HC Deb 25 June 1964 vol 697 cc615-6
Q2. Mr. A. Lewis

asked the Prime Minister whether he will introduce legislation to enable Ministers, on vacating a Ministerial appointment, to claim a peerage as of right.

The Prime Minister

I have taken note of the hon. Member's suggestion, but I must reject it.

Mr. Lewis

While thanking the Prime Minister for that reply, may I ask him whether he is aware of the present unsatisfactory position whereby Ministers, with one or two honourable exceptions, appear to hold office and then either resign or are dismissed and then refrain for about six month from ever putting in an appearance in the House? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes. I repeat to the Prime Minister that ex-Ministers, as with the example of the ex-Member for Woking, fail for six months to put in an appearance and then appear to get peerages for political services. Are we to take it that Members opposite who resign their jobs or are dismissed, once they stay away for six months, automatically get peerages, as seems to be the position?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that I really follow the hon. Member's case. The precedent I follow has been the very respectable practice followed by Mr. Attlee when he was here, and, indeed, other Prime Ministers.

Mr. Prior

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if absence is any criterion for the other place, the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. A. Lewis) can soon go there?

Mr. Grimond

Is the Prime Minister aware that if by any chance he should find himself vacating Ministerial appointment at any time there would be widespread regret on both sides of the House, though for different reasons, if he automatically claimed a peerage?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his consideration, but I have no intention of vacating any office at all.

Mr. W. Hamilton

The right hon. Gentleman will be kicked out.