Parliamentary Under- Secretaries of State for Defence

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th March 1965.

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Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough 12:00 am, 9th March 1965

asked the Prime Minister if, in the interest of clarity and brevity, he will rename the posts occupied by those Ministers who are Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State for Defence for the Services.

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

Can I remind the right hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—that in the phrase—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—"The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Air Force"—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—there are no fewer than 13—[Interruption.] Can I ask the right hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—whether he is aware that in the phrase, "The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Air Force" there are no fewer than 13 words? Can he suggest some suitable form of abbreviation or consolidation, so that in future an easier reference may be made to this Minister?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

We are capable of counting to two. I agree with the hon. Gentleman, but it is the right convention, I think, that Secretaries of State should have to assist them Under-Secretaries of State, and if we were to depart from what I believe to be the correct decision of the previous Government in this matter that might give a handle to those who may be hopeful that the process of integration and functionalisation will not proceed. I am sure that any Under-Secretary in any Service Department will have a much shorter and more affectionate title by which he is known to all concerned.