HC Deb 17 December 1963 vol 686 cc1037-8
Q1. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister if he will consider the setting up of a committee, similar to the Haldane Committee of 1918, to examine the modern problems of the machinery of Government.

The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

I have no grounds for thinking that a committee of this nature is required at the present time. The organisation of Government business is the continuing responsibility of Ministers.

Mr. Hamilton

Does the Prime Minister recognise that there has been no comprehensive survey of the machinery of Government since the Haldane Committee reported in 1918? Does he not, therefore, think the time very opportune to set up another committee to investigate this matter, particularly as, in discussions and debates, differences of opinion are being expressed on such matters as education, town and country planning, the location of industry, science and the rest? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would now be opportune to set up another committee to follow on with the extremely good work that the Haldane Committee did?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. We have just made a great reorganisation in defence which takes place on 1st April, and we are contemplating the reorganisation of education and science. I think that this is enough to go on with.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Whilst there is, perhaps, no case for setting up a committee at the moment, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there is interest in the improvement of the machinery of Government on this side of the House as well as on the other? Would he consider now whether the promotion of civil servants, from the lowest grade to the top, is really adequate in the age in which we live?

The Prime Minister

I am very interested in the reorganisation of Government and in the question that my hon. Friend has raised, but my general feeling is that there are enough committees about for the Government to do this work.

Mr. Grimond

Does not the Prime Minister agree that the very number of committees and Royal Commissions now necessary are themselves some evidence of our need to consider the machinery of Government? To quote just two examples, would he not agree that the need to associate local people with regional development, and the need to find some methods of checking faults in security, should be reconsidered in the machinery of Government as well?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that I can reconsider the setting up of a committee, but the Government are certainly looking into the reorganisation of the machinery of Government.

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