HC Deb 12 July 1962 vol 662 cc1511-3
Q2. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Prime Minister whether, when considering the formation of a committee or advising on the appointment of a Royal Commission, he will arrange for the Minister concerned to publish two weeks beforehand the names of those persons to whom invitations are to be sent.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I do not think it would be right to make this departure from established practice.

Mr. Montgomery

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the great concern ex-pressed by many people about the composition of the Pilkington Commission? Is he aware that many people felt that there was no one on the Commission to speak for the ordinary television viewer? Would not it be a good idea at least to get as representative a committee as possible to discuss these matters to try to see that all views are represented?

The Prime Minister

That, of course, might be a criticism of those—in this case myself—whose duty it is to make recommendations to the Queen regarding appointments to Royal Commissions. I do not think that it would be right to invite particular persons to have, as it were, their names put up for criticism. I am only too grateful to those who are willing to serve.

Mr. Gaitskell

Would the right hon. Gentleman think it wise to confirm that there was no criticism at the time of the appointment of the Pilkington Commission and that the criticism has been made only since its Report?

The Prime Minister

As a matter of fact there was some criticism. There was considerable criticism from the party of the right hon. Gentleman, because they thought I ought not to have appointed an industrial magnate.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that it is all too easy to criticise, after the event of the Report, those who have prepared the Report if one happens to disagree with the recommendations which are made? Will he accept my assurance that there are some hon. Members on this side of the House who think that the Report was a very good job.

The Prime Minister

I am not going to discuss the Report. The Question was related to how Royal Commissions are appointed. The responsibility must rest on the Prime Minister of the day to advise. I should like to take the opportunity to thank the many people who serve on a great number of these Commissions and give their time, and often find it a very great sacrifice.

Mr. Mayhew

Is the Prime Minister aware that the expression of gratitude to the Pilkington Commission in the White Paper is notably perfunctory? In view of the violent personal attacks which have been made in various newspapers, might not an expression of sympathy as well as gratitude be extended to the members of the Commission?

The Prime Minister

I suppose everybody who serves on any public body deserves sympathy as well as gratitude.