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Government Departments And Political Parties

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 23 November 1961

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Q3.

asked the Prime Minister what are the most recent instructions which govern the relations of Government Departments, and civil servants in their official capacity, with political parties.

I would refer the hon. Member to the Establishments Circular No. 36 of 1958, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. Paragraph 4 of the Circular states the general principle that official resources cannot properly be put at the disposal of outside bodies whose purpose is to further the policies of a particular political party.

Yes, but does the Prime Minister think that the recent interview at the Treasury of two members of the Observer staff with two civil servants and two members of the Conservative Central Office conforms with the spirit of that instruction? Does he think that?

I think all this was dealt with at some length at Question Time recently by my right hon. and learned Friend. I think that it was explained that it was merely convenience and courtesy not to put the reporter at the extra trouble of having to attend two meetings.

Could the Prime Minister tell us whether as head of the Civil Service he visited Glasgow in that capacity when he appealed for funds for the Conservative Party? Was the Prime Minister acting as head of the Civil Service or head of the Conservative Party?

I have many burdens to carry but I am not head of the Civil Service.