HC Deb 29 March 1976 vol 908 cc887-8
26. Mr. Gow

asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many of the 29 special advisers to Ministers receive a salary higher than that paid to Members of Parliament.

The Minister of State, Civil Service Department (Mr. Charles R. Morris)

There are 16 special advisers who receive a higher annual salary than the £5,750 paid to Members of Parliament. Members are of course entitled to a number of additional allowances for which special advisers, like other civil servants, are not eligible.

Mr. Gow

Is it the case, as the Minister told the House on 23rd March, that the appointments and, therefore, the salaries of those 29 special advisers terminate on the date that the resignation of the Prime Minister becomes effective?

Mr. Morris

The position is that the appointment of special advisers needs the approval of the Prime Minister and, therefore, the appointment of such advisers subsequently will need the approval of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Sproat

Will the Minister take on board, after his appalling speech the other night, that the House finds it totally repugnant that special advisers on political matters should be paid out of tax-payers' money? If they are political advisers, should they not be paid by the political parties?

Mr. Morris

I thought that that was among my better speeches. I wonder whether the House would want again a situation in which the representatives of and people who formerly worked at Tory Central Office were placed in Ministers' offices outside the confines and disciplines of the Civil Service, certainly against the background of the Official Secrets Act. I have not met anyone who wants that situation. Special advisers should be subject to the same disciplines as civil servants are in general.

Mr. Heffer

Does my hon. Friend agree that the higher civil servants, such as permanent secretaries, are political advisers and that they do not always give the right advice, especially if their bias is in a direction other than that of this side of the House?

Mr. Morris

I do not accept that senior civil servants are politically partial in their advice. They endeavour to give the facts on which Ministers can arrive at their decisions.

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