Divisional Coal Boards (Salaries)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th November 1946.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham 12:00 am, 15th November 1946

That may be the normal procedure for a barrister to adopt, but there is no substance whatever in the hon. Member's accusation. If the hon. Member really believes in what he says, the very least he can do is to produce some evidence. He has no such evidence. Then he informs the House that there is widespread apprehension on this subject of patronage, presumably associated with the appointments in connection with the National Coal Board. Obviously, if there existed widespread apprehensions on this subject, I would have heard something about the matter at my Department, but so far as I am aware no single communication has come to us, and not a single representation has been made at any time indicating that there has been any apprehension. I suggest that the apprehension is confined to the hon. Member himself. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] In that case hon. Members opposite have suddenly discovered their apprehensions, which apparently did not exist before. If hon. Members opposite really believe that there is substance in the allegation that there is jobbery in connection with the appointments of the National Coal Board, it was their bounden duty to raise this important and vital subject, not on the Adjournment, but as a challenge to the Government. No such attempt has been made. I repudiate most emphatically the amazing allegation that there is anything in the nature of jobbery associated with this matter. Moreover, I can tell hon. Members that so far as the Ministry of Fuel and Power is concerned, and for my own part, we have nothing whatever to do with these appointments. We have appointed the National Coal Board in accordance with the provisions of the Act of Parliament. That is a Statutory body, but apart from the proposed consumer councils, no other statutory body can be appointed by the Minister of Fuel and Power. The regional coal boards, created by the National Coal Board, are non-statutory bodies. They are part and parcel of the normal administration, and no one knows that better than the hon. Member himself, who was a Member of the Standing Committee and took part in the discussions on this subject.