HC Deb 18 November 1960 vol 630 cc700-17

Order for Second Reading read.

11.10 a.m.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Edward Boyle)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The Bill is designed first and foremost to give the Government greater flexibility in the deployment of Parliamentary Secretaries between Departments, but it has two other more specific purposes. First, it authorises the payment of a salary, not exceeding £2,500 a year, to a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Science. Secondly, it authorises an increase in salary from £2,200 a year to £3,000 a year for the Chief Whip in the House of Lords, under his title of Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms.

As the House may be aware, the legal position with regard to the power simply to appoint Parliamentary Secretaries is obscure, but it is quite certainly governed by two main sets of clear restrictions—first, the restrictions on the number of Parliamentary Secretaries to whom salaries may be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament and, secondly, the restrictions on the numbers of those who are entitled to sit and vote in the House of Commons at any one time. Before I describe the Bill, perhaps I should briefly say a few words about the present legislative position.

At present, there is statutory authority to pay salaries only to specified numbers of Parliamentary Secretaries in particular Departments. For example, Section 2 (2) of the Ministers of the Crown Act, 1937, as amended by the Act of 1951, limits the numbers of Parliamentary Secretaries to whom salaries may be paid by specifying the number for each Department to which the Acts refer. Within other Departments, the limit is imposed by separate Acts. For example, the Ministry of Fuel and Power Act, 1945, provides for the payment of a salary to only one Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Power; and likewise the Ministry of Defence Act, 1946, to only one in the Ministry of Defence. If one adds up all the piecemeal pieces of legislation which have been passed by Parliament at one time or another, the total effect is to allow salaries to be paid to a total of 32 Parliamentary Secretaries, but only in respect of offices limited to the specified numbers in particular Departments.

So far as voting in the House of Commons is concerned, Section 2 (1) of the House of Commons Disqualification Act, 1957, limits the numbers of Ministers who are entitled to sit and vote in the House of Commons at any one time. Part I of the Second Schedule of that Act lists senior Ministers and Part II lists junior Ministers. Section 2 enables only 70 Ministers in all and 27 senior Ministers to sit and vote at any one time. As I have explained, this legislation has grown up piecemeal over the years and, although the Bill is a modest step, I think that future Governments will be grateful to Parliament if it passes an Act which provides for slightly more flexibility than at present exists.

Clause 1 removes all the individual Departmental limits on the numbers of Parliamentary Secretaries to whom salaries may be paid, and replaces the individual limits by one single aggregate limit of 33. The Bill will therefore enable the Government to appoint more Parliamentary Secretaries in one Department by reducing the numbers appointed to other Departments, or else by making use of unfilled vacancies within the authorised complement of 33 salaried posts.

The House will probably agree that, while it is quite right that there should be a definite limit on the aggregate of Parliamentary Secretaries, it is only right that the Prime Minister of the day should have a considerable amount of flexibility at his disposal, and it is interesting to note that as I am moving the Second Reading of the Bill there are as many as six unfilled Parliamentary Secretary posts—in the Home Office, since the promotion of my right hon. Friend the present Minister of State, the War Office, the Admiralty, the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

So much for the main purpose of the Bill. I now want to say something about the more specific proposals. Clause 2 (1) authorises the payment of a salary not exceeding £2,500 a year to a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Science. Indeed, it is because this is a new post that in Clause 1 the complement has been increased from 32 to 33. The Minister for Science will be the only Minister not having a Department who, without further legislation can be helped in this way. It is interesting to note that he will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister and not the Ministry. When opening schools and on similar occasions, I was constantly referred to as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education, which was technically incorrect, of course, but, if my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister were to make this appointment, in this case it would be the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Science. Passing the Bill would not allow the payment of a salary out of public funds to a Parliamentary Secretary to any other non-Departmental Minister, nor indeed to any Parliamentary Secretary, other than to the Minister for Science, not at present included in Part II of the Second Schedule of the Disqualification Act, 1957.

I do not think that I need explain elaborately the purpose of the Clause, but it will be remembered that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 3rd November, 1959, in reply to Parliamentary Questions from the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) and others, explained that Questions falling within the responsibility of the Minister for Science were at present answered in a rather complicated way. Questions about the Medical Research Council, for example, are answered by the Minister of Health; about the Agricultural Research Council and the Nature Conservancy by the Minister of Agriculture; about atomic energy by the Minister of Education; about space research by the Minister of Aviation; and about atomic energy development relating to matters for which a particular Minister is responsible, by that Minister.

