HC Deb 02 July 1997 vol 297 cc283-4
6. Mr. Clifton-Brown

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has received about the use of special advisers. [4932]

Dr. David Clark

We have had very few responses on that issue.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

Does the fact that the Chancellor of the Duchy and his Administration have felt it necessary to increase the number of special advisers from 38 to 51 reflect the competence of the special advisers or the calibre of the Ministers whom they advise?

Dr. Clark

Simply neither. We made it clear that we would have two advisers per Cabinet Minister. We also made it clear that we would strengthen the policy unit at No. 10. There are many advantages in having strategic advice available to Ministers. If Conservative Members are not aware of that by now, given their election defeat, they will never learn.

Sir Patrick Cormack

To whom are the special advisers supposed to give advice? Does their remit extend to giving advice to the press and local councillors, or should they stick to giving advice to Ministers?

Dr. Clark

It is a pleasure to welcome the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) to the Dispatch Box. I have known him for many years and am glad to see him take his rightful place. It is clear that the special advisers operate under exactly the same conditions as those under which they operated during the previous Administration, and that they are answerable to Ministers.