HC Deb 16 November 1944 vol 404 cc2110-1
45. Sir William Davison

asked the Prime Minister what is the total number of Members of Parliament holding official posts as well as the number of Parliamentary Private Secretaries.

The Prime Minister

Sixteen Members of this House have been given Certificates by me under the House of Commons Disqualification (Temporary Provisions) Acts, and one Member is now an Ambassador, making a total of 17. The number of Parliamentary Private Secretaries may, I understand, be put at 36.

Sir W. Davison

Does my right hon. Friend consider it desirable that the complete independence of such a very large number of Members of Parliament should be curtailed by holding offices of any kind under the Government, directly, or under the various Ministries?

The Prime Minister

So far as Members who have been given appointments under the Act of Parliament are concerned. I think it not only desirable but extremely advantageous to the service of the country during the exceptional period through which we are passing. I asked the House for these powers and gave full reasons. I think I have used them with restraint and well within the limits assigned by the House. I am sure there has been great advantage to the public from their use. It is not a practice that one could imagine continuing in normal times. As to the number of Parliamentary Private Secretaries, the House has been well aware of the practice which has grown up over many years, and I do not see that there is the slightest reason to object to it. It is a well-established practice.

Mr. Shinwell

While the Government may have exercised restraint in relation to the matter, is it equally the case that some of those who have been appointed have exercised the restraint which might have been expected of them—for example, the High Commissioner for Canada?

The Prime Minister

There is a Question on the Paper to-day, which, unhappily, has fallen into the unstarred section.