Wales politics

Papers show John Major was urged to bring cabinet to Wales

John Major at Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen in 1993 Image copyright PA
Image caption Welsh welcome: John Major delights the Tory faithful at a conference in Llangollen in 1993

Former Conservative prime minister John Major came under pressure to hold a meeting of his cabinet in Wales, newly-released archive papers have revealed.

The then Welsh Secretary David Hunt put forward the idea in January 1992 in a bid to attract important European and parliamentary events to Wales.

Cardiff Castle and nearby Dyffryn House were suggested as "suitably grand and dignified" locations.

The UK cabinet did not meet in Wales until 2009, under Gordon Brown.

Sir Richard Lloyd-Jones, the top civil servant at the Welsh Office in 1992, wrote to Mr Major's principal private secretary Andrew Turnbull to suggest a cabinet meeting in Wales.

"My secretary of state ... has it in mind to propose to the prime minister, very soon, that a number of important EC [European Community] and parliamentary events be held in Wales, to demonstrate Wales' importance in the United Kingdom and Europe - and perhaps vice versa," the letter read.

Image copyright Robin Drayton/Creative Commons
Image caption Dyffryn House was suggested as a "suitably grand and dignified" location for a cabinet meeting

In a letter released by the National Archives, Sir Richard said he had two "suitably grand and dignified" locations in mind - Cardiff Castle and Dyffryn House, five miles west of the capital.

Mr Turnbull added some handwritten notes to the letter - asking how often the cabinet would meet in Wales and Scotland, if there would be anything special about the agenda, and "what do ministers do the rest of the day?".

In his reply, Mr Turnbull suggested Sir Richard speak to the UK's most senior civil servant, Sir Robin Butler.

He advised Sir Richard not to go into great detail about the logistics as "the acceptability of the proposal will not stand or fall on the location".

John Major's cabinet never did meet in Wales.

The UK cabinet did eventually meet in Cardiff in 2009, when Gordon Brown was prime minister.

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