HC Deb 04 March 1965 vol 707 cc1517-9
Q2. Mr. Goodhew

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that Ministers have allowed their names to be printed as sponsors of a periodical called Dockworkers' Voice, which engages in political controversy, in some cases regarding matters of those Ministers' departmental responsibilities; and what guidance is given to Ministers about allowing their names to be published as sponsors in such circumstances.

Q6. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that Ministers have sponsored the periodical, Voice of the Unions; and what is the practice of Her Majesty's Government regarding the granting of permission to Ministers to allow their names to be printed as sponsors of such publications.

The Prime Minister

Ministers have not sponsored Voice of the Unions or any related publication.

When three of my colleagues found that their names had been wrongly shown as sponsors, contrary to instructions given to the printers shortly after the election, they gave renewed instructions that this error should be corrected.

Mr. Goodhew

Is the Prime Minister aware that in the Christmas number of the Dockworkers' Voice there appears a list of 16 right hon. and hon. Members opposite as sponsors, including the Secretary of State for the Colonies, a Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland and, significantly, a Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport; and that it contained two articles by Mr. Jackie Dash, the Communist leader of the London Liaison Committee? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it scandalous—[Interruption.]—that this political agitator should be able to masquerade under a cloak of respectability and authority as a result of the actions of his own Ministers?

The Prime Minister

I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman is on the mailing list of this publication or is relying on a version—[HON. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."]—issued by the Economic League on 18th January. [Interruption.] Whichever it is, I agree that it is wholly intolerable that the names of my right hon. or hon. Friends, or any Members of this House, should have been printed without authority after the printers had been told that they were not sponsoring that publication.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

What steps did the Prime Minister take to make public the fact that these names were printed without authority in the New Year edition of Voice of the Unions? This Government came to office in October. Is he aware that in the New Year edition of Voice of the Unions there appeared as sponsors the names of three Ministers and a P.P.S., one of them being the Colonial Secretary; and that, on the page opposite, there was an attack on the Colonial Secretary's policy in regard to South Arabia? Is it not very uncomradely, bearing in mind that in this number of Voice of the Unions it is suggested that the Prime Minister is being paid too much—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—and that owing to Labour policy we are again on "stop-go" and subjected to the bankers?

The Prime Minister

That obviously prepared supplementary question might have been more relevant if I had not twice said that these names were published without authorisation and after instructions that they be withdrawn.

Mr. Godber

While we are grateful for the fact that the Prime Minister on this occasion has been more informative about this than he was on Tuesday, may I ask him if he is aware that the reference to this on which I relied was in the Financial Times on 13th January and no correction was made by his hon. Friends, although they could easily have done so at the time, and therefore damage was done in this instance when the Minister of Labour was proposing exactly the opposite things to those that were being put forward here? The Prime Minister has shown more responsibility than he showed on Tuesday last when he tried to divert matters by a smear on one of my right hon. Friends.

The Prime Minister

Whether the right hon. Gentleman is glad or not does not sound like a question to me, so I cannot answer it, but I am sure that the whole House will be glad when he and his hon. Friends start concentrating on policies instead of squalid little questions like that. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

It was only yesterday that complaints were made in the House about the limited number of Prime Minister's Questions we got through. I shall be obliged if the House would help me by making less noise.