HC Deb 24 June 1941 vol 372 c952
48. Mr. Mander

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement with a view to the removal of doubts as to the precise status of Parliamentary Private Secretaries; to what extent they are to be regarded as part of the Government with right to speak on its behalf without independence as to speaking or voting; or whether it is the intention that they should enjoy the freedom of Private Members in these respects?

The Prime Minister

Parliamentary Private Secretaries occupy a special position, which is not always understood by the general public, either at home or abroad. Parliamentary Private Secretaries are not members of the Government, and should not be spoken of as such. They are Private Members, and should therefore be afforded as much liberty of action as possible; but their close and confidential association with Ministers necessarily imposes certain obligations on them, and has led to the following generally accepted practice: That Parliamentary Private Secretaries should not make statements in the House or put Questions on matters affecting the Department with which they are connected. They should also exercise great discretion in any speeches or broadcasts which they make outside the House, bearing in mind that, however careful they may be to make it clear that they are speaking only as Private Members, they are nevertheless liable to be regarded as speaking with some of the knowledge and authority which attaches to a member of the Government.

Mr. de Rothschild

Is the Prime Minister aware that it is very disconcerting to find these gentlemen flitting from one side of the House to the other, and to note that whereas on the one side they are replete with praise, on the other side they are voluble in their criticisms?

The Prime Minister

We have all done a bit of flitting in our time, and no doubt we have suited our conduct to our circumstances.