HC Deb 11 March 1954 vol 524 cc2410-1
16 Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Health why the Lancashire Executive Council has been instructed by his Department to cut its staff from 130 to 129½.

Mr. Iain Macleod

This is an involved and rather absurd story but in fact no such instruction have been given.

Mrs. Castle

But is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have in my hand a copy of a letter from his Department to the clerk of the Lancashire Executive Council dated 19th February, calling for this cut? Is he aware that this policy of Mau Mau mutilation as far as the hospital and health services are concerned is causing great distress in the area, and would he advise the Lancashire Executive Council whether the cut is to be made vertically or horizontally, and what is to be done with the other half?

Mr. Macleod

I was so fascinated by the hon. Lady's Question that I sent for all the papers and read them, including the letter she has referred to. What happened was that it was agreed a couple of years ago to make a reduction of six in the Executive Council establishment, which it was thought to stand at 135½, the half being a part-time member of the staff. That reduced the number to 129½, and when Lancashire wished for 130 someone in my Department, with admirable dogged devotion to duty, pointed that out in the letter which the hon. Lady quoted. It has since been discovered that the original allocation was 136, and, therefore, the reduction of six has now been made. So the position is that the reduction has been achieved, the Lancashire Executive Council has now got its establishment and everybody is happy, including the half-man who never was.