden speakers, all of whom delighted the House in different ways. I may refer first to the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, who was a good friend of mine at Oxford forty years ago, though we have hardly seen each other since. I am never sure, when one sees an old friend, whether one wants to see him much older than oneself or much younger. If he is much older, one is rather shocked by the idea that that is probably how one looks to other people; and if he looks much younger, one is envious. And envy is my sentiment at the moment, not only of the noble Lord's appearance but also of his speech.

I must congratulate my own three political friends very warmly. My noble friend Lord Diamond made his apologies because he was compelled to leave, and I believe he has offered the same apologies to the noble Earl. He spoke with the authority of someone who has been a Minister in the Treasury for a whole number of years and a Cabinet Minister for some part of the time. I will come in a moment to a point raised by my noble friends Lord Greenwood of Rossendale and Lady Bacon, with both of whom I have collaborated on all sorts of subjects very intimately in the past. But perhaps I may just say, having followed my noble friend Lord Greenwood at the Colonial Office, that I hope that in times to come the true value of his work there will be fully recognised. He certainly left a great mark, and that was well understood by those with whom he worked and all those who knew about it from outside. When my noble friend Lady Bacon spoke about the Family Service she was too modest to say so, but the fact is she has done more than any one person to make that Service a reality.

Let me turn briefly to the main issues of the debate. I suppose that the two heads have been the conglomeration of Ministries and the central capability unit. I have a word to say, but not much more, about the principles of conglomeration. I endorse strongly what was said so well by my noble friends Lord Greenwood of Rossendale and Lady Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe about the absorption of the Ministry of Overseas Development. I am quite sure, as the noble Lord, Lord Alport, said, that this represents a weakening of this cause. I cannot say that at the moment it represents any particular loss in pounds, shillings and pence: I am sure that the Government intend no such thing. But over the years I saw the way in which this Ministry was gradually losing ground, even in our own time.

When my noble friend Lord Greenwood and my right honourable friend Mrs. Castle were in charge, they were in the Cabinet and I am sorry to see it moved out of the Cabinet. From my own experience I am sure that this is a corner that has to be fought extremely hard. It is the one really altruistic Ministry we have. Other Ministries may be high-minded, in the sense that they are concerned with large numbers of our population; but this is the one Ministry that is of no direct benefit to the voters. I am not one of those, I may say, who can always make out some crafty argument for overseas aid on the ground that it helps us in the long run. This in my opinion is sacrificing overseas aid. It will always have the hardest task of any Ministry, and I am sure that this is a backward step.

I turn now to a technical but highly important and human point raised by my noble friend Lady Bacon, when she referred to the movement of the Children's Service from the Home Office and its being handed back to the Secretary of State for Social Services. I join my noble friend in paying tribute to the work which the Home Office, or many officials in the Home Office, have done, and also to the great work of the child care officers themselves. This is undoubtedly a difficult subject. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, and I. and my noble friends, Lady Bacon and Lord Greenwood, all investigated these things intensively together, just before the Government came into power, in a committee over which I presided. There is certainly no easy answer. One answer is to move the whole of the new Family Service into the Home Office, If you do that, then the Home Office becomes too big, and you have to move something away from the Home Office. I personally feel that, on the whole, that would have been the most constructive solution. But if you are going to do that I agree that you are forced towards something like this.

There certainly is language in the relevant paragraph which I hope the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, will at least reinterpret. In paragraph 35 there is the suggestion that this is a fairly easy distinction, because you move the Family Service into one Ministry and that leaves the Home Office with the overriding responsibility for protecting the public. Well it can be put in that way, but I think it is a very old-fashioned and superficial way of putting it. After all, most of us are aware (and the noble Earl himself has in his time done a lot for the Child Care Service in the Home Office) that it is impossible in practice to separate the work (shall I say?) of the Child Care Service from the Probation Service. Therefore, in a sense, there is no perfect answer. I think that the Government have an answer which makes tolerable reading; it is a second-best answer, but at any rate it is their answer, and I hope that they will succeed. But let us at least try to extract from the noble Earl an assurance that it is realised that there must be the closest co-operation between the Children's Service and the Probation Service. Perhaps he will reassure us on that point and relieve anxieties created by this particular paragraph.

