§ Mr. Charles R. Morris
Twenty four special advisers are currently employed by 1091 the Government, at a total annual cost of £160,000.
§ Mr. Gow
Will the Minister accept the congratulations of the House that the number of special advisers has been reduced from the figure of 29 in January, and their salaries from the figure of £196,000 in January? Secondly, will he tell the House, in view of the astonishing remarks made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Privy Council Office on Saturday, whether he is satisfied that none of the leaks to which my hon. Friend has referred came from those special advisers?
§ Mr. Morris
It is lamentable that assertions and allegations of the kind to which the hon. Gentleman has referred should be made in anticipation of the inquiry that is currently proceeding under Sir Douglas Allen, Head of the Home Civil Service. The hon. Gentleman has tabled over 30 Questions on special advisers in recent months. In addition, he has asked a host of supplementary questions, and on 23rd March we had an Adjournment debate initiated by the same hon. Gentleman in respect of special advisers. With the greatest of respect, I appeal to the hon. Gentleman. without infringing any of his parliamentary rights and responsibilities, to bring this squalid campaign against special advisers to an end so that they can get on with the job and make the contribution that the Fulton Committee recognised that they can do.
§ Mr. Ioan Evans
As well as giving details of the salaries obtained by the special advisers, will my hon. Friend give an indication of the number of part-time advisers employed by the previous Government who were employed by private enterprise and who were getting finance for some sort of advice that they gave to the previous Government?
§ Mr. Morris
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for reminding me of that point. As he well knows—because I answered a Question of his some weeks ago on this matter—when one looks into figures and the amount of money spent by the previous Administration on business advisers one finds that it was far in excess of any money spent by this Government on special advisers.