HC Deb 06 July 1954 vol 529 cc1969-71
46. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the facts disclosed in the Crichel Down Report and of the amount of detailed work that has to be undertaken by Government Departments, he will set up a committee presided over by a prominent Queen's Counsel, whose meetings shall be held in public and at which evidence can be taken on oath, to examine and make recommendations as to the responsibilities of Ministers and their relations with their Civil Service advisers.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I have been asked to reply.

No, Sir. The responsibilities of Ministers and their relations with civil servants will no doubt be referred to in the forthcoming debate on Sir Andrew Clarks' Report.

Sir W. Smithers

Will not my right hon. Friend ask the Prime Minister whether the Crichel Down case is not a typical example of the important principle, are we to be governed by popularly-elected representatives or by civil servants? Will he ask the Prime Minister when he intends to stop this progress down the totalitarian road? Will he ask the Prime Minister to remember his slogan—" Set the People Free."

Mr. Butler

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will remember his slogan, will reflect upon the success he has had in carrying it out, and will also reflect upon the competence of Her Majesty's Ministers to conduct their duties in a constitutional manner.

Mr. Attlee

Has a date been fixed for this debate? This is the second time that reference has been made to the fact that there will be a reply on these matters in debate, but we have no information about it and no firm promise whatever as to when this matter will be debated.

Mr. Butler

That is a question which should be addressed to the Leader of the House.

Mr. Attlee

Will the right hon. Gentleman take it up with the Leader of the House, because he is the second Minister who has made a statement of this kind without referring to the Leader of the House at all—and the Leader of the House knew nothing about it when I questioned him.

Mr. Butler

The Leader of the House and I are in perfect harmony on this matter.