HC Deb 29 April 1937 vol 323 cc561-97

4.43 p.m.

Colonel Gretton

I beg to move, in page 3, line 15, to leave out "such," and to insert "one thousand pounds or such less."

This Amendment ought to be read in conjunction with the one following in the name of myself and the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams)—in page 3, line 17, after "to," to insert "not more than." It will be recalled that in the proceedings yesterday a number of salaries were fixed. They were the salaries for the offices which are set out in Part I of the First Schedule—the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Secretaries of State—now eight—the First Lord of the Admiralty, the President of the Board of Trade, the Minister of Agriculture, the President of the Board of Education, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Transport and the new Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence. All those Ministers will now be paid a salary of £5,000 a year whether they are members of the Cabinet or not. Clause 3 proposes that an additional salary shall be paid to any other Ministers if they are promoted to a seat in the Cabinet during the time they hold that position. If any Minister is promoted to the Cabinet he is to receive a salary of £5,000 per annum. The effect of this Amendment is that any of the junior Ministers who, under Clause I, are to be paid less than £5,000 a year, should receive on promotion to Cabinet rank an increase of £1,000 in salary. It is not very easy to make out a case why a Minister who is doing work assessed at £3,000 a year should be immediately advanced to receive a salary of £5,000 by the mere fact that he joins the Cabinet. His administrative work may remain the same, and it is admittedly less onerous and valuable administrative work, as assessed by this Bill, than the administrative work done by the great officers of State whose names and offices are recited in the First Schedule to the Bill.

I would point out that as the proposal stands in this Clause 3 those great officers of State, many of whom have most onerous administrative duties to perform, get no increase of salary owing to the fact that they are members of the Cabinet. One cannot very well visualise a Cabinet which would not contain the principal Secretaries of State, but I would call to the recollection of this Committee that we had a huge Cabinet during the period of the Great War and that there was then an inner Cabinet, consisting of five members, who in fact made all the major decisions. We are getting a Cabinet now on a scale of numbers which is very closely approximating to that huge Cabinet which was in office during the War and which the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), described on one occasion as the Sanhedrin. What I am trying to draw the attention of the Committee to is that this proposal in Clause 3 is offering to the junior Ministers, or, as they are called in the report of the 1922 Committee, Ministers of second and third grades, an increase in salary out of proportion to the additional work which presumably they will be required to do as Ministers having seats in the Cabinet.

The sum of money at stake is not very large. The whole amount is only about £6,000, and it is not so much a matter of saving as a matter of principle. In the evidence given before the Committee of 1930 which considered Ministers' salaries, it was stated that it would be a convenience for the Prime Minister of the day to be able, so to speak, to shuffle his Ministers from one office to another without financial loss to those Ministers. That is the main argument, I believe, for having all Cabinet Ministers on the same range, namely, £5,000 a year, but that is not a very convincing argument, and, so far as I can see in the evidence, there is no convincing statement made for that argument. There is merely a general, round phrase, used in various forms, that a Cabinet Minister receives £5,000 a year because of the honour and dignity of the office which he holds.

I know that the Committee does not desire to prolong these proceedings unduly, or I might call attention to evidence given before the Committee of 1930 which emphasises the different grades of the work required from the Ministers of the Crown who are in the different Schedules to this Bill. In one piece of evidence there was a very eminent witness who gave a somewhat disparaging description of the work done by the Postmaster-General. His duties were described by that witness as being very largely mechanical and less onerous than those of many other Ministers of the Crown. At any rate, that is the kind of evidence that was offered. The present Minister of Health introduced energy and new ideas into the Post Office, but he got no increase of salary as a result. He was doing his duty and was well satisfied to do it well.

I suggest that no sufficient case has been made out, when you are promoting a second or third grade Minister to the Cabinet, for automatically giving him an increase of £2,000 or 3,000 per annum through the mere fact that he is promoted to a higher rank. The second Amendment which is put down to this Clause in my name is consequential and is to prevent any Minister of the Crown under some future arrangement receiving more than £5,000 owing to the fact that he is a member of the Cabinet.

4.51 p.m.

Mr. Petherick

I can quite understand the attitude of my right hon. and gallant Friend towards this Bill when he seeks to reduce on every possible occasion the amount of salaries proposed. I appreciate the point that in these times economy is an object at which we must all try to aim. At the same time, I think this Amendment is an unfortunate one. It is really wrecking one of the best parts of the Bill. It seems to me that the object of this Clause is an equalization of salary. Yesterday we were discussing whether we should equalize up or down; to-day we are discussing another point, but it seems to me that most hon. Members are agreed that the object to be attained is that there must be equalization. The reason for it is quite clear: it is in order to make Cabinet alterations or Cabinet-making easier for the Prime Minister of the day, and that obviously applies to every party, whichever one may happen to be in power. In addition to that, when one of these less highly paid Ministers is promoted to the Cabinet, he has great additional responsibility and additional work as well, and therefore it seems to me that he should rank both in salary and status with the rest of his Cabinet colleagues. For those reasons I hope the Government will not accept the Amendment, and I hope my right hon. and gallant Friend will not pursue it.

4.57 p.m.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

If the case put forward by my right hon. and gallant Friend were admitted, should we not then revert to the position of a good many years ago when the Scottish Secretary was brought into the Cabinet from an outside position at a smaller salary than his colleagues and was required to sit alongside those colleagues, sharing their responsibilities equally with them and yet all the time receiving a material remuneration very considerably lower than they received? There was in Scotland a feeling of loss of dignity on that account. Psychology enters into this matter, and one of the features of this Bill which is most welcome to Scotland is that our representative in the Cabinet is granted as on a level with other members of the Cabinet. I am bound, therefore, to oppose the Amendment, for the reason that I regard it as essential that every member of the Cabinet, sharing as he does the supreme responsibility for the government of this country, should be paid equally, in order psychologically that he may feel equal to his friends around the table.

4.58 p.m.

Mr. C. Williams

I should like to assure the last speaker that when we were putting down this Amendment we took into the fullest and most careful consideration the position of Scotland, and if he will read the Bill, he will see that all the Secretaries of State are included in the £5,000 salary scale, so that unless the hon. Gentleman or some other person moves the Secretary of State for Scotland out, his point is entirely covered.

Mr. Stewart

I think the hon. Member has not got my point. It is possible that on a future occasion the same view which we in Scotland held might be held by those who supported, shall we say, the Postmaster-General when he was elevated to the Cabinet. It was wrong, in our opinion, that if a man having a lower salary should be elevated to the Cabinet, he should be paid any less than his colleagues. I was giving an example, but I knew that the Scottish Secretary was included in the list of those to be paid salaries of £5,000 a year.

Mr. Williams

I am glad to know that, but at any rate that makes the position guile clear. May I go on to one other point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend opposite, the question of equality between Cabinet Ministers? Now equality in theory is a most excellent institution, but equality in practice never arises in almost any circumstance. What we want to do is to make the payments somewhere in proportion to the amount of the work. Almost every one of us knows that the Minister of Labour—I am only quoting what has been said several times in the Debate—has a very hard and arduous position. The Lord President of the Council or the Lord Privy Seal as such does not have the same amount of departmental work to do, and, in regard to those positions, we have deliberately put in £1,000 as an addition to their salary. In the whole composition of the Cabinet there must be some Ministers who, although they may be very excellent in themselves, are not Ministers who would run a great Department. I have held for many years that it is right, good, and sound that there should be a certain number of Ministers in the Cabinet who have not heavy departmental work, who can therefore give far more care and advice on various matters.

