Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Servants (Access to Members)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th June 1952.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Test 12:00 am, 17th June 1952

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he will abolish those regulations which prevent a civil servant from exercising the right possessed by other British citizens of approaching their Members of Parliament on their personal problems.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

No regulation prevents a civil servant from approaching his Member of Parliament on a personal matter that affects him as an individual citizen, for example matters of taxation. He is, however, forbidden to enlist political support for his individual claims as a civil servant, for example, on questions of promotion. I see no reason for abolishing this long-standing and salutary rule.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Test

Is the Minister aware that the right to raise grievances through Members of Parliament is a most ancient privilege of British citizens and includes the right for most citizens to raise questions concerning injustices done to them in earning their own living? Does not he think that it is wrong to deprive citizens of that right merely because they receive wages from the State?

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

I think it would be very harmful to the whole tradition of non-political civil servants in this country if they could enlist political support for their own claims for promotion as against those of their colleagues.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Test

Is the Minister aware that British citizens approach their Members of Parliament independently of their political affiliation? Labour and Tory citizens alike approach Tory or Labour Members of Parliament, as the case may be. What I am asking for is the right of a constituent, even of he is a civil servant, to approach his local Member of Parliament.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

There is no interference with the right of a civil servant to approach his Member of Parliament in respect of his general rights as a citizen. The only matters on which he is barred are Civil Service matters in respect of which, for the reasons I gave in my last supplementary answer, it has for many years been thought undesirable that there should be an appearance of political pressure being brought to bear.

Photo of Sir Godfrey Nicholson Sir Godfrey Nicholson , Farnham

Is there any distinction between the rights of civil servants and the rights of military servants in this connection? Surely it is thought proper for members of the Forces to write Service letters to their Members of Parliament? Is there some distinction in this matter?

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

I can only answer in respect of the Civil Service. Perhaps my hon. Friend will put down a Question dealing with the military aspect of this matter.