HC Deb 26 March 1936 vol 310 cc1399-400
47. Mr. PALING

asked the Prime Minister whether the recent appointment of a Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture was made with his knowledge and sanction; on what grounds the appointment was made; and whether, before transferring a civil servant from another Department, any consideration was given to the desirability of appointing a civil servant with experience in the work of the Ministry of Agriculture?


As stated in the official Press announcement, the appointment in question was made by my right hon. Friend with my concurrence. As explained by him yesterday in reply to a question, the field of selection for the more important posts in the Civil Service is the Service itself as a whole; and, in the present case, as on all other occasions, the selection of the officer who is regarded as having the best all-round qualifications and experience was made after the most careful consideration.


Are we to understand that, in spite of the fact that there are civil servants in the Department with long years of service, wide experience of the Department and proved ability, this gentleman's superiority, though he had no experience of the Department, was so overwhelming that he got the job on merit alone?


If the hon. Member, as he very likely will some day, occupies a high position in the Government, he will know that one of the most difficult and responsible tasks that Ministers have is, in consultation with the permanent head of the Service, to find the very best men who can be found in the Service to be the heads of Departments. It is in the interest of Ministers that the best men should be found, and the efficient working of the Departments is a matter of supreme importance to the State. In this case we believe that that course has been adopted, and that will always be the course that we shall try to adopt. I am quite aware that, whenever any appointment is made, there will always be a certain amount of criticism, but I feel convinced that on this occasion, as on others, we have tried to select the man we believe the best for the job, irrespective of all other considerations.