HC Deb 10 November 1964 vol 701 cc830-1
Q3. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Prime Minister what changes he has authorised in the relationship between the Secretary of State for Defence and the Ministers of Defence for Army, Navy and Air, respectively; and what other changes are being made in the organisation of the Ministry of Defence.

The Prime Minister

No changes have been made in the relationships between the Secretary of State and the three Ministers of Defence. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence for the Army also acts as Deputy to the Secretary of State, with a particular responsibility in the field of defence questions affecting the alliance as a whole.

Mr. Digby

Is the Prime Minister aware that this matter was exhaustively discussed in the closing stages of the last Parliament, when the idea of a deputy was not advanced from either party? Where does the new idea come from?

The Prime Minister

If this Parliament is to be bound by everything which was done and discussed in the last Parliament, we shall not make very much progress.

Mr. Shinwell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the closing stages of the discussion on the Bill creating the present integrated Ministry of Defence it was agreed that all the Ministers concerned should cover functionally any section of the Department of the Ministry of Defence?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, and this is very much our idea. Already, in addition to their special responsibilities for the Services to which they have been allocated, each of the three Ministers is taking on more and more responsibility of a functional character affecting the Defence Service as a whole.

Sir B. Craddock

May I ask a question with regard to the position of the Chief Scientific Officer to the Secretary of State for Defence? I understand that he is now the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister. Is he to do the two jobs now, or only one?

The Prime Minister

The answer to the question is, "Yes, he will still advise my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence", though I am not quite sure whether this arises out of the Question on the Order Paper.