HC Deb 15 June 1965 vol 714 cc235-6
Q2. Mr. Ian Gilmour

asked the Prime Minister why he has given a direction to Ministers that their Press officer should be present when they talk to members of the Press; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

No change in the existing practice is involved.

It has always been the normal practice for an official to be present when Ministers meet third parties to discuss official matters so that a record can be kept and any necessary action initiated.

Mr. Gilmour

Is the Prime Minister aware that a number of journalists have been surprised recently to find that when they see Ministers they now appear chaperoned by their Press officers, which they never did before? Is the right hon. Gentleman really telling the House that there has been no change in the practice, or will he agree that guidance on this matter has been issued from No. 10 Downing Street?

The Prime Minister

It is not so much a direction but more a reminder of what the practice is. If there has been this change which the hon. Member's sources have brought to his attention, this will be some reassurance that the present Government will not be conducted like the leaky sieve that the last one was.

Mr. Boston

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the Question suggests that the hon. Member for Norfolk, Central (Mr. Ian Gilmour) has been having difficulty in promoting the interests of his right hon. employee in his attempts to make him something more on the Opposition Front Bench than just a spectator?

Mr. Speaker

That exceeds the possibility of the Prime Minister's responsibilities.