HC Deb 05 December 1967 vol 755 cc1127-8
Q1. Sir T. Beamish

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a Minister responsible for the co-ordination of Government information services in the United Kingdom, and for answering Parliamentary Questions on this subject.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the Answer I gave to a similar Question by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) on 8th December, 1966.—[Vol. 737, c. 1571.]

Sir T. Beamish

Does the Prime Minister thing that the appointment of only 122 extra P.R.O.s and Press Officers in the Government Departments during the past three years, at a cost of £500,000 a year, is sufficient to improve the Government's popularity? Does not he think that there is a case for a whole lot more?

The Prime Minister

The appointment of official public relations officers is not related to party functions or Government popularity. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is once again confusing the appoint- ment of Ministers for Tory Party propaganda in the past.

Mr. Heath

Will the Prime Minister accept that if it was one of the P.R.O.s who yesterday released the good news that the Industrial Expansion Bill is to be shelved he is certainly worth his keep? Will the Prime Minister now confirm that the Bill is to be dropped?

The Prime Minister

I am sorry to disappoint the right hon. Gentleman. The story to which he refers did not come from any Government P.R.O., nor is it true.

Mr. Heath

Can the Prime Minister then say the source of the report?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I have no idea of the source of the report. The reports I read referred to a quite inaccurate account of the discussions between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and the C.B.I., but the report could have come neither from him nor from the C.B.I. because the matter was not discussed at that meeting.

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