asked the Prime Minister if he will issue instructions to all Government Departments that in cases where a declaration has to be signed by a responsible person Members of Parliament shall be empowered to sign.
I have been asked to reply. The hon. Member's Question is rather vague. There are, of course, many kinds of declarations on which the signature of a responsible person is required, and it is clear that these cannot all be covered by the same general rules. If, however, the hon. Member knows any instances where the signature of a Member of Parliament has not been accepted on such a declaration perhaps he would send my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister detailed information, and he will have the matter examined.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that even in regard to a disability pension, a schoolmaster or a police sergeant is empowered to sign the form as a responsible person, but not a Member of Parliament. Is not that an invidious distinction, carrying the reflection that Members of Parliament are not responsible people?
If the hon. Gentleman will send those particulars to the Prime Minister he will have them examined. I would not like to answer dogmatically about them, on the spur of the moment. I remember that there are certain dis- criminations about Members of Parliament in relation to the office of justice of the peace. However, if the hon. Gentleman will send those particulars to my right hon. Friend he will be glad to look into them.
Would the right hon. Gentleman also look into the whole question affecting declarations made by supposedly responsible persons?
Would my right hon. Friend arrange that absolution be granted to those hon. Members who, like myself, have often signed forms of this kind in error?
We will consider that point. We would agree that hon. Members are sometimes embarrassed by signing things.
is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a Member of Parliament who has retired from one of the Armed Forces cannot sign his own pension form as correct?
I imagine that might be so.