Let us keep three or four sinecure positions, and if we give them this extra £1,000 a year that would roughly maintain them in a Cabinet position. For example, it is true that if the Minister of Pensions came into the Cabinet, he would come out of the business fairly badly; but if you remember that the Lord President and the Lord Privy Seal are already receiving £3,000, this extra £1,000 will bring them up to £4,000. If you follow the theory of equality too far, and lay it down once and for all that the Cabinet is absolutely equal so far as its work is concerned, in the same way as it is equal in regard to standard, there is no limit to where you can go. We are all equal as Members of Parliament, although some of us are paid very low, and some very high, but I will not go into that. But there is a limit beyond which we should not go in regard to equality. I see that two Cabinet Ministers are looking at me now, and no one could possibly say that they are equal—they both have charming qualities —if you tried a weighing machine. I hope I have not disturbed them in any way, but there is simply not equality in that direction.

Mr. Pritt

Do you want to pay them by weight?

Mr. Williams

I do not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just interrupted me has a waistline that is any better than my own. I would say, in answer to my right hon. Friend opposite, and in supporting my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment, that we have put down the Amendment because we wish fully to recognise the existence and importance of the Cabinet as such, but it is really in the interests of those of us who take a different line and who have tried to help the Government in our own way on this Bill, that the Government should meet the opposition by at least one small concession. If they gave us this concession it would make many of us happier and more willing to help them, and it would affect not only one or two Members who have taken part in this Debate but scores of Conservative Members who are taking no part in the Bill—when you look at the Division lists, you will see that. For that reason, I would ask my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health to see his way, after the very weighty argument put forward by the right hon. Gentleman who proposed the Amendment, to meet us on this one occasion and give us some concession.

5.6 p.m.

The Minister of Health (Sir Kingsley Wood)

I would, of course, be only too glad to bring some happiness to the life of my hon. Friend, but I fear on this occasion that the objections to the proposal outweigh that anxiety on my part. There are two great reasons to be advanced against this proposal, and I doubt whether my right hon. Friend who moved it can claim that there is much support behind it. There is a difference of opinion, referred to by hon. Gentlemen opposite, whether a Minister should receive £4,000 or £5,000 a year. I doubt whether hon. Gentlemen opposite would dissent from the proposition that, apart from the question of amount, there should be equality of payment of members of the Cabinet. That is one of the main principles of this Measure, that when a man gets into the Cabinet he, at any rate, as far as his remuneration is concerned, should be equal to his colleagues there. I think there are many compelling reasons for that. The second reason is that it is obvious that if there is a difference of remuneration, difficulties do arise from time to time when the Prime Minister makes some change among the members of the Cabinet. One cannot avoid coming to a conclusion of that kind, and from the point of view of good, constitutional government the fact that all members of the Cabinet are receiving equal remuneration does help the Prime Minister of the day in any change he may desire to make between one member of the Cabinet and another. It is for those reasons that the proposals in the Bill have been generally accepted by the vast majority of Members of the House, and for those reasons I ask the right hon. Gentleman not to press this matter any further.

5.9 p.m.

Sir Percy Harris

I think the House has accepted the principle that Ministers holding administrative positions should have equal salary. It was suggested that £4,000 should be an adequate salary, but the House decided in favour of £5,000. I agree that that principle has been practically established by our vote, but the two posts of the Lord Privy Seal and the Lord President of the Council are sinecures, since they have been regarded as posts in which ancient Ministers, tired and exhausted by years of public service, should be allowed to remain members of the Cabinet. These two Ministers are not charged with administrative responsibility, and have not got the job of looking after large tasks and working long hours. It seems anomalous that Members of the Cabinet holding these two ancient posts, which have become in course of time sinecures, should be paid the full salary of £5,000 a year. Far from making it easier for the Prime Minister to form a Cabinet, that would make it more difficult, because he would have two gentlemen singled out for full salary who will have no responsibility and would be doing no work to justify the salary they were receiving. I think that these two posts are essential posts. They are historical, they are traditional, they are ornamental and picturesque, and they find a way out, they make it easier for the services of men who are tired and exhausted by Cabinet responsibilities and administrative posts to be retained. I can think of a whole series of Ministers who have been glad to remain in the Cabinet at a reduced fee. I do not think it is necessary to add the £1,000 a year which the right hon. Gentleman suggests.

Dealing with the wider aspect of the case, there is a profound feeling outside the House that at a time like this, of great financial stringency, these two posts should be paid at a lesser salary, and that the House would go out of its way if it increased their salary by £1,000 a year. I can understand the argument of a philosophical Socialist that everybody should be paid equally, but it is a peculiar doctrine to come from the Minister, who prides himself on the ardour of his anti-Socialist doctrine. He is putting forward the theory that, however hard a man's work is, however long his hours, whether the work be light or hard, he should be paid the same salary. That is a rather dangerous theory coming from the right hon. Gentleman who holds the particular views of the Minister of Health.

5.13 p.m.

Mr. Tinker

I am very pleased that the Minister has accepted the point put forward from this side, that the positions in the Cabinet are equal, and therefore should be equally paid. All Members of the Cabinet are equal, and have to accept equal responsibility for Cabinet decisions. It may be that some Members do more work than others, but in the big job of Cabinet responsibility every man must take his share of the responsibility. Accepting that view of equal responsibility, a man is entitled to equal pay. A plea has been put forward by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) that certain Members of the Cabinet ought not to have equal pay, but I would ask him if it is not about time to set about reorganising the Cabinet so it shall carry only sufficient men to do the work required? Then, certain positions might be abolished altogether. Rather than cut across the principle of equal payment, we should exclude persons who are not required anyhow. I entirely agree that certain posts can be done away with.

Having cleared that up, we come back to the principle in the Amendment, and I do not think we on the Socialist benches can support it. Last night we voted for £4,000 against £5,000, and we agreed that that sum should be equal for everybody. We should be departing from that principle now if we supported the Amendment. Much as I agree with the arguments put forward by my hon. Friend on the back bench on many occasions, I think that here he is illogical and is not arguing to the best of his ability.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. Stephen

The Amendment shows that the Bill is not bringing forward proposals for dealing with anomalies, but that the anomalies are to continue, and that the Government are getting the increases for themselves rather than setting up a standard which will correct anomalies and make for the good government of the country. While we accept the principle that Members of the Cabinet, being equal, should be paid the same amount, we do not get the opportunity of voting in that way. We are in the difficulty that we have to support the Amendment in order to protest against the Government's proposals. It is the general practice in this House that sometimes the only way in which we can make our protest is to vote for the reduction of an Estimate in order to emphasise that what we want is a great expansion of expenditure in that respect. By voting in the Lobby for this Amendment we should register our protest that the Government, instead of giving us a reconstruction of the offices and of the Cabinet, have put us into the position that we have to vote thousands of pounds more for individuals who are carried in the Cabinet for ornamental reasons. That is not good enough.

