HC Deb 05 October 1944 vol 403 cc1123-4
45. Mrs. Cazalet Keir

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the appointment of Lord Soulbury as Chairman of the Commission to consider a new Constitution for Ceylon, new chairmen are to be appointed to the Assistance Board and the Burnham Committee.

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

As the absence of Lord Soul-bury in Ceylon is not expected to be unduly prolonged, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister does not think a fresh appointment in his place as chairman of the Assistance Board will be necessary. Miss Violet Markham, the deputy chairman of the Board, will officiate as chairman during his absence. As regards the Burnham Committee, my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Education, will, I understand, consider nominating a deputy-chairman, in accordance with practice adopted in the past in similar circumstances.

Mrs. Keir

Does my right hon. Friend think it is in the best interests of these two important Committees to be presided over by the same person, especially in view of the fact that the Government have sent Lord Soulbury abroad on a totally different subject?

Mr. Attlee

No doubt all those considerations have been fully taken into account.

Sir H. Williams

Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister was absent for nearly three months and it was not thought necessary to dispense with his services?

Mr. Bellenger

Is there an absence of suitable gentlemen who can go to Ceylon? If the right hon. Gentleman wants any candidates for these positions, why should he deprive the Assistance Board of its officers? Why not remember this House, for example?