Ministers (Armament Shares).

Oral Answers to Questions — Public Health. – in the House of Commons on 6th June 1935.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether there is any Cabinet rule against Ministers holding shares in armament firms which are contractors to the Government; and, if not, does he propose to make such a rule?

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Seaham

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to a similar question which he addressed to me on the 19th December last, to which I can add nothing.

Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe

Will the Prime Minister remember that the previous question did not deal with firms that were contractors to the Government, and that this question is an extension of that question?

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Seaham

I am sorry that I disagree with the hon. Member that this question is an extension. The answer which I gave last time referred to armament firms in general. The hon. Member now specifies a certain group of armament firms, and my general answer must therefore refer to the more con fined question.

Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe

Is the right hon. Gentle man aware that at the Arms Inquiry a statement was made that 3, 000 shares in Vickers were held by the Home Secretary, and is it in the public interest that at a time like this private profit should be made by a Cabinet Minister out of the manufacture of arms?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arthur Heneage Lieut-Colonel Sir Arthur Heneage , Louth Borough

Is it not true that it is very difficult to give a definition of an armament firm, and that it is possible the Co-operative Society might come under it?