HC Deb 19 March 1942 vol 378 cc1664-5
The Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill)

I thought it would be to the convenience of the House if I made this announcement at this moment. His Majesty has been pleased to approve the appointment of the right honourable Richard Gardiner Casey, D.S.O., M.C., to be Minister of State. Mr. Casey will be a member of the War Cabinet of the United Kingdom, and will represent the War Cabinet in the Middle East, where he will concert, on their behalf, the measures necessary for the prosecution of the war in that area, other than the conduct of operations. Mr. Casey will be described as Minister of State in the Middle East. Mr. Casey is at present Australian Minister in Washington; and I wish, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, to express our thanks to the Commonwealth Government for their consent to release Mr. Casey at this juncture from his important duties in the United States.

Mr. Stokes

When will Mr. Casey be taking up his official duties in Cairo?

The Prime Minister

Naturally, I would not be precise, for security reasons; but he has to wind up certain affairs in the United States with representatives of the Commonwealth who have arrived there, and after that he will naturally consult with us as to the British aspects of his new duties.

Sir Percy Harris

In what relation will Mr. Casey be to the House of Commons? Will a Minister reply for him, and will he be a full Member of the Cabinet, or will he retain his seat in the Australian Parliament?

The Prime Minister

I am not able to answer that last point; but, as far as this House is concerned, a Member of the War Cabinet will answer for him. Mr. Casey will be a member of the United Kingdom War Cabinet for all purposes, although his duties lie outside this country.

Mr. Maxton

Will no attempt be made to make the Minister of State a Member of this House or of the other House?

The Prime Minister

Neither of those solutions would be impossible; but, as a matter of fact, there are precedents in time of war for Ministers who are His Majesty's subjects from the Empire holding office in this country without being Members of either House of Parliament.

Mr. Granville

Will not this announcement give great satisfaction throughout the British Empire? Will Mr. Casey be a Member of this House; and will he be given the same wide powers as his predecessor in Cairo had?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir; certainly he will have the same powers. As to the rest of the Question, I do not think it necessary at the moment. I agree with what the hon. Gentleman said about the pleasure with which this announcement will be received throughout the British Empire, and I see no reason why he should not share in it himself.