HC Deb 06 December 1955 vol 547 cc194-5
25. Mr. Zilliacus

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that a publication issued by his Department, entitled "A Handbook for the New Civil Servant," states that a civil servant may, like anyone else, write to a Member of Parliament about a matter of general interest, but may not approach a Member of Parliament about a personal grievance of any sort in connection with his or her job; and whether he will have this passage redrafted so as to make it clear that all constituents, whether civil servants or not, have the same right to bring their personal difficulties of any kind to the attention of their Member of Parliament.

Mr. R. A. Butler

No, Sir. As the handbook makes clear, the rule in question does not prevent a civil servant from raising with his Member of Parliament a personal matter not connected with his job, or a service matter affecting others besides himself; it is designed to prevent him from attempting, by influence, to get a personal advantage over his colleagues, for example promotion. This is a longstanding rule, and, in my view, a salutary one.

Mr. Zilliacus

Is not the Chancellor aware that there is an impression among civil servants—I find it in my own constituency—that they are put in a special category as compared with other constituents because they are not allowed to bring to their Member of Parliament a personal grievance connected with their job, not a question of advantage over others, but, as they may think, of disadvantage compared with others—some personal grievance? Would he not allow the same discretion to civil servants and their M.P.s as there is in the relations of other constituents with their M.P.s?

Mr. Butler

This is a matter which has been before this and other Governments and was examined again in 1953, following an Adjournment debate at the end of 1952, and I do not think we should be right to alter the rule as it at present stands.