HC Deb 04 March 1953 vol 512 cc386-7
46. Brigadier Clarke

asked the Prime Minister if he will consider further economies in Government Departments by abolishing the office of Postmaster-General, and amalgamating his Department with that of the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation in a Ministry of Communications.

The Prime Minister

I am advised that such an amalgamation would not lead to economies, and indeed would hardly be practicable.

Brigadier Clarke

May I ask the Prime Minister to try this economy, as I am assured that enough money would be saved to enable Portsmouth and the rest of England to view the Coronation on television? Further, would he do his best to see that these loyal people are allowed to see the Coronation on television?

The Prime Minister

I do not think I shall be going too far if I say that that is quite a different question.

Mr. Attlee

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the danger of reducing the number of Ministers to such an extent that all decisions are left in the hands of what is generally called the bureaucracy, and does he remember the saying of Sir William Harcourt that Ministers exist to tell the Civil Service what the public will not stand?

The Prime Minister

We will endeavour to strike a happy mean between reducing the recently inflated bureaucracy and economising the employment of Members of the House in Ministerial functions. We shall do both of these, and we hope to manage it agreeably and harmoniously, but gradually, and I trust that we shall carry with us at every stage the full support of the House of Commons.

Mr. Jay

Has the Prime Minister considered abolishing the office of Paymaster-General in the interests of economy?

The Prime Minister

I think he draws no salary, but his small study group have, in my opinion, well earned their keep.

Mr. Peart

Would the Prime Minister agree that, in the interests of economy, it would be far better if he abolished the "overlord" system?