Welsh Education (Ministerial Responsibility)

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th February 1965.

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Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry 12:00 am, 16th February 1965

asked the Prime Minister if he will bring education in Wales within the executive authority of the Secretary of State for Wales.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I see no reason for modifying the arrangements I explained in some detail in the answer I gave to a Question by the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) on 19th November.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

Is the Prime Minister aware that his creation of the office of Secretary of State for Wales led in Wales to expectations of far greater constitutional changes than those so far announced? Will he recognise that the long-standing autonomy of the Welsh Department of the Education Ministry and the vital question of the Welsh language together create a very strong case for this transfer?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

What we have to consider here is what would be best for education in Wales. I think that the solution, which was announced after a great deal of thought and consultation, on 19th November, was the right one. We all recognise the very distinguished work done by the Board of Education in Wales under Sir Ben Bowen Thomas and others over the years. We shall now have a Minister in the Cabinet and in the House capable of speaking in the interest of education in Wales.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

When will the House have a transfer of functions Order in regard to Wales? We have been waiting for it for far too long.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I would like notice of that question.

Photo of Mr James Jones Mr James Jones , Wrexham

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the serious and appalling conditions of schools in Wales reported in the school building survey for 1962?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

If my hon. Friend is referring to the survey taken in 1962 but which was not, in fact, published until 1965, yes, I am aware of it.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomeryshire

The Prime Minister has appointed three Ministers to the Welsh Department but at the moment they have very little executive responsibility. All shades of opinion in the Principality are concerned about education, so surely responsibility for education in Wales is an obvious case for transfer to the Secretary of State?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

As the hon. and learned Gentleman knows—because, originally, my statement in November was in reply to a Question by him—there has been a very substantial degree of transfer. But in studying every single function we have to consider whether the interest of Wales would be better served by transfer, as in some cases, or by keeping the central machinery. Sometimes, trying to run a service for Wales as a separate undertaking would mean less good for Wales.