HC Deb 13 June 1972 vol 838 cc1257-8
Q5. Mr. Blaker

asked the Prime Minister what autobiographies of former Cabinet Ministers have been acquired for the library of No. 10 Downing Street since 1st January, 1972.

The Prime Minister

None, Sir. The more revealing passages can usually be read in the Press before publication.

Mr. Blaker

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are now three conflicting versions from former Labour Ministers of what connoisseurs consider to have been the Leader of the Opposition's second finest hour, the time when he pressed as Prime Minister for British gunboats to be sent to the Gulf of Aqaba? In view of the conflict of evidence on this subject, it would be useful if a definitive version could be written by someone impartial and entirely above the battle, such as the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot).

The Prime Minister

I appreciate what a valuable document that would be, but as the hon. Gentleman was below the Gangway and not a member of the Cabinet at the time of those events, I do not think he would have access to the records.

Mr. Paget

In spite of over-studied supplementary questions, is it not a fact that the spate of memoirs coming from both Cabinets undermines the mutual confidence that Ministers should have in each other? Is not the time for applying something like the 30-year rule to ministerial reminiscences overdue?

The Prime Minister

The individual right hon. Gentlemen concerned must take responsibility for their own publications. It has never been possible for a Government to do that, or for the officials concerned to do so. As to undermining confidence between members of Cabinets, that again is a matter for the Prime Minister of the day and his colleagues. I can only comment that it does not seem to reduce in any way the number of hon. Members wishing to become members of a Cabinet.