HC Deb 15 March 1960 vol 619 cc1122-3
43. Dr. D. Johnson

asked the Prime Minister whether he is satisfied that the 70 Royal Commissions and Committees of Inquiry appointed since January, 1955, have, in all cases, reported with that expedition demanded by the importance of the subject of inquiry undertaken; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend will realise that almost all these Committees were set up by, and reported to, the Minister directly concerned with the subject matter of the inquiry. If he has any doubts about specific inquiries, perhaps he will put down a Question to the appropriate Minister.

As a general statement, I would say that speed of reporting cannot be the only criterion. The most important subjects are often the most complex, requiring the most detailed investigation. It is often necessary to take evidence from many sources, and persons and institutions must be given proper time in which to prepare their evidence. The essential point is that the report, when it is produced, should be thorough and complete. It is also relevant that for all these inquiries we rely very largely on public-spirited individuals who are prepared to give up their time to this work.

Taking all these considerations into account, I should certainly not wish to criticise any of these Royal Commissions and Committees of Inquiry for failing to produce their report in good time.

Dr. Johnson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one or two of these inquiries have taken more than three years, whereas the Committee of Inquiry on Administrative Tribunals, an extremely complex matter, reported in less than eighteen months? While accepting my right hon. Friend's remarks, I am wondering whether he would accept the suggestion put forward in due humility from the member of another university from his own that he might, perhaps, make further use of the services of Sir Oliver Franks.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. He certainly will have time and it would be very agreeable. He did a very good job at that inquiry. A long written list has been issued giving the periods taken by Committees of Inquiry and when they have reported. On the whole, it shows what a tremendous effort is given to this work by those who are good enough to serve.