HC Deb 21 July 1970 vol 804 cc234-5
Q5. Mr. English

asked the Prime Minister what changes he has made in the regulations governing the conduct of Ministers.

The Prime Minister

None, Sir.

Mr. English

Does that mean, then, that the regulations differ from those of the previous Conservative Administration?

The Prime Minister

I shall have to go back and check carefully the differences which have emerged over the last half-century in advice of this kind which is given to Ministers. What I am saying is that there is no difference between the advice in this document and that of the previous Administration.

Mr. Russell Kerr

Can the right hon. Gentleman refresh his mind by reference to his own previous experience in a Ministerial capacity?

The Prime Minister

These are obviously confidential instructions which are issued to Ministers. It is not possible for me, on the spur of the moment, to give any detailed comparisons with what was issued before. However, it is well known that, since this procedure was started, roughly half-a-century ago, there have been developments from time to time. On this occasion I have not found it necessary to change anything.

Mr. Michael Foot

Does the Prime Minister's reply about the consistency of his party on this matter mean, particularly in view of the reply which he gave to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, that, in the future as in the past with a Conservative Administration, whatever is to be leaked to the Press is not to be divulged to the House of Commons?

The Prime Minister

That matter does not arise, because the procedures followed by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition when in power in leaking things to the Press were not covered by instructions to Ministers.