HC Deb 10 December 1957 vol 579 cc1049-50
9. Mr. Malcolm MacPherson

asked the Minister of Works how long it is intended that the post of Director-General of Works shall remain unfilled.

Mr. Molson

In the absence of a suitably qualified professional candidate, a non-professional general manager has been appointed, and will take control in March next. It is not possible to say how long this arrangement will last.

Mr. MacPherson

Is not it a very unsatisfactory state of affairs that simply because another properly-trained candidate is not available the Director-General of a very large and important Department should be replaced by someone not properly technically qualified? Is not this just a major instance of the big question on which an official policy has not been decided—how properly to integrate professionally and technically trained people into the Civil Service machine as a whole?

Mr. Molson

I was naturally disappointed that none of the professional candidates who came before the Selection Board was considered suitable for appointment to that particular post. I do not, however, see any reason to suppose that things will not be extremely well administered by the official whom I have appointed as general manager.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Can the Minister tell us whether he has studied the comments in the Architects' Journal and other architectural papers on the failure of the Department to find a suitable candidate? Is he aware that the view is widely held that, until the Minister shows that he realises that this is not just an administrative appointment but one of the most important architectural appointments in the country, he will lot find a suitable architect? Will he give an assurance that if anybody is appointed to this post as an architect, he will be given reasonable freedom to go ahead with the job, to show initiative, without being hampered by an obsolete administrative machine?

Mr. Molson

This is an administrative job. There is no need at all for a general manager to have professional qualifications. There is a chief architect in the Ministry, and he is responsible for architecture. I entirely disagree with the criticisms of my Department that have been made in various publications.