With such good speeches it is tempting to try to comment on them. There was the speech, for example, of the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, about these conglomerate Ministries. In view of the time, I am not going to pursue that subject to-day, except to offer my personal thought. I have had a great deal of experience of what might be called the mezzanine levels of ministerial life. In the Attlee Government I was never in the Cabinet, but I was what I might describe as almost everything else. Like my noble friend Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, I have presided over at least three full Ministries which have now disappeared, and one other where I was the Minister for Germany but not in supreme charge. So I know this kind of world, as one might say, extremely well.

Here again, there is no perfect answer, and one must not be unduly dogmatic. The real problem, if there are to be these conglomerate Ministries, is to ensure that delegation is effective. As has been explained, and as we are all aware, it is extremely hard on you, if you are a top Minister, to delegate something to a secondary Minister who can make a mistake for which you are held responsible. Even in some quite middle-sized Ministry, such as Civil Aviation, when I was Minister for that, years ago, it was easy enough to say, as I might have said, that I would hand over to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, when he was Parliamentary Secretary, safety, which he would understand much better than I did. Nevertheless, if you are the Minister and some accident occurs you have an uncomfortable feeling that you will be held responsible at some point or other. Therefore this problem of delegation will never be an easy one.

My own view, for what it is worth, is that one should, if possible, delegate to what I call the secondary Ministries. It is not quite clear to me how far this is intended under this reorganisation, although I think it probably is intended. For example, when I was Minister for Germany everybody knew that I was Minister for Germany—in fact they thought that my role was rather bigger than it was. But it was Mr. Ernest Bevin, the Foreign Secretary, who enjoyed the supreme responsibility, and therefore I was not likely to take any step which was not approved by him. However, it did enable me to give some kind of leadership; and of course in the Service Ministries equally it had various phases. But the bigger the conglomerations grow, the more we have to work out new con- ceptions of delegation. This is a challenge for the Government, and here again I can only wish them well with it.

Before I close, I should like to say a few words about the central capability unit. Of course, we on these Benches are very much complimented that one of our number, if not perhaps our most active Member, should have been selected for this onerous position. It is clearly a tribute to our philosophy, if not to the work in existence here. The noble Lord, Lord Rothschild, is a man of the highest intellectual powers, and no doubt he will fill the bill very well. I should think that here there are several different jobs, but I will mention only two of them. I think they are quite different, but they may be performed by this unit.

In the first place, there is the task of helping individual Cabinet Ministers to do their work much better than they have done it in the past. Like the noble Earl now (though he has a Department, and perhaps he may be more strongly equipped than I was), except for the few months when I was at the Colonial Office I was a Cabinet Minister in the last Wilson Government for a matter of three years, with no Department at all. When a great issue comes along—shall I say the question of devaluation?—a Minister in that position, While other Ministers may have all sorts of experts on education or transport, will not have economic experts for this sort of purpose.

What I say about a Minister without a Department applies, mutatis mutandis, to most Ministers in one way or another. When something like devaluation comes along, the individual Cabinet Minister not in an economic Department wants to make his contribution. In our time, such a Minister might, if he was lucky, gain access for a few moments to the noble Lord, Lord Balogh. That was granted as a supreme concession and as an act of grace on his part. But there was no hope of maintaining any prolonged dialogue with somebody as busy and preoccupied as that. In my time, if one wanted advice on particular issues—and that would really mean all the issues, apart from the business of the House of Lords—while there is a big Cabinet office there, full of brilliant and helpful people, one found they were not there to give the help sought.

There is one aspect of this, which is not, I think, the most important aspect, but which could be made useful to individual Cabinet Ministers. But if that were all, one could achieve the result simply by doubling the staff of the Cabinet Office. There is no need to work out a new philosophy of government. I treat that as a secondary though not unimportant matter which does not require any far-reaching change. What is really intended here is clearly something wider. It is still very vague, and it may not be a criticism. It may be wisdom on the part of the Government to wait for these discussions before attempting to make their plans final, and then to see how things work out. I do not say anything nasty about that. It is impossible to know what they have in mind. I have read debates elsewhere; we have heard the noble Earl this afternoon, and unless he is going to reveal something just before closing time—which in the circumstances would rather surprise me—I suspect that we shall go away to-night with no very clear idea of what this unit is supposed to do.

