HC Deb 13 April 1943 vol 388 cc1051-3
53. Mr. Lawson

asked the Minister without Portfolio whether he will give a list of the Departments concerned in post-war planning, the committees appointed by the Departments on planning and the subjects being considered, and any such committees directly appointed by his Department?

The Minister without Portfolio (Sir William Jowitt)

Almost all Departments are concerned in post-war planning. As regards giving a list of committees and subjects under consideration, I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply of 20th January last to my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Mr. Parker) as far as my own Department is concerned, and I imagine that the situation is very similar in other Departments.

Mr. Shinwell

If my right hon. and learned Friend cannot provide the information asked for, that is to say, a list of committees, can he not indicate the subjects that are being investigated, so that the House should be informed about the tasks that are now being undertaken by my right hon. Friend?

Sir W. Jowitt

I pointed out in the answer to which I referred, of 20th January, that many of these committees appointed to advise Ministers are of quite an informal nature. Many complete their task in two or three days, and I think it would be unwise and disadvantageous to publish a list of these informal, committees appointed for the purpose of informing the Minister's mind.

Mr. Shinwell

If we cannot have a list of these committees which report in the course of three days, but upon which no information is given to the House, can we have a list of the subjects which are being examined?

Sir W. Jowitt

I indicated a list of the subjects being examined when I made my speech to the House.

Mr. Lawson

May I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to take notice that there is considerable disturbance in the country generally that neither the House nor the country is getting any concrete suggestion or anything concrete to discuss arising from their consideration?

Mr. A. Bevan

Is the Minister aware that he has no right to withhold this information from the House, and that as public expenditure is involved, we are entitled to know the names of the members of these committees and the subjects they are investigating?

Sir W. Jowitt

I do not think there is any public expenditure involved. They consist entirely of civil servants——

Mr. Shinwell

Are they unpaid?

Sir W. Jowitt

They, of course, receive their salaries, but whether I ask them to concentrate on some particular subject or some other, it does not involve any special charge

Mr. Bevan

On a point of Order. Is the Minister entitled to withhold from the House information of this kind? Surely we are entitled to learn how our money is being spent and on what purpose it is being spent?

Mr. Mander

Is the Minister prepared to make a further statement to the House on the work of these committees if a Debate can be arranged?

Sir W. Jowitt

Certainly, I am prepared to make a statement at any time.

Mr. De la Bère

Is not consideration of these matters very gradual?