Prime Minister's Press Office

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd July 1970.

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Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman , Manchester Ardwick 12:00 am, 23rd July 1970

asked the Prime Minister what is the cost today, including salaries, of the Press Office at No. 10 Downing Street, compared with the cost on 17th June, 1970.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

asked the Prime Minister what was the cost, including salaries, of the Press Office at No. 10 Downing Street in September, 1964 and May, 1970, respectively.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

In September, 1964 six people were employed in the Press Office at 10, Downing Street at an annual salary cost of £13,000. By early June, 1970 the number had risen to eight, and the annual cost to £22,000. Another ten people were also being employed at an annual cost of £28,000 in the newly created office of the Chief Information Adviser in the Cabinet Office. This made a total number of 18 and a total annual cost of £50,000.

We are abolishing the office of the Chief Information Adviser in the Cabinet Office, appointing one information officer to advise the Lord President, and strengthening the Press Office at No. 10. When this process is complete there will be 12 people altogether employed on this work, at an annual salary cost of £38,000. This means a saving of six people and £12,000 a year.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman , Manchester Ardwick

May I thank the right hon. Gentleman, not only for his Answer but also for honouring me by linking my Question with a Question from the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten). Could the right hon. Gentleman explain, in view of the derogatory references to Press briefings made by the Foreign Secretary yesterday, among others, why it is now necessary for him to have three Chief Information Officers in his office compared with two under the last Administration, one paid at an ambassadorial salary level, together with a Conservative Central Office image-maker situated in the Cabinet office?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

As I explained in my very full Answer, if the hon. Gentleman had been listening to it, we have abolished the previous office of Chief Information Adviser in the Cabinet Office. As a result of that, and of strengthening No. 10, we have saved men and money. My chief adviser has ambassadorial rank because he came from the Foreign Service and because we want to improve the quality at No. 10.