May I, therefore, submit one or two thoughts? How is this unit supposed to improve on the kind of work that would be done by a strengthened Cabinet Office? If it is simply a question of more Government officials, obviously you can double the Cabinet Office—many of them are brilliant people—and it can be done in that way. Something new is clearly intended here, something other than that. I rather wonder what fresh contribution to our affairs will be made by this new unit which could not be made by an increased Cabinet Office. I would ask, in the first place, whether it is intended that they will operate under a new authority. I put that question, I hope not impertinently, to the noble Earl. Will they come under the authority of the head of the Cabinet Office? Will he be their master? We assume that they are all gentlemen of extraordinary efficiency, but the time might come when some of them have to be removed, not for misconduct but just for inadequacy. Somebody has to be their chief—I gather that if it is anybody it is the head of the Cabinet Office. Yet there was a hint in what the noble Earl said to me at the beginning of the day that for certain purposes they come under other authorities; they look elsewhere. That is a point which I am sure we should all wish to explore further to-day, or on some other occasion.

The noble Lord, Lord Balogh, suggested that they should in some sense be the servants of the Prime Minister. He has already worked them into that position in his mind, because he said that the noble Lord, Lord Rothschild, would be in the position which he himself once occupied, and I always understood that he was a personal adviser to the Prime Minister.


My Lords, I was an economic adviser in the Cabinet Office.


My Lords, it was generally understood that the noble Lord enjoyed what is sometimes called a "special relationship" with the Prime Minister.


My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Rothschild, will enjoy very special relationships.


My Lords, the point I should like to lay before the House is that it is one thing for one particular adviser to have a special relationship with the Prime Minister, but quite a different thing for someone in charge of a large and powerful unit to come under the control of the Prime Minister in practice, whether or not in theory. The danger is that it would make the Prime Minister too powerful. This is something we have to dwell on, at any rate for a passing moment. Many people would say that the Prime Minister to-day, whether it is this Prime Minister, the last Prime Minister or the next Prime Minister-but-two, is too powerful. I do not know that you could say that at the present time; but if he had a large unit like this, which equipped him to stand up to the Treasury in some new fashion and to intervene effectively all over the field, he would be as powerful as Sir Winston Churchill was in the war.

No one, except possibly the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, has quite so high an affection for the late Lord Cherwell as I have; nevertheless, there was a general reluctance to see someone installed in the kind of position which Lord Cherwell occupied. Personally, I do not want to see this new and powerful unit brought directly, whether in theory or in practice, under the control of the Prime Minister. One could imagine that he might come under some other Minister—a kind of inspector-general. I do not think that idea would get much support. If we are to ask what this unit is going to do, not just by way of informing individual Ministers but by way of helping to plan and co-ordinate the whole policy of the Government, I submit that we must see it as coming under some Cabinet Committee. We are all entitled to offer our personal views, and I suggest that a; time passes if this is going to be an effective unit of planning and coordination it will have to come under some Cabinet Committee which is especially charged for that task. The other alternatives are for it to come under either no Ministers or under the Prime Minister, and I have suggested that neither course would be satisfactory.

I do not know how this unit will fare; I do not know the kind of people it will consist of. Is it suggested that they are to be more equipped by their training for tasks of planning and co-ordination than those in the Cabinet Office already? I have no reason to think that that will necessarily be so, but I am sure that they will be gentlemen endowed with much experience and intellect. Therefore, speaking for this side, and whether or not everything I say is precisely in the minds of everybody else among my colleagues, I welcome the attempt to work out something new along these lines. At present it is quite woolly, but I do not think we need necessarily condemn it because it is woolly. So to this woolly idea I give a warmish welcome, and in (those words give way to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe.

8.26 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to reply to the debate, may I say that I have heard a great many people refer to the fact that this has been a good and useful debate. I sincerely say that I have found this an extremely useful debate. What is more, I am grateful to noble Lords on all sides of the House—not least the noble Lords opposite—for the constructive way in which they have put their views to us this afternoon. I wish to study those views closely and, meanwhile, I will offer some comments on some of the suggestions which have been made, the ballons d'essai which have been launched, and so on.

