HC Deb 31 January 1949 vol 460 cc1359-60
17. Sir John Mellor

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will give an assurance that visits abroad by hon. Members, for the purpose of giving lectures under the auspices of his Department, involve no charge upon public funds.

Mr. McNeil

No fees are payable out of public funds to hon. Members who lecture abroad under Foreign Office auspices, but their expenses are covered in the same way as the expenses of other speakers, not Members of this House, who undertake lecture tours abroad at the request of the Foreign Office. Such expenses have been paid on behalf of one hon. Member who lectured in France, and for five who lectured in the U.S.A. These latter five were sponsored by the British-American Parliamentary Group.

Sr J. Mellor

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the receipt of such allowances does not technically disqualify those hon. Members from sitting and voting in this House as holders of offices of profit under the Crown, or, alternatively, as contractors to the Foreign Office?

Mr. McNeil

Of course, that is the type of question which in normal circumstances I would advise the hon. Gentleman to put to the Law Officers, but I think I should say, in view of the gravity of the matter, that they are not in receipt of offices of profit or of contracts with the Foreign Office. For example, in the case of hon. Members lecturing in the United States, those tours are sponsored by the British-American Parliamentary Group.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Is it not clear that these are not offices of any kind. much less offices of profit?

Air-Commodore Harvey

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the expenses given to these members of Parliament in America are quite insufficient to meet their needs?

Mr. McNeil

That has been my own sad and protracted experience.