Oral Answers to Questions — Nationalised Industries (Boards)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th December 1957.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East 12:00 am, 17th December 1957

asked the Prime Minister the policy and practice of Her Majesty's Government in regard to members of nationalised boards serving on the boards of public companies.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I have been asked to reply. Full-time Members of nationalised boards are normally required to give up other, appointments. In exceptional cases, however, they may, with the approval of the Minister concerned, hold outside directorships. Part-time members may hold outside directorships which, in the opinion of the Minister, would not he likely to prejudice the discharge of their Functions as members of the nationalised board.

Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East

Does not the Lord Privy seal consider that the time has now come to lay down a new principle in this matter? Have not recent events shown that the hopes he has expressed are not always fulfilled, and is there not a danger that, when members of the boards have outside interests, there can be a conflict of loyalties which is harmful to the nationalised industries?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

If, by his insinuation, the hon. Gentleman is referring to any matters which are at present sub judice, I hope that he will not persist in his observations. As regards the issue in general, I am satisfied that no such case has arisen. The reason that I mention, first of all, the "approval" of the Minister in the case of full-time members and, secondly, the "opinion" of the Minister in the case of part-time members is that that is precisely the position, and it will certainly be the object of the Ministers concerned to remember the points which have been raised in this interchange.

Mr. H. Wilson:

While the Prime Minister did not follow the same high standards of the Lord Privy Seal in regard to matters which were, at any rate at that time, morally sub judice, is the Lord Privy Seal aware that when the appropriate time comes we on this side of the House, and, I hope, some hon. Gentlemen opposite, will want to probe the full implications of anything which may be disclosed?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to probe what is found by the court at present sitting, I think that he had better wait until the court has reported; that is the right time to do it. We can then all have a look at the impartial conclusions of the Tribunal set up for this purpose.