I do not wish unduly to discriminate by singling out for special mention speakers in your Lordships' debate this afternoon. I should like to add my tribute to the others which have been paid to our four very heavily disguised maiden speakers this afternoon. I was particularly glad to hear my noble friend Lord Reigate make his maiden speech; not least because he had the distinction of being the only noble Lord to make it from our own Benches. I enjoyed very greatly the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, who has tendered his apologies for not being able to hear my winding-up remarks. The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, made a witty speech with just the right touch of asperity. I also greatly enjoyed the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, and the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, not least because I had the honour to occupy a post in Government which she filled at one time with great distinction. In all sincerity I can say that this House has been powerfully reinforced by these three former distinguished Ministers, and we all look forward to hearing them again.

Since I am discriminating, I should like to take one step further down that dangerous path and say how much I, like many of your Lordships, enjoyed the quiet, considered, yet compelling, speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp. The noble Baroness always intimidates me; she intimidated me when I was a "new boy" in her Ministry; and this afternoon she gave me one of those gentle reproofs of hers, and I find that her power to intimidate is no less than it was seven or eight years ago. I greatly enjoyed her speech, as I think the whole House did, not least because of its studied moderation, and not least because of its general welcome for the White Paper now before your Lordships.

My Lords, we have had a rather long discussion this afternoon and I think it would be wrong if I were to detain your Lordships for too long, bearing in mind too that I made a fairly long speech at the outset of this debate. As I see it, certain common themes have emerged from this discussion. In the first place, I think there has been a general, if in certain quarters rather muted, or indeed woolly, welcome for this White Paper, albeit—


My Lords, I did not actually say that. I said that it was a warmish welcome to a woolly White Paper.


My Lords, I was fully aware of what the noble Earl said, and I apologise for misquoting him on purpose. I recognise that that welcome has in certain respects been highly critical. Secondly, I think it right to say (at least this is my impression) that, albeit with qualifications, there has been in most quarters of your Lordships' House a general blessing for the two major items of Governmental restructuring. First, the formation of the Department of Trade and Industry, which to my mind at least has very clear advantages, the bringing together in one large Department of export considerations and export policies and considerations of home industry; the bringing together of the public sector and the private sector, and not least making for once what I think is desirable, a clear and identifiable point of contact for the man in the street, be he a businessman or an industrialist. These are great advantages, and again I think there has been a welcome with qualifications.


My Lords, before the noble Earl leaves that point may I ask him one question, which is in fact meant to help him, although he may not think so? How many buildings will this new Department be spread over? I am sure he cannot answer. I suspect it is about twenty buildings, and I want to give more power to his elbow in getting the resources to house civil servants properly. Has he any idea how many buildings?


Quite a few buildings, my Lords. I have an idea, but it would be a wild guess. I might just add to that point that right at the end of the White Paper there is a paragraph or two, not unimportant, on dispersal policy. One of the considerations which we have in mind there is that, apart from considering dispersal, it is the aim to consider concentration at the centre as well; that is, not to increase the number of civil servants at the heart of White- hall, but to see that those who are there are not fragmented as they are at the present time. This aim will be engaging our most lively attention.

May I go back to where I was diverted, but agreeably diverted, by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, to describe the advantage which I see in the creation of the Department of the Environment. I feel that there is a great advantage, or a great potential advantage, in unifying all the fields of policy which affect both the natural and the built environment. This is what I understand we are getting at in creating what is of course a very large Department indeed. I think that follows the thought which was expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Hurcomb—who, again, has told me he had to leave—in his speech. But of course, having said that, I recognise straight away that very understandable doubts have been expressed about the mammoth size of these Departments; and I take the point fairly put by the noble Lord, Lord Balogh, that it is not just the gross number of civil servants in a particular Department which is important, but the functions, represented perhaps by the number of Under-Secretaries. I accept that point.

I remember the phrase used by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, that bigger is not necessarily better. Of course, I can only say, "Granted". But fewer and smaller is better. We have already achieved fewer Departments, and we have laid the foundations for achieving smaller Departments out of those fewer Departments.

