HC Deb 30 July 1957 vol 574 cc1068-70
52. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister if he will take steps to reduce the number of Under-Secretaries of State for Scotland.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I do not believe that would be in the best interests of Scotland.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the Prime Minister aware that we are now spending the record sum of £30,000 a year upon the various Scottish Ministers? Is he aware that we have never spent so much money in order to get so little for it? Is he further aware that discontent with the Scottish Office and Scottish Ministers is growing so much that there is even a Jacobite demand for the return of James Stuart?

The Prime Minister

I notice that the hon. Member pays great tributes to Ministers when they are out of office. He is not so patient with them when they are holding office. I am very glad that he has paid a tribute to one of the most popular and successful Secretaries of State for Scotland that we have ever had. I am quite convinced that my right hon. Friend will be equally popular and equally successful. Meanwhile, I can only say that when the question was last raised—I think by an English Member—that we should reduce the number of Scottish Ministers, he was very roughly handled by Scottish Members, particularly by the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes)whose standard of living we are so glad to recognise.

Mr. Gower

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if the Scots really feel that their Ministerial representation is over-weighted, there is quite a generous readiness in Wales for a greater Ministerial representation for Wales?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Will the Prime Minister tell us why, if the right hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart)was so popular, the Prime Minister sacked him?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. friend, who has been in the House for thirty-three years and has served for a very long time both as Chief Whip in the war and as Minister afterwards—with the general affection of the House—wished to be relieved of his burdens and to spend his declining years in an atmosphere of less responsibility. I very reluctantly agreed with his view; but I repeat that, apart from my private friendship and connection with my right hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart), I think that by all regards he has been much trusted by the House. I repeat also that if my right hon. Friend—as I think he will—does as well as his predecessor, he will do very well indeed.

Mr. H. Morrison

Can the Prime Minister say whether the Joint Under-Secretary of State in question could be spared for a few weeks—[Interruption.]—whether the Joint Under-Secretary could use his influence with the proprietors of the newspaper in question——

Major Legge-Bourke

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison)is now referring to a matter which the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes)has given notice that he wishes to raise on the Adjournment.

Mr. Speaker

I am not quite sure that that is so. I thought the right hon. Gentleman was referring to Question No. 52 which deals with reducing the number of Under-Secretaries of State for Scotland—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Order. If I am permitted to hear what the right hon. Gentleman is trying to say, I shall have a better idea whether or not he is in order.

Mr. Morrison

I will put myself in your hands, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to ask the Prime Minister, in connection with the existing Joint Under-Secretaries of State, whether he could spare one of them to use his influence with the proprietors of the newspaper about which we have been talking to install the former Secretary of State for Scotland as the new editor of the paper.

The Prime Minister

I think that would be a very happy solution to the problem.