HC Deb 05 March 1970 vol 797 cc618-9
Q5. Mr. Lane

asked the Prime Minister if he will take steps to reduce the size of the Government during 1970.

The Prime Minister

The number of Ministerial appointments will continue to be kept as low as is consistent with the Government's programme.

Mr. Lane

Is it not a fact that this is still the most expensive and least popular Government of modern times?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman obviously prepared his supplementary question when he put his Question down. The total size of the Administration, if we allow for Whips—[Interruption.] Assistant Whips unpaid were members of the Tory Administration, I take it. The fact that we are now paying the Assistant Whips, previously unpaid, does not enter into it. If we make allowances for that only and the fact that one Minister is now discharging the function previously discharged by an Ambassador, the total Administration is only four bigger than the Administration of October, 1964, despite the speeches we have heard. The productivity, of course, is out of all proportion.

Sir Dingle Foot

Does my right hon. Friend recollect that the last time that the number of Ministers was substantially increased was in May, 1940, when Sir Winston Churchill formed his wartime coalition Administration? That Government, too, was not wholly unsuccessful.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. and learned Friend was a distinguished member of it, I seem to remember, in the Ministry of Economic Warfare which has now been closed. We often hear from right hon. Members opposite about the number of Departments. They will be delighted to know that, whereas there were 20 Government Departments before October, 1964, there are now 18; and if one takes into account the fact that the Ministries of Housing and Transport are under the control of my right hon. Friend, one can call it 17. The size of the Government has risen very much less than the exports of this country.