HC Deb 24 January 1940 vol 356 cc574-5
45. Mr. H. Morrison

asked the Prime Minister whether any public money is being spent, or any assistance of officers in the public service is being utilised, in connection with the meetings being addressed by Ministers throughout the country?

The Prime Minister

I understand that the arrangements for these meetings are being made by the Lord Mayors of the cities in which the meetings are being held. No expenditure will be met out of Government funds nor is the assistance of Government officials likely to be needed.

Mr. Morrison

Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether local authorities have any statutory powers to spend money, as presumably they are doing, on the promotion of meetings to be addressed by Ministers? Will the right hon. Gentleman also keep in mind that Ministers are, after all, the leaders of a political combination representing a majority in the House of Commons?

The Prime Minister

I do not accept the implication of the right hon. Gentleman that the meetings in question are party meetings. They are national meetings designed to give information to the public about the course of the war, and I imagine that the expenses are taken out of the hospitality funds of the Lord Mayors.

Mr. Morrison

Can the Prime Minister say what statutory powers local authorities possess, because this must be public municipal money, to promote political meetings, and whether in particular they have power to promote political meetings and spend money on them to be addressed by the leaders of a particular political combination?

The Prime Minister

That is entirely a different Question and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will put it on the Paper.

Mr. Charles Williams

Is there any reason why the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) should not come and help at these meetings?

The Prime Minister

There is no reason that I can think of.

Miss Wilkinson

We do not like the Government.

Mr. Thorne

Is not the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) doing more good on his own platform?