I recall that one of the last observations made by the late Mr. Aneurin Bevan in the House was when he listened to these arrangements and said that they constituted something of a dog's breakfast. I will not comment on that now, but at least one can feel that if he had been spared to be alive with us this morning, he would have been a supporter of this Clause. Obviously, the present arrangement is not the most convenient for the House. Questions falling within the responsibility of the Minister for Science would be answered in the Commons by one Minister, namely, the Parliamentary Secretary, if my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister thought fit to make that appointment.

Clause 2 (2) is technical, and simply brings the salary of a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Science within the provisions of Section 6 of the Ministers of the Crown Act, 1937, against duplicate salaries. Clause 2 (3) adds the office of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Science to the list of junior Ministers set out in the Disqualification Act, 1957. Incidentally, the limit of 70 Ministers is not affected by the Bill and I can assure any hon. Member who is concerned about it—and I am sure that hon. Members ought to be concerned—that no question arises in the Bill of any increase in the total of the Government's powers of patronage.

Finally, Clause 3 increases by £800 a year the salary of the Chief Whip in the House of Lords, or, to give him his full title, which is not often used, Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms. His salary will now be £3,000. It was increased from £1,200, which it had been since 1946, to £2,200 under the Ministerial Salaries Act, 1957.

The reason for the increase is to place him higher than the Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard, who is the Assistant Government Chief Whip in another place and, who, like him, is a member of Her Majesty's Household, and to prevent the Captain of the Gentlemen-of-Arms being £300 a year less well off than a Parliamentary Secretary. Instead of being £300 less well off than a Parliamentary Secretary he will become £500 better off. That seems to be a perfectly reasonable suggestion.

I do not think I need say any more in introducing the Bill. The remaining Clauses are formal. This is partly a Bill to give greater flexibility to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister or future Governments in the deployment of Parliamentary Secretaries, and I believe that its specific proposals are such as to commend themselves to this House.

11.20 a.m.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

We are all grateful to the Financial Secretary for his clear exposition of the Bill. I take no objection to the arrangement about Parliamentary Secretaries in general. It consists in putting them, notionally at any rate, into a pool, from which, when Christmas comes near the Prime Minister—carrying his Moscow hat and attired as Santa Claus—will no doubt draw out one Parliamentary Secretary after another, appropriate to this or that Department. That seems to be an instance, as the hon. Member put it, of having a considerable amount of flexibility at his disposal—a "lucky bag", as it were, for Parliamentary Secretaries.

That seems a sensible arrangement, but I am very much more puzzled about the supposed need for a Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister for Science. The Minister for Science is a very peculiar Minister indeed. He is not a Minister of anything. He has not a Ministry. He is the Minister for Science. Ministers who have to deal with a subject usually deal with it with a certain amount of fervour. Even the Minister of Education embraces his subject, sometimes with a slightly disdainful embrace, but still quite definitely with an embrace, and the Minister of Transport nowadays certainly gives his subject what we can only call a jammy hug. But the Minister for Science only touches faintly and remotely at the fringes of the scientific garment.

It is extremely difficult to find out what he has to do. He is the chairman of a number of research committees, and he appoints the members of some of them. He was constituted by an Order which simply transferred to him a number of almost equally vague functions hitherto carried on by the Lord President of the Council. Ever since the present Minister for Science was appointed, hon. Members on this side of the House have been wondering exactly what he was supposed to be doing.

I have been reading through the reports of his public speeches. One of them was an excellent rectorial address when he became the Rector of Glasgow University. It had nothing whatever to do with science, and it had been duly issued by the Conservative Central Office, as had many other papers in the Library dealing with his speeches. When I tried to find out what he had been doing about science, I found it much more difficult. He has one definite set of functions in connection with atomic energy, and those I understand. What I do not understand is exactly what he does about them. Perhaps security reasons are involved.

Then there was another instance in which he embarked upon the scientific field. Addressing the Institute of Naval Architects, he said some words about shipbuilding. Shipbuilding and the machine tool industry have recently been the subject of inquiries by scientific cornmittees—in both cases from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. We do not know what their results have been, because they have not been published, at any rate in the form in which they were reported. But the Minister took the occasion to say something about shipbuilding. Therefore, looking at what he has been doing—because it is impossible to find out from his powers what he ought to be doing—I find it extremely difficult to appreciate the nature of the work that he carries on from day to day.