Notice how this matter has proceeded. We have been told that the work of some of the Ministries, notably that of the Ministry of Labour, has developed to such an extent that we must increase the salaries to the Cabinet level of £5,000 a year. If the principle embodied in this Measure is that we are paying each man for the work he is doing, how can we agree to pay £5,000 to a passenger or an ornament, such as an elder statesman who is being carried in the Cabinet for sentimental reasons? The Minister said he thought that the Committee were in very general agreement with the Government on this matter; I have scarcely seen a Government Measure arouse less enthusiasm among the supporters of the Government than has been aroused by the Bill. Whether hon. Members opposite will support the Government in this further ridiculous position, I do not know, but the Minister of Health does not seem to show his usual acquaintance with hon. Members when he talks about a general agreement with the proposals. It is obvious that there is nothing like agreement or enthusiasm, and that nothing would please hon. Members better than that the Government should throw overboard these pitiful proposals, which cannot be defended because they are not based upon a sound principle ruling throughout the Measure. In view of the national stringency, to give this extra money seems to be disregarding the needs of the situation. I hope the Committee will take the opportunity, by voting for the Amendment, to make the Government understand that they have to bring forward a Measure that will do justice, and that, while embodying the principle of equal pay, will be based upon such a distribution of work in the Cabinet that Ministers will be doing something which is approximately equal in the administrative work of the country.

5.22 p.m.

Mr. C. Williams

An entirely new principle has been introduced of giving equal pay for completely unequal work. The principle of equal pay for equal work is sound. The Minister of Health rather challenged me by asserting that there was not very much support for the principle. In doing so, he has forced my hand to give the Committee an indication of what support there was. Only 175 Members voted for, and there were 123 against, out of over boo Members. That means that the Government could not get their majority, which goes to bear out the statement that I have made that there is a great deal of feeling upon this point and that Members will not vote. I should not have brought that point out had I not been directly challenged upon it by what the right hon. Gentleman said.

5.23 p.m.

Colonel Gretton

It is clear that the Committee will not accept the Amendment and so, in deference to the general feeling, I beg to ask leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.24 p.m.

Mr. Pritt

I beg to move, line 30, at the end, to add: Provided that this section shall not apply to more than three such Ministers at any one time. This Amendment is not without its importance, although it is definitely limited in scope. It does not bring up in any way the question of limiting by Statute the size of the Cabinet. I rather fancy that the Bill will be the first Statute that has taken notice of the fact that there is a Cabinet. Nor do we desire to challenge in general the proposal that the Members of the Cabinet should be paid equally, although the Amendment does make some inroad into that. We do not challenge the amount of the salary paid to Members of the Cabinet in general; that has been disposed of at other times, and we can make no attempt, whatever our feelings may be about it, to deal with that point. The Amendment raises a small question of principle which I suggest the Committee should consider seriously; that is, whether the Government ought to be at liberty to raise the total amount of money paid to individuals out of public funds simply by putting them into the Cabinet in comparatively large numbers.

The figures, as I see them, are these: the Cabinet will normally contain 17 Ministers—I do not think there is any compulsion about this in law, in fact, I am sure there is not—who come under Part I of the First Schedule of the Bill, and the Prime Minister. There will be, that is to say, normally 18 Members of the Cabinet, plus as many more as happen to be put into it. The operation of this Clause, if I understand it, enables the Prime Minister, technically, to add to those 18 persons not less than nine, any one of whom, simply by being added, will proceed to draw from public funds sums of money which may be as much as £3,000 extra. The way I arrive at the figure of nine is that there are four Ministers in Part II, one Minister in Part III, which makes five, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, which makes six. Then there are the Reelection of Ministers Act Ministers, three without Portfolio. They are not appointed by virtue of the Re-election of Ministers Act, of course, nor do they get their salary from that Act; they get their appointment and salary from elsewhere, but the Act makes it possible for them to sit in the House of Commons and to be appointed to a position when the Government desire to do so.

If by simply putting people into the Cabinet the Government can increase the charge upon public funds, we suggest that there ought to be some limit upon the right to do so, and that the limit ought to be much less than nine persons. The Amendment suggests a limitation to three, but, looking at it now, I think three is perhaps too small a number. If the Government were prepared to consider accepting the Amendment, I should be happy to see some figure such as four or five. I am not arguing whether or not the Cabinet is much too large, which would be out of order, but, with a Cabinet of modern size, of 21 or even 22 persons, the Government should not be in a position to add five, six or seven persons, and to involve the country in an expenditure for each addition of something like £3,000 a year; that is something which the Committee should not sanction. The Government and the Prime Minister, in selecting a Minister for the Cabinet, must be allowed to say: "We have such and such persons for such and such offices, and we want one in the Cabinet who would not usually be there, while we do not necessarily need the services of another." If this Amendment were accepted, the Prime Minister would still be at liberty to put people into the Cabinet if he wanted to, but not at the public expense. I would ask the Committee to agree to this Amendment, so that this method of spending more public money without control is kept within limits.

5.30 p.m.

Mr. Pickthorn

I hope the Government will consider the possibility of doing something to limit what must be the tendency- to increase the Cabinet if there is an automatic increase of pay on becoming a Member of the Cabinet. Very few historical generalisations are safe, but I think that this one is quite safe. Throughout the whole of our history there has continually been a council which was responsible for the day-to-day business of policy and administration. Continually that council has tended to become larger, and, every time that that has happened, the council has ceased to be real. I do not believe that in all our history a council which tended to be much over 20 in number has continued to exist, and I think there is a serious risk that, if there is a tendency for the Cabinet to be much over 20, it will cease to be a reality.

5.31 p.m.

Mr. Leslie

The Cabinet already consists of 22 Members. Wisdom may not always arise out of a multitude of counsellors, and to go beyond the present number would make the Cabinet more like a mass meeting than a Cabinet if the whole Cabinet met at one time. We think that the number of additional Members who are paid £5,000 a year should be restricted to three, because otherwise the Cabinet may become a very costly institution.

Mr. Petherick

I desire to reinforce the plea put forward by the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). As the Bill is at present drafted, there will be the 17 Members of the Cabinet who are mentioned in Part I of the First Schedule, and the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor will make the number 19. As the hon. and learned Member has pointed out, nine more might be added. I look upon this Amendment, limiting to three the number that may be added, as being very sound, and I hope that, if the Minister cannot accept it in its present form, he will at any rate accept the figure of five as a maximum.

5.32 p.m.

Sir Archibald Sinclair

I would like to associate myself and my hon. Friends on these benches with the plea that has been made from different parts of the Committee to the right hon. Gentleman to accept this Amendment. Indeed, I can hardly believe that he will resist it. We had a long discussion yesterday on the standard salary of a Cabinet Minister, and there was some difference of opinion between the Home Secretary and myself as to the meaning of the 192o Committee's report on that point. At any rate, however, the Home Secretary based himself in that case almost entirely on the 1920 Committee's report, and this Amendment is strictly in accordance with the recommendations of that committee. They put in the first category of Cabinet Ministers 12, including the Chief Secretary for Ireland, an office which has since disappeared, leaving II. In the second category they placed four who would receive the higher salary if they were Members of the Cabinet, making a total of 15. They then referred to the sinecure offices, mentioning the First Lord of the Treasury, the Lord Privy Seal, the Lord President of the Council, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Ministers without Portfolio, and they recommended that the salaries to be paid to these should be limited to £10,000 a year. The offices would remain, but beyond the limit of£10,000 a year their holders would receive no remuneration. In other words, leaving out the Chief Secretary for Ireland, they recommended that not more than 17 Ministers should receive the standard Cabinet salary of £5,000 a year. The Mover of the Amendment approaches the same end by different means. He suggests that not more than three other than those referred to as being in the first class should receive this additional salary. I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman who is now in charge of the Bill will see his way to accept what he knows to be approved in every part of the House.

5.36 p.m.

Sir K. Wood

Much as I would like to meet the wishes of many of my hon. Friends, I could not accept this proposal, and in that I hope the Committee, on reflection, and the hon. and learned Gentleman who has moved the Amendment, will agree with me. In the first place, it should be made plain that the Amendment would not in any way restrict the right of the Prime Minister to settle the size of his Cabinet. The alteration which has been suggested would rather lead one to think that it would, but that is not the case at all.

