HC Deb 09 December 1941 vol 376 cc1373-4
19. Sir Stanley Reed

asked the Secretary of State for War why the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava was released from the Army in order that he might be appointed in an acting capacity to the post of Director of the Empire Section of the Ministry of Information at a salary on the range of £1,000 to £1,200, in view of the fact that these duties might be efficiently discharged by one over military age or otherwise unsuited for military employment?

Captain Margesson

Since 20th October last the officer in question has been lent to the Ministry of Information at their special request to fill the post of Director of the Empire Division. Since the Ministry regard him as the most suitable candidate available for this appointment, it has been decided to release him until further notice from his military duties.

Sir S. Reed

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend consider the very painful impression caused by appointments of this kind, especially among those men called to National Service, who see some of their best life's work prejudiced on account of having to serve?

Captain Margesson

I am informed that this particular officer has certain qualifications which fit him to hold the position for which he has been selected. Indeed, it is for the Ministry of Informa- tion to judge of that, and that is the view they hold.

Sir Joseph Lamb

Can my right hon. and gallant Friend say what would happen if this man died? Would there be no one to take his place?

Captain Margesson

Naturally, the place would have to be filled.

Sir J. Lamb

Then why cannot we have somebody else?

Sir Irving Albery

What does the Minister mean in his reply by saying that this officer was available, in view of his duties in the Army? He was not available.

Captain Margesson

I said "Since the Ministry regard him as the most suitable candidate available."

Sir I. Albery

Then what does the Ministry mean by that? How can he be described as available when he is serving in the Army? Are all Army officers available to the Ministry of Information?

Captain Margesson

Certainly not.

Mr. Creech Jones

Does the Minister regard it as a compliment to the Empire that such an appointment should be made?

Captain McEwen

Can Ministers be left to choose whom they like?