The Government are now asking for a Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister for Science. I looked him up in the Estimates, to see what sort of staff he had. He does not have a Ministry, but he has an office. When one looks at the Estimates one finds that the expenses of atomic energy and the expenses of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research are not carried under his office in any way; they are on separate Votes. Turning to his office, I find it is on a very modest scale. It is not for me to ask the Government to increase the expense of it, but it shows us how busy he must be, and how deep and urgent his need must be for a Parliamentary Secretary—which is what we are being asked to vote today.

The Minister's own salary does not even enter into the matter; I believe that it comes into the Privy Council Estimate. But when one looks at what he has, one finds that he has a deputy secretary, two under-secretaries, a United Kingdom representative in Vienna, some assistant secretaries and some principals, the total number of those gentlemen being 13. Remembering that he is Minister for Science, one would certainly expect him to have some high-grade scientists at his disposal, in order to give him the necessary scientific information with which to deal with the committees, full of extremely learned gentlemen, over whom he has to preside and whom he has to appoint.

We then come down the scale a little. After that, all that he has is a principal scientific officer, a senior scientific officer and some executive officers, and those distinguished gentlemen who have appeared before in debates of this matter—the doorkeepers. There used to be five, and there are now six. No doubt that is the result of comments made upon them by one of my hon. Friends.

If one looks at this establishment from the point of view of providing an indication of what this Minister is supposed to be doing, it is quite clear that he is not expected to be unduly busy. Neither from his powers nor, as far as one can tell, from his exercise of them—and not even from the establishment he has at his disposal—does one judge him to be a Minister who is exactly overburdened with work and requires the assistance of a Parliamentary Secretary to enable him to discharge his duties.

What, then, is the purpose of the Parliamentary Secretary? We were given a broad hint, although it was not an answer, by the Financial Secretary just now. He explained to us that there was an extremely absurd tradition in relation to the answering of Questions on behalf of the Minister for Science. That is true, but it is not the first absurd tradition. We began with general Questions, other than those relating to the Departments mentioned by the Financial Secretary, being answered by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works. Only a British Government, in its more scatterbrained moments, could devise a scheme like that. Then they were taken over by the Prime Minister, for a short time. Finally, they passed to the Minister of Education.

There is a great deal to be said for having the Minister of Education answer those Questions because, time and time again, a Question directed to the Minister for Science involves matters concerned with education, sometimes within the Ministry and sometimes for independent autonomous universities and other more or less autonomous bodies. In a way there is necessarily a connection, particularly with the present shortage of scientific personnel, between the Minister of Education, on the one hand, and the Minister for Science, on the other I therefore understand that arrangement.

But we are now asked to provide a Parliamentary Secretary, to be drawn out of the lucky bag by the Prime Minister at Christmas. I suppose that it will be a sort of family party. At any rate, there it is. This gentleman has to do—what? He really cannot help the Minister for Science to do nothing in particular and to do it very well. He is there only to answer Questions, and the only reason he is there to answer Questions is because the Minister for Science has been appointed, has existed and continues to exist in another place. Had he been appointed in the House of Commons, nobody could possibly make out any case whatever for a Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister.

What we are being asked to do is to pay out of public funds for a Parliamentary Secretary—or a possible Parliamentary Secretary, who has not yet been appointed—who has to do nothing whatever but answer Questions in the Commons because the Minister for Science is in the Lords and, therefore, cannot answer Questions in the Commons.

There is another aspect of this matter. It is to the credit of the Government, and even more to those engaged in the higher ranks of science in this country, that national expenditure on research and science generally has increased considerably during recent years. It is less to our credit that it is still low by comparison with most other countries, so far as one can judge. It is not easy to get comparable figures, but I believe that the matter is being investigated at present.

We have a quite considerable expenditure on these bodies. We have a rising expenditure, we have a Minister in another place, and we have continual pressure for more research work to be done and paid for. I should be the last person to stand here and in any way whatever discourage expenditure of that kind. I think that it is thoroughly good and thoroughly healthy, but financial control—if the Minister for Science has anything to do—is not in this House.

Indeed, speaking for myself and, I think, for my party in this matter, we view with deep suspicion the introduction of new and important Ministries where the Minister is in another place. Therefore, if this is, as it is, an entirely new Ministry and if it is also, as it might be, an important one, and is engaged in considerable and rising expenditure, and the expenditure and character of its activities are nothing less than vital to the progress of this country, it seems to us entirely wrong that the Minister for Scienc should continue to sit in another place. We feel that it really is stiff to be asked to provide a Parliamentary Secretary when the best that the Financial Secretary can say for it is that he will be able to answer Questions in this place in a rather less confused manner than they have been answered previously. It is an extremely thin case indeed.