Sir A. Sinclair

It would restrict the number of people who receive the standard salary.

Sir K. Wood

I think it would be most undesirable on constitutional grounds to limit the responsibility of the Prime Minister for the size of his Cabinet, and nothing of that kind would be achieved by the Amendment. All that it would do would be to put a restriction upon the Prime Minister in regard to the number of second Ministers whose salaries would be made up to £5,000, and the Mover of the Amendment himself has indicated that the number suggested in it is not altogether satisfactory to him. The Amendment would not achieve the object of those who have put it forward, namely, to keep the size of the Cabinet within certain limitations, but it would offend against the principle, which we have just passed, of equality of salary among Members of the Cabinet, and I suggest that it is best to maintain that principle of equality among Members of the Cabinet, trusting to the Prime Minister of the day, whoever he may be, to see that the number of Members in the Cabinet is reasonable. I do not think there can be any suggestion that any Prime Minister would use this power to give some position to a Member of the House who ought really not to receive it. I think that the Prime Minister should be left unfettered by any provision of this sort, and that we should maintain the principle, which we have already adopted, of equality of remuneration among the Cabinet, relying, as I think it is proper to do, upon the Prime Minister of the day to guard against any of the evils which hon. Members appear to fear.

5.40 p.m.

Sir P. Harris

On this Amendment the right hon. Gentleman has not spoken with his usual conviction. I can see that he is not in a position to accept the Amendment, but his argument did not meet the point which was put by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pick-thorn), and which, after all, represents the general public opinion. If the Cabinet is really to carry out its traditional work of deciding policy, it should not be a mass meeting, but should be limited in numbers. It is obvious that if, having accepted the principle of a standard rate for every Cabinet post, we limit the number of those who are to be entitled to the salary of £5,000, it would at any rate be a very broad hint to a Prime Minister that it is the desire of the House of Commons that the size of the Cabinet should be limited—

The Chairman

I am afraid that this is becoming a very broad hint to me. The hon. Member is now discussing points which could not properly be discussed on this Clause or on this Bill.

Sir P. Harris

The Amendment would limit the number of persons entitled to the extra salary over and above the rate fixed for their posts.

The Chairman

I cannot allow the Debate to develop into a Debate on something quite different from that, namely, the question of the limitation of the number of the Cabinet. I know that references to that question cannot be entirely avoided, but they must be limited references.

Sir P. Harris

I was really backing up the argument of the hon. Member for Cambridge University that, if we limited the number of Ministers who are to be entitled to this addition to their ordinary salary, it would have a very good effect in limiting the size of the Cabinet.

5.43 p.m.

Mr. Stephen

I think the Minister took the only line that it was possible for him to take in refusing to accept the Amendment, in view of the decision which has been taken with regard to equality of pay in the Cabinet. At the same time, however, I think he has also made plain the misgivings that exist in the minds of Members with regard to what this Measure may do. I am not going to discuss the question of the big Cabinet or the smaller Cabinet, but I do not know that one would be willing to accept the dictum of the hon. Baronet the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) that everyone now accepts the idea that a small Cabinet is more effective than a bigger Cabinet. However, Sir Dennis, in view of your Ruling, I cannot discuss the pros and cons of the small Cabinet as against the big.

One purpose of the Amendment might be to prevent the business which goes on when difficulties arise in a party and when people are taken into the Cabinet, although there is no work for them, in order to try to quieten some faction that has grown up in the party. That has happened so often in the present Government that I can well understand Members of the Opposition being anxious to find some machinery that will stop this business. It has happened already, and I can see it happening oftener in the future, when, the principle of equality in the Cabinet having been laid down on a financial basis, the Prime Minister of the day, faced with the fact that he himself is becoming more and more ineffective, and that more and more Richmonds are coming into the field for his post, might try to buy them off by taking them into the Cabinet and giving them £5,000 a year. The Minister of Health laughs at that, but recent history shows that it is not in the least far-fetched. The predecessor of the present Prime Minister, when history is written, may be shown to have been actuated in such a way. I can see that the Government will not accept the Amendment because of the way in which it has decided to act in connection with the whole Measure. At the same time I think the Opposition is thoroughly justified in pressing this limitation upon them because, if the Cabinet were to be increased to 30 to avoid fissures in the National Government in the future, perhaps some of them would not think it was worth while if they were coming in without getting a salary. This limitation might be useful in avoiding the way in which government seems to be developing to-day. I shall certainly support the Amendment.

5.46 p.m.

Sir John Withers

I strongly support the Amendment on the grounds which have been put forward by the proposer and by my colleague in the representation of Cambridge University. We, at any rate, have some regard to the amount of money that is going to be spent. It is absurd to think you can add any number of people, giving them salaries of £5,000 a year. I object very strongly. I trust the Amendment will be carried to a Division.

5.47 p.m.

Major Hills

I intend to vote for the Amendment. I was very much impressed by the speech of the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). It is not entirely money, though money is important, but this will be an indirect limitation at least on the membership of Cabinets. Would it not be rather a useful provision for Prime Ministers in the future? All Prime Ministers are pressed, in a way that only they know, by supporters to give them this or that post, and I believe future Prime Ministers would bless the Mover of the Amendment if it were carried. I feel very strongly that we ought to put some check, even though not a very strong one, on the excessive increase in Cabinets which we have seen in recent years, and I hope my right hon. Friend will reconsider the Amendment.

5.49 p.m.

Mr. Ede

A very plain indication has been given by a former Member of the Government that some people in the Cabinet do not earn anything at all. The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), who was brought into the Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio, resigned because he did not think it was right that the State should be burdened with the cost of his salary, as he had nothing to do in his office. He had been described as the Minister of Thought, and one realises, after the exhibition that we have had from the right hon. Gentleman to-day, that such a Ministry as that could not possibly be one worth having in a Cabinet of which he was a member. This will be a very strong indication to future Prime Ministers when they are being pressed to admit people into the Cabinet that the House of Commons has given in an indirect way an indication of the appropriate size of this supreme council of the Empire. I hope hon. Members opposite who have expressed their intention of supporting the Amendment will carry it out. I am sure it is not a threat to the Government but only a promise to us. I hope that the Government may even now see their way to accept the Amendment, which obviously carries with it the good will of nearly every independent Member in the Committee.

Captain Sir William Brass

I should like to appeal to my right hon. Friend to reconsider the matter. I have voted all the time in favour of the Government, but I feel very strongly on this matter and, if it goes to a Division, I shall supporth the Amendment.

5.53 p.m.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

Appeals have been made from every part of the Committee to the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider his decision. I hope he will do nothing of the kind. The Committee has to make up its mind what exactly it wants in this Amendment. If you desire to limit the size of the Cabinet, the Amendment does not attain that object at all. If, on the other hand, it is the desire to limit expenditure, I should have thought this was a very feeble way of expressing that desire. We have been told that this would at least be a broad hint that we did not desire the Cabinet to reach extraordinary numbers—the size of a mass meeting. Surely this is a very absurd way of making a broad hint. If the Committee desires very strongly to suggest that the Cabinet should not exceed a certain number, let it face up to the problem and do it properly and honestly, and let someone at some stage introduce a private Member's Bill. If you were to limit the size of the Cabinet by this Amendment, you would strike at the very root of the constitutional authority of the Prime Minister. The Amendment, in fact, says that we distrust the Prime Minister. I am not prepared to take the view that anyone placed in that high office is unlikely to carry out his duties honourably and properly, and I am not going to associate myself with any Amendment that casts the least reflection on the good judgment of any one of us who may ultimately attain to that high office.

