§ [The question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government whether they have sanctioned the ban imposed by Sir Richard Hopkins forbidding discussions on unemployment between Sir William Beveridge and members of the Civil Service; and whether they concur in the view expressed in Sir Richard's letter that he did not think "officials of any type in the Government Service could engage in such discussions without the risk of a doubt hereafter arising whether in some degree they may not have made known or implied the lines on which the Government were attacking this question."]
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, the answer is in the affirmative. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already explained in answer to a question which was put to him in another place on Tuesday, December 7, that the ruling to which the noble Lord refers was no more than a re-statement in this particular case of the accepted general principles governing the conduct of civil servants. It was directed more especially to the undesirability of an exchange of views between someone conducting an independent inquiry on a matter which must be the concern of the Government of the day and those civil servants whose personal views on such a question would be inseparable, in the public mind, from their official work for the Government.
§ LORD DAVIES
My Lords, arising out of that reply may I ask the noble and learned Viscount whether he does not think that, so far as the country is concerned, it would be an advantage if, when these two Reports appear, the Government Report and the Beveridge Report, there were certain similarities in them? I would further ask him if he is aware that the instructions in this letter have been resented by many distinguished economists at present serving in the Civil Service.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I think the letter was in perfectly proper terms. It is really manifest that on a matter on which the Government have to produce a policy, as the result of consideration, and with the help of their own special staff, it is hardly possible for someone conducting an entirely independent inquiry to make contact with that special staff. It may well be that that special staff never dreamed of doing anything of that kind. That is the more reason for saying that it is a perfectly proper regulation.