HC Deb 07 July 1970 vol 803 cc489-90
Q5. Mr. Lipton

asked the Prime Minister how many civil servants, in addition to the deputy Press Secretary at No. 10 Downing Street, went in their official capacity to the Isle of Wight for the arrangement of Press facilities and other purposes in connection with the yacht race on 27th June last; and what cost to public funds was involved.

The Prime Minister

The civil servants who were on the Isle of Wight, who did not include the deputy Press Secretary, were those responsible for security and communications arrangements which are normal practice when a Prime Minister is out of London.

Mr. Lipton

How is it that The Times announced on that Saturday that an official spokesman of No. 10 Downing Street went to the Isle of Wight for the purpose of arranging Press facilities? Does not the Prime Minister agree that there should be a strict demarcation between his personal recreations, which we hope he will continue to enjoy, and his position as Prime Minister? There must be a line drawn, otherwise civil servants are dragged into all kinds of things of a non-governmental nature for which they are not really employed or responsible.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Questions should be reasonably brief.

The Prime Minister

Security and communications arrangements are normal. A strict line has been drawn. My Press office was asked to make arrangements to provide facilities for the Press. It in turn asked Fairey Marine, where my boat is moored, to provide them at Hamble, and asked the Island Sailing Club, which was responsible for the race, to provide them on the Isle of Wight, and it did so. There was no cost to public funds.