5.57 p.m.

Mr. Lees-Smith

The Amendment has not raised an issue between political parties at all. It is an issue of a purely constitutional character, but of a very high constitutional character, on which certainly the opinion of the House of Commons is the best we can get. I imagine that no one can have heard the Debate without coming to the conclusion that seldom has the opinion of the House ever been so clearly expressed. Even the attitude of the Committee to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman defending the existing conditions shows how clear opinion is. The Minister should not go to a Division without saying something more. It would be only fair to the Committee to accept what is so obviously its almost unanimous wish.

5.59 p.m.

Sir J. Simon

I apologise for not having been here, but I appreciate what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman as to the views that have been expressed in various quarters of the Committee. I think it would be a very undesirable thing to pronounce finally one way or the other on this matter without a little more consideration. This point is essentially one which should have the most deliberate consideration of the Prime Minister himself. It is only those who have had the responsibility of forming Cabinets who are in a position to express an authoritative view. I, therefore, speak subject to that, but I will tell the Committee quite frankly my general impressions.

The first is that in the course of our history the size of Cabinets has very greatly varied. I think that I am right in saying that when Pitt sat here he had only one Cabinet colleague in the House of Commons, and long after that the number of Cabinet Ministers sitting in the Commons was very small indeed. I recollect giving some figures years ago in a Debate on the subject. The first reflection on that point is that, as circumstances changed, the size of the Cabinet varied. The second thing that occurs to me is this: I would have thought myself that there was a very proper dislike of an increase in the size of Cabinets, if it could possibly be avoided. I believe that to be the general feeling, and that it is right. The Cabinet is an executive. It is true that it has to work, especially in modern times, a great deal through committees, and the Government could not possibly be carried on unless there was a great deal of devolution of that sort, but the general constitutional principle as we all understand it is that there should not be unnecessary multiplication of members of the Cabinet. It would be bad management, and, on other grounds, I do not think that it would be in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. If I imagined the Bill as it stood was really going to operate to encourage, even in the smallest degree, an augmentation or increase in the size of the Cabinet, I should be disposed to disagree with it. I do not think that that is the fact. It is theoretically conceivable, of course, that you might have a Prime Minister who would say, "Let me look at Section 3. Why, bless my soul, I shall be able to make nine more Cabinet Ministers at £5,000 a year, and I will go and do it." Of course, no one would do it.

I would like very much to have an opportunity of having this matter considered between now and the Report stage, because none of us wants to adopt by a mistake a sort of loose view about this question, but my own view at the moment, assuming that you have a responsible Prime Minister who is really going to discharge his duty with anything like serious care, is that I agree with my hon. Friend below the Gangway; I cannot conceive of a Prime Minister in any party who would say that this Bill gave him a looseness and latitude to deal with the matter. I am trying not to say anything too controversial but to tell the Committee frankly how I feel. I think that it would be rather a serious thing on an Amendment discussed in this way if we were really to adopt what would be a tremendous constitutional change, namely, actually to lay down rules designed to limit the size of the Cabinet. Nothing of that sort has happened hitherto in our history. It may be that by good will we can find some suitable way of meeting the situation, and, if my hon. and learned Friend will forgive me, I think that the right course here is to undertake, as I will at once, to consult my colleagues on this matter, which was quite unexpected by me. Before we reach the Report stage, I will communicate with right hon. Gentlemen opposite.

6.6 p.m.

Mr. Pritt

I think that that is fair, and I do not want to be controversial, although it is my nature to be so. The right hon. Gentleman comes here and says that someone has found something which has been on the Order Paper for a week, and His Majesty's Government ought to have considered it before. If they have not in fact considered it before, I do not want to take any unfair advantage. I understand what is to happen later. There will be a Report stage.

Sir J. Simon


Mr. Pritt

The right hon. Gentleman assures me that the matter will be given serious consideration between now and the Report stage and in the circumstances I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Mr. Stephen


The Chairman

I would remind the hon. Member that the Amendment cannot be withdrawn if he insists on speaking now.

Mr. Stephen

I recognise that fact, but I want to put a question. The Home Secretary says that there is to be a Report stage, and I want to know why he says that?

Sir J. Simon

What I meant was that there is an Amendment on the Paper which, as far as I am concerned, we can accept.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

6.7 p.m.

Mr. Batey

I want to ask one or two questions. It says in Sub-section (3): This Section applies to any Minister of the Crown named in Part II or Part III of the First Schedule. I should like the Minister to state why the Minister who come under Part III should be paid £5,000 a year if in the Cabinet, and I want him especially to tell us why the Lord President of the Council should be paid £5,000 a year simply because he is in the Cabinet. When we first began to discuss the Bill the reason given for suggesting the payment of £5,000 a year to all members of the Cabinet was not merely that they were members of the Cabinet, but that they represented important offices which had increased to such an extent as to warrant the payment of £5,000 a year. Surely, no Member in this House can argue that merely because a Minister is a member of the Cabinet he should be entitled to £5,000 a year. I understand that the Cabinet meet once a week, and surely no one can argue that because there is a meeting once a week members of the Cabinet should be entitled to £5,000 a year. Sub-section (1) of the Clause says that the £5,000 a year should be paid as long as a Minister is a member of the Cabinet, and I would like to know what salary would be paid if a Minister ceased to be a member of the Cabinet. Would he revert to the original salary that was paid before he entered the Cabinet? The explanatory statement on the front pages of the Bill tells us the total amount of the increased expenditure, but does not state what Ministers will receive increases of salary, nor does it give the present salary. I should like to know how many Ministers are receiving a salary less than £5,000 a year at the present time and what the actual salary amounts to.

I oppose any increase of salary to Ministers simply because they enter the Cabinet. If money is to be given away and the Treasury has too much money, there are people in this country who need money far more than do the Ministers in the Cabinet. It is one of the most disgraceful things I have known in the 15 years I have been in this House that the Cabinet should come forward with such a proposal while people outside are starving, and when the Cabinet themselves are responsible for that starvation and will do nothing for those people. It is a shameful thing on the part of the Cabinet to come forward with such a proposal. They are telling the House and the country that £2,000 a year is not sufficient for a Minister to live upon. If a Minister cannot live on £2,000 a year, he cannot live on £10,000 a year. The Cabinet say that 24s. a week unemployment benefit is too much for members of the working classes, and yet they come here and say that £2,000 a year is not sufficient for a Cabinet Minister. If a Cabinet Minister's wife cannot keep house on £500 a year, she cannot keep house at all. It is disgraceful that the Cabinet should suggest that people cannot live upon £2,000 a year when men and women equally as good as they are have to live as best they can at the present time on 24S. a week.

I shall make my protest as long as I can against proposals to give more and more of the public money to those who have sufficient already, while at the same time the working people of this country are starving. There is need for more public money to be given where the means test is being applied. We have pleaded with the Minister of Health for a long time in this House to bring in a Bill to amend the Old Age Pensions Act. We have told him of old men who are receiving only 10s. a week because their wives are not 65 years of age, and cannot, therefore, obtain the pension of 10s. Both are compelled to exist upon 10s. a week. Here is the Minister of Health, who refuses to bring in an amending Bill to do justice to these old folks, piloting this Bill through the House with the object of increasing to £5,000 the salaries of Ministers who are now paid £2,000 a year. Increases of £3,000 a year are being given, and at the same time starving people outside are being deprived of their rights. We raised objections when the Bill was before the House which gave £35,000 a year extra to the Metropolitan magistrates and the county court judges. We objected to public money being given to them in that way, and to-night I have no hesitation in protesting against these huge increases of salary. It is one of the most disgraceful things that I have ever known in this House. It is most disgraceful that any Government should give these huge increases of salary, in some cases amounting to £3,000 a year, to people who have already sufficient, while at the same time they allow people outside to starve.

