HC Deb 20 May 1941 vol 371 cc1393-4
52. Commander Bower

asked the Prime Minister whether the practice of Cabinet Ministers attending minor functions, such as the opening of local War Weapons Weeks, has his approval, in view of the great burdens which fall upon them in carrying out their constitutional duties; and whether he will consider issuing an instruction on the subject?

The Prime Minister

Questions like this must be left to the discretion of individual Ministers, and I am not prepared to issue any such instructions.

Commander Bower

While I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply, is he aware that the Ministers who are most assiduous in attending such functions are the least assiduous in following his own very excellent example in attending this House to answer Questions? Will the Prime Minister reconsider the question of instructing Ministers that not the least important part of their duties is to attend this House, answer Questions, meet criticism and receive guidance?

The Prime Minister

While thanking my hon. and gallant Friend for his thanks, I am not aware that any of the Ministers have been remiss in their attendance in this House.

Mr. A. Edwards

Is the Prime Minister aware that the net result of the so-called generous contribution by a certain insurance company was to increase the charges on the Exchequer by more than £60,000 a year? Will he reconsider that matter?

Captain McEwen

Is it with the approval of the Prime Minister that the practice has grown up since the war of Parliamentary Private Secretaries speaking on behalf of their Ministers?

The Prime Minister

It is not customary for Parliamentary Private Secretaries to speak on matters with which their Departments are connected.

Mr. Buchanan

Is the Prime Minister aware that recently Parliamentary Private Secretaries made statements which were broadcast as though they were authoritative statements? I, for one, do not wish to limit their activities during the weekend, because of their limited hours of work during the week, but will the Prime Minister ask them not to involve their chiefs in speeches without consultation of some kind?

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave, but all these conversations are, of course, studied by all concerned.

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