§ 43. Mr. Lewis
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent grants he has made to Members of Parliament to pay the cost of their fares to Rio de Janeiro for the purpose of attending the annual Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; whether he will publish in HANSARD a list of the names of the hon. Members receiving these grants and the amounts, respectively; and what action he took to see that these delegates were democratically elected or selected from the membership of the British section of the Inter-Parliamentary Union before making Treasury money available for this purpose.
The answer to the first part of the Question is "None, Sir"; the rest of the Question does not, therefore, arise. As the hon. Member is aware, the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union receives a grant-in-aid from public funds.
§ Mr. Lewis
In view of the fact that the Chancellor knows that he will shortly be granting this money, is he aware that the Members on the executive have once again selected themselves to go? Does he think that it is right that for the past 10 or 13 years the same Members have been going consistently? Does not he think that it would be better to carry out the promise and the pledge that was made, that they would put it in the Whip so as to allow any Member the opportunity of being considered at least once in his lifetime as a Member of this House?
The hon. Member's comments are not for me. My responsibility is only for the grant-in-aid. The way in which the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union allocates that expenditure in detail is not for me.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that because of the paucity of money the British delegates in some of these delegations travel in 1073 such a way as to give foreigners the impression that the British are poor relations in these international organisations? Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to see that this delegation travels in conditions equal to those in which the delegates of smaller countries travel?
I have no reason to suppose that the grant-in-aid is not adequate to ensure the purposes to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on some occasions, instead of travelling as V.I.Ps., British delegates from the House of Commons have received the sympathy of their fellow-passengers because of their having to travel steerage, when the ordinary commercial travellers travel in proper conditions?
I think that we are entitled to sympathy from almost everybody in this country and outside as Members of this institution.
§ Sir P. Agnew
Is it not a fact that you yourself, Mr. Speaker, occupy a high honorific post in this organisation, and that by attending its annual general meetings you hear about its methods and the conduct of its proceedings from year to year, and can satisfy yourself that they are conducted with propriety?
§ Mr. Speaker
It is true that I occupy many honorific positions, but I am not responsible for everything that is done by the various bodies which have been kind enough so to honour me. I have nothing whatever to do with the selection of this delegation.