The Parliamentary Secretary, and whatever subordinate officers he brings with him, is to be put into a little office, in terms of personnel, with no good word to be said for it except that he is there to answer Questions. When one looks at what has happened in the office one finds that remarkably little appears to be going on, and that the really important work is being done by the scientists themselves—bodies like the Department for Scientific and Industrial Research. Yet because the Minister is in another place he has to have a Parliamentary Secretary. This is too much.

I am in some difficulty about the matter, and I say so quite frankly to the House. My hon. Friends, in previous debates, accepting for the purpose of those debates that the Minister for Science was in another place, repeatedly asked for a Parliamentary Secretary. That was because of the muddle—the absurd muddle—that there has been in the allocation of Questions. I do not say that, as long as the Minister for Science remains in another place, we should object to having a Parliamentary Secretary, but I say that it is totally absurd that the Minister for Science should be in another place and that there should be the possibility of appointing a Parliamentary Secretary for no other revealed purpose than to answer Questions for him. That is ridiculous.

It is not in our power, by opposing the Bill, to induce the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister to see sense in the matter, and to see that, when dealing with a Minister of this potential importance, he is appointed from someone in this House. If we voted successfully against the appointment of a Parliamentary Secretary, we should really serve no other purpose than to perpetuate the present muddle, at any rate for the time being. That we do not want to do.

I say to the Government that it is rather ridiculous to have a Minister for Science sitting in another place and to ask for a Parliamentary Secretary, when the most that we can say about him is that he will answer the Minister's Questions; and then to look at what the Minister is doing and to find out that he may be doing great and wonderful things, but that, really, they are remarkably obscure.

The 64,000 dollar question about the Minister for Science—I say it in a hushed voice—is this: is he really doing anything? This is something which we should all like to know. I regard him at present as the flying brain of the Government, whizzing round, delivering profound discourses on matters that may or may not be connected with science. I hasten to add, and in all sincerity, that I have a considerable liking for the Minister of Science. I think that he is a highly intelligent person. I can quite understand the Government wishing to use him, but that does not excuse a Minister for Science being in another place and a Minister for Science whose duties are so vague and so ill-defined that he does not do anything, so far as I can see.

I know that my party had a programme for scientific research at the time of the General Election. I do not need to be reminded that we lost the General Election; but had we got in—I have been looking at what has been suggested; and we studied this matter very carefully—I think that the Minister for Science, if we had appointed someone of that character—which we probably would—would have had a great deal more executive power to approach the Departments and to carry out a plan for scientific research.

I believe that the difficulty at present is this. There are many people engaged, within limits, in considering what should be done next by way of scientific research. There is really no one, not even the Minister of Science, in a position to review the whole programme and make suggestions. Certainly, he has not made any. I am not asking for a completely ordered programme, doubt whether we could have that in questions of scientific research. As one of the reports said, questions of scientific research are largely a matter not of equilibrium, but of disequilibrium, and we have to be careful that we do not try to tidy matters up too much.

I believe that, as between this puny office on the one hand, and the executive Departments on the other, the puny office ought to be larger and have considerably more power. That would make it even more imperative to have a Minister for Science here rather than in another place.

I ought to add just a word or two about the last point. The office of Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms is no doubt an important one. I would not wish to introduce a blackleg element into the usual channels, but I must say that when I look at the Parliamentary Secretary and think of the burdens which he has to carry from day to day—the physical burdens that occupy some of these benches from one moment to another—and think, by comparison, of the peaceful and comparatively short hours of his picturesquely-named colleague in another place, I certainly do not think that he is overpaid.

I really wonder whether the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms is sorely in need of an increase in pay for the comparatively little that he has to do. But one does not want to push this kind of thing too far. It is really rather difficult for anyone not in close contact with the matter to judge, and if that was all that was in the Bill I doubt whether I should have said anything at all except, as this is a Friday, to tell the House a very short story.

A constituent of mine once wrote to me about hearing aids. I replied to him that the Government had not as yet made up their mind on this matter. I was informed to that effect in the House. My constituent replied, "You do not know what you are talking about. The Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms settled this matter in another place a day or two ago, by an answer that he gave."

11.41 a.m.

Sir Robert Cary (Manchester, Withington)

Although this Measure would appear to be a rather pedestrian one, may I congratulate my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary on introducing what I think will be a wise and far-seeing Bill and one winch will bring flexibility to the assistance of the Government?

