HC Deb 17 February 1948 vol 447 cc981-3
37. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of National Insurance what instructions have been issued to the staff of his Department affecting or limiting their right to communicate with Members of Parliament.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of National Insurance (Mr. Steele)

No such instructions have been issued other than the general Civil Service rule prohibiting attempts to bring political or other outside influence to support personal claims. This is included in paragraph 40 of the staff rules of this Department, of which I am sending a copy to the hon. Member.

Mr. Grimston

May we be assured that there is nothing in the rules which precludes, say, an officer who has been transferred from one of the friendly societies from taking a personal complaint to his Member of Parliament?

Mr. Steele

It depends entirely on the circumstances. For instance, a complaint against the grading by the Civil Service Commission is a matter for the applicant and the Civil Service Commission, and the applicant has the right of appeal to the Civil Service Commission.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In view of the assurance which was given when the National Insurance Act was before the House as to the treatment of such people, is it not desirable that such persons, if they feel themselves aggrieved, should be free to communicate with their Members of Parliament?

Mr. Steele

There are the ordinary channels by which this matter may be dealt with. The whole question was considered by my right hon. Friend. He knew that this would be a difficult problem; that is why he set up the advisory committee which advised him on this matter, and the machinery of the Civil Service Commission was brought into operation.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Is the hon. Gentleman trying to make it clear that in certain circumstances employees of the State have no right to communicate with Members of Parliament?

Mr. Steele

There is an instruction, a copy of which I am sending to the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter). The effect of the instruction is that no civil servant should write to his Member of Parliament with a view to getting advancement in the Civil Service. I am sure hon. Members opposite do not want any political patronage in this matter. On general questions, a civil servant has the same right as any other individual.

Mr. Grimston

Is the Minister aware that an officer of a friendly society who, willy-nilly, has been transferred to the Civil Service, is in a different position from that of someone who has joined the Civil Service at the outset of his career, and if he feels himself aggrieved he should not be denied the right of every British citizen to approach his Member of Parliament?

Mr. Steele

We are dealing with a hypothetical case. What I have said applies to a particular case. If a man from an approved society feels that his grading is not what it should be, he can appeal to the Civil Service Commission—the machinery which was set up for this purpose—to deal with the matter. As to other matters of general interest to all citizens, a civil servant has the same right as any other citizen. If the hon. Gentleman is aware of a particular case in which difficulty arises, perhaps he will consult with me and I will see how far the complaint can be met.

Mr. Turton

Would the Minister publish in HANSARD the instruction to which he referred?