Welsh Office (25th Anniversary)

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th December 1989.

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Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarfon 12:00 am, 11th December 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what events were organised by his Department to mark the 25th anniversary of the Welsh Office in November.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

The 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Welsh Office falls on 1 April 1990. I intend to mark the anniversary in an appropriate manner and will announce my plans early in 1990.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarfon

Is the Secretary of State aware that on radio programmes in Wales commemorating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Secretary of State's office, which was the embryonic Welsh Office, in November 1964, two former senior officials of the Welsh Office, Mr. Richard Hall Williams and Sir Goronwy Daniel said that the major challenge now facing the Welsh Office was to get a degree of democracy into its oversight? Will he confirm that any celebrations next April will bring about that democracy, or will we be lingering behind Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I find such admirable institutions as the Welsh Grand Committee, the Welsh Select Committee and the constant activities of lively Welsh Members of Parliament such as the hon. Gentleman marvellous reflections of democracy in Wales that would be envied in Lithuania and elsewhere.

Photo of Mr Denzil Davies Mr Denzil Davies , Llanelli

Is the Secretary of State aware that during the past 10 years while his party has been in charge of the Welsh Office, income per head in Wales has fallen faster than in any other area in Britain and is now almost as low as that in Northern Ireland? Is that evidence of an economic miracle or an economic disaster?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I repeat that average wages in Wales have massively increased as has the diversity of opportunity in Wales. Wales now has a strong diversified economy which is recognised and rejoiced in by anyone who has any regard for the future of Wales.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the important advantages of a Welsh Office is that Welsh matters are debated here in the United Kingdom Parliament and not in some Mickey Mouse assembly in Cardiff? Does he agree that the hallmarks of a Conservative Welsh Office are prudence and value for money for the taxpayer? Will he ensure that any celebrations bear that in mind?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

The enormous resources that have been put into regional development in recent years and the fact that domestic ratepayers in Wales will be paying only 15 per cent. of all local government expenditure are reflections of the considerable advantages for Wales of being part of the United Kingdom.

Photo of Mr Geraint Howells Mr Geraint Howells , Ceredigion and Pembroke North

I am sure that the Secretary of State knows that the people of Wales demand their own Parliament within the United Kingdom. On reflection, which position would the Secretary of State like to hold in that Parliament?