62. Mr. De la Bère
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in view of the need of effecting economies in the total number of civil servants, what steps he is taking to reduce the staff of the Central Office of Information.
§ Mr. Jay
The staff of the Central Office of Information is kept under constant review, and during the past year has been reduced from 1,723 to 1,548, a fall of 10 per cent. A further fall is expected. The hon. Member will realise that the size of the Central Office, as a common service Department, must be related to the volume of work it has to do for other Departments.
Mr. De la Bère
May we have an assurance that the Central Office of Information will not be used purely for propaganda for the Government, because that is what is alarming most hon. Members in all parts of the House.
§ Captain Crookshank
Why does the hon. Gentleman say, "A further fall is expected"? It must happen as the result of action; the number will not just fall away.
§ Mr. David Renton
Is the Financial Secretary aware that when he refers to this as a common service Department he is overlooking the fact that most Departments have their own public relations officers and that the duties of the Central Office of Information overlap? Would he bear that in mind in any further reduction of staff?
§ Mr. Marlowe
Could not the hon. Gentleman ask some of the gentlemen from the Ministry of Civil Aviation to go to the Central Office of Information and turn the lights out there?