HC Deb 24 January 1956 vol 548 cc29-30
47. Mr. Chetwynd

asked the Prime Minister whether he will include the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance in the Cabinet.

48 and 49. Mr. Swingler

asked the Prime Minister (1) why he has included the Minister of Works in the Cabinet:

(2) why he has excluded the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance from the Cabinet.

51 and 55. Mr. Dodds

asked the Prime Minister (1) in view of the concern that has arisen from his decision to remove the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance from the Cabinet, whether he will reconsider the matter;

(2) what developments require the inclusion in the Cabinet of the Minister of Works.

53. Mr. Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister why the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance is no longer a member of the Cabinet; and whether he will reconsider the decision.

The Prime Minister

Under successive Governments since 1945 the Cabinet has included only about half of the Ministers in charge of Departments. The choice of the Ministers to be included in a restricted Cabinet of this kind has always rested in the discretion of the Prime Minister of the day. I feel no greater obligation than my predecessors to explain the factors influencing my choice or to say why a particular Minister was, or was not, included in the Cabinet. I should, however, make it clear that the powers and responsibilities of a Departmental Minister are not affected by the question whether or not he is a member of the Cabinet.

Mr. Chetwynd

Are we to understand from this remarkable change of personnel that the Government's priorities have changed, and that ancient monuments and old buildings are now more important than old-age pensioners and disabled people? This action of the Prime Minister's is considered to be an affront to all those organisations.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member can reach any understanding in the matter which he pleases; but, of course, under the various Labour Governments the Minister of Pensions and the Minister of National Insurance were never members of the Cabinet.

Mr. Dodds

Does the Prime Minister not recollect that it is only a few months since his predecessor spoke of the importance of having this Minister in the Cabinet? Is it not a fact that as the years roll by it becomes more important than ever? As this change of opinion seems to have come about in a few months, cannot the Prime Minister state why he thinks it necessary?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I shall not discuss the selection of Cabinet Ministers by the Prime Minister any more than my predecessors have ever done.