HC Deb 16 March 1944 vol 398 cc392-3
46. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the exceptional number of matters which come under the purview of the Ministry of Health, he will consider taking appropriate steps to reduce the field of its activities with a view to enabling the Department to deal with the matters of prior importance.

The Prime Minister

The proposals which the Government will shortly be making in regard to social insurance will involve reconsideration of the responsibilities of several Departments, including the Ministry of Health, but apart from this question and the possibility of minor adjustments in departmental boundaries, I am satisfied that the functions of the Ministry of Health cover a well defined and manageable field of action.

Mr. De la Bère

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I welcome the first part of his statement; and is he further aware that there is a considerable volume of overlapping at the present time and that many departmental officials are not quite clear where their duties begin and end, and it is very difficult for them?

The Prime Minister

This is a time when departmental boundaries are a little fluid, because of the many extraordinary problems with which we are endeavouring to grapple, but I have no doubt that the frontiers will be precisely delimited.

Mr. Austin Hopkinson

Will the right hon. Gentleman be careful not to increase the number of Ministries to such an extent that the whole of the Members of the House of Commons will be in official positions?

The Prime Minister

I have several times deprecated the idea that difficult problems can be solved by making new Ministers. I gladly give the assurance asked for by the hon. Member that no attempt will be made to include all the House of Commons in the Ministry.

Mr. Shinwell

Does the Prime Minister realise that that assurance will cause profound disappointment?

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