One essential foundation, of course, is the review of functions. The Prime Minister has instructed ail departmental Ministers now to review radically and from the roots all the functions of their Departments to see which functions can be eliminated or amputated—these are the remedies which the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, herself advocated; to see what loads can be completely shed—and I am quite certain myself that some can be; to see where hiving off is possible, whether it is hiving off right outside the public sector, or by what I call the post-Fulton system of accountable management units. This review will not be once and for all; there will be a continuing process of review.

The results of the first review which is now being carried out as a result of a very firm directive from the Prime Minister will be, if not evident, at least coming in fairly soon.

Having said that, I fully agree with the noble Earl, Lord Longford, that these large Departments will not be manageable unless there is a real degree of delegation within them. Perhaps there are new conceptions, to use his phrase, which we must try out here. I should only like to add in that context one further comment. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, asked me what happens in the case of disagreement between one of the Ministers responsible for a department under the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State himself.


My Lords, would he have the right to appeal to the Cabinet over his boss?


No, my Lords. I should like to make this perfectly clear. Final responsibility rests, as it must rest, with the Secretary of State, who will be the sole voice for his Department in the Cabinet. That is the position, and I hope that the answer is quite clear.

The noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, singled out in her disquiet which she was expressing as part of her general welcome of the new Department of the Environment the fact that what was formerly the Ministry of Public Building and Works carries with it a very wide and varied cluster of what I think are technically called service functions. She suggested that, perhaps as part of the process of hiving off, those functions could well be subject to critical examination. I would agree with what the noble Baroness has said, and I would go one stage further and say that that aspect of the functions of the Department of the Environment will be getting just that kind of critical examination.

In this context (and I come on to this in answer to a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and a question put to me by him), I was asked by my noble friend Lord Reigate about dispersal. All I can say in amplification of the White Paper is that we really mean business in this respect. We are about to undertake, using modern systems and methodologies (to use the awful jargon developed in the Civil Service Department under the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton), a very searching review here; and that review will be completed within the coming year. I do not wish to prejudge what the results of it will be. But this is a more radical examination of the possibilities of Governmental dispersal, coupled with sensible concentration, than has been envisaged in the past. Certainly we intend to do this in a very thorough way indeed.

My Lords, that said by way of introduction, I turn now, if I may, to some of the particular points—areas about which questions have been put to me. My noble friend Lord Caldecote, and my noble friend Lord Lauderdale, were both anxious, as I understood it, about the allocation of responsibilities in the transport field. They asked me why responsibilities for shipping and civil aviation have not been transferred from the Trade and Industry sector to link up with the other transport industries—rail and road—in the new Department of the Environment. Well my Lords, those are very understandable questions. When this whole process of restructuring was under consideration I remember posing exactly the same questions myself, because at first blush it is an extremely attractive idea to group together these four major transport industries.

All I can do now is to assure my two noble friends that this matter was very carefully examined and they are wrong if they think that the present division is the result of history or just of this matter not having been examined. That is not the case. The matter was closely examined and was examined ab initio, and we came to the pattern which is the White Paper because we discerned certain clear linkages between these groups of functions. The dominant linkages of shipping and civil aviation work are international, whereas the dominant linkages of road and rail transport are internal. That is why, in our view, it makes better sense for the Department of Trade and Industry to have responsibility for shipping and aviation and why it makes sense for the Department concerned with our own physical and built-up environment to have responsibility for the road and rail transport industries. However, at first blush I would agree that one might well come to another conclusion.

As to responsibility for our airports, in our view these clearly go, as a matter of operational necessity, with the main civil aviation responsibilities. That is why airports are to be found in Trade and Industry. On the other hand the analogy with shipping, where responsibility for ports rests with the Department of the Environment and shipping with Trade and Industry, is not one that really stands up to examination. The reason is that, plainly, when we look at it the ports/inland transport link is closer than the ports/shipping link in terms of Government responsibilities.

My Lords, I know this means that airport policy and significant planning decisions, such as the siting of the third London Airport, will rest with the Department of Trade and Industry. These, of course, have massive implications for physical planning, as my noble friend rightly pointed out. But such decisions arise very seldom indeed, whereas the functions which link airports and airlines are continuously and closely related. So in our view it is right to make very careful arrangements for co-ordination between the two Departments concerned on airport planning, but not actually to transfer responsibility for what can only be a fragment of a function. I hope I have made the logic behind these decisions clear to my noble friends. On the basis of one quick explanation I do not ask them necessarily to agree, but all I can say is that these particular decisions were very carefully considered indeed.