As the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) has just said, it provides a pool of Parliamentary Secretaries. As a step towards more flexibility it goes far, but, in my opinion, not quite far enough. I am sometimes amazed at the prodigious amount of work undertaken by Parliamentary Secretaries, in which they get no help. I am thinking in terms of my unforgettable past. In my opinion, they have always received a most inadequate salary. However, to touch upon the salary aspect would necessitate raising other matters, so I had better not explore the matter further.

If, in his absence, I may cite my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, I was absolutely amazed at the amount of work he did on the Government of India Act in the 1931–35 Parliament. He did this work without the sort of assistance which would have come from a pool of Parliamentary Secretaries such as this. I felt at the time that the reward for his labours might have taken a more material form. My right hon. Friend also did a prodigious amount of work in the 1938–41 Parliament as Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office. Looking back to those days, I must say to my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary that I am amazed that the Bill did not come before the House long ago.

With regard to the reference to the size of Government, it is interesting to recall that the Government appointed in 1935 by Mr. Baldwin, as he then was, contained 64 members. The present Government contains 84, so that in that interval there has been an increase in, if I may so term it, the establishment of no less than 20 members. That, of course, flows from the activities of Government, the expansion of the permanent service, the Civil Service and the far wider activities which are thrust not only upon the Civil Service but upon Members of the House.

For this reason, there is one short point which I wish to put to my hon. Friend. I have always held the view that there could be more flexibility, more interchange between the junior Ministers and the back benchers in the House. I had always hoped that some proportion of our junior posts could be made sessional appointments, that an individual Member of the House could be appointed to serve as a Parliamentary Secretary for the term of one Session.

That is prompted by the intensification on both sides of the House of the system of party committees behind the scenes, whereby, because of the need for specialisation in subjects which come before the House, many Members of the House join a Government with an extremely well-informed mind upon subjects for which they will become responsible. As an illustration of that in the immediate past I would cite the appointment of my right hon. Friend the present Colonial Secretary to the Ministry of Health in the 1931–35 Parliament. He had been the chairman of the party's social committee and he was one of those exceptional appointments inasmuch as he was appointed to a Department without having served the necessary interval as a Parliamentary Secretary. He came to the Department with an extremely well-informed mind.

I have always held the view that there could be greater flexibility as between the back benchers and the junior Ministers. I know that certain difficulties might arise in that many Members of Parliament have business and other interests outside the House, but I am certain that to facilitate such a system of interchange many of the established and large businesses would be prepared to second an individual to discharge such a task and to serve in a Government for one year.

Perhaps I might recall to the House that years ago it was the custom for a member of the Armed Forces entering the House to be seconded from the Active List only for the whole term of his first Parliament. Such a man could sit in the House for four or five years and still remain on the Active List. It seems to me quite wrong that there should be the feeling that for a man to enter a Government for a short time and then to leave it might promote discontent or, to use an expression used in a popular journal, that a Minister might leave in a fit of pique.

If this new flexibility would make it possible for every Member of the House to undertake a short period of service in a Government, even though only at junior Minister level, then I think that, by and large, the general interest of the House, both from the point of view of the Government and the point of view of back benchers, would benefit.

11.50 a.m.

Mr. Martin Maddan (Hitchin)

I wish to express my agreement with all that my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary) has said about the way in which both the ranks of the Government and the ranks of the back benchers of the House could be greatly improved by more flexibility, not only within the Government as actually provided in the Bill but also as between the Government and the House itself.

One point I want to underline, and on which my hon. Friend touched, is the salary levels of Parliamentary Secretaries. I know that they have recently been increased, but they are, nevertheless, quite inadequate, whether judged by the responsibility, whether judged by the earning powers of those individuals outside, or whether judged by the salaries paid to people with equivalent responsibilities within the Civil Service.

However we look at it, it is wrong, and I believe that whereas in the past taxpayers did not appreciate the position, having been educated to the changes which have taken place in the composition of Parliament during this century, they now feel that the reputation of those holding Ministerial appointments is being undermined by the low level of salary which Parliament has voted. It is not for the electors, but for us in this House, to remedy that, and I am sorry that an opportunity has not been taken in the Bill to take a step in that direction.

11.51 a.m.

Dr. Reginald Bennett (Gosport and Fareham)

I apologise for not having been in my place when the debate began, but it began unexpectedly early.

I am relieved that the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) is not to move his massive phalanx of support into action against us. We appreciate the admirable welcome, or perhaps the double-edged speech, that he made in welcoming the Bill.

The Minister for Science, being in the House of Lords, has put this House at a disadvantage in getting statements of policy about science. No doubt the fact that he is in another place is a continuation of the process when he was Lord President of the Council. However, I assure the hon. and learned Member for Kettering that he has given evidence to many Members on both sides of the House of his complete mastery of his duties and of the fantastic and most impressive grasp he has of the whole wide and extremely expert field of endeavour for which he is now responsible.

I speak as chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. We have a particular affection for the Minister for Science in his present job, now that he has demonstrated his ability so overwhelmingly. I know that I speak for hon. Members on both sides in welcoming the provision of a Parliamentary Secretary in this House for the Minister of Science. It is something for which hon. Members on both sides have been pressing within the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. I therefore thank the Government for having acceded to the requests which have been made by that Committee.

11.54 a.m.

Sir E. Boyle

With the leave of the House, I should like to reply to three points, and to thank hon. Members for the way in which they have received the Bill.

I would like to answer the points raised by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison). He asked what the Minister for Science does. If and when we have a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Science, as provided by the Bill, the hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to pursue his inquiries in rather greater detail. If he looks at the speech I made when moving the Civil and Army Supplementary Estimates on 7th December last year he will see that I said that the responsibilities of the Minister for Science fall into three main categories.

First, there is the Atomic Energy Authority. Secondly, he is responsible for the four main executive research councils—the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research; the Medical Research Council; the Agricultural Research Council; and the Nature Conservancy. Thirdly, my noble Friend is responsible for three very important advisory bodies—the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, with its offshoot the Scientific Manpower Committee; the Overseas Research Council; and the Steering Group for Space Research.

If we have a Parliamentary Secretary, he will be here not only to answer Questions, but also to reply to debates on all these subjects. If, on the Adjournment, hon. Members wish to raise the whole question of the work of the D.S.I.R., or of the Research Councils, or of the advisory bodies, there will be a junior Minister whose job it will be to reply specifically to those matters. That will be for the convenience of the House.

I agree that the Minister of Education has direct responsibility, or direct concern, with some of these councils, but there are others which are rather remote from the Ministry of Education, and I would have thought that it would be more convenient to have a single Minister who was in a position to reply to debates on these matters.

Mr. Mitchison

I assure the hon. Gentleman that I have read his speech with care. Does he consider that if the Minister for Science were in this House a Parliamentary Secretary would still be necessary?

Sir E. Boyle

The hon. and learned Gentleman has anticipated the point I was about to make. He said that the Minister for Science should not be in another place. Suppose that, in the future, we have a Minister for Science who is a Member of this House. I would have thought that it was still very much a matter for consideration by the Government whether a Parliamentary Secretary might not be needed to respond on these matters in another place because, after all, there are a great many people in another place who are as well informed and as interested in these questions as we are, and I would not have thought that that consideration worked against the desirability of appointing a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science.

Mr. Mitchison

I hesitate to press the hon. Gentleman, particularly as the Leader of the House is sitting next to him, but the Government must have thought about this. Would it be necessary to have a Parliamentary Secretary if the Minister for Science were in this House?

Sir E. Boyle

It is not a matter of whether it is strictly necessary; the Prime Minister might well consider it is in the best interest of Government to appoint one. I think that any Government, or any Prime Minister, would be glad to have flexibility in this matter and to be in a position to appoint a Parliamentary Secretary in another place if he so desired.

Two other matters were raised. The hon. and learned Gentleman raised the question of the salary of the Captain of the Gentleman-at-Arms. With respect, I thought that he rather under-rated the arduous tasks of the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms. It is not the easiest of tasks. It is very much easier to secure a majority in this place on relatively minor legislative business than it is in another place. I think that if we were to try we would find that the job of helping to manage the day-to-day business in another place, with quite a number of their Lordships taking independent views, was not as easy as the hon. and learned Gentleman suggested.

We also have to remember that Members of another place do not draw £750 a year of their Parliamentary salaries if they are members of the Government. I think that the provision whereby the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms has £3,000 a year under the Bill is perfectly reasonable.

Finally, one or two of my hon. Friends raised the question of the salary levels of Parliamentary Secretaries. It would not be proper to comment on that now, except to say that I have been Parliamentary Secretary or a junior Minister in one Department or another for more than six years, and never once have I been made to feel of less consequence, or not been treated properly by senior civil servants in another Department, because of a difference in salary. I think that that point should be made clear.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Gibson-Watt.]

Committee upon Monday next.