HC Deb 04 December 1956 vol 561 cc1048-9
54. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister what new duties he has allocated to the Postmaster-General; and for what reasons.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Under the authority of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, the Postmaster-General is co-ordinating Government information. This of course does not involve any change in the responsibility of Ministers for information issued by their own Departments.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that I sent a Question to the Paymaster-General about information in the Middle East, that he transferred it to the Postmaster-General and that now the Postmaster-General has transferred it to the Foreign Office? When can we expect some definite ruling as to who will give the information required?

Mr. Butler

I have every confidence in the ability of the Postmaster-General to reply to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Bevan

In view of the unsatisfactory way in which the Postmaster-General spent money entrusted to him on public relations on a previous occasion, will the Chancellor of the Exchequer keep an eye on him this time?

Mr. Butler

I have only to reply that I think the Postmaster-General has special ability in this sphere. I consider him to be a man who has the confidence of all his colleagues and who will be very expert at this task of co-ordination.

Mr. Steele

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you inform the House whether there is any significance in the fact that the Lord Privy Seal, in answering these Questions, has not prefaced his Answers by saying "I have been asked to reply"?

Mr. Speaker

I think that he did so the first time.

Mr. Butler

In answer to that question, Mr. Speaker, may I say that after starting my first Answer by saying "I have been asked to reply," I thought that it might save Parliamentary time if I did not repeat it on each one?

Mr. Gaitskell

May I say on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends that the Lord Privy Seal is in our view the best acting Prime Minister available?