Hague would redefine Welsh post

The Secretary of State for Wales would be merged with another cabinet role under a Conservative government, according to William Hague.

The party leader told delegates at the Conservative party conference in Harrogate on Sunday that the post would be given extra responsibilities but not merged with similar roles in Scotland and Northern Ireland – said to be a Labour option.

Instead, the position, which is currently held by Paul Murphy, could be merged with roles such as Leader of the House in an effort to create “smaller government”, he said.

The future of the post has been debated in all parties after most of the Secretary of State’s powers transferred to the National Assembly in 1999.

There had been speculation that the Tories would scrap the role if they won the election.

‘Committed to Wales’

Whitehall insiders believe Tony Blair may merge the Welsh post with its equivalent in Scotland and Northern Ireland to create a new Department for the Nations, if Labour wins the next election.

But Mr Hague, a former Welsh Secretary himself, said there would be no Secretary of State for the Nations in a Tory cabinet.

The Conservatives election campaign leader in Wales, Nigel Evans, said he was delighted with the pledge.

He said: “It shows the Conservatives are committed to Wales and to smaller government.

“Labour will now come under pressure to say whether the post would remain if they won the election”