6.16 p.m.

Mr. Spens

I should like to say a few words in regard to Sub-section (2). It was passed practically without any comment on the Second Reading and during the Debates on the Clause. It introduces one of the most important constitutional changes that we have ever had. It refers to the Cabinet for the first time, so far as I know, in any Act of Parliament, as the Home Secretary said in the Second Reading Debate. The Cabinet has hitherto been undefined and technically unknown to the law. The curious thing about this machinery is that the date of the appointment and the date of the termination of the appointment of a Minister who is a member of the Cabinet have to depend not on any invitation from the Prime Minister, or of any acceptance, but upon publication in the "London Gazette." Notification in the "London Gazette" is to be conclusive evidence of the date on which a Minister joins or leaves what is called the Cabinet.

I should like to know a little more about the machinery which controls the "London Gazette," because it is of the utmost importance that we should know that no publication of that sort can possibly find its way into the "London Gazette" unless by the authority of the Prime Minister, in some shape or form. I think it would be better that the actual date of appointment and the determination of the appointment should depend upon a document signed by the Prime Minister, to be published in the "London Gazette," and that publication in the "London Gazette" should be prima facieevidence of the date or termination of such appointment, rather than leave it that any publication in the "London Gazette" should be conclusive evidence that a particular Minister becomes or ceases to be a member of the Cabinet. This is a matter to which I submit, with great respect, attention ought to be directed a little more closely, so that we may be absolutely satisfied that no unauthorised announcement can be made in the "London Gazette."

6.19 p.m.

Mr. Kingsley Griffith

It is, in a way, a constitutional landmark when, for the first time, we mention the Cabinet in an Act of Parliament. If we want any guide as to what the Cabinet really is, it cannot be found in any Statute. I have looked up certain legal works, including Bagehot's delightful work on the British Constitution, in which he defines the Cabinet as The greatest committee of the Legislature, and also as a small but disorderly board of directors. When definitions so different are given by so considerable an authority, one does expect that when, in this Bill for the first time, we mention the Cabinet, at least it should be made clear what is meant. We are entitled to assume judicial ignorance and to ask, if a certain Minister of the Crown is a Member of the Cabinet, what is the Cabinet? Then we look at the Definition Clause, but we do not find anything there. We find there a definition of a Junior Lord of the Treasury, who is a comparatively intelligible animal, who has a soul to be saved and a posterior to be kicked, which is more than can be said of the Cabinet. The Cabinet, this mysterious body, is not defined at all. It is a very curious procedure to pass an Act of Parliament which authorises a payment, the qualification for which is to be a Member of a Cabinet which nobody knows anything about and which is not defined anywhere.

Major Hills

The Cabinet surely started as a Committee of the Privy Council. That is its historical origin.

Mr. Griffith

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman tells me that which has been familiar to me for years, but how does that tell me which Privy Councillor is a Member of the Cabinet? The only guide we have is in Sub-section (2) of this Clause, and that is simply the test of publication in the "London Gazette." If the printer goes mad and prints my name in the Gazette, then I suppose I. am entitled to £5,000 a year until he recovers his sanity. It is an extraordinary position. One asks, "which Ministers get £5,000 a year," and the answer is: "Those get it who are in the Cabinet." Then we ask: "Who are in the Cabinet," and we are told: "Those who get £5,000 a year." Therefore, we are going round in a circle. I am not at all sure that I view with any great pleasure the giving of legislative sanction to the existence of the Cabinet. If we are going to give that sanction, let us give it in an intelligible form. I do not welcome the recognition in statutory form of the existence of this somewhat informal committee, so called the Cabinet, because in my view Cabinets have been taking more and more upon themselves as time has gone on, and if we give them this statutory recognition I think they will become more arrogant still. Professor Berriedale Keith says: The adoption of rules of procedure which more and more abstract the rights of private Members to secure discussions or legislation, and the absorption of the time of the Commons by the Government have contributed to the subordination of the Commons to the Cabinet. I do not want to do anything to encourage that process, and I would much rather that we did not give this definite legislative sanction to what is said to be the constitutional head. If it is to be put into an Act of Parliament, then we ought to have some much clearer guide as to what is this mysterious body, membership of which confers the inestimable boon of a salary of £5,000 a year, and who its members really are.

6.24 p.m.

Mr. Petherick

I was interested when my hon. and learned Friend brought up this constitutional point, because the first thing that I noticed when going through the Bill was the strange omission to which he referred. It may be that we are all wrong and what we suggest is not necessary. At the present time no Minister of the Crown gets anything extra by way of salary for being in the Cabinet. He gets only the salary for his office in his Department. Under this Bill there will be an increase in certain cases where junior Ministers are invited by the Prime Minister to join the Cabinet. The evidence will be published in the "London Gazette," but no machinery is provided in the Bill as to the person who shall insert that notice in the "London Gazette." The Home Secretary, in speaking on the Second Reading, said, on another point: Hitherto, there has been no means within the law of ascertaining who is a Cabinet Minister and who is not. A little later he said: I think that I am right in saying that up to the present all that has happened is that, when the Prime Minister accepts from the Sovereign a commission to form a Government and in due course submits his list of Ministers, he submits a list, at the top of which appear those he proposes to have as his Cabinet colleagues, and lower down a list of those who will be outside the Cabinet."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th April, 1937; cols. 644–5, Vol. 322.] If His Majesty accepts the list of Ministers it is in due course published in the newspapers and a statement is usually made: "The above form the Cabinet." The other Ministers are outside the Cabinet.

In this Bill, as we are for the first time recognising the Cabinet and only for the second time recognising the Prime Minister, and as we are saying that a person who is a member of this body which we are officially recognising for the first time is to receive on entering its sacred portals, £5,000 instead of perhaps £2,000 or £3,000 a year, it is surely necessary to have some provision as to who arranges it, and, if it is the Prime Minister, how he does it. Whether it should be done in the form of a letter to the "London Gazette" or in what form it should be done, is a matter on which we ought to be assured. There is a genuine point here, and I do not think that I am examining the matter over carefully or too critically when I express the hope that the Government will look into the matter.

6.28 p.m.

Mr. Stephen

I want to associate myself with the protest that was made by the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey). The Government would do well to-morrow to read in the OFFICIAL REPORT the words that were addressed to them by the hon. Member, and I hope that throughout the country there will be a very wide apprehension of the fact that the Government, while setting itself to correct anomalies and to increase the financial position of its own Members, is being so obdurate in regard to anomalies as to pensions and the general treatment of the working classes. My second point is with regard to Sub-section (2) of this Clause. I, also, have been very interested in this Sub-section, and I should have put down an Amendment had it not been for the change in the programme which was made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury in rushing the consideration of the Bill. When the word "Cabinet" is being introduced into legislation there ought to be some real definition as to what is meant by it. As I see it, we are really now begininng to write our Constitution. It used to be the boast of many people in this country that our Constitution was an unwritten Constitution, and consequently flexible and responsive to the needs of the day. By the introduction into an Act of Parliament of this phrase with regard to the Cabinet, we have introduced the first sentence in writing the British Constitution. If we are to have a written Constitution let us make a proper job of it and not do it in this way by a reference to the Gazette.