My noble friend Lord Caldecote asked me some questions about research and development and whether there was a danger of new frontiers being established between the research and development institutes which are mainly in the defence sphere and those which have been in the sphere of technology. That is my understanding of the question he put to me.


My Lords, my point was between the Government industrial research and the Government defence research establishments.


My Lords, my noble friend has re-phrased the question very accurately. I take the point. My own view is that there have been fron- tiers in the past and there are frontiers at the present time, and that those frontiers are more likely to be broken down as a result of the examination which is going to be carried out under Mr. Rayner than under the present situation; but we shall have to wait and see. By the same token, if the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, will excuse me from answering his very detailed questions at this stage I should prefer, if only because of the time, to do so in writing. He accused me of tucking in my statement on research associations towards the end of my speech, but he tucked in his questions rather towards the end of our debate. But I will write to him about them and I shall be very glad to go into them in debate later, if the noble Earl so wishes.

I now turn to three areas of difficulty about which I have been asked a number of not easy questions by noble Lords opposite. First, there is the question relating to Wales and the transfer of certain education responsibilities to the Secretary of State for Wales. I listened most carefully to the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, and at this hour I do not wish to go over this whole ground in great detail. What I should like to put to her, however, is this: once the office of the Secretary of State for Wales had been created and once the principle of a certain devolution of functions to Wales had been accepted, there was surely a strong case in logic for saying that sooner or later it should be given education powers. There have been many, not only in this Administration, who have taken this view and who thought it was a matter of real difficulty to Secretaries of State for Wales that they had no more than oversight of educational functions in Wales; and it seems to me that if functions are going to be transferred, primary and secondary education are the obvious choices.

I realise that this again immediately raises problems of what might be called "frontiers". I prefer to leave this subject at this stage of the debate, but I might just add this. The noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, asserted that there had been little or no consultation on this matter, but our intentions were stated very clearly in our Election manifesto, they were reiterated in the Queen's Speech, and, since the publication of the White Paper, the Secretary of State has deliberately delayed the implementation of these measures until there has been time for consultation. I would ask the noble Baroness to accept that as my understanding of the position.


My Lords, can the noble Earl say whether or not there was any consultation with either the teachers' bodies or the Association of Education Committees and the Welsh Joint Education Committee before the publication of the Order?


No, my Lords, I think it was after the publication of the Order; but the implementation of the Order was held up so that that consultation could be undertaken thereafter.

With regard to another difficult area—that is, the transfer of the Children's Department responsibilities to the Department of Health and Social Security—I should only like to say that I very much share the affection and respect which I think anybody who has worked in the Home Office has for the Children's Department and those who work in it. As a result of my experience in the Home Office I have come to the same conclusion as has the noble Baroness about the worth of the Children's Department. But it seems to me that, as the noble Earl, Lord Longford, very fairly said, we were presented by a choice which would be difficult either way. It is quite clear that, following Seebohm, if all the social services are to be integrated at the local level, which I think we all hold to be right, then it is only sensible to integrate their supervision at the ministerial level.

We then have the choice whether the Children's Department should go to the Department of Health and Social Security or whether that side of the Department of Health and Social Security which deals with the personal services should somehow be brought into the Home Office. This is a very difficult area of choice. In my view, the right decision was taken, although as a Home Office sentimentalist I saw it taken with a good deal of regret. But I think it was the right decision; and, that having been done, straight away one runs into the difficulty that this means some fragmentation, admittedly, of responsibility for dealing with children in trouble, the point on which the noble Earl, Lord Longford, rightly dwelt. All I would say to the noble Earl is that this is a point of difficulty which is very much recognised by Her Majesty's Government, and it is certainly our intention to ensure that in this area there is the closest possible co-ordination between the Home Office and the Department of Health and Social Security. I think I can therefore give the noble Earl the assurance he asked me for.

