Tony Blair wanted Assembly leader to be called ‘Chief Executive’ not First Minister
Tony Blair wanted the leader of the Welsh Assembly to be given the title of Chief Executive” not First Minister, according to a released memo.
Downing Street official Angus Lapsley said the New Labour Prime Minister felt the title of First Minister “plays into the hands of those who would argue that the assembly is primarily about creating a new tier of political activity”.
This was revealed in a newly published letter to Dr June Milligan, in the Welsh Office, dated 15 September 1997.
It is also suggested that the title of Chief Executive would be preferable to Blair because the leader of the Assembly would not be a Minister of the Crown.
The letter says: “The Prime Minister has seen your Secretary of State’s letter to the Deputy Prime Minister of 5 September, which proposed that the title of the leader of the Welsh Assembly should be ‘First Minister and that other Members of the Executive Committee would be called ‘Minister’.
“Although he has noted the arguments in favour of these titles, the Prime Minister sees two problems with them.
“First, as your Secretary of State’s letter explains, it is not proposed that the leader of the assembly or leaders of subject committees should be Ministers of the Crown.
“The Prime Minister feels that this in itself is a good reason not to use the title Minister.
“Secondly, he feels that the title plays into the hands of those who would argue that the assembly is primarily about creating a new tier of political activity.
“He would prefer titles that better reflect the assembly’s aims of delivering better public services and working with business, such as ‘Chief Executive’.”