HC Deb 20 April 1959 vol 604 cc28-30
45. Mr. Swingler

asked the Prime Minister if the speech of the President of the Board of Trade at the Royal Festivel Hall on 15th April on the need for adequate facilities for commercial education represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I have been asked to reply Yes, Sir.

Mr. Swingler

That is a rather curious reply. Is not the right hon Gentleman aware that, according to The Times of 16th April, the President of the Board of Trade, addressing the delegates at the conference of the British Association for Commercial Education, advised them to press the Minister of Education to provide adequate opportunities for commercial education. He went on to say: Ten him in no uncertain terms what you want. Send him a very sharply-worded minute when this conference is ended. Does this mean that the Cabinet knows that the Minister of Education is not doing his job and that it is necessary for other Cabinet Ministers going round the country to organise prompting? Does this mean that we shall get a favourable response to some of our sharply-worded rninutes to the Minister of Education?

Mr. Butler

In answer to part of the hon. Gentleman's question, it is the particular pride and achievement of the present Minister of Education that commercial education will have a special place in the three-year building programme which is to follow up and continue the advance mentioned in the 1956 White Paper on Education.

In regard to the sharp minute, I think it is quite clear that my right hon. Friend, who is an ex-Minister of Education, was desirous of mobilising behind my right hon. Friend as much support as possible. As the conference which was held in the Festival Hall was entitled, "Keeping your Office in Step," I presume that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade desired to be quite certain that all his own colleagues were in step, also.

Mr. W. R. Williams

Would it be possible for some other member of the Cabinet to ginger up the President of the Board of Trade to see what he can do for Lancashire's cotton industry?

Mr. Gordon Walker

Can the Lord Privy Seal say whether this is a new application of the doctrine of collective responsibility that Ministers should publicly incite people to send minutes to colleagues?

Mr. Butler

It is a sign of rare health in a Government that one of the members of the Government is very keen to receive from public bodies of this importance an element of surprise and firmness in their declarations.

Mr. Jay

If this is a sign of health, would the Lord Privy Seal welcome similar speeches on other subjects by other members of the Cabinet?

Mr. Butler

The mind of the Cabinet is so much at one that we are all aware of each other's sentiments before they are expressed.

Mr. Shinwell

In spite of what has happened, is the President of the Board of Trade still on good terms with the Minister of Education?

Mr. Butler

I understand that relations with "foreign Powers" are friendly.