HC Deb 09 July 1968 vol 768 cc212-3
Q6. Mr. Hastings

asked the Prime Minister whether he will abolish the Central Office of Information.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. Hastings

Is the Prime Minister aware that the budget of the C.O.I. is up by five times since 10 years ago and that the staff has increased by 50 per cent. over the last five years, the total salary bill now being over£2,600,000? Is it not strange that the Prime Minister, who called the profession of public relations degrading, should now head a Government who employ more P.R.O.s than any other in our history?

The Prime Minister

The context in which I made that reference was that of illegal pressure on Members of this House to sign Amendments to the Finance Bill. The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the very great work which is being done by the C.O.I. in relation to exports and of the tributes paid to the C.O.I. by the Chairman of B.E.N.C. I think that the hon. Gentleman is a member of the board of Handley Page. As such he will be aware of the very fulsome tribute paid by the board of Handley Page Ltd. to the C.O.I. for the work that it has done.

Sir W. Bromley-Davenport rose

Hon. Members: Sit down.

Mr. Speaker

I have called the hon. and gallant Gentleman.

Sir W. Bromley-Davenport

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. The animal noises coming from the other side made it difficult to know whether you had.

What on earth—[Laughter.]—he will laugh on the other side of his "kisser" when I have finished with him—what on earth is the good of maintaining this Department when no one knows better than the Prime Minister himself the old adage that any figures can be made to lie and any liar can figure?