Public Relations Officer (Letter to Press)

Oral Answers to Questions — Food Supplies – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th January 1945.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South 12:00 am, 17th January 1945

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the undesirability of civil servants engaging in public controversy with hon. Members, he will instruct his public relations officer to abstain in future from addressing letters to the Press similar to that published in "The Times" newspaper on 3rd January in reply to a letter written by the hon. and gallant Member for Cleveland (Lieut.-Commander Bower).

Photo of Mr John Llewellin Mr John Llewellin , Uxbridge

No, Sir. No controversy with any hon. Member was involved. The letter referred to merely set out the facts, and its terms had my personal approval before it was published.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

Is not the Minister appointed to be the public relations officer? Is not the expenditure of something like £750,000 on these unnecessary people very undesirable?

Photo of Mr John Llewellin Mr John Llewellin , Uxbridge

The Minister has much larger functions than merely being the public relations officer; but I do agree with my hon. Friend that the right place for Ministers and Members to discuss these matters is the Floor of the House of Commons and not the public Press.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

Yes, but surely, when the House is not sitting, a Member of Parliament is not debarred from exercising his right of criticism with regard to the Departments? If civil servants come into it, will not the position in this House become quite impossible?

Photo of Mr John Llewellin Mr John Llewellin , Uxbridge

In this case it was only a question of what the facts were. The letter was a statement of fact. The hon. and gallant Member concerned could have written to me or he could have got me on the telephone. I was available at the time, although the House was in Recess.