I am also interested in the possible consequences. I recollect that at the close of the War the resignation of the Lord Chief Justice was announced. He was surprised when he came down to breakfast that morning to find that he had resigned. I think the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) had given the notice to the "Gazette" without the Lord Chief Justice knowing anything about it. I believe it was explained afterwards that he got the job on the understanding that he would be willing to give it up whenever it was necessary for somebody else to get it. If that happens in connection with a Lord Chief Justice, many things may happen with regard to Cabinet Ministers. A Member for the Cabinet may find his name there as being no longer a Member of the Cabinet, without having had any previous knowledge of the matter. The Government are not treating this important innovation with the seriousness it deserves. It has been suggested by their own supporters that before Report stage they should consider whether something should not be put into the Bill which would be more satisfactory than the miserable reference in it to the "London Gazette." Legislation which is going to make the Cabinet a real legislative body should do it deliberately and not by an intimation in the "London Gazette." Personally, however, I am much more interested in the point made by the hon. Member for Spennymoor, and I hope that the people of the country will realise that this Government seems only to be concerned with its own salaries and not with the anomalies which are causing such hardship to old age pensioners, widows and poor people generally.

6.34 p.m.

Mr. Ede

In considering this Clause we should recognise that this is the first time for many years that there has been anything like a general revision of the salaries of Cabinet Ministers in an upward direction. That is where the Minister of Health in his cursory glance at the Report of 1830 rather misled the House yesterday. The heading of that Report "Report from the Select Committee on Reduction of Salaries," and the right hon. Gentleman alluded to it as "A Select Committee which examined the question of the remuneration of Members of the Cabinet, as long ago as 1830." It was something very different from that. It was a Committee which examined the position of all Members in either House who were getting anything by way of a salary from the Government, and in those days there were many excuses for giving people salaries in order to keep their votes going in the right direction. There is one Minister who has not been mentioned, and I want to know exactly what is the position with regard to the Paymaster General. The present one is Lord Hutchison. It is most remarkable that the Government should have persuaded a Scotsman to take the only office which has no pay at all attached to it. It is an office which i1 is desirable to watch, because the Select Committee of 1830 reported: No office under the Government was attended in earlier times with more gross abuses, both as regards the extortionate amount of salaries and the still more extortionate perquisites received from the holding and employment of public money. The office was regulated in 1784"—

The Deputy - Chairman (Captain Bourne)

I do not see how the hon. Member can bring in the office of Paymaster-General.

Mr. Ede

The Paymaster-General is a Minister of the Crown and the words of the Clause are: If and so long as any Minister of the Crown to whom this Section applies.

The Deputy-Chairman

If the hon. Member will look at Sub-section (3) he will see that it applies only to certain specified Ministers, of whom the Paymaster-General is not one.

Mr. Ede

Thank you. I had overlooked that.

Mr. Stephen

But is it not the case that the Prime Minister can appoint anyone to the Cabinet by putting a notice in the "London Gazette," and he may put the Paymaster-General into the Cabinet? Therefore, cannot we draw attention to the consequence?

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member is mistaken. I am not questioning the right of the Prime Minister to appoint the Paymaster-General to the Cabinet, but under this Sub-section those consequences would not follow.

Mr. Maxton

Before you arrived in the Chair, Captain Bourne, we had an extended Debate and the Home Secretary indicated that he was prepared to bow to the opinion of the Committee and consider the matter between now and Report. The whole discussion on that particular Amendment was on the basis that the Clause gave to the Prime Minister an opportunity to have a Cabinet of unlimited size, which might include the Paymaster-General. Having regard to that Debate and the attitude of the Government, is not the question now put forward by the hon. Member well within the scope of the Clause?

The Deputy-Chairman

No. I must adhere to my Ruling. I heard the end of the Debate and the Chairman pointed out that under this Clause it would be possible for the Prime Minister to increase his Cabinet and that members of the Government are definitely covered by the Clause. The Paymaster-General could not be covered by the Clause in any circumstances.

Mr. Ede

We have, however, in one direction restricted the freedom of the Prime Minister in forming his Cabinet. I want to associate myself with what has been said by the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) on the general issues involved. It is a deplorable thing at this time, with the state of affairs existing in large sections of the community, that we should be engaged on this particular Bill. I have not much concern with the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens), because there have been many ways of intimating to a Minister that his services are no longer regarded as essential. I suppose the cruellest way was that adopted by the Prime Minister in the case of Charles James Fox when he addressed a note to him to the effect that "His Majesty has been pleased to appoint a new Commission of the Treasury in which I do not see your name." I have no doubt it will always be possible for an unfortunate colleague to be dropped quietly, even without the necessity of having to bring out a special edition for the purpose.

6.42 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Sir Donald Somervell)

The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) asked whether a Minister who receives a lower salary than £5,000 becomes a Member of the Cabinet, and then ceases to be a Member of the Cabinet, would or would not revert to his old salary. The answer is that he would revert to the salary attaching to the office he held before he became a Member of the Cabinet. The hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. K. Griffith) in his speech illustrated what is perhaps a characteristic of some of us. I have no doubt that in the course of his life he has referred frequently to Cabinet Ministers and he may reasonably have had some ambition that one day he would be in the Cabinet. But the mere sight of the word in a Bill made the hon. Member ask in the most judicial manner, "What is the Cabinet?" and he seems to be very exercised by the fact that the meaning of what is to him perfectly familiar is not expressly defined in the Bill. It is also perhaps characteristic of the way in which our institutions develop that this is the first time in which the word expressing the committee which is the source of executive power and the most characteristic of our constitutional institutions has been put into an Act of Parliament. But I am afraid that I must disappoint the hopes expressed by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West and by the hon. and learned Member for Ashford that there is any real chance of their names appearing in the "London Gazette."

The "London Gazette" is a Government publication. Its real function is accurately to publish official appointments and official statements, whatever they may be. That is really what it is for. It is necessary for accounting purposes, in order to enable the Treasury to find out from an official source on what date salaries under the Bill would be payable to Members of the Cabinet, and when they end. It is necessary to provide that there should be official notification of that. If hon. Members who have asked questions and who have possibly had some anxiety about this matter will reflect, I think they will realise that the process is a normal one, because there are many instances of publication in the "London Gazette" carrying consequences of this kind. Promotions in the Army, the Navy and the Air Force appear in the "London Gazette," and that is why we speak of people being gazetted to a certain rank, whatever it may be. It is true that notices of other and less important matters, such as receiving orders in bankruptcy, and—this may have some reference at any rate to the end of a Cabinet—dissolutions of partnerships, and various other matters, appear in the official Gazette.

I do not wish to be too dogmatic, but I think that, in fact, practically all official appointments already appear in the "London Gazette." The only difference in this case is that the Bill makes Statutory provision for it, so that when the Prime Minister has appointed A, B, C or D as members of his Cabinet, he has, through the proper channels of communication, to have a notice sent to the "London Gazette" in order that it may appear there, with appropriate dates against the names. I think the Committee will see that it is necessary to provide for official notification of the fact that a particular Minister has Cabinet rank and is therefore entitled to the additional salary provided under this Clause. Hon. Members will also realise that the "London Gazette" is a Government publication, the whole object of which is to record official information of this kind, and that it is the proper organ in which that information should be published to the world.

6.47 p.m.

