10 OCTOBER 1958, Page 8

THE ONLY THING that emerged at all clearly from the

Attlee-Grimond correspondence on patron- age was that there is something seriously wrong with the postal services between Great Missenden and the North of, Scotland. However long each delayed publication of his letter until the other should have received it, it was never long enough. Lord Attlee complained of Mr. Grimond's re- marks at the Liberal Party conference—'We want to bust open the patronage and privilege by which both Socialists and Tories maintain their rigid out- of-date structure' and 'Far too many prizes in the law, the Church, commerce, and social life go to those whom the ruling clique find agreeable'— which Lord Attlee took to be an accusation that, as Prime Minister, he had made appointments to the episcopal and judicial benches on political grounds. Lord Attlee added that he had had no knowledge of the political opinion of any of the bishops he had appointed; and of the political opinion of the judges he had appointed or pro- moted 'the only ones whose political views I know were Lord Somervell and Lord Reid, Conserva- tives, and Lord Birkett, a Liberal.' He seems to have had a slight lapse of memory here. One of the best judges in the Queen's Bench Division is Mr. Justice Donovan, who became a judge in 1950 and who up till then was Labour MP for Leicester East. Lord Attlee's record in matters of patronage was, I should have thought, outstandingly good and he has every reason to be proud of it, but I doubt if Mr. Grimond was thinking of senior appointments which are made by the Prime Minister of the day so much as of appointments that are made lower down in the hierarchy- recorderships, for example.