HC Deb 21 June 1944 vol 401 cc171-2
21. Commander Sir Archibald Southby

asked the Minister of Information whether he has further considered the undesirability of Members of Parliament drawing money payments from his Ministry for services rendered; whether he is prepared to discontinue such payments; and will he publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the names of such Members as have, in fact, been so paid.

Mr. Bracken

I am grateful to the hon. Members who have contributed articles for the use of the Ministry of Information. Their remuneration has been austere, as is expected of a Government Department. However, I have decided that no further invitations will be issued to Members to write for the Ministry. The House is rightly jealous of its independence of the Executive. And, although it was perfectly legal for hon. Members to provide the Ministry with articles, I feel I should embarrass them were I to continue calling on their aid. In reply to the last part of the Question, I must correct the answer I gave my hon. and gallant Friend on 7th June. A search of records right back to the beginning of the war shows that payments for such services have been made to 29 Members in all. I am circulating the names in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Sir A. Southby

Can my right hon. Friend say whether any of the Members who received payment from the Ministry of Information, took part in Debates, or voted on questions concerning the Ministry of Information; and, if so, did they then disclose their interest in the Department?

Mr. Bracken

In all the Debates on the Ministry of Information in this House, every Member showed great interest in the Department; but I cannot answer the question without notice.

Mr. Driberg

Is it not the case that among the hon. Members concerned are some who have been most critical of the right hon. Gentleman's Ministry?

Mr. Bracken

There can be no question about that. If I may adapt the words of Gibbon, "I sigh as a Minister, but I obey as a Member."

Mr. Bellenger

Is not the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) one of those who shared in the Ministry's largesse?

Mr. Bracken

The word "largesse" does not really describe the situation, but the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom did not honour us with his services.

Mr. Ivor Thomas

Is there any difference between Members receiving payments from the Ministry of Information and Members who have retired from the Navy receiving payment from the Admiralty for services rendered?

Mr. Bracken

Yes, there is a very great difference.

Following are the names: