HL Deb 22 July 1977 vol 386 cc614-5

11.12 a.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of the fact that there are Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales, it would not be appropriate to have a Secretary of State for the Northern Region.

Baroness STEDMAN

No, my Lords.


My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that most unsatisfactory reply. May I ask whether she is aware of the advantages that accrued to both Scotland and Wales through having a Cabinet Minister both for Scotland and for Wales?—a move which I supported. Is the noble Baroness aware that, whatever anybody else thinks, I think that it is about time there was somebody in the Cabinet who could argue for the region which I had the honour to represent and have represented for so many years?

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, we all know and admire the great enthusiasm of the noble Baroness for the area that she used to represent but we are not convinced that there is a need for a Cabinet Minister to cover every region. We accept that there is a need for close liaison between Departments and for good links with the relevant regional organisations, but we do not believe that there is a need for a Secretary of State or a Cabinet Minister.

Baroness SEEAR

My Lords, would the noble Baroness agree that, so long as the noble Baroness from North Tyne-side is with us, a Cabinet Minister would be redundant?

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, I was wondering whether if it ever came to it, we should suggest the noble Baroness for the post.


My Lords, while we appreciate that it is not possible to do what is asked in the Question, can we be assured that the Government are going to continue their policy of helping the North-East—as they have done so well in the past—over the difficulty that is arising in consequence of the Reyrolle Parsons affair, and that they will pay close attention to trying to avoid any further increase in unemployment in the region?

Baroness STEDMAN

Yes, my Lords. My noble friend is quite right. The Government have done a lot for the assisted areas and will continue to do so.


My Lords, would not my noble friend agree that if the Old Kingdom were revived it would be quite appropriate that Scotland should be included among the responsibilities of a Secretary of State for the North?

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, I think that is a matter that we ought to leave for more discussion on devolution.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord the Leader of the House whether we in this House are expected to sit as representatives of any region?