If I recall correctly, there was one further area of lively criticism of the proposals in the White Paper expressed in your Lordships' debate this afternoon, and that is the proposal to bring the Ministry of Overseas Development within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I do not wish to go over all the ground again. I gave my views on this subject at the outset of our debate. I emphasised that there was no intention on the part of Her Majesty's Government to slacken the momentum behind our aid effort—in fact, very much the reverse. I assured your Lordships that the staff of the O.D.M. would be retained as an autonomous whole within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and I pointed to the advantages which, in my view, would flow from a senior Cabinet Minister being able to speak up for aid within the Cabinet.


My Lords, I do not want to interrupt my noble friend, but surely in the past when aid was distributed among three Offices there were three Secretaries of State and Cabinet Ministers well able to speak up for aid. Now there is one rather more remote, while the actual responsibility for aid rests with a Minister within the Foreign Office.


My Lords, knowing the personal attachment of the present holder of the office of Foreign Secretary to aid, and his belief in development aid, I should have thought it was not fair to categorise Sir Alec Douglas-Home as being remote in that respect.


My Lords, may I interrupt for one moment? Surely it is not right that we should be dependent on the personality of the existing incumbent of the Foreign Secretaryship. Foreign Secretaries come and go, and we all know that their personalities are very different. I do not think that that is an answer to that particular point.


My Lords, I think it was a part answer to the charge of remoteness. But the real point is that Her Majesty's Government are committed to an expanding aid programme, and it is therefore inconceivable that one would have in Her Majesty's Government as Foreign Secretary someone who did not hold a strong personal commitment in this sphere. I understand the emotion which this particular transfer of functions has aroused; nevertheless I do feel that there is an undue scepticism about the attitude of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office inherent in that point of view. It has certainly not been my experience, as an old member of the Foreign Service, that my fellow members were uninterested in development aid; indeed, very much the reverse. Moreover, it has certainly been my experience as a merchant banker in the last six years or so that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in many respects—for example, in their preference for multilateral aid, which I hold to be usually desirable—were extremely advanced. But, be that as it may, I do not think I am going at this hour of the night to persuade the noble Baroness or noble Lords opposite, or indeed my noble friend, that this is the right decision. Perhaps I may parenthetically apologise to my noble friend for being necessarily out of your Lordships' House when he was speaking earlier.


My Lords, the noble Earl is doing his job very thoroughly and we much appreciate it. We do not want to waste time on the Order later to-night, because it is getting rather late; but what really alarms me is that he has failed to understand the points that have been made. I recall my own experience in the field of foreign affairs when I have for political purposes sought to get money out of the Department of Overseas Development which went against their judgment as to its development value. It may well be that we shall return to this subject on an Un-starred Question on some occasion, and then the Minister particularly responsible will be able to deal with it.


My Lords, I would gladly fall in with that suggestion. The noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies, asked me three specific questions of which she was kind enough to give me notice. Unless she would like me to reply now, I would, in view of the time factor, send her written replies to those three questions.


My Lords, would the noble Earl answer the question about staff?


My Lords, again I was out of the House when the noble Baroness spoke, but I think she asked whether Her Majesty's Government will continue to retain the O.D.A. as a domestic office without pressing the staff to join the Diplomatic Service. The answer is Yes; as stated in the White Paper the Overseas Development Administration of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will continue like the Ministry of Overseas Development to be staffed by home civil servants, although the existing provisions for secondment in both directions with the Diplomatic Service will continue. It is an essential part of the change that a separate O.D.A. should continue within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and that the skilled body of aid administrators who have been brought together initially in the Department of Technical Co-operation and then in the O.D.M. should continue to be managed and function as a cohesive unit.

I come in conclusion to the central policy review staff. Although this has been very central to our debate, I shall necessarily be a little cursory in my treatment of the issues. We have had a great deal of fun about the semantics of how this animal has changed its name as it has gone along the road. But I think it is "central policy review staff" now, and I think it is likely to remain "central policy review staff" unless your Lordships can think of a better name.

So far as the scope of the staff is concerned, I would only say this: I see it playing an essential and continuing part in the annual review by Government of their priorities and of their expenditure options. I also see it playing an important and continuing part in the annual exercise in which the Government will be engaging, the Programme Analysis and Review which will be the complement of PESC. These will be two year to year important continuing functions of the central policy review staff as I see it. But, of course, it will not be precluded from long range studies; in fact it will be encouraged, ad hoc if need be, to point out to Ministers the options open to them on particular decisions; and of course, as is made clear in the White Paper, it will be carrying out or commissioning special studies itself.

If I may now reply to the noble Lord, Lord Balogh, and to the specific point about its functions which he put to me, I would certainly not wish to see the central policy review staff restricted in its scope in any artificial manner, and I would certainly not rule out its being involved in the area to which he drew attention. But I would not at this stage wish to go further.

So far as the collective responsibilities of the review staff are concerned, I think that perhaps it was my fault that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, made rather heavy weather about that matter earlier in our debate. What I should like again to emphasise is that the services of the review staff will be common to the Prime Minister and to Ministers in their collective responsibility. It will be providing common services, and I do not myself see any particular difficulty in the mode by which those services will be rendered, by which its reports will reach the Ministers concerned. The noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, pointed out that they could receive them as members of the Cabinet. They could also receive the reports as members of the Cabinet Committees on which they sit. They could receive them in their individual departmental capacities. But the point which I was anxious not to be drawn on was the precise Cabinet Committee structure which might or might not embrace the central policy review staff. This would be going against our normal conventions, and on that I would not wish at this stage to be drawn. But I was most interested in the remarks made in that respect.


My Lords, I hesitate to prolong this debate in any way, but could the noble Earl explain why the central policy review staff might not be a special section of the Cabinet Secretariat, of course ultimately coming under the Prime Minister through Sir Burke Trend, without being set up as a sort of autonomous unit?


My Lords, I think what is likely to evolve may be very close to that; it will be part of the Secretariat, but a distinctive part of it. I believe it is important that it should preserve its own identity, but it will be part of the Cabinet Secretariat. So far as staff are concerned, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, expressed the hope that Lord Rothschild will be able, or be enabled, to recruit staff of the highest quality. I can only echo those admirable sentiments. Certainly it will be my desire, with my responsibilities within the Civil Service Department, to do anything I can to further that desirable objective.

As for numbers, the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, perhaps being under some misapprehension about the degree to which the central policy review staff will itself develop an independent analytical function, thought that it was going to have a huge number of analysts accommodated within it. I think this is not the case. I think the analytical capability available to Government will be mainly within the Departments themselves, and of course within the Treasury, But this does not mean that there will not be analysts within the central policy review staff itself, but I think they will be quite small in number—very limited indeed.


My Lords, if the noble Earl has finished on that point, I should like to correct one matter. I never sought to get from the noble Earl the existing Cabinet Committee structure, and in the sense of his batting me down on that I would merely say that I was asking how it worked. I even suggested relating it to an ancient Cabinet Committee structure. The noble Earl has been most patient, but perhaps I could ask one further question. Are there going to be some businessmen qua businessmen in this? This is how publicly it all started, in his first statement. Secondly, I did not say there would need to be a large number of analysts. I said there are not available a large number of people who are expert in this type of activity, and over a wide area one could run into trouble. But these are merely points of correction.


My Lords, I entirely accept what the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition has kindly said. So far as his specific question is concerned, if there is a businessman or businessmen appointed to Lord Rothschild's staff, the appointment will not be qua businessmen, or if there is an engineer, he will not be appointed qua engineer. I think it is possible—I would not wish to rule out any possibility—that anyone who is appointed to the central policy review staff will be appointed because of his particular personal qualities.


My Lords, I am delighted to hear that.


My Lords, we have had a rather long discussion, and I fully recognise that there are a great many points which I have left unanswered. But I should like to say, by way of conclusion, that I think we can fairly claim that during our years of Opposition we engaged in some pretty fundamental thinking about the machinery of government. Moreover, since we took office in the summer, we have, with the assistance of some very skilled and experienced civil servants, done a lot more hard thinking. That thinking is embodied in the changes announced in the White Paper. I know that I shall not carry all noble Lords with me, but it is my belief that these changes, and the principles and thinking on which they rest, are valid, and that their practical effect will be good. But I do not for one moment wish to assert that they could not be improved, and it will certainly be our aim—and we have been helped towards that aim by a very constructive debate this afternoon—to do what we can over the months and years ahead, whatever it may be, to improve this machinery, but on the basis of trying to achieve that stability in government structure which we all wish to see achieved.

On Question, Motion agreed to.