Sir A. Sinclair

The hon. and learned Gentleman has not met the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Kingsley Griffith), and has attempted to ride off on a joke. He said that it was remarkable that the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough had used the word "Cabinet" for years, as had all his friends, that he might at some time hope to obtain Cabinet rank, but that then he came to the House and was surprised to find in this Bill no definition of the word "Cabinet." The hon. and learned Gentleman suggested that it was unnecessary to define a word which is in such common use and the meaning of which everybody knows. What is the purpose of a definition Clause in a Bill' I have in my hand a Bill which I took at random. I obtained from the Vote Office the first Bill the name of which I could remember while the hon. and learned Gentleman was speaking, and it was the Harbours, Piers and Ferries (Scotland) Bill, which we were discussing recently.

I find that in that Bill the word "ferry" is defined. I always thought that the ferry was a pretty homely institution, and that we all knew what it was. Nevertheless, for purposes of legislation it was necessary to define it. I find a definition of "harbour." It was considered essential to define "marine work." Surely in this case it is also necessary to define the word "Cabinet." In moving the Second Reading of this Bill, the Home Secretary interested the House very much by saying—I speak subject to correction —that this was the first occasion on which the Cabinet had been mentioned in a Bill. I suggest to the Attorney-General that if this is the first time the Cabinet has been mentioned in a Bill, surely it should be defined. Consequently, I am sure that the Committee will feel that the Attorney-General has not quite met the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Middlesbrough

6.49 p.m.

Mr. Harold Macmillan

I wish to mention one point which arises out of Subsection (2) of this Clause. I deplore the growing custom in recent years of describing the Prime Minister as appointing the Cabinet, for the Prime Minister does not appoint any Ministers, as I understand it, but recommends to the Sovereign that the Sovereign should give his approval to the appointments. In the case of all the Ministers with whom we are concerned in this Clause, their first appointment will have been gazetted in the ordinary way, the announcement being that the Sovereign is pleased to approve their appointment. The Cabinet has been rather an obscure body, and it has been somewhat obscure whether, in addition to the Sovereign giving his approval to the appointment of particular Ministers filling the individual posts, he also approves which Ministers should be in the Cabinet.

In reading memoirs I have often seen that the Prime Minister, on forming a Cabinet, presented to the Sovereign his list of Ministers and indicated which Ministers he proposed to have as Cabinet colleagues. When these appointments with which we are now dealing, which bring a Minister outside the Cabinet inside it, are gazetted, I hope it may be possible to devise a form of words which represents that it is the Sovereign who approves, and not merely the Prime Minister who appoints. If that were not done, it would be the only occasion in which the proper formula representing the Sovereign's approval of the appointment was not used. I have ventured to raise this point because in every other case the matter is already dealt with when the first appointment is made.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 196; Noes, 117.

Division No. 174.] AYES. [6.53 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, LI.-Col. G. J. Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Cary, R. A.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)
Albery, Sir Irving Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Bennett, Sir E. N. Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W. Channon, H.
Apsley, Lord Boyce, H. Leslie Chorlton, A. E. L.
Aske, Sir R. W. Bracken, B. Clarry, Sir Reginald
Assheton, R. Brass, Sir W. Clydesdale, Marquess of
Atholl, Duchess of Brocklebank, C. E. R. Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Colfox, Major W. P.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Burghley, Lord Cooke, J. 0. (Hammersmith, S.)
Balniel, Lord Campbell, Sir E. T. Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (Wst'r S. G"gs)
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Carver, Major W. H. Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Rowlands, G.
Crooke, J. S. Hopkinson, A. Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)
Cruddas, Col. B. Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Salt, E. W.
Culverwell, C. T. Hurd, Sir P. A. Samuel, M. R. A.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Davison, Sir W. H. Latham, Sir P. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Leckie, J. A. Selley, H. R.
Doland, G. F. Lees-Jones, J. Shakespeare, G. H.
Donner, P. W. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Dorman-Smith, Major R. H. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Dower, Capt. A. V. G. Lewis, 0. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Drewe, C. Liddall, W. S. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Smith, Sir R W. (Aberdeen)
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Lloyd, G. W. Somervell. Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Dugdale, Major T. L. Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O S. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Duggan, H. J. Loftus, P. C. Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.
Eastwood, J. F. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C G. Spens. W. P.
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Ellis, Sir G. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Elmley, Viscount McKie, J. H. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Emery, J. F. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Storey, S.
Emmott, D. E. G. C. Magnay, T. Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Manningham-Buller, Sir M. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Everard, W. L. Markham, S. F. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Fildes, Sir H. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Findlay, Sir E. Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Fox, Sir G. W. G. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Furness, S. N. Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Thomas, J. P. L.
Ganzoni, Sir J. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J, Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Titchfield, Marquess of
Gluckstein, L. H. Nicholson, G. (Farnham) Touche, G. C.
Goldie, N. B. O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Train Sir J.
Goodman, Col. A. W. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Gower, Sir R. V. Palmer, G. E. H. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Patrick, C. M. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Grant-Ferris, R. Penny, Sir G. Turton, R. H.
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Perkins, W. R. D. Wakefield, W. W.
Gretton, Col. Rt Hon. J. Petherick, M. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Gridley, Sir A. B. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Grigg, Sir E. W. M. Plugge, Capt. L. F. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Grimston, R. V. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton Wells, S. R.
Guinness, T. L. E. B. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Hanbury, Sir C. Ramsbotham, H. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Ramsden, Sir E. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Harbord, A. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle) Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.
Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Reid, Sir D. D. (Down) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon) Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward
Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Ropner, Colonel L. and Sir Henry Morris-Jores.
Holmes, J. S. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Foot, D. M. Kirby, B. V.
Adams, D. (Consett) Frankel, D. Lathan, G.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Gardner, B. W. Leach, W.
Adamson, W. M. George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Lee, F.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Leslie, J. R.
Ammon, C. G. Gibson, R. (Greenock) Logan, D. G.
Banfield, J. W. Graham D. M. (Hamilton) Macdonald, G. (Ince)
Barnes, A. J. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. McEntee, V. La T.
Barr, J. Grenfell, D. R. McGhee, H. G.
Batey, J, Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) MacLaren, A.
Bellenger, F. J. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Maclean, N.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) MacNeill, Weir, L.
Broad, F. A. Groves, T. E. Mander, G. le M.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Marshall, F.
Burke, W. A. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Maxton, J.
Chater, D. Hardie, G. D. Messer, F.
Cluse, W. S. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Milner, Major J.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Hayday, A. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Cooks, F. S. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Naylor, T. E.
Cove, W. G. Henderson, J. (Ardwiek) Noel-Baker, P. J.
Daggar, G. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Oliver, G. H.
Dalton, H. Hollins, A. Paling, W.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Hopkin, D. Parker, J.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Parkinson, J. A.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Potts, J.
Ede, J. C. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Price, M. P.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Kelly, W. T. Pritt, D. N.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Kennedy, Rt. Hon T. Ridley, G.
Ritson, J. Sorensen, R. W. Whiteley, W.
Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Stephen, C. Wilkinson, Ellen
Rowson, G. Stewart, W. J. (H'ghfn-le-Sp'ng) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey) Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Sanders, W- S. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Seely, Sir H. M. Thorne, W. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Sexton. T. M Tinker, J. J. Windsor, W. (Hull, G.)
Short. A. Viant, S. P. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Simpson, F. B. Walker, J. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's) Watkins, F. C.
Smith, E. (Stoke) Welsh, J. C. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly) White, H. Graham Mr. Charleton and Mr. Mathers.