HC Deb 07 August 1941 vol 373 cc2071-3
14. Professor A. V. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the sole reason why the appointment to a confidential post under his Department of a lady, of whose name he has been informed, a British subject of British parentage, and the widow of a British subject who served as an officer in the Army throughout the last war, was cancelled, was, as stated to her, that she and her late husband had devoted much of their times and resources in recent years to aiding and befriending refugees from Nazi oppression; and whether he will reconsider this decision?

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

The post in question is of a highly confidential character, and I should not feel justified in interfering with the discretion of the Regional Commissioner in the selection of candidates for it.

Professor Hill

Does my right hon. Friend realise that this lady and her friends feel that a slur is cast in this way on their loyalty, or at any rate their discretion, and can he do anything to relieve that feeling?

Mr. Morrison

There is no slur cast at all. The Regional Commissioner came to the conclusion in the light of their associations, which were neither criminal nor offensive, that it would not be wise to let this lady have this post. The only point is whether I should intervene and require him to appoint her, but I think that would be going too far, and I do not think I ought to do it.

Commander Locker-Lampson

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the lady another appointment?

Mr. Morrison

I do not think there is any obligation on me to do anything of the kind.

Miss Eleanor Rathbone

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is merely an instance of a prevalent tendency which is working great injustice and that it casts a slur on the suitability of the Regional Commissioner to deal with appointments? Will the right hon. Gentleman take this serious charge more seriously?

Mr. Morrison

I am taking it perfectly seriously, and I venture to say that putting questions in the House does not improve the situation. It is hardly wise to complain about any reflection if the maximum publicity is invited. There is no reflection on the lady, but this is a highly confidential post, and if the Regional Commissioner in his discretion does not think it wise, on reflection, to appoint a particular person to the post, I do not think, on reflection and after consideration, that I ought to intervene.