HC Deb 30 April 1963 vol 676 cc900-1
Q5. Mr. Lipton

asked the Prime Minister the cost to public funds of the conference he held at Chequers on 27th and 28th April last.

The Prime Minister

Since the gift of Chequers, certain funds have been made available either from the Trust or from the Exchequer to contribute towards the cost of the entertainment of the Prime Minister's guests, Ministerial or otherwise. This was part of the purpose for which Chequers was presented.

As regards the meeting on Sunday, however, I invited those present to come as my private guests. There was, therefore, no additional charge to public funds for their entertainment.

Mr. Lipton

While it is right that the cost of this weekend jaunt, or at least part of it, should fall not upon the taxpayer, but upon those who took part in it, will the Prime Minister be kind enough to explain and, if possible, amplify a report in the Daily Telegraph that during the Sunday tea-break he could be seen in the garden gesticulating with one hand and clutching a plate in the other? Was that when he was taking the collection?

The Prime Minister

I must admit that a collection was taken. It was for the restoration of the ancient churches in Buckinghamshire.

Mr. C. Pannell

The Prime Minister has made the point that there was no charge on public funds for the happenings on Sunday. Will he state whether there is any charge on public funds for what happened on Saturday?

The Prime Minister

On Saturday, as very often happens when I or any Prime Minister is at Chequers, a number of my colleagues came in the ordinary way. On the Sunday, I thought that it was a rather special occasion and, therefore, I did not draw upon the sums which are made available to the Prime Minister by the Trust or by other means and I preferred to pay the cost myself.

Sir J. Duncan

Will my right hon. Friend lend Chequers to the Labour Party so that they can look back to the 'forties?