HC Deb 07 March 1963 vol 673 cc640-1
Q3. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Prime Minister whether he will arrange for the titles of Parliamentary Secretary and Under-Secretary of State to be changed to that of Deputy Minister, to rank below Minister of State in those Departments where there are Ministers of State.

The Prime Minister

I recognise the intention behind by hon. Friend's suggestion, but these are traditional titles and any change would require legislation.

Moreover, I am doubtful whether the title Deputy Minister might not indicate a rank higher than that of Minister of State. However, I will certainly consider the matter.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it would give pleasure if he considered the matter, because a large number of members of the public, of the Armed Services and in industry are used to a definite chain of command and do not understand the title, "Parliamentary Secretary"? A number of my hon. and right hon. Friends feel that it should be made clear beyond peradventure that a Parliamentary Secretary is really a deputy Minister.

The Prime Minister

Although I shall consider it, I think that a considerable step has already been taken because I have given instructions that all Departments should follow de same rule—I think there were four or five exceptions—that in making their lists the names of Ministers should be printed first and then the names of leading officials, starting with the Permanent Secretary.

Mr. C. Pannell

Is the Prime Minister aware that while we have this ridiculous position that a Minister is paid at a lower rate of remuneration than even the Permanent Secretary, in these conditions it may well be that the Minister has to be No. 2, let alone the Parliamentary Secretary? Is it not time that the Government faced the question of remuneration with more courage?

The Prime Minister

This Question did not relate to rates of remuneration: it related to what I might call the protocol.