asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether in view of the fact that departments have made use of the services of professional and industrial men whose firms or companies have continued financial and contractual relationships with the department in which this service is being rendered, and as this arrangement is variously interpreted so that individual gentlemen who thus give their services are being increasingly the subject of Parliamentary criticism, he will, in fairness to them and in the public interest, have this whole question considered by an appropriate body that will enjoy public confidence?
The considerations to be observed in such cases are laid down in a Treasury Circular of which my right hon. Friend is sending my hon. Friend a copy. These arrangements were reported on by the Select Committee on Public Accounts in paragraphs 3 to 5 of their report for 1941, to which I would refer my hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend does not think any further inquiry is called for. The Committee, while not suggesting any general change in the existing rules, emphasised the need for carefully watching the position, and Departments are again being instructed to that effect.
Can my right hon. and gallant Friend give the House an assurance that the Government accept a clear responsibility, when they retain these gentlemen in their service, to extend to them in both the House and the country the same protection that they extend to other efficient and loyal servants of the Crown?
I will consider that; I have not asked my right hon. Friend on that point. It is to be recognised that these gentlemen—and there may be some ladies for all I know—who are giving this kind of service to the State in time of war should have it properly recognised that they are doing their duty.
May I have a reply to my Supplementary Question whether the Government will give an assurance that they will extend the same protection to these ladies and gentlemen as they do to other loyal servants of the Crown?
I do not really know what the hon. Gentleman means. If he wants answers to questions which are only distantly related to the original one, I would much rather he put them down so that I can ask my right hon. Friend, to whom this Question was addressed, for a reply.