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Government Departments (Honorary Pros)

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1954

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52.

asked the Prime Minister in which Government Departments persons engaged on public relations are serving in an honorary capacity; and to what extent his authority is required before such appointments are made.

The authority of the Prime Minister has not hitherto been specifically required for individual appointments, whether paid or honorary, on public relations work. They fall within the sphere of Departmental administration. I have had inquiries made of the major Departments and understand that two of them, the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation and the War Office, have persons serving full-time in an honorary capacity on public relations work. The Colonial Office has two part-time honorary officers on this work.

Can the Prime Minister state why it has been necessary particularly to pick out the Ministry of Transport to appoint a public relations man to serve in an honorary capacity? What is the reason why that Ministry should be so treated?

I have been more concerned in my life with paid than honorary appointments. I am bound to say that I think this raises a point of interest. I will see that it is generally considered.

While I follow the point about the saving of public money, is the Prime Minister aware that it may be open to objection and abuse that persons in an honorary capacity, possibly political friends of the Minister concerned, should be brought in to do public relations work which ought to be impartial? Would he at any rate be good enough to circulate with the reply the names and particulars of these temporary officers who are being employed in the Department to which he has referred?

Yes, Sir. I think the House has every right to all information about all appointments, whether they are paid or honorary.