Catalogue description Records of Regional and Welsh Offices

Details of Division within MAF
Reference: Division within MAF
Title: Records of Regional and Welsh Offices

Records of the regional offices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and its predecessors, including Wales.

The records relate to:

Date: 1892-1983
Related material:

For records of agricultural wages committees see MAF 64

Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 9 series
Administrative / biographical background:

Regional Organisation, 1939-1957

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries had no formal regional organisation until after the Second World War. However, in 1939 the minister was empowered to create War Agricultural Executive Committees throughout the country. To these committees were delegated the powers of the minister to control and direct production in wartime. These included the authority to take possession of land, to requisition, inspect and enter property, to terminate tenancies, to stimulate drainage schemes, to organise mobile groups of farm workers and to conduct a National Farm Survey. Supervision of their activities was the responsibility of the wartime Local Organisation Division.

The 1947 Agriculture Act reconstituted the committees as County Agricultural Executive Committees, permanent bodies to whom the minister could delegate any of his functions relating to agriculture; and they continued to be responsible for a wide range of executive tasks, such as the administration of various agricultural grants and trading services. Their staffs now became civil servants employed by the ministry, which continued to deal with them directly rather than through any regional organisation.

Meanwhile in 1946 the National Agricultural Advisory Service (NAAS) had been set up organised into eight regions (seven for England and one for Wales), based on areas of similar types of farming formerly covered by the university and college agricultural departments. The staff of these departments were given the right to transfer to NAAS and each region was headed by a provincial director who was directly responsible to the minister. In 1948 an Agricultural Land Service (ALS) was established on the same basis as NAAS, founded on the existing Land Commission service and Rural Land Use organisation. The service was headed by a land commissioner and provided technical advice on land management and use, particularly on the management of small holdings.

In 1952 the post of liaison officer was revised to interpret ministry policy to county agricultural executive committees and to keep the minister informed of opinion and developments in his area, through both informal contacts and official meetings. Each liaison officer represented a group of up to six counties, forming (from 1957) a whole or part of a ministry region and, from that time, working closely with the relevant regional controller.

Regional Organisation, 1957-

Since 1957 the ministry's organisation in England has been based on the seven regions, each headed by a regional controller. Each region provides a base for the advisory service, oversees the work of the divisional offices and generally administers the ministry's policy at a regional level. The heads of the regional veterinary and drainage services, of NAAS and the ALS work closely with the regional controllers in the coordination of their work. Headquarters control and co-ordination of the ministry's regional organisation was provided by division in the Establishment Department until 1990, when responsibility passed from the Manpower Division to the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service and Regional Management Division, and from there to the Regional Services and Agency Support Division (1991-1994), the Regional Services Division (1994-1996) and the Regional Services Support Unit (1996-).

In Wales the duties of the regional controller were carried out at the Welsh Department under the control of the Welsh Secretary until in 1978 all Welsh functions were devolved to the Welsh Office.

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