3 OCTOBER 1947, Page 1


THOUGH further changes in Mr. Attlee's Ministry have still to be made known, they are not likely to equal in interest or importance those already announced. The interest is constitutional as well as personal. As to the latter aspect, Sir Stafford Cripps has a good claim to be regarded as the ablest man in the administration, and if any Minister was to be put in general charge of the vast field of economic affairs at this critical juncture—a move for which there is everything to be said—the President of the Board of Trade was clearly the man. Mr. Harold Wilson is appointed to succeed him in his old office. There can be little doubt that the choice was as much Sir Stafford's as the Prime Minister's, for the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary of the Department of Overseas Trade have been working necessarily in close co-operation in the last six months, and there is every reason why their association should be continued. Mr. Wilson, at the early age of 31, gets a great oppor- tunity ; his administrative work in his previous offices justifies the belief that he will make the most of it. The new appointments make it clear that the Prime Minister is moving towards that form of Cabinet envisaged first in the Haldane Report of 1917, which advocated the grouping of associated departments under a single " super-Minister " usually without direct executive responsibilities. This has happened already in the case of the Service Ministries, now grouped under Mr. Alexander, and the fact that Sir Stafford Cripps will now have oversight over the Board of Trade and the Ministries of Labour, Fuel, Supply and Transport carries the process considerably further. This is a sound move, whether it be so far extended as to lay new responsibilities on Mr. Bevin and Mr. Morrison or not. It means that broad policy will be largely shaped by a small inner circle of Ministers who will at last have time for thought. The advantages of that are sufficiently emphasised by contemplation of the system prevailing hitherto.