THE idea of having a “Secretary of State for Union” instead of a dedicated minister for devolved nations was floated by Tony Blair’s government, cabinet files show.

Newly released official documents from the National Archives in London include a civil service memo on the “future of the territorial secretaries of state” dated May 2000, a year after Holyrood was established.

The document, sent from Jim Gallagher and addressed to David Miliband, who was then a policy adviser in Downing Street, stated that Scottish Secretary John Reid and Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy have “jobs for now”, but adds these are “not full-time Cabinet posts for the long-term”.

But it went on to say there are long-term tasks to be done, which include looking after Scottish and Welsh legislation in reserved matters and “managing under-employed Scottish/Welsh backbenchers”.

READ MORE: Blair advised to meet Orange Order chiefs after Good Friday Agreement

The memo suggested three options, starting with integrating the role with a department such as the Home Office – but added that this would be “disastrous, politically and administratively”.

Another suggestion is to create a “Secretary of State for the Union” with a couple of junior ministers, it said.

“This would combine John’s and Paul’s posts and be adequate for the purpose,” Gallagher stated.

“But it would be peripheral job, even with Ireland added, and it ghettoises devolution and decentralisation as something for the Celtic fringe.”

Gallagher added: “I favour the Secretary of State for devolution or centralisation responsible for the devolved administration, regional and local government. This has the potential to be a major Cabinet post, and attract a heavy weight.”

However he went on to say it would be best as a “post-election move”, although it could be considered as a manifesto commitment.

“Pre-election, I do not think that a change would be wise in either Scotland or Wales: John Reid has a difficult task in managing the election campaign in Scotland, and Paul still has some tricky issues in the Welsh relationship.

“The political flak of choosing who this might be – Scots, Welsh or English – would be disproportionate to the benefit in the next 12 months.”

The National: Tony Blair and George Bush Tony Blair and George Bush (Image: PA)

READ MORE: Future of Britain conference sees Tony Blair deny he's forming party with Ruth Davidson

The newly released documents have also revealed insights into how Blair was desperate to establish good relations with US president George Bush.

He was the first foreign leader to call to congratulate the American president-elect when his victory was finally confirmed by the Supreme Court in December 2000 following a prolonged dispute over the count in Florida.

The files also contain a letter suggesting a reshuffle after the General Election of 2001 could be a good time to create a UK post of “Minster for the Americas”.

A memo from David Cairns, dated the month before voters went to the poll, said it could work in the same way as a Minister for Europe, adding: “it should play well in Washington, demonstrating that we are able to respond to their priorities”.