HC Deb 16 January 1964 vol 687 cc403-4
Q2. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister whether he will introduce legislation to ensure that no Minister of the Crown is in direct membership of any non-industrial association which is in receipt of public money.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. The principle which the hon. Member appears to have in mind is that Ministers should so order their affairs that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their private interests and their public duties. I am satisfied that the existing rules are sufficient to safeguard this principle.

Mr. Hamilton

How does the Prime Minister square that with the fact that he himself chose to join the National Farmers' Union only after he became Prime Minister and after that power group had asked for another £100 million of public money? Does he not see the contradiction between what he has just said and the fact that local councillors are prevented from voting on issues where their rents are concerned? Can he say why the House and the country regard it as invidious for Ministers of the Crown to be directors of private companies while he sees no objections to their being members of pressure groups which are getting hundreds of millions of £s of public money?

The Prime Minister

I see no contradiction in my public duties and membership of the National Farmers'Union. No Government money is paid to the National Farmers' Union [Interruption.] I imagine—although I do not know—that many Ministers have been members of different trade unions while holding office. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

I cannot make my voice prevail far enough to call Mr. Emrys Hughes.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the Prime Minister aware that many of the farmers in my constituency are delighted to know that at last he has joined the union, but that what they want to know is whether he will pay his 30 years' arrears of subscription?

The Prime Minister

I shall not be able to pay up if hon. Members opposite get in at the General Election, but I shall otherwise.