HC Deb 07 March 1962 vol 655 cc375-6
5. Mr. W. Yates

asked the Minister of Defence how many advisers, special or ordinary, he employs in his Department; and what is the total annual cost of their combined salaries to the taxpayer.

Mr. Watkinson

There are eight officers who are attached to my Department and whose appointment includes the title "adviser" in one form or another. The total cost to the crown is about £25,000 per annum. In addition, until quite recently, Field Marshal Sir Francis Festing has given me valuable assistance as my adviser on a special study of future defence policy which has now been completed. I am also indebted to Sir Frederic Hooper who advises me, in an honorary capacity, on recruiting problems.

Mr. Yates

While not wishing to dispute with the Minister his choice of persons whom he calls upon for advice, may I ask whether he feels it necessary to call upon Sir Francis Festing when he has got the C.I.G.S. available to him? Secondly, will he give further consideration to using the Service advisers rather more in a concentrated form instead of in such a wide way?

Mr. Watkinson

I am not sure if my hon. Friend is aware that Sir Francis Festing's term of service in the Ministry of Defence was recommended by the Chiefs of Staff and had their full approval, which certainly includes that of the C.I.G.S. I would welcome this opportunity to say how grateful I was to the Field Marshal. He would like to have gone and had a little rest after his arduous and very successful duties as C.I.G.S. He stayed on because he felt it was his public duty.

Captain Litchfield

Is it not a fact that the Ministry of Defence Vote, unlike some other Departments, shows a reduction of £210,000 for the forthcoming year?

Mr. Watkinson

Yes, Sir, it does, but perhaps I should not take too much credit for that.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Can the right hon. Gentleman say who advises him on civil defence and whether the reason why he did not mention this subject in the debate yesterday was that he was not adequately briefed or that he did not have time?

Mr. Watkinson

The second reason is the correct one. As the hon. Gentleman knows, departmentally civil defence comes under the Home Office. However, I want to make it perfectly plain that that does not mean that I do not attach the greatest importance to it. I very much regret that there was not time last night in my winding-up speech to deal with the hon. Gentleman's remarks.