HC Deb 26 July 1956 vol 557 cc634-8
48. Major Legge-Bourke

asked the Prime Minister to make a statement regarding the future appointment of Permanent Under-Secretary to the Treasury and the designation of official head of the Home Civil Service.

49. Mr. Grimond

asked the Prime Minister to make a statement on the recent changes in the senior posts of the Civil Service.

51. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister what are to be the duties of Sir Roger Makins in his new appointment.

The Prime Minister

On the forthcoming retirement of the present Permanent Secretary to the Treasury the post will lapse and two Joint Permanent Secretaries will be appointed. They will be Sir Norman Brook and Sir Roger Makins.

Sir Norman Brook, in addition to his duties as Secretary of the Cabinet, will advise me on problems of Government machinery and will have general charge of the organisation and management of the Home Civil Service. He will advise me in my capacity as First Lord of the Treasury on appointments to senior posts in that service and will be official Head of the Home Civil Service. He will advise the Chancellor of the Exchequer on matters concerning pay and other conditions of service.

Sir Roger Makins will have charge under the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the financial and economic work of the Treasury.

The House would not wish me to let this occasion pass without paying a tribute to the outstanding services rendered to the nation by Sir Edward Bridges over a long period of years—both as Permanent Secretary to the Treasury and during the war as Secretary of the Cabinet.

Major Legge-Bourke

In endorsing most warmly what my right hon. Friend has said in his tribute to Sir Edward Bridges, and in warmly welcoming the decision which he has taken to sub-divide the duties, might I ask him whether he can tell us which of the two new permanent officials will be responsible for carrying on the work of various committees on which Sir Edward Bridges sat, especially those concerned with defence?

The Prime Minister

The new arrangement means that the Chancellor, who is already responsible for directing and coordinating economic policy, will have the advice of a full-time Permanent Secretary. That seems to us a desirable improvement. It will result in the Secretary to the Cabinet, Sir Norman Brook, in his new capacity, being responsible for the higher appointments which, as former Members of the Cabinet will know, have inevitably taken up a certain amount of the time of Sir Edward Bridges as head of the Civil Service

Mr. Gaitskell

First, may I associate my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself with the tribute rightly paid to Sir Edward Bridges? Might I ask the Prime Minister two questions? First, why has it been decided that Sir Norman Brook should be head of the Home Civil Service, thus excluding the Foreign Office and, presumably, certain other Departments as well? Does the right hon. Gentleman really think it wise to make this distinction in respect of appointments and matters of that kind, and why should it be made? Secondly, for exactly what will Sir Norman Brook be responsible to the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

The Prime Minister

To take the question about the Home Civil Service, this is an integrated Service, and those who enter it are initially posted to a certain Department. The right hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that the Foreign Office is not included, but it has not been included since 1943, since the date of what were called the Eden Reforms but were carried through this House by Mr. Bevin, and, therefore, will, I hope, be acceptable to all concerned on either side of the House. As regards Sir Norman Brook's responsibility to the Chancellor, he will advise the Chancellor on matters concerning pay and other conditions in the Service, whereas he advises me, as Sir Edward Bridges did, on the higher appointments in the Civil Service.

Mr. Grimond

As regards the Treasury, may we take it that the appointment of Sir Roger Makins is, in fact, to strengthen the Treasury and the staff for the better collection of statistics, which the Chancellor foretold in his Budget speech? Further, is it intended to give him a bigger planning staff, on the lines of Sir Stafford Cripps's staff, with a view to making inquiries into better methods of controlling credit and currency with a view to stemming inflation?

The Prime Minister

Naturally, we should not have made the appointments had we not thought that the result would be to strengthen the Treasury and the advice given to the Government generally. It will. I am sure, have that result. It will also make sure that Sir Roger Makins will not have to carry some of the burdens which used to lie, I thought sometimes, perhaps, a little unfairly on Sir Edward Bridges as Head of the Civil Service.

Mr. Woodburn

Would not this be a good opportunity to put into force the recommendations of the 16th Report of the Select Committee on National Expenditure, which dealt with organisation and methods in the Civil Service, and which recommended that a senior civil servant of this kind should be responsible to the Prime Minister for the efficiency of the Civil Service and for the general promotion of organisation and methods in all the Departments?

The Prime Minister

I do not think there is anything in what I have said which contradicts what the right hon. Gentleman has said. What seems to me important in these matters, if I may repeat it, is that now the Chancellor will have a distinguished civil servant whose whole time is to be devoted to advising him on the economic and financial matters with which he has to deal.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I return to the question of responsibility for appointments in the Foreign Service? Is the Prime Minister responsible for making those senior appointments and, if so, who advises him on them now? And is it only the Foreign Office which is excluded from Sir Norman Brook's powers, or is it also the Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman is quite right. This is slightly, I will not say anomalous, but, by the reforms of 1943, the Foreign Office was excluded from the rest of the Civil Service, the reason being its special overseas duties, and other points which, at the time, seemed reasonable. As regards appointments, they are, of course, the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I do not think that there is any law laid down, but I think that it is customary—certainly it was customary when I was Foreign Secretry—to consult the Prime Minister on certain senior appointments, but they remain the responsibility, I think I am right in saying, of the Foreign Secretary himself.

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask the Prime Minister whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer was anxious to obtain additional advice? If so, does not that indicate excessive modesty on his part? And is not his right hon. Friend aware that advice has frequently been tendered to him by this side of the House? What does this really mean? Does it mean that the Chancellor has been a failure or a success?

The Prime Minister

I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not complain that any of my colleagues, or any other hon. Member of the House, showed excessive modesty.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

What is to be the salary of Sir Roger Makins? Is he to get more than the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and, if so, why?

The Prime Minister

I am very grateful for the hon. Gentleman's sympathy. For some time past, I think, senior civil servants have been getting more than their political chiefs.

Mr. Hughes

What is it?