HC Deb 07 July 1964 vol 698 cc211-2
Q1 Mr. Shinwell

asked the Prime Minister (1) the function of the Honours Scrutiny Committee; whether they have the power to reject honours recommended by a Government; and how many were rejected by that Committee in the past five years;

(2) to what extent the terms of reference of the Honours Scrutiny Committee define honours which are awarded for political services to a political party.

The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

I am sending the right hon. Member a copy of the relevant Order of the Privy Council setting out the terms of reference of the Committee. It cannot reject names.

Mr. Shinwell

Now, will the Prime Minister answer my first Question: what is the function of the Honours Scrutiny Committee and how many recommendations has it accepted or rejected?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman will find the function of the Committee in the terms of reference. They are to review names, if necessary, and to report upon them to the Prime Minister.

Dame Irene Ward

Is there a woman on this distinguished Committee?

The Prime Minister

Not yet.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of his reply, may I ask the Prime Minister whether it is not the case that in the last five years the Honours Scrutiny Committee has not rejected a single recommendation made by successive Governments and that it has neither the staff nor the power to reject any recommendation? If I am correct in the assumption that this Committee has not rejected a single recommendation in the past five years, what is the purpose of continuing this farce? Ought not the Honours Scrutiny Committee to be abandoned?

The Prime Minister

I said in my reply to the right hon. Gentleman that the Committee could not reject but that it can make recommendations to the Prime Minister. It has done so on a number of occasions in recent years.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

Will my right hon. Friend consider altering the rules so that an honour might be awarded to the public relations expert who managed all the commercials this morning about the allegedly beneficent intervention by the Leader of the Opposition in the Independent Television strike which was certainly the pseudo event of the year and which seems to have left the wretched union in a rather worse position than it was before the strike began?

Mr. Speaker

I cannot think that that arises out of this Question or any answer to it.

Mr. W. Hamilton

If the Committee cannot delete names, has it the power to suggest names? Is the Prime Minister aware that there are at least two Scottish Tory Members of Parliament who are not yet knights?

The Prime Minister

If I may reply to one of them, the answer is "No, Sir.