Does my right hon. Friend realise that Answers to recent Questions of mine have revealed that the statutory patronage available to seven Ministers has increased numerically from
My hon. Friend will be aware of the Answer which I gave to him. As for statutory appointments at 10, Downing Street, he will recognise that of the 14 increase from 1958, seven were additional judges and one was the Parliamentary Commissioner. I hope that my hon. Friend would not feel that that was excessive. If he studies the others in detail, I think that he will find that they all relate to appointments approved by the House and, I should have thought, in the main fairly unanimously approved by the House.
If the hon. Gentleman means demand for individual appointments rather than a philosophical desire that there should be more patronage, I am not aware of a very strong demand. The hon. Gentleman will recognise that as a result of a decision taken in 1965, the old political patronage system which we inherited has been abolished.
That is rather hypothetical because I do not think—I apologise for this throat—I do not think an inquiry is needed. If one were to be set up I would consider all possible applications for the job.
Is the Prime Minister aware that jobbery and privilege have always been very severely condemned in Scotland, and that any increase in them can only add to the unpopularity of the Government? Would the Prime Minister not agree that if he wants to keep a few Labour seats in Scotland at the next election he should made sure that the jobs on public boards are filled by persons with detailed knowledge of the subjects of which they will be in charge instead of giving out appointments as political rewards, as they so often are?
I am charmed by the hon. Lady's new-found interest in the holding of Labour seats in Scotland and I certainly take note of what she has said in this respect, but as I understand her own policy, the policy of separatism, it would mean that the very large number of distinguished Scots who come from north of the Border to fill many of these posts would be kept in Scotland, doubtless to the greater benefit of Scotland, but there would then be more jobs for